Child maintenance is an arrangement between you and the other parent of your child. It covers how your child’s living costs will be paid for when one of the parents no longer lives with them. It’s made when you’ve separated from the other parent (or if you’ve never been in a relationship).
Both parents are responsible for the costs of raising their children, even if they do not see them. Making agreements about access to your children happens separately.
Child maintenance can be either:
- a private arrangement between you and the other parent
- made through the Child Maintenance Service - a government scheme
You need to have child maintenance arrangements for children under 16 (or under 20 if they’re in approved education or training). If you make a private arrangement you can continue paying after then.
Making Child Maintenance Arrangements
Arrange child maintenance yourself
You can make arrangements for your children if both parents agree. This might cover their living costs and care.
This is a private arrangement where you and the other parent organise everything yourselves. No one else has to be involved. It’s flexible and can be changed if your circumstances change. For example, you could both agree that one parent:
- does school or nursery pick ups
- looks after the children in the holidays
- pays a proportion of their income to the parent with day to day care
- pays for things like housing, school uniform, trips or after school clubs
- pays a regular set amount directly to the parent with care
Working out payments
If you agree to make regular payments, you can use the child maintenance calculator to help you decide how much payments should be.
Get help to make an arrangement
You can search for a local mediator to help you reach agreement about an arrangement.
You can read guidance on:
- working out the cost of raising your children
- having a conversation about child maintenance
- recording your agreement
Talk to Someone
You can contact Child Maintenance Options for support.
Child Maintenance Options
Using the Child Maintenance Service
The Child Maintenance Service is for parents who have not been able to make a private arrangement about how their child’s living costs will be paid. The payments are a fixed amount on a schedule.
Once the Child Maintenance Service calculates the maintenance amount, payments are usually managed between parents. The payments are fixed amounts paid on a schedule.
If you use the service to collect and transfer payments, you’ll pay a fee each time you make or receive a payment