When you divorce or separate there is a lot to think about and central to your separation must be consideration for how your child’s day to day living costs will be met now you no longer have shared financial commitments.
The government expects parents to continue their financial obligations to their children after divorce or separation and will set regular weekly payment amounts through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) if you are not able to agree.
The Child Maintenance Service is a statutory body that has far-reaching powers and can seize assets, or apply attachment of earnings orders through your employer and HM Revenue and Customs if child maintenance is not paid. There are also fees and charges that apply to using the CMS.
Most parents recognise that their children’s needs are the highest priority even though their relationship has ended but it can be difficult to negotiate the detail of the contribution each parent will make to the continued development and care of their children. Raising children is not cheap but mediation can help you agree the contributions you each need to make to help your children thrive.
How much Child Maintenance should I pay?
This depends on a range of factors, including the income of both parents, new family obligations and any assets or debts you have. The gov.uk website provides a child maintenance calculator so you can work out how much child maintenance your child will need.
If you go to court, the court will make a decision about the amount of maintenance to be paid based on your earnings and financial circumstances.
There is an expectation that children also benefit from a family’s wealth, earning potential and anticipated lifestyle even though the parents have now separated.
However, you can make your own arrangements and, in our experience, parents who make their own arrangements in mediation and are able to discuss their children’s changing developing needs and interests can deal better with the challenges they might face with their own changing circumstances. For instance job loss, redundancy or relocation or additional travel costs.
How can Family Mediation help decide child maintenance payments?
You can make arrangements for child maintenance payments as part of your mediation session. Experience shows that agreements reached in mediation are more likely to work, as the decisions have been reached by agreement.
By using mediation to settle child maintenance you can avoid the costs and losses of using the statutory service and your agreement should be accepted as a voluntary arrangement.. Read The Money Advice Service’s guide ‘How to arrange child maintenance.
You can read answers to some of the financial questions our mediators are often asked here. To sort your child maintenance agreements through family mediation call T : 0300 4000 636 or email us, or book an appointment.