Following the breakdown of a relationship, the priority of parents is to make sure their children are appropriately cared for. As well as working out day to day living arrangements, a key part of this is ensuring that children are financially secure and that the parent with day-to-day care has appropriate financial support for the benefit of the children. Although breakups are painful and can be acrimonious, having an amicable and reasoned discussion about this financial support is an important step for parents to take.
Parents who have not been able to reach agreement between themselves have the option of asking the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), which replaced the Child Support Agency (CSA), to make the calculation of how much child maintenance is due and collect and monitor payment. Existing child maintenance arrangements made through the CSA will continue to run until the end of 2017. When this comes to an end, parents must seek to make either a private arrangement or an arrangement through the Child Maintenance Service.
However, as of 30 June 2014, use of the Child Maintenance Service is subject to a fee. An application fee of £20 must be paid to begin the process. From 11 August 2014, users of the Child Maintenance Scheme’s ‘Collect and Pay’ service will have to pay a percentage fee on top of their regular child maintenance fee. Those parents paying the maintenance will have to pay an extra 20% on top of their regular payments and those parents receiving the maintenance will have a 4% fee deducted from their regular child maintenance payment. Enforcement charges of up to £300 may also be incurred where an agreed amount is unpaid.
In simple terms, a significant chunk of the money paid by the paying parent will not actually go towards the care of their children, but rather to the CMS.
Often the best, most amicable and ultimately cheapest outcome for parents can be achieved through a private arrangement. If you are struggling to reach an agreement, family mediation provides a non-confrontational, cost-effective way to resolve these issues without going through the Child Maintenance Service. Our family mediators will enable you to have discussions in a safe, well managed way so that you can come to an agreement that works well for your whole family. By facilitating better communication as a way to help you sort out these issues, we help you to lay the foundations for a more co-operative relationship in the future.
Family mediation can be used to resolve other issues arising from family breakdown, including living arrangements for children, and matrimonial financial issues generally. Mediation helps you and your former partner reach joint agreements. It focuses on developing practical solutions to problems that might otherwise feel overwhelming.
Legal aid is available if you are eligible.
For more information about Family Mediation call Louise Law on 0191 222 0830 or Chat Live.