Handing over money to a former husband, wife, or ex-partner can be galling. That’s especially the case when you are paying child maintenance and you don’t think that your former spouse or ex-partner is spending the child maintenance on your child. In this article divorce settlement and child support solicitor, Robin Charrot, looks at whether you can pay child maintenance direct to your child.
Who do you have to pay child maintenance to?
Child maintenance is normally paid to the parent who has primary care of the child. It isn’t paid to the child direct. Normally if child maintenance is paid after an assessment by the Child Maintenance Service, or after a financial court order is made in the family court, the Child Maintenance Service will encourage and the court will order that the child support is paid by direct debit to the receiving parent.
If parents reach an agreement over child support, and there is no Child Maintenance Service or court involvement, then it is possible to agree to pay the child maintenance direct to the child.
Is it best to pay child maintenance direct to a child?
You may think that as child maintenance is financial support for the child that payment of the money should go direct to an older child. However, child support isn’t just about a clothing or an entertainment allowance for an older child. Child maintenance is also meant to contribute towards the main carer’s household bills and other items, such as:
- The mortgage or rent.
- Utility bills and other expenses that the child benefits from. For example, the broadband or Sky television package.
- Food and other essentials.
- The child’s clothing.
- The additional costs of looking after a child, such as presents, annual holiday , school trips etc.
Whilst you may say that:
- Your former partner owns their home outright and so has no mortgage or
- Your former partner lives with a partner who pays all the household bills or
- You have no confidence that any of the money given to your former partner is spent on the child as the child is poorly clothed whilst your ex-partner has the latest technological gadget or designer clothing or is always off on a weekend away without the child.
The bottom line is that most parents say that they want child maintenance to be handed over to them, rather than given direct to the child. That’s because a direct handover of money can:
- Make the child more aware of the parental conflict.
- Create anxiety in the child.
- Create conflict between child and main carer as the child sees all the child support as ‘their money’ to spend on themselves, rather than a contribution towards household expenses.
Can you split child maintenance between a child and the parent with care of a child?
If you are keen to pay child maintenance direct to your child you could have a conversation about whether you can pay some child maintenance by direct debit to your ex-partner and the balance direct to your child as a personal clothing or entertainment allowance.
Does the Child Maintenance Service taken into account money paid direct to a child?
If you pay money direct to a child and your ex-spouse or former partner then applies to the Child Maintenance Service for a child support assessment the Child Maintenance Service will carry out a calculation of your liability to pay child support. When calculating the amount of child support payable the Child Maintenance Service will look at your income rather than your outgoings and therefore won’t take into account the payments made direct to your child.
Agreeing direct payments to a child
If you are able to reach an agreement on paying child support direct to a child then it is best to record that, either in your separation agreement or in your financial court order, as part of the overall financial settlement. However, if financial circumstances change, the parent with primary care could change their mind and ask for direct payments to be made.
Child support and financial settlements
If you have separated from a former partner or are in the midst of divorce proceedings with a husband or wife it is best to consider child support as part of your overall financial settlement, rather than look at it in isolation to other aspects such as payment of spousal maintenance and whether you will get to stay in the family home or if it will be sold or transferred to your partner.
Financial settlement and child maintenance solicitors
Evolve Family Law offices are in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Whitefield, North Manchester but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call.
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