Child maintenance

Child maintenance is governed by the Child Support Act 1991, one of the key principles of which is that it is intended that child maintenance is not within the jurisdiction of the Court, but the Secretary of State.

Any parent can apply to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) for a calculation to be carried out.

In the case of a divorce, therefore, it is important to be aware that any agreement about child maintenance may last for only one year, as after the first anniversary of the order, either party can apply to the CMS for a calculation assessment to be carried out, which would take precedence over the agreement set out in the order.

There are a few examples when the court can have jurisdiction, and these include the following

  • “Topping Up” when the maximum amount under the formula has been reached, it is deemed appropriate and there is sufficient means for an additional amount to be paid. In such a case a child maintenance calculation must have already been carried out.
  • “Education expenses”, for example private school fees.
  • “Disabled children” If the child is registered disabled, an order can be made for payments to be paid to meet “some or all of any expenses attributable to the child’s disability”.

In order to work out what your particular child maintenance obligations are you can visit the CMS website: