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 CMS. 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 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.

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.

Note that the example private agreement offered by Child Maintenance Options is not legally binding.  This means that if one or other parent does not keep to the agreement then it cannot be enforced.  If you want a binding private agreement you can seek advice from a Resolution member.

If you do not know the income of the parent who pays or if that person has their own company through which they can control the income they receive you may need to seek legal advice.  

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 CMS to take over. You would begin again at the start of the CMS 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 was properly entered into and broke down, you would have the option of enforcing it in the small claims court instead of starting over with the CMS.

If you do decide that you'd like to record your private agreement as a legally binding agreement then we'd strongly urge you to talk it through with a lawyer first.

Find a Resolution member
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.