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Covid-19 and child maintenance

Covid-19 and child maintenance

Many employees have been put on furlough leave or have been made redundant and both paying and receiving parents will be wondering what this means for payments of child maintenance or child aliment.

Here is an overview of the options available to both paying and receiving parents depending on what type of arrangement is in place, if this is an issue.

What if I have a CMS assessment?

If your child maintenance is calculated through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) and the income of the paying parent has changed by 25% as a result of Covid-19, the CMS will adjust any CMS calculation if that change is reported to them.  If your income has reduced by 25% or if you believe child maintenance should no longer be paid, you should call the CMS on 0800 171 2345. Please note though that the CMS have advised they are receiving high call volumes.

Written agreements or court orders

If the amount of child maintenance you pay or receive is documented in a written agreement (a Minute of Agreement or separation agreement) or a court order, your first port of call will be to look at the written agreement or court order to see what exactly the obligation to pay child maintenance is.

Generally, communication between parents is the best way of dealing with matters. If the amount needs to be changed It would be hoped that most separated parents will work together to agree any appropriate changes to the amount being paid even if only on a temporary basis for now.

It is recommended to document these temporary changes by putting a short written agreement in place to ensure that there is no dubiety at a later stage on what is or is not due and to make it clear that the existing agreement or court order should not apply or be enforced in the meantime or at a later date.   Have the agreement drafted or looked over by a specialist family law solicitor to make sure the temporary arrangement doesn’t cause you any issues at a later stage.

Informal family-based agreement

If you have an informal family-based agreement which is not documented in any written agreement, parents will need to communicate with one another about any temporary changes which require to be made to ensure that everyone can cover their essential expenditure.  If that is not possible or an agreement cannot be reached between parents you may find it helpful to involve help from a solicitor, or better still, a mediator – most solicitors are able to give advice on-line and it is possible to mediate with a mediator via video call.

 

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