FAMILY-BASED ARRANGEMENTS: First of all, both parents must agree to the arrangement of child maintenance.
But, if both parents agree to it, they can make a private ‘family-based arrangement’ to sort out payments for child maintenance.
Arranging child maintenance yourself does not involve the ‘official channels’ like the CSA. Thus, parents will arrange everything by themselves.
Even so, setting up this kind of child maintenance arrangement is flexible. For example, both parties can adjust the agreement if there are changes to their circumstances.
If you arrange child maintenance yourself you will need to agree the schedule. Thus, you must both concur the payment amounts and the frequency of payments.
As a rule, there will be no official paperwork if you arrange your own child maintenance agreement. But, it is good policy to keep a written copy of the agreement in case there are any disagreements in the future.
There are some standard things to agree when fixing up child maintenance by yourself. Thus, parents who live apart could agree that the paying parent will pay:
- A set amount (proportion) of their weekly or monthly income.
- The costs of certain items instead of handing over the money (e.g. for the child’s school uniform).
- A fixed amount and paid ‘directly’ on a regular basis to the parent with care.
Note: Several organisations have examples if you need help to write down an agreement. One of the best is the family-based arrangement form created by ‘Child Maintenance Options’.
Calculating the Payments
There is further help available when parents agree to make regular payments. The child maintenance calculator helps you work out how much the payments should be.
Agreeing Family-based Arrangement Payments
You can also get free help from Child Maintenance Options. They offer information on setting up a family-based arrangement. They also provide assistance on agreeing payments.
Formalising a Child Maintenance Arrangement
There is one big disadvantage to forming a family-based arrangement yourself. As a rule, it would not be ‘legally’ binding. You can ask court to formalise the agreement. This would then make it a ‘legally’ binding arrangement. Contact Child Maintenance Options for further information.
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Dealing with Disagreements
It is not uncommon to have a disagreement during the set up or in the future. In this case, it may be better to use the Child Maintenance Service or Child Support Agency.
They will help you to make a ‘statutory arrangement‘. This would be a new formal arrangement instead of the one you arranged yourself.
Note: You will need to contact Child Maintenance Options before making a statutory arrangement. There is a fee for arranging payments through the Child Maintenance Service.