The answer to this question is usually yes.
Both parents are legally responsible for providing financial support for their children.
It is a common misconception that if a parent does not spend time with the child or is refused contact by the other parent, then they do not need to pay Child Maintenance. The non-resident parent is liable to pay child maintenance even if the other parent stops you from seeing the child.
The payments required from the parent who does not live with the child are called Child Maintenance.
The Child Maintenance payments are there to help with the child’s living costs and will be paid when one of the parents does not live with the child. Child Maintenance is payable when a parent has separated from the other parent, or indeed where the parents have never been in a relationship
The parent with the most overnight contact with the child will be able to claim Child Maintenance from the other parent.
The parent entitled to the Child Maintenance needs to have their main home in the UK and have a right to live here.
Child Maintenance is paid as a contribution to all the expenses involved in caring for a child including housing costs and all the usual outgoings for utilities and services; food and drink; clothing; entertainment and any outgoings incurred whilst the child is in the care of the parent who receives it. Where there is shared care the paying parent is responsible for outgoings on the days the child is with them overnight
Child Maintenance must be paid for every child up to 16 years old or up to 20 years old if they are still in full time education including A level or equivalent. In general terms if the parent is still receiving Child Benefit from the State, then Child Maintenance is payable.
There are two main options for arranging Child Maintenance payments. This is either by the parents making and agreeing the arrangements themselves or through the Child Maintenance Service.
The Child Maintenance Service is a government body who can calculate what payments should be made, arrange payments and can take legal action to recover any unpaid Child Maintenance. The service can also resolve disagreements over parentage and try to locate the other parent for the purposes of Child Maintenance if you do not know where they are.
Child Maintenance payments will not affect any benefits that you and your children receive, including Universal Credit. You will not have to pay tax on them.
You can calculate how much Child Maintenance needs to be paid by using the Child Maintenance service calculator online: Calculate your child maintenance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) .
The calculation by the child maintenance service takes into consideration gross income of the paying parent, the number of nights the child stays with them and any other children they have in their household or they are financially responsible for.
The amount you pay for Child Maintenance can be agreed privately between both parents.
You do not have to pay Child Maintenance where parents have shared care and the children spend an equal number of nights with both parents.
Also, if you do not have an income and you are either a full-time student or in prison, you do not have to pay Child Maintenance.
If you are the parent that receives Child Maintenance and the other parent has stopped making payments, you can pursue these payments through the Child Maintenance Service as long as both parents are living in England and Wales and the above exceptions do not apply.
The Child Maintenance service will assess the amount that should be paid and can recover accrued maintenance that has not been paid backdated to the date of the application. They can collect payments from the paying parent through their earnings, bank account, benefit, or pensions.
It is best if both parents can reach an amicable agreement over child arrangements which is in the best interests of the child.
If an agreement cannot be reached, then negotiations through Solicitors or Mediation could be an option.
As a last resort you can apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order and the Court will decide the arrangements. In most cases Mediation should have taken place first, before applying to the Court.
If you are having difficulties with agreeing arrangements with the other parent and you require advice, then please do not hesitate to give us a call to arrange an initial consultation where we can advise you on the possible steps.
Andrew Isaacs Law are here to make the process easier for you.