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Child Maintenance Contracts

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 12 Jun 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Child Maintenance Contract Finances

Child maintenance contracts are written or verbal agreements between two parents. One parent will agree to pay the parent residing with the child or children a fixed amount of money to take care of the child. The agreements can either be made by a private arrangement or by the use of a court order.

Private Agreements

Private agreements regarding child maintenance can have their advantages and disadvantages. On one hand it may be more simple and straightforward than involving solicitors and the legal system, and it may enhance some form of trust and goodwill between the parents. On the other hand if disputes do occur between the parents then there is no guarantee that the parent who is paying the maintenance will stick to the agreed payments. If this happens then the only recourse for the resident parent may by to take legal action.

Verbal or Written Agreements

Although verbal contracts are legally binding it is always a wise move to have all agreements made in writing. By doing this the written contract can be referenced at a future date if disputes between the parents do occur. When drafting a contract the parents should discuss exactly the terms and conditions of the contract, how much is to be paid and the frequency of the payments. There should also be the possibility of a review date for changing any conditions. For example if one parent were to move abroad or remarry would the maintenance payments change or continue as before.

A family solicitor can help if the parents would like the terms and conditions to be of a more formal nature. It may also be a good idea to have the agreement witnessed, and also signed and dated by both parents. In many cases if both parents do have a good relationship with each other then there may not be the need for a formal written agreement. But there is no guarantee that this amicable relationship will continue in the future. It may be in the child’s best interests to have a written child maintenance contract in place.

A Legally Binding Private Agreement

Privately agreed child maintenance contracts can be made legally binding by using a consent order. If the agreements were made with the help of mediators or family solicitor then a court can grant a consent order to enforce the child maintenance contract if the paying parent breaks the agreement.

The consent order can only be granted if an arrangement between the parents regarding child maintenance has been agreed. A solicitor will then present the information to the courts; this is known as a statement of information. If the court decides the agreement is fair, and a consent order is granted, then the child maintenance contract will be legally enforceable.

Child Support Agency

The Child Support Agency (CSA) can be brought in to force parents to pay maintenance for their children. They will calculate how much the non resident parent should be paying and they will have different methods available for enforcing the payments. Non payment of child maintenance is taken very seriously and action can be taken through the courts to enforce any child maintenance contracts that have been made and broken, or if a parent simply refuses to pay the maintenance.

The consequences of not paying child maintenance can include arrestment of earnings, seizure of goods and a disqualification of the non payer’s driving licence. The ultimate consequence could be prison for the non payer.

Child maintenance contracts will always be a sensitive subject. For most parents, paying child support will be a natural and straightforward process. But there will always be some non resident parents who, for one reason or another, will not or cannot pay maintenance. It is exactly for this reason, and for the welfare of the child, that child maintenance contracts and the Child Support Agency exist, and should be used.

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Loopyloo - Your Question:
We have been paying for my stepson for 18years consistently on a verbal agreement and agreed we would pay until he turned 18. he has. Now turned 18 and she has gone back on the agreement. And is asking for an extra £100 a month. we have no idea what to do

Our Response:
A few years ago, the rule making it compulsory for all children over the age of sixteen to stay on in further education came into force, meaning that parents have to support their children financially for longer. As long as the resident parent is eligible to claim child benefit, please see link here , then theoretically you are deemed responsible for continuing to pay child maintenance until the cut-off points listed. Your ex could take the matter to court if she wished to force the issue.
ContractsAndAgreements - 14-Jun-18 @ 12:56 PM
We have been paying for my stepson for 18years consistently on a verbal agreement and agreed we would pay until he turned 18.. he has. Now turned 18 and she has gone back on the agreement. And is asking for an extra £100 a month.. we have no idea what to do
Loopyloo - 12-Jun-18 @ 9:03 PM
Mmmm - Your Question:
I submitted my application for child maintenance and waiting to attend the court proceedings in April 2018. Just this week I spoke to my baby daddy and he says he will support. its been a year since he vanished and not poped a cent towards his son.During our conversation he told me about debts and that he is paying for two other children maintenance. This was so discouraging to me, is it worth going ahead with the court proceedings or must I consider just taking care of my son like I was doing though its straining my finances. What are the disadvantages of a verbal agreement and advantages of going ahead in court?

Our Response:
If you are based in the UK, the difference is; if you agree to a family-based arrangement then you have no recourse to claim arrears if he stops paying. If he stops paying then you would have to begin the court process over again. If you take the matter to court and the court says your child's father has to pay child maintenance, if he stops paying you can refer the matter back to court to have the order enforced. He would also be responsible for paying the missing payments/arrears.
ContractsAndAgreements - 6-Mar-18 @ 11:42 AM
I submitted my application for child maintenance and waiting to attend the court proceedings in April 2018. Just this week i spoke to my baby daddy and he says he will support. its been a year since he vanished and not poped a cent towards his son. During our conversation he told me about debts and that he is paying for two other children maintenance. This was so discouraging to me, is it worth going ahead with the court proceedings or must i consider just taking care of my son like i was doing though its straining my finances. What are the disadvantages of a verbal agreement and advantages of going ahead in court?
Mmmm - 5-Mar-18 @ 1:00 PM
I have a 9 months old girl and her father hasn't supported her for the past 4 months ge said to me ge can't.is it to early for me to go for maintenance court.
phizoy - 22-Dec-16 @ 8:49 AM
I have agreed a monthly sum with an ex-partner for our 6 1/2 year old Daughter. I have paid this amount for the last six year, never failing to make the payment. Can she go to the CSA and request that they now interven, in oder to gain more money from me?
Me - 9-Oct-14 @ 2:21 PM
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