Whatever stage of the divorce process you are at, one thing remains the same: as a parent your children always come first. So it is very important to familiarise yourself with how you can help support them emotionally, but also financially.
Here we take a look at fathers’ rights regarding child maintenance UK.
About Child Maintenance UK
Also known as child support, this refers to the amount of money you are responsible for contributing to your child’s upbringing. Child maintenance is paid to the person that takes care of the child on a day-to-day basis.
How much you pay depends on whether the child lives with you and how often they stay with you overnight. Family law assigns a title to each parent: the parent with care (PWC) and the non-resident parent (NRP).
If you have a dispute about whom your child or children should live with, this must be resolved in a family court. If equal child arrangements are granted, each parent is still assigned the aforementioned title of PWC or NRP. The non-resident parent is responsible for providing child maintenance for their child. This can be paid directly to your ex-partner or a third party living with the child or guardian.
What Are Your Rights as a Father?
Women gain automatic responsibility for their child when they give birth. For men it isn’t as straightforward.
You have rights as the father of your child if:
- You and the child’s mother are married.
- Your child was born after 1st December 2003 and you are cited as the child’s father on the birth certificate.
- Your name was later added to the birth certificate as the father.
- You previously signed a Parental Responsibility Agreement.
- You have been granted parental responsibility or an Order of Residency by a Magistrate, a Justice of the Peace or the Family Court.
Arranging Child Maintenance Outside of a Demand by the Child Support Agency
If you and your partner still have an amicable relationship, it may be worth arranging your child maintenance out of court. This private agreement is classed as a ‘family-based arrangement’. It’s imperative that both you and your ex-partner make a copy of the signed document. This way you can come back to the agreement if a payment dispute is raised.
However, the private option isn’t for everyone. If you can’t come to an agreement, it is best to go through the formal route with the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
How to Apply for Child Maintenance
It’s worth talking to Child Maintenance Options before you submit your application with the CMS. They will discuss the different choices available and help find the right one for you and your ex-partner.
The child maintenance can be paid to the parent responsible for caring for the child on a regular basis. This option is known as Direct Pay.
It’s also possible to pay the child maintenance directly to the CMS, who will then pass this on to the parent taking care of the child on a day-to-day basis. Unlike Child Maintenance Options, CMS is a paid service.
Calculating Child Maintenance
Family finances can be a challenge at the best of times, so it can be difficult to calculate how much child maintenance needs to be paid following a divorce.
That’s where the CMS can help. With financial information provided by both parents, they can determine how much child maintenance is due. The CMS may also draw information from other sources, like current employers and HMRC.
For more information on how child maintenance is calculated, visit the Child Maintenance Service site.
Failing to Make Payments
It’s important to make sure that you can keep up the regular child maintenance payments. A failure to make payments is likely to have an impact on your child’s welfare. The CMS may take the following steps to retrieve the unpaid funds:
- Deduct money from your salary, benefits or bank account
- Instruct bailiffs to remove goods from your home to the value of the amount owed (England and Scotland)
- Revoke your driver’s licence
Karim Assaad is a London divorce solicitor at Cordell & Cordell. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience practicing family law, owning a proven record of providing indispensable advice to clients and delivering positive outcomes for them.
You can contact Karim on 0330 60 60 161 or by visiting http://cordellcordell.co.uk/.
Child Maintenance UK Number – 0800 028 7439
Child Support Agency UK – www.gov.uk/child-maintenance/overview