15% of parents manage child maintenance privately
For some time parents have been encouraged to reach ‘family-based’ arrangements for child maintenance rather than using the Child Support Agency (CSA) or its successor body the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) (family-based arrangements are private arrangements whereby parents manage the payment and receipt of maintenance between themselves without government help). Parents can use an online calculator provided by the Child Maintenance Options website to find out how much they out to be paying or receiving.
A new report from the Department for Work and Pensions (the government department with responsibility for child maintenance) shows that currently 15% of parents are successfully using family-based arrangements and in 2013/14 these successful arrangements benefited over 40,000 children.
Since the inception of Child Maintenance Options over 6 years ago nearly 200,000 children have been the subject of private maintenance agreements.
The Child Maintenance Options website explains how family-based arrangements work and what alternatives are available if they are not right for a particular family. While family-based arrangements are to be encouraged – there is strong evidence that seeing parents work flexibly together even though they are divorced is beneficial to children – they are not for everybody. If, for example, there has been domestic violence or issues with reliability of payments, then parent may prefer to arrange the payment of child maintenance through either the CSA if they have an existing case or the CMS for new cases.
In an article published in September we looked at the wind-down of the CSA and how parents will be affected. Read more here: CSA Closure: what next for parents?
Alternatively parents can put their child maintenance in writing through a Consent Order, or in Scotland a Minute of Agreement.
The Child Maintenance Options site has useful tools for working out what you should be paid, or be paying, and help you compare your options for arranging and receiving child maintenance. The site also has a great deal of useful information about dealing with relationship breakdown and separation generally.
You can find the site here or you can telephone Child Maintenance Options on 0800 988 0988.