A guide to child maintenance payments

If you don’t tell the CSA/CMS about your shared care arrangements, they will estimate that the children stay with you one night a week. This means you’ll usually pay one-seventh less maintenance. What happens if I have children from a new relationship?If you have other children this could affect the amount of child support you will pay. Other children relevant to the equation are those for whom you (as the non-resident parent) or your partner receive child benefit for.

If the child continues to study full-time (at least 12 hours per week) after the age of 16, you will still have to pay to support your child. Full-time studies include A-level standard but do not include university / professional studies after this level. Child maintenance payments will end when the course finishes or when the child turns 20 years old, even if they are still in full-time studies.

GuardiansIn your will, you have the opportunity to name a guardian (or guardians) to look after your children if you are no longer here to do so. A trusted family friend is a popular option. Guardians are not paid to look after your children, but will usually get money from your estate to help with the additional costs of caring for children. It is usually better to name just one guardian, as problems can be caused if co-guardians separate in the future. However, if the other parent has parental responsibility, then they can challenge any such provision in the will. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.

Other parentIf the resident parent were to die, the non-resident parent has rights to the children as a parent. This does not mean that you will automatically get residency of a child you have not previously lived with. However the court will look to see if you are a suitable parent to have full custody. If you are suitable, you will get custody over any named guardian in your partner’s will. If you are not suitable, custody is likely to go to the named guardian, which is why it is important to name someone in your will who you trust.

Our Response:Every non-resident parent of a child has to pay toward the child’s upkeep regardless of whether they see the child or not. If your partner has been denied access, he would have had the option to apply through court for access which is considered a separate issue to child maintenance payments. If your partner is paying for one child on the basic rate, then he would pay 12% of his gross weekly income, which is considered affordable (unless he has arrears to pay – you don’t say). With such blanket laws in place it is difficult to negotiate a way out/around of his financial commitments to his child. If your partner feels he is being unfairly treated he can complain, please see the link here. If he feels he is sliding into debt, please see the link here. House sharing or renting a room for a bill-inclusive price may be a way of trying to get around such issues until he can financially get back on his feet. Unfortunately, I cannot offer more help except to say that soon his child will finish full-time education (at A-Level completion or the equivalent) and as soon as his child’s resident parent ceases being eligible to receive child benefit he can stop payments (as long as he is not in arrears).