Child Maintenance Changes: Parents ‘must agree or face a fee.’

Date online: 29/08/2014

THOUSANDS of single parents in Britain have been notified of changes to their child maintenance arrangements under a new scheme that urges them to either agree amicably or face a charge.

Child maintenance is the money one parent pays to the other when they have separated that contributes towards a child’s living costs.

When parents separate, maintenance is paid to the person responsible for caring for the child on a day-to-day basis.

“New emphasis is now on separated parents reaching voluntary agreements as to how much maintenance is paid and when,” said Susan Johnson, Head of Molesworths’ Family Law Department.

“Parents can also agree that payments for such things as school uniforms and school trips can take the place of a regular set amount. These agreements, reached between the parents, are called family based arrangements and whilst it is better if parents can reach an agreement between themselves, family based arrangements are not legally binding,” she said.

Not all parents can reach an agreement and under the old system many single parents sought assistance from the Child Support Agency (CSA) to sort out any problems with maintenance payments.

Ministers have since announced their plans to abolish the CSA and instead replace it with the Child Maintenance Service to assist parents experiencing difficulties.

Susan Johnson Advises:

• If separated parents cannot agree on the amount of maintenance, then the Child Maintenance Service can collect payments on behalf of the receiving parent. This is called a statutory arrangement.

• The Child Maintenance Service replaces the Child Support Agency who will now only deal with cases already referred to them.

• If you use the Child Maintenance Service there are fees to be paid by both parents. The paying parent (usually the father) will have a fee added to their maintenance payment. The receiving parent will have a separate fee deducted from their maintenance - so the amount of maintenance received would be less than the amount paid. It is, therefore, better for separated parents to reach an agreement between themselves.

• We can help you with negotiating an agreement and/or advising on the amounts to be paid and how it is calculated.

If you need any help or advice regarding a Child Maintenance matter, please contact Molesworths Bright Clegg’s Family Department team.

Susan Johnson leads the Molesworths’ Family Law Department and is a member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel. She is a qualified and experienced family law solicitor, dealing with matters including divorce, contact / residence & injunctions. Susan can be contacted at or 01706 767404.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Molesworths Bright Clegg is a firm of solicitors established in the United Kingdom and is registered with theSolicitors Regulation Authority.

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