Sorting it out yourselves
If you think you can sort out child support between yourselves, you don’t need to use the courts or the CSA. A private agreement is an arrangement between you and the other parent about how much maintenance will be paid.
Where can I get information about my options?
Child Maintenance Options is a free service providing unbiased information and support for separating parents. To speak to someone today, call 0800 988 0988 or visit the Options website.
There’s plenty of help available for setting up private agreements, and there are lots of benefits to making a private agreement:
- It’s fast and simple to set up
- There’s not much paperwork to do – just fill in a private agreement form to record your arrangement
- It can help to keep a friendly relationship between you and the other parent
- You can have a flexible arrangement. For example:
Agree between yourselves on how much payments will be, and when they will be made
If any of your circumstances change, you can alter your arrangement immediately, as long as you both agree to it
Payments can be flexible, with payments in kind such as school uniforms or shoes for your child instead of money.
Child Maintenance Options can talk you through the positives and negatives of private agreements, and help you decide if this option is suitable for you and your child.
If a private agreement breaks down what are your options?
If you and your ex work out child maintenance between yourselves it won't usually be legally binding. This means that if the agreement breaks down, you would not be able to enforce it and would need to ask the CSA to take over. You would begin again at the start of the CSA process.
If you're not entirely comfortable with this, you could think about making a private agreement that would be legally binding and there are ways that this can be done. To start with you would both need to be quite clear that you were entering into a legal agreement and you would need to record that fact. Then if the agreement broke down you would have the option of enforcing it in the small claims court instead of starting over with the CSA.
If you do decide that you'd like to record your private agreement as a legally binding agreement then you might like to take a look at a sample form which shows how this might be done. The form is not a substitute for individual legal advice and if you want your private agreement to be legally binding we'd strongly urge you to talk it through with a lawyer first.
Find a Resolution lawyer
A trusted lawyer can play a big part in helping to sort out issues involving the care of the children, the home and the finances. Wherever you are there is a Resolution member near you, ready to help and able to talk you through mediation, collaborative law and the different processes you can use to sort things out.