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Child Support: How to get a Child Maintenance Order

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Child Support: How to get a Child Maintenance Order

Child Maintenance is often essential in ensuring that your children have the right amount of financial support to grow up happy and in good health.

In this article, Family Trainee Katelyn Webster has outlined key points you need to know to arrange suitable child support and what to do if your ex-partner is refusing to pay.

What is Child Maintenance?

Child Maintenance, also known as Child Support, is an arrangement between you and the other parent of your child which sets out payment for your child’s living costs.

Maintenance costs are usually paid by the parent who doesn’t have a Child Arrangements Order to the parent who does or is the primary caregiver.

Related: Child Arrangement Orders: How they work and why you might need one

How is child support calculated?

Child support payments should be able to help cover the child’s living costs. These costs include food, clothing childcare, toys, books, travel and more.

The amount of child support payable will depend on how many children you have and the payers income.

Assuming your children live with you permanently, the basic child maintenance rates are as follows:

  • One child – 12% of gross weekly income
  • Two children – 16% of gross weekly income
  • Three or more children – 19% of gross weekly income

However, please bear in mind that these rates will depend on your individual circumstances. For a tailored calculation on the amount of child support payable to you, this can be found here.

What are the factors that are considered when calculating child support?

As well as the number of children you have and living costs, there are some other factors that will be taken into consideration when child maintenance is calculated.

These can include:

  • The paying parent’s gross income
  • Whether there are any ‘shared care’ agreements in place
  • other outgoing costs, where applicable, such as:
    • Pension payments
    • Living costs if they have and live with any other children
    • Child support for any other children

Where applicable, these factors may increase or deduct from the rate of child maintenance.

Related: How much does a divorce cost and can I get a Cost Order?

Can I get a court order for child maintenance?

If you and your ex-partner are able to agree on child maintenance arrangements yourselves, and would like this reflected in a court order, you can apply to the court to make the agreement legally binding with a Court Order, formally known as a Consent Order.

Related: What is a financial order and why are they important?

What if we can’t agree on child maintenance?

The court generally only considers the issue of  child maintenance when both parents have reached an agreement and therefore if you cannot agree on child maintenance, the court will not become involved in this issue.

Child maintenance would usually be dealt with through the Child Maintenance Service. This can be done by accessing the Child Maintenance Service online maintenance calculation and simply agreeing the figure shown. There are, however, exceptions to this rule.

If you and your ex-partner cannot reach an agreement regarding the amount of child maintenance payable with the assistance of the online calculator, either of you can ask the government’s Child Maintenance Service to formally assess the payment.

How long does a child maintenance order last?

Child maintenance is usually payable up until the child turns 16 years old. At this point, any child support payment would usually stop.

However, if your child is in full-time education at 16 and beyond, for example if they attend a sixth form or college full-time, then child maintenance may continue up until the child turns 20.

Child support may also stop if:

  • If you are no longer the primary care giver/resident parent
  • If you and your ex-partner get back together
  • If your ex-partner is unable to pay due to unemployment, illness, imprisonment or if they were to pass away

What happens if my ex refuses to pay child maintenance?

If your ex-partner is required to pay child maintenance to you and they don’t, you can ask the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to collect from them.

Since August 2014, the Child Maintenance Service charge to collect maintenance from the paying parent. This is done by the paying parent paying an additional 20% on top of the maintenance they are required to pay, and the receiving parents will pay 4% of the maintenance they have received.


“If the maintenance to be paid is £80 per week, the paying parent will pay £96 a week, while the receiving parent will get £76.80 per week”.

Can I take my ex to court for child maintenance arrears?

Alternatively, and if your ex-partner continues to refuse to pay, you can apply to Court to enforce payment of the arrears.

For further, and more tailored, advice on this; please get in touch with a member of our bright and friendly Family Department.

A member of our Family Team would be happy to discuss your options with you and even help you in your application to Court.

You can call us on 01202 499255, or fill out the form at the top of this page, for a free initial chat.

How can I modify my child maintenance order?

The court can only grant a Child Maintenance Order if both parents consent to doing so. Therefore, any modification would also need to be by consent.

However, if you and your ex-partner cannot agree to the modification, any party is able to apply to the Child Maintenance Service to vary this order in accordance with their individual circumstances.

But please note this cannot be applied for until 12 months has elapsed since the date of the original Child Maintenance Order.

Bright and experienced Family Solicitors

If you have any questions following this article, or would like to instruct us to assist you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our bright Family Team.

We offer a free initial chat for all new clients, so you can speak to us to iron out the details and discuss your circumstances before committing to anything.

You can call us on 01202 499255 or fill out the form at the top of this page to find out more.

The content of this article, blog or video is not intended as specific legal advice. For tailored assistance, please contact a member of our team.