What is Child Maintenance?
By Natasha Rowe – Solicitor
Child Maintenance is financial support paid towards your child’s everyday living costs when you have separated from the other parent. A child may be eligible for financial support up to the age of 20 providing that they remain in full time education or training. Child Maintenance can be dealt with and agreed without using the Child Maintenance Service (which used to be called the Child Support Agency more commonly referred to as the ‘CSA’.) Indeed it is usually best to reach a family based agreement if possible. If the collection and distribution of maintenance payments is managed by the Child Maintenance Service there are costs which will see the receiving parent losing 4% of any maintenance paid and the supporting parent paying an additional 20% of the maintenance calculation.
This is not to say that parents should just pluck a figure out of the air when deciding what is appropriate. A Child Maintenance Calculator (which can be accessed online on the Child Maintenance website) is available to ascertain the appropriate figure. You will need to know the paying parents gross income (for this purpose this means income after pension contributions but before any deductions for tax and national insurance); the number of nights that your child stays with the paying parent; and the number of other children living with them. Of course it may be the case that the receiving parent does not know what the other paying parents’ income is. However, if they are self-employed you could ask for a copy of the latest tax return and if employed you could ask to see the latest P60.