Child Maintenance Options

Your Child Maintenance Options

Child Maintenance is changing and parent now have the opportunity make a Family Based Arrangement if they wish. Private arrangements will be encouraged but parents need to be fully aware of which arrangements are legally binding and which are not, so as to make the right choices. Some of those choices are detailed below, and we also have a Family Based Arrangement pack which includes a template agreement for parents to utlitise for their own arrangements

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Family Based Arrangement (FBA):

  • These are informal arrangements made between parents with no involvement from outside sources.
  • They can be written or verbal
  • They can promote good parenting as parents work together to decide what is best for them and their children.
  • FBA’s can cover all elements of raising your children, and not restricted to monetary arrangements.
  • They can be flexible, and change as and when necessary.
  • They incur no cost and are easy to set up.

Consent Orders or Minutes of Agreement:

  • Consent Orders are formal agreements made by parents and approved by the court.
  • Consent orders are only applicable in England and Wales.  In Scotland, arrangements can be registered as a Minute of Agreement in Books of Council and Sessions
  • Consent Orders and Minutes of Agreement are both legally binding and can be enforced if defaulted upon.
  • These are often arranged during other court applications involved in divorce and separation.
  • Although legally binding, a Consent Order or Minute of Agreement will only prevent an application to Child Maintenance Service (CMS) for the first 12 months.
  • After 12 months, either parent can apply to CMS.

Statutory Scheme – CMS:

  • If a Family Based Arrangement or Consent Order/Minute of Agreement is not appropriate, or has broken down parents will need to apply to the Statutory Scheme managed by Child Maintenance Service.
  • A parent will need to speak to the Government’s Child Maintenance Options service to discuss the options available for child support payments.
  • If the parent still wishes to use the Statutory Scheme, an application fee of £20 will be charged, and a reference number provided.
  • The reference number provided will be required to apply to CMS.
  • Parents will have a choice on whether to use Direct Pay service, or Collect and Pay service, the latter of which will attract further fees, of 4% for the Receiving Parent to pay, and 20% for the Paying Parent to pay