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Family Law

Navigating Child Support And Maintenance Post-Divorce

Learn about child maintenance, financial disclosure, agreements, CMS enforcement if your ex-partner does not pay (or is hiding assets). Read more...

child maintenance support

Child Maintenance

Divorce is always more complex when children are involved. You will need to think about child support and maintenance. 

Child maintenance is a payment from the non-resident parent to the parent with whom the children have their primary place of residence. The purpose is to:

  • help the primary carer meet the children’s day-to-day financial needs
  • ensure the non-resident parent is providing adequate financial support. 

Child maintenance is payable up until the age of 16 (or 20 if the child remains in full time education). 

Learn more about negotiating settlements; what to do when negotiations break down, and how courts decide on the splitting of finances. Find out more here...

Understanding the Child Maintenance Service (CMS)

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is the primary authority responsible for calculating and enforcing child maintenance payments.

It plays a key role in setting up and managing child maintenance arrangements. You will need to consider your legal obligations and the best interests of your children when dealing with the CMS.

The CMS uses a formula to calculate child maintenance based on the paying parent’s income, the amount of time spent with each parent, the number of children involved and other relevant factors.

This formula is designed to provide a guideline for establishing fair and reasonable maintenance arrangements.

Enforcement

Unfortunately, not all parents getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership comply with their child maintenance obligations voluntarily.

In such cases, an application can be made to the CMS. It can enforce payment. Measures may include deductions from earnings or bank accounts. Legal action is also an option.

Similarly, if there are concerns about the receiving parent not using the maintenance for the child’s benefit, appropriate legal steps can be taken to address the issue.

Voluntary Agreements

While the CMS provides a framework for child maintenance, parents can also come to voluntary agreements without involving the CMS.

However, it’s essential to formalise these agreements in writing to avoid misunderstandings or disputes later on.

If any agreement on maintenance is reached, this can be drawn up into a consent order to provide the parents with a legal framework to rely upon.

Without a written agreement, voluntary arrangements may not be legally enforceable. This can cause issues later down the line (such as debts).

It is important to take legal advice before agreeing to anything. Book a free chat with a family lawyer.

Changes In Circumstances

Child maintenance arrangements may need to be reviewed periodically, especially if there are significant changes in either parent’s financial circumstances or the child’s needs. This could include changes in income, living arrangements or childcare expenses.

It’s important to communicate openly and address any changes promptly to ensure your child gets the financial support they need.

Financial Disclosure

An integral part of establishing child maintenance arrangements is full and honest financial disclosure from both parents. This includes providing details of income, assets and any other relevant financial information.

Both parents must be transparent and forthcoming during this process. Failure to disclose accurate financial details can lead to disputes later on.

If you suspect that your former partner is trying to conceal assets,  you should consult a family law solicitor. They can initiate a process called financial discovery (formally requesting that your former partner discloses all relevant financial information).

This can include details of income, assets, debts, bank accounts, property ownership, investments and any other financial resources.

If Your Former Partner Fails To Disclose Assets

In cases where there are suspicions of hidden assets or financial discrepancies, your solicitor may recommend hiring a forensic accountant. They can analyse financial records, bank statements, tax returns and other documents to identify any discrepancies or undisclosed assets.

Sometimes, discrepancies between your former partner’s reported income and their lifestyle or expenditures can indicate hidden assets or undisclosed income. Your solicitor can investigate discrepancies between reported income and actual living expenses. Luxury purchases, extravagant holidays or unexplained wealth are obvious clues.

If your former partner still refuses to disclose their finances accurately, your solicitor can seek court intervention.

Courts have the authority to compel your former partner to disclose their finances truthfully – and can penalise non-compliance.

Judges have a wide range of measures at their disposal, including costs orders and compensation orders. Anyone found to be in contempt of court can be fined or even jailed.

In some cases, mediation or other collaborative law approaches can be effective in resolving disputes over financial disclosure without resorting to lengthy court proceedings.

These methods involve negotiating with your former partner in a controlled environment with the assistance of legal professionals and trained mediators.

Throughout the process, it’s essential to protect your legal rights and interests. Ensure that all communications and agreements are documented in writing and reviewed by your solicitor before proceeding.

Do not hesitate to assert your rights. Seek legal recourse if you suspect dishonesty from your former partner.   

Next Steps: Get Expert Help

  • Consult a Family Lawyer. Professional advice is invaluable. Book a chat with a family lawyer to discuss your situation.
  • Financial Planning. Start planning for your post-divorce financial future. Consult an independent financial adviser.
  • Support Systems. Divorce can be emotionally taxing. Support from professionals, friends, and family is crucial during this time.

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Navigating Child Support And Maintenance Post-Divorce

Navigating Child Support And Maintenance Post-Divorce

Learn about child maintenance, financial disclosure, agreements, CMS enforcement if your ex-partner does not pay (or is hiding assets). Rea...