Child maintenance, also known as child support, is a consistent financial payment made towards the everyday living costs of the child and is the responsibility of all parents even if a parent does not have contact with the child. This is often a step taken by parents who have been through Divorce or Separation Agreement proceedings.
The non-resident parent has to make the required payments to the parent whom the child lives with. The living arrangements and custody of children is a separate area of law and you can find information on that in our Children’s Living Arrangements section
Calculating how much child maintenance should be paid
In some cases, parents are able to make a private arrangement between themselves regarding how much needs to be paid. If this isn’t possible the government can use a formula to calculate the amount that should be paid by using a formula.
The calculation is based on the gross income of the non-resident parent (before any deductions of income tax or national insurance), the number of children and whether or not the children have any overnight stays with the non-resident parent.
For example, if there is one child then the parent has to pay 11% of their gross income in child maintenance. For two children they have to pay 16% and for three children or more 19%.
If the children spend time living in the non-resident parent’s home, such as when having overnight stays, then deductions are made.
If the children stay overnight with the parent, for example one night a week, then the payment is reduced by 1/7th. For two nights it is reduced by 2/7th.
What happens if a parent refuses to pay child maintenance?
All parents have a responsibility to provide financial support for their children. If they are refusing to pay then the parent who the child lives with can make an application to the Child Support Agency (CSA).
The circumstances will then be looked at by the CSA and they can pursue the parent who refuses to pay for any payments that have not been made.
If you would like to discuss a child maintenance issue with one of our family law solicitors, please contact us and we will be happy to advise you.