If you have children from a previous relationship, you should be sure to understand how much child maintenance costs. A child maintenance arrangement spells out how your child’s living costs will be covered, and it is the responsibility of both parents to cover these costs, no matter what type of relationship you have with your ex-partner or child.
After separating from your ex-partner, you will likely decide to share the upbringing of your children. This may be an equal split, or one parent may take more responsibility than the other. Either way, both parties have responsibility for the financial costs associated with raising your children.
How much child maintenance will cost you depends on numerous factors. You and your ex-partner can decide this by yourselves, enlist the help of a family law solicitor, or leave the decision in the hands of the Child Maintenance Service. Either way, you should have an understanding of how child maintenance amounts are calculated in the UK. Here, our family law specialists explain.
Who pays for child maintenance?
Separated parents can decide amongst themselves who is paying child maintenance and how the agreement will work – this is known as a family-based arrangement. Nevertheless, it is usually the parent who does not live with their children and spends less time with them who pays the child maintenance amount.
If you cannot reach a private agreement, the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) can manage this for you and the paying parent will have to make maintenance payments via the CMS.
How much is child maintenance?
The cost of child support in the UK depends on various factors. Explore these factors below to understand how the child support sum is calculated:
The amount you pay for child support will depend on your income, which refers to how much you take home before tax deductions. Child maintenance rates fall into four different categories:
- Basic rate
- Reduced rate
- Flat rate
- Nil rate
The basic rate demands the most money, following through to the nil rate, where parents are required to pay a smaller and smaller percentage of their income. The basic rate applies to parents with a weekly income of £200 to £3,000. Under this standard rate, parents will be obliged to give a percentage of their weekly income:
- 12% for one child
- 16% for two children
- 19% for three or more children
As you can see, the number of children also impacts the amount of child maintenance you need to contribute.
With this in mind, caring for other children also affects your rate. If you pay child maintenance for other children, your child maintenance fee will be reduced. Following the basic rate, the percentage of the parent’s gross weekly income would drop to:
- 11% for one other child
- 14% for two other children
- 16% for three or more children
Do I need a solicitor to calculate child support costs?
You can work out how much child support you need to pay by yourselves or with the help of legal assistance.
If you and your ex-partner trust each other and can communicate effectively with one another, then you may be able to manage child maintenance payments independently. However, if you cannot agree with your ex-partner or if they are refusing to pay their contribution, you should seek the advice of a specialist family law solicitor. A family law solicitor can help to resolve matters amicably and protect you and your children’s best interests. If necessary, your solicitor can also help put a Child Arrangements Order in place via the Court.
You should also speak to a family solicitor if there has been a change in circumstances that can impact child maintenance amounts. For example, if your ex-partner suddenly stops payments or if there’s a change in custody arrangements.
How long are you expected to pay child maintenance for?
You are required to pay the child maintenance amount until your child turns 16. However, you may need to continue payments until the age of 20 if your child continues with full-time education, such as A-levels or equivalent qualifications.
How can Newtons Solicitors help?
Calculating how much child payment you and your partner will pay can be complex, especially when trying to deal with the additional practical and emotional challenges of a separation. With this in mind, you should consider seeking the support of professionals who know how to handle this procedure as seamlessly as possible. Our specialist family law solicitors can advise you on child maintenance costs and how to draw up a fair, robust child maintenance agreement.