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Parents living apart can also arrange child maintenance using a court order (in England and Wales), or a Minute of Agreement (in Scotland). You would usually need to get legal advice to do this, and pay legal costs.  Of course you can get more legal support from other Wikivorce pages on going through the courts and using a solicitor.

Consent order (a type of court order in England and Wales)

This is an official ruling made by a court. It’s more commonly used when parents are deciding a divorce settlement or sharing assets, and need to work with a solicitor to agree the amount of child maintenance to be paid. They will then apply to the court to turn the agreement into a consent order. A consent order means the court can enforce payment if the terms of the agreement are not met

If you have a consent order, this can be changed to a CSA arrangement if an application to use the CSA is submitted by either parent, but not for the first 12 months the consent order has been in place.

Minute of Agreement (in Scotland)

Things are slightly different in Scotland. If you can make a family-based arrangement with the other parent (usually with help from solicitors), it can be made into a contract called a minute of agreement. This can be registered to make it legally binding, without the need to go to court.

If you have a minute of agreement already in place, it can be changed to a CSA arrangement if an application to the CSA is submitted by either parent (but not for the first 12 months it’s been in place).

If child maintenance payments stop or fall into arrears, a sheriff officer can collect and enforce payments. Again you will probably find there are legal costs involved.

To arrange a court order, you are likely to need:

  • information about your income, and the other parent’s
  • details of living costs for your child, such as school costs, clothing and food
  • a date for when you propose to review the agreement

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