When parents separate, they are both legally responsible for the financial costs of bringing up their children.

Child maintenance is financial support that the parent without the main day-to-day care of a child pays to the other parent or person with the main care. That could include a grandparent or guardian as well as a parent.

It is possible for families to make arrangements between themselves, however, if you can’t agree, or if an arrangement between individuals is not working, there are other ways to arrange child maintenance.

Where a voluntary agreement about child maintenance has been reached, in many cases it can be incorporated into a consent order which is legally enforceable (although it may be possible after 12 months for this to be overridden by an application to the Child Maintenance Service).

A useful website for further information about child maintenance is www.cmoptions.org.uk

The Child Maintenance Service deals with all new applications for child maintenance. However, a court can deal with new applications for child maintenance in some situations, for instance in cases where:

  • The non-resident parent lives abroad;
  • The application for maintenance is against a step-parent who is not the child’s biological parent;
  • The non-resident parent has an extremely high income; or
  • The child has exceptional income needs.

We can advise you further in relation to which options are available to you.