There are all sorts of family arrangements out there, with some estranged or divorced couples choosing to share the care of their child or children equally. Others may see one parent taking care of a child for the majority of the time. This leaves this parent covering the financial burden of maintaining bills and general running costs for their offspring. This can prove to be a huge amount of money, considering the cost of bringing up a child in the UK from birth to the age of 21 coming in at an astounding £229,251, according to the Mirror.
In order to ensure a parent continues to support the child financially after leaving the household, they are legally required to pay child maintenance.
The government defines this as the “financial support towards your child’s everyday living costs when you’ve separated from the other parent”.
It can be used to cover costs such as food, clothes, and housing.
How you share care of a child affects how much the paying parent will pay.
For example, if the child spends a certain amount of time staying with the paying parent, she or he will see a reduction in the child maintenance costs they’re required to pay.
Figures from UK law firm Slater and Gordon have identified that 11 per cent of mothers have been forced to depend on food banks in order to provide food for their children, due to a lack of financial support from the other parent.
The statistic for fathers depending on food banks in order to feed their children following separation from their partner has not been revealed.
Child maintenance is a legal requirement.
Many separated couples will consider the likely expenses and work out the amount themselves – something which is known as a family-based arrangement.
It’s possible to use the government’s Child Maintenance Calculator in order to work out the costs.
However, should the parent required to pay not wish to co-operate, there is a way in which one can ensure that they do.
Child Maintenance is a monthly payment given to the parent who usually provides the day-to-day care of the child and is a legal requirement
Hannah Cornish, head of family law at Slater and Gordon
Slater and Gordon explain that this can be done by speaking to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
The organisation will make an assessment on your former partner’s income, and backdate any missed payments.
Should they refuse to co-operate on the matter, then the CMS may escalate the matter to a court.
While it will enforce payments, the organisation’s help does require an upfront fee of £20, and there may be additional costs.
“Child Maintenance is a monthly payment given to the parent who usually provides the day-to-day care of the child and is a legal requirement. How much this contribution should be is determined by how much that parent earns and how much time they spend with their child,” Hannah Cornish, head of family law at Slater and Gordon said.
“Not providing for your child is a very serious crime which can result in a prison sentence. It is key to remember that this money is not for the ex-partner or mother or father of the child, it is to make sure the child has the daily essentials, such as school shoes or three hot meals a day.”
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