Contact OTS Solicitors
To speak to a family law solicitor about maintenance and child support and the best way to reach a financial settlement call us on 0203 959 9123. Alternatively, contact us through our online enquiry form.
Maintenance for children and child support
It is best to understand your child support options so you can make informed decisions for you and your children. Your child support options are:
Ask the government agency, the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), to assess and transfer the child support. There is a charge for the CMS to take payments and pass them on to the other parent. If you do not have concerns about payment then the best option may be direct transfers; or
Ask the court to make a child support court order. The family court only has limited jurisdiction to make child support orders; or
Agree voluntary child support payments, using the CMS figure as a guideline.
Using the Child Maintenance Service
CMS child support rules are complicated. The amount of child support can depend on whether the parent paying child support has overnight contact, additional children or stepchildren or makes increased pension contributions. It is therefore sensible to take legal advice from a child maintenance solicitor before reaching any financial settlement decisions that are based on you paying or receiving a set amount in child support.
Child support and shared parenting
Child Maintenance Service rules say if there is an equal parenting arrangement (based on the number of nights per week that a child spends on average over a year with each parent) then neither parent pays child support to the other. It is best to know whether you are likely to receive or to pay child support before you reach a financial settlement or decide what should happen with the family home so you both know whether you stand financially.
Child support and contact
Under CMS rules if one parent is the main carer and the other parent has regular overnight contact with the children, the level of child support payable by the parent who is not the primary carer reduces by a percentage figure for overnight contact (averaged over a year) that the child spends with the parent paying child support.
Child maintenance formula
Child maintenance solicitors and the Child Maintenance Service use a set formula to work out child support if the gross income (after deduction of pension contributions) of the parent paying child support is £156,000 a year or less. If a maximum assessment is made an application can be made to court for “top up child support”. A child maintenance solicitor will not only look at the CMS child support figure but your financial settlement options, including spousal maintenance.
Top up child support
If the Child Maintenance Service makes a maximum child support assessment, the court can order top-up child support. The court does not use the same CMS formula when deciding on the amount of top up child support. Instead, it looks at factors such as the child’s needs.
Child support and court orders
The court has limited power to order child support but can order:
Payment of school fees and educational expenses and expenses relating to a child’s disability;
Financial support for children age twenty and over if they are in full-time education;
Child support if both parents agree to a court order;
Top up child support;
Global maintenance orders that include spousal maintenance and child support.
Changing child support
Child support can go up or down depending on changes in the paying parent’s income, pension contributions or personal circumstances. It is best to get regular legal advice from child maintenance solicitors on the correct level of child support.
Contact OTS Solicitors
To speak to a child support solicitor about child maintenance and the best way to reach a financial settlement call us on 0203 959 9123 for a discussion about how OTS Solicitors can help you. Alternatively, use our online enquiry form.
A married person can ask for spousal maintenance in addition to child support. The court can order time limited or indefinite spousal maintenance orders or can make a “clean break” order to stop future spousal maintenance payments.
When deciding whether to order spousal maintenance the court looks at a range of factors. It is sensible to get advice about spousal maintenance and child support to ensure you get the best financial settlement that meets your needs. That is because there are so many child support and spousal maintenance options, for example:
You could agree to capitalise your spousal maintenance entitlements – in other words instead of receiving ongoing spousal maintenance payments you receive a one off sum. You would not be able to ask for any spousal maintenance in the future, even if your financial circumstances change;
You could agree that you will stay in the family home and take over the mortgage because your spouse agrees to pay spousal maintenance and child support and the mortgage company accepts that the maintenance money is “income” for the purposes of assessing your mortgage capacity.
Changing spousal maintenance
After a spousal maintenance order is made, the amount of spousal maintenance can vary in future. It can increase, decrease or stop, depending upon the specific change in circumstances. For example, if the former spouse receiving the spousal maintenance remarries then their spousal maintenance will automatically stop, without having to make an application to court. If the spouse paying spousal maintenance loses their job, they could apply back to court to stop or reduce the spousal maintenance payments.
With families, the options for how and in what circumstances child support and spousal maintenance is paid are almost endless. That is why most couples find it essential to take legal advice on what financial settlement, child support and spousal maintenance options best suit their family needs.