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How much child maintenance should be paid is a common question for most separated parents. The answer will depend on the individual circumstances of you and your separated family.

Most separated parents find that the best way to agree on a child maintenance amount is to do the following:
  1. 1. Look at how much money you and the other parent have got coming in and going out.
  2. 2. Work out what your child needs and what these things cost.
  3. 3. Decide between you who should pay for what.

We have some tools that can help you with this.

Our budget planner will show how much money you have coming in, what's going out and what you have left over.

Our expenditure form aims to help you work out what your child's needs are.

How you decide to share the cost is up to the two of you. For example, you might decide to 'split the difference'. Or, you might want to vary the amount according to how much you each earn. Another way is to agree that one parent pays for the larger one-off expenses, while the other pays for day-to-day costs.

Remember, if you make a family-based arrangement, you can always change your child maintenance payments if your circumstances change in the future, if you and your ex agree to it.

For more about family-based arrangements, see our section Agreeing child maintenance.

If you're finding it hard to reach an agreement:

If you're struggling to agree on a child maintenance amount, we've got some tips and suggestions to help you talk things through, in our section Talking about child maintenance .

You can also use our child maintenance calculator to find out how much your child maintenance payments would be if you used the Child Support Agency. This figure is only an estimate but you could use it as a starting point for discussing your family-based arrangement.

Questions about child maintenance amounts or family-based arrangements? Ask us in the Child Maintenance Clinic on the forum.