When Parents Separate – A Guide to Child Maintenance

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Family lawyer, Jennifer Law, looks at the issues that arise when parents decide to separate

The breakdown of a relationship is a hard and testing time on everyone involved. Aside from the distress and emotional difficulties, when children are involved there are added practicalities that need to be considered and dealt with. Where will the children live? How often do they see each parent? Who buys the school uniform? How much should the child maintenance be? …the list can seem endless.

Mediation can often be a very useful way of working through issues which, at first glance appear to be daunting and too tough to handle without support. In North Devon, mediation can be achieved through the professional mediation services provided by North Devon Family Mediation Service, contactable on 01271 321888.

In order to help one of the many difficulties arising from a separation, the Department for Work and Pensions has launched an online toolkit to assist separated parents in working out how much child maintenance should be paid by the non-resident parent. The amount of maintenance is calculated on income and can be affected by the amount of days the child spends with each parent.

For all new claims for child maintenance, the Child Support Agency has been replaced by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). The CMS provides information and advice on the two main ways in which separated parents can plan their maintenance arrangements.

A Family-Based Arrangement is an arrangement made by parents who wish to deal with maintenance issues between themselves. For those unable to reach a Family-Based Arrangement, or for those who would simply prefer the input of an agency on a more formal footing, the CMS is the first port of call.

Child maintenance is of course only one of a long list of concerns, worries and obstacles faced by separating families. There may be a family home, a mortgage, joint bank account, arrangements to be made for school holidays, divorce and financial obligations to consider.

There are always going to be more questions than answers when dealing with a relationship breakdown and subsequent separation. Talking to a specialist solicitor about your options and how to move forward can often be the first step to give you the peace of mind to help you along the way.

If you have been affected by anything in this article then please contact us on 01271 372128.