How the courts can help
If you are able to reach informal agreement between yourselves about child maintenance or are using the Child Maintenance Service then you may decide not to seek legal advice. We think it is always a good idea to have a chat with a lawyer just to make sure you're not missing something. This is especially true if your circumstances are complicated or fall outside the CMS.
The child maintenance regulations are vast and can be complicated or unusual, depending on your circumstances. It is worth speaking with a lawyer to see whether this is or could be you.
There are some cases where the CMS does not have the power to be involved and in these cases you could apply to the Court for an order:
- For example if the parent without day-to-day care lives overseas
- For stepchildren. Divorcing parents usually have a responsibility to provide financial support for all children who've lived as part of the family
- To top up maintenance if the parent without the day-day care is a high earner (usually more than £3,000 per week gross)
- If money is needed for school or university fees
- If money is needed to meet the costs of a child's disability
- For children who have completed secondary education
If your circumstances involve any of these issues and you cannot reach an agreement, then it should be dealt with by the Court rather than the CMS and it would be a good idea to talk things through with a Resolution member, so that you can better understand the court's approach.
Already in Court to sort other financial matters?
If you and your ex have privately reached agreement about child maintenance, but are in court to sort out other financial matters, pensions or housing for example, then you could ask the Court to include your child maintenance agreement as part of the final court order. This has the benefit of potentially giving you the option to ask the Court to enforce the agreement if necessary and you don’t wish to use the CMS. Care will be needed in creating the right form of order. Generally matters could be returned to the CMS 12 months after the order is made.
Getting nowhere with the CMS?
If you have a complaint about the CMS and their handling of your case which you have been unable to resolve through their regular complaints channel a Resolution member may be able to help.