In statistics published last week from the Department of Work and Pensions, it was revealed that out of 2.4 million separated families in 2020, only 56% had child maintenance agreements in place.

A child maintenance agreement is an agreement between parents to provide financial support for a child. Many people do not realise that it is a legal requirement to maintain a child. Another myth is that lack of contact with a child means that no payments need be made. This is not the case – the obligation to support a child financially remains irrespective of any contact taking place.

Often in divorce proceedings, provision can be made for the financial support of a child by means of a financial remedy order. However, informal out of court agreements can also be reached.

The starting point is to consult the Child Maintenance Options website. With some knowledge of an ex partner’s income, the parent with care of the child is able to calculate the payment they should be receiving. This then enables the couple to reach a suitable agreement for the benefit of the child.

If a couple cannot agree, or if an insufficient amount is offered, the parent with care can ask the Child Maintenance Service to step in to assess and control the collection of payments. There is a £20 set up fee and a 4% charge. However, the paying parent has to then pay an additional 20% administration fee, which is deducted directly from the paying parent’s wage.

It is not surprising that many parents will make a voluntary payment rather than having to pay the Child Maintenance Service to assist, thereby losing nearly a quarter of the payment.

If you encounter issues with child maintenance, you should seek prompt legal advice. At Maxwell Hodge, we can advise on a number of different family issues to help address any concerns you may have.