At DAD, we speak to lots of separated parents who feel that they are treated unfairly, especially around child maintenance…
“I never see my kids so I don’t have to pay child maintenance..”
Under child support law, contact with your children and parental responsibility – including paying child maintenance – are two separate issues.
Whatever your situation is, a child’s need for financial support remains the same. Most parents would agree that they want what is best for their children and the most important thing is the welfare of the child. So even if you can’t see your child, you can – and should – still contribute to their upbringing by paying child maintenance.
Having said that, it is widely recognised that when both parents take an active role in the child’s life (as long as it is safe to do so) it can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of the child. So don’t give up. There are several organisations that specialise in access/contact issues. These include NACCC, Cafcass, Resolution, National Family Mediation or Relate. Centre for Separated Families also offers information about access.
If you want to find out where you stand legally, it might also be worth contacting Civil Legal Advice (used to be Community Legal Advice.) Their helpline number is 0345 345 4345. They will tell you if you are also entitled to free legal aid
Remember though, payments must be made in full and on time, to prevent arrears from building up and legal action being taken against you. Plus failure to make payments may be used against you in court.
“My ex-partner got the house, the car and the kids. I’m living out of a suitcase and sleeping on my mate’s sofa. Why should I pay?”
Under child support law, child maintenance must be paid to the parent with the main day-to-day care of the child. This is usually the person who receives child benefit for that child.
Even though that might seem unfair, try to think about things from your child’s point of view. Having a child maintenance arrangement can make a significant difference to a child’s well-being, because it can help create a more stable environment for them.
Most parents want what’s best for their children, and understand that they don’t stop being a parent just because their relationship with the other parent ends. This includes being responsible for financially supporting their children.
By contributing financially you can show your child how you’re still helping to take care of them, no matter what else has changed. It will also show your ex-partner that you’re willing to do the right thing.
If you want to find out where you stand legally, it might also be worth contacting Civil Legal Advice. Their helpline number is 0345 345 4345.
Remember though, payments must be made in full and on time, to prevent arrears from building up and legal action being taken against you. Plus, failure to make payments may be used against you in court.
“My ex-partner spends the money I pay on booze and new clothes”
Unfortunately, the Child Maintenance Service can’t check or control what the money is spent on once the parent receives it.
If you’re concerned that the money you pay isn’t benefiting your children, there are a couple of things you can do.
The first is to see if your child’s other parent is willing to make a family-based arrangement. This is where parents sort out child maintenance privately between themselves, without the CMS or anyone else getting involved.
With a family-based arrangement, you can pay for specific items for your child, like clothes, shoes and toys, if the other parent agrees to it. You could also agree that contributing towards household bills counts as child maintenance.
Alternatively you can use the Child Maintenance Service to try and mediate a solution you are both happy with, your first stop should to to contact the Child Maintenance Options
Get more information about family-based arrangements.
A DADs Guide to CSA continued
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Updated: September 2017