Children holding jigsaws

Child maintenance

Child maintenance is regular, reliable financial support paid towards a child’s everyday living costs. The parent without the main day-to-day care of the child (the parent who pays, previously called the non-resident parent or NRP) pays child maintenance to the parent with the main day-to-day care (the parent who receives maintenance, previously called the parent with care or PWC). In some cases, a grandparent or guardian can be paid child maintenance if they are the child’s main carer.

Sorting it out yourselves

If you think you can sort out child maintenance between yourselves, you don’t need to use the courts or the CMS. A private agreement is an arrangement between you and the other parent about how much maintenance will be paid. You can use the child maintenance calculator to work out what the statutory maintenance payments might be. Child Maintenance Options provides an example private agreement but it is explicitly stated to be not legally binding. If you want a binding private agreement you may need to speak to a Resolution member about this.

Using the CMS

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is the government’s statutory child maintenance service. The CMS took over from the Child Support Agency or CSA for all new child support cases in December 2013. It can calculate and collect child maintenance for you, and can act as a trusted third party if you don’t want any contact with the other parent of your child.

How the courts can help

There are some cases where the courts can help with child maintenance, for example if the parent who pays lives overseas, is a very high earner, or if there are school fees to pay.

Where can I get information about my options?

Child Maintenance Options is a free service providing information and support for separating parents. To speak to someone today, call 0800 988 0988 or visit the Options website. For specialist legal advice see our directory to find a Resolution member.

You can also visit our FAQs section for more information.