0345 604 4911

Child Maintenance Solicitors

A "great team" with a "very modern approach"

Legal 500, 2016

A "great team" with a "very modern approach"

Legal 500, 2016

If you’re going through a divorce or separation, we know that your biggest concern will be your children. Our child maintenance lawyers can help you agree how much you or your former partner should pay going forward, change the terms of an existing agreement, or help if maintenance payments have stopped.

Child maintenance is paid by the parent who the child does not live with for the majority of the time. There are three ways that child maintenance can be agreed:

  1. Agreeing maintenance payments directly with your former partner – also known as a “family-based arrangement”, this is usually the cheapest and quickest way to agree child maintenance.
  2. The Child Maintenance Service – a government scheme that calculates the maintenance payment for you. However, you will have to pay some charges and financial penalties if the Child Maintenance Service is forced to get involved in your case.
  3. Court Order – the court has the power to set maintenance payments. This is usually the case when the paying parent has a high income and/or lives abroad.

Generally speaking, child maintenance is paid until your child reaches 16 (or 20 if they continue in full time education). If you or your former partner’s circumstances change, then you are able to change the terms of your agreement.

Our child maintenance solicitors take a no-nonsense approach to agreeing arrangements for children following a relationship breakdown. We are known for being firm in protecting our clients’ interests, but also for being honest about your chances of achieving what you want. Our lawyers often help people who have received bad advice from another law firm, or whose corner has not been fought.

If you’d like to talk to us about your situation, please contact us to arrange a consultation with one of our child maintenance lawyers. You can call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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  • Ros Bever
  • National Head of Family Law
Meet the team
Martin Loxley
Martin Loxley Sheffield

"Absolutely fantastic", "nationally known, pragmatic, and a hard negotiator."

Legal 500, 2016
Child Maintenance - More Information
    • What Is The Legal Position Of Unmarried Parents?
    • If you are unmarried and have parental responsibility, then you have the same rights as any married parent.

      For same sex couples the legal situation is a little more complicated. There have been a number of changes to the law in recent years and child arrangements can depend on how the child was conceived or came into the family.

      If you’re in a same sex relationship and are worried about your parental rights, it’s best to seek advice from a family law specialist before taking any action. Call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

    • Will I Have To Go To Court?
    • You do not have to go to court when deciding the arrangements for your children – you do not even need to get a legally recognised agreement in place if you have agreed things amicably, between yourselves.

      However, it can be helpful to get your agreement written down in case things change between you and your former partner in the future. You might decide also to get your agreement approved by the court in a child arrangements order, so it becomes legally binding.

      Even if you can’t agree between yourselves, you may be able to reach an agreement about child arrangements using an out of court process such as mediation. This involves using an impartial third party (a mediator) to help you and your former partner discuss the issues between you, and help you negotiate. 

      The court will usually expect that you’ll have tried to negotiate between yourselves (and to have considered a process such as mediation) before it will hear your case. If you can’t settle your dispute out of court, then you will have to go through the court process where a judge will decide your case for you.

      Our specialist lawyers are experienced in child arrangements and can provide expert advice and support throughout the process. For a consultation about your case, call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.


    • Do You Accept Legal Aid Cases?
    • Legal aid is no longer available to help parents in private disputes over child arrangements, except in certain circumstances, such as certain cases of domestic violence. Unfortunately we can’t accept legal aid cases, but if we believe that your circumstances might entitle you to receive legal aid, we will refer you to a firm that can help you. You may also be able to find a suitable firm on the government’s website.


Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Agree Child Maintenance With My Former Partner?

It’s usually better if you can agree child maintenance with your former partner directly. However, sometimes there can be disagreements about certain issues, which make it hard to come to an agreement.

In these instances you might benefit from a solicitor negotiating on your behalf, or from an out of court process such as mediation. This is where an impartial third party (a mediator) helps you agree child maintenance payments. This could be as part of a broader financial settlement depending on your circumstances.

If you can’t agree you have the options of:

  • The Child Maintenance Service – this government-run organisation calculates the payment. However, there are charges and financial penalties if the service has to get involved.
  • Court Order – the court can make orders on child maintenance, but only if the Child Maintenance Service has not already made an assessment of your case. Court orders can be appropriate in cases such as where there is a high income or where one parent lives abroad.

Our child maintenance lawyers are hugely experienced in this area and can support you through the process, ensuring that your children are properly provided for following divorce or separation.

If you have any questions or concerns about child maintenance payments, call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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What If Child Maintenance Payments Have Stopped Or Have Been Withheld?

We understand that in many circumstances you may be depending on child maintenance payments and that not getting that money can place you in serious financial distress.

There a number of ways to enforce a child maintenance arrangement – although the exact options open to you will depend on the way that this was agreed:

  • If you agreed maintenance directly with your former partner – you may need to seek a court order or apply to the Child Maintenance Service to get a legally binding agreement (if the agreement you currently have is not binding already)
  • If it was calculated by the Child Maintenance Service – there are a few options the Service can take, such as seizing property or an Attachment of Earnings Order (where maintenance payments get taken directly from your former partner’s wages)
  • If a Child Maintenance Order was made by the Family Court – a range of options are available in addition to seizure of property or an Attachment of Earnings Order

If your former partner has stopped paying child maintenance, or is not making the agreed payments, our expert solicitors can help. We can talk you through the range of options available to you and will support you through the process of restoring a fair payment for the care of your children.

To arrange a consultation with one of our lawyers, please call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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Can Child Maintenance Arrangements Be Changed?

This will depend on the circumstances of your case, so it’s best to seek advice from a specialist child maintenance lawyer if you’re considering this.

There are many reasons why your child maintenance payments might need to be reviewed or changed, including if:

  • Your child no longer lives with the parent who is receiving the child maintenance
  • Your child spends more or less time living with you 
  • The paying parent’s income changes
  • The paying parent has had another child
  • Your child’s needs change (such as starting a new school, where the fees are different to before)
  • Your child decides to leave full time education

To find out more about how we can support you with changes to your child maintenance payments, call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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I live in Scotland, can Irwin Mitchell help me?

Our expert family law team works with a number of trusted partners to help our clients with family law issues in Scotland.

We’ll be your point of contact and manage the entire process for you throughout. You’ll get frequent progress updates and we’ll break down any legal jargon into plain English so you’re always in the loop.

To find out more about how we can help, give us a call on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online.

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