With the news awash with stories of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s shock divorce, we take a look at the issues about child maintenance.
Are issues about child maintenance the same as spousal maintenance?
Although child and spousal maintenance are not the same thing, they are sometimes grouped together and paid to the children’s main carer as a kind of ‘global maintenance’. This type of maintenance is paid to support the whole household, rather than just the children. In this scenario, you may want to agree with your spouse that you’ll review the situation when any of the children turn 18.
Is it a good idea to apportion maintenance between my children and myself?
If any of your children are about to turn 16 or are finishing full time education, you should be careful how you apportion the maintenance payments. This is because these scenarios can trigger the end of the maintenance for the child and could leave your household short of money.
How do I apply for child maintenance?
You and your spouse may be able to agree an amount between yourselves, without any external involvement. If you cannot come to an agreement either between yourselves, or through processes such as mediation, you are able to apply to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
How much child maintenance can I expect to receive?
Child Maintenance Options has a calculator on their website that you can use to see how much you may receive in child maintenance from your spouse. The calculator can also be useful even if you don’t intend to apply to the CMS, as it can provide a starting point for your discussions with your spouse.
Do I have to pay for the CMS?
The CMS charge a £20 application fee and have enforcement charges if your spouse doesn’t pay. If you decide to use its ‘Collect and Pay’ service – where it collects the money from your spouse and pays it to you – there are fees associated with this.
Are there circumstances when applying to the CMS wouldn’t be a good idea?
If you or your spouse are high net worth individuals with complex finances, applying to the CMS may not be the best option. Also, you wouldn’t be able to apply to the CMS if either you or your spouse lives abroad. If any of these circumstances apply to you, it is best to get specialist legal advice with a solicitor experienced in working with high net worth or international individuals as soon as possible.
Before making any final decisions about child maintenance amounts and how they will be handled, it is important to get specialist legal advice about your situation from a specialist divorce lawyer.
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