All parents are obligated to financially support their child, regardless of whether they live with the child or are separated from the other parent. Child maintenance plays a crucial role in enhancing a child’s welfare and fostering positive family dynamics.

Child maintenance refers to the financial support provided by parents for their child following a separation. It contributes to covering a child’s daily living expenses and supports their overall development.

Recent years have seen significant changes in child maintenance legislation, particularly affecting parents who are the primary caregivers and receive benefits.

As of October 27, 2008, primary caregivers receiving benefits have the option to arrange child maintenance through a family-based agreement, bypassing the need to utilize the Child Support Agency (CSA) or court system. This adjustment ensures that child maintenance payments do not impact any state benefits the caregiver is entitled to.

Before these changes, primary caregivers on benefits were required to seek child maintenance through the CSA and could not opt for a family arrangement. However, since April 12, 2010, these caregivers can now retain their entire child maintenance payments without it affecting their benefit eligibility.

For those exploring child maintenance arrangements, the Child Maintenance Options (CMO) website is a valuable resource.

To assist in establishing a family-based arrangement or to understand what payments might be expected through the CSA or court orders, a child maintenance calculator is available. This tool provides estimates based on the CSA’s current guidelines.

A family-based child maintenance arrangement offers several advantages, including no setup costs, simplicity, and speed, as it doesn’t involve navigating official procedures or entities. It’s essentially an agreement between the two parents. Before deciding if this is the right path for your situation, consider the following:

  • Are you and the other parent able to cooperate and maintain trust?
  • Can you sustain the agreement over time?
  • Do you prefer to manage the arrangement independently?
  • Are you looking for a flexible solution that allows for payment adjustments in response to changing circumstances?

For more insights on family-based child maintenance arrangements and to determine if it’s the right choice for you, visit the Child Maintenance Options website at