Child maintenance

Child maintenance is regular, reliable financial support paid towards a child’s everyday living costs. There are different ways to arrange child maintenance and it’s up to you to choose the one that best suits your circumstances.

The government has set out a formula to help parents work out how child maintenance should be paid. Their online child maintenance calculator tool can be found here.  It does not deal with tricky situations - when you'll need specialist advice - but it does provide a useful benchmark.  

There are three options for arranging child maintenance with your ex:

  • a family based arrangement - you and your ex can make any arrangement you like for child maintenance provided you both agree. However, it will not be legally binding
  • the Child Maintenance Service (or CMS)  - the government-run CMS can calculate and administer child maintenance for you and your ex  if you can't reach an agreement yourselves
  • court - not only can court orders be used to turn non-legally binding agreements into binding ones but court orders can also deal with more complicated or unusual situations for example where the paying parent has a very high level of income, where school fees need to be paid and where the paying parent lives abroad. 

Our experience in child maintenance law 

As experts in the full range of options, we have guided clients from all walks of life through this highly technical area of law: 

  • helping parents to negotiate and agree family based arrangements (including through mediation or collaborative law) tailored to their family's circumstances
  • successfully obtaining "top up" maintenance orders in the court where the paying parent has a very high income
  • advising clients where parentage is disputed
  • successfully obtaining school fees orders
  • successfully challenging incorrect CMS calculations, including appearing before the Child Support Tribunal
  • advising clients with complex or unusual pay on their child maintenance obligations
  • regularly advising international families on their child maintenance obligations in England and Wales 


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