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Child maintenance is about providing help with a child's everyday living costs. This includes things like food and clothes, and helping to provide a home for your child or children.

Child maintenance is usually money that the parent without the main day-to-day care of a child pays to the other parent. But, sharing the care of your children and buying things directly for them can also be included in family-based child maintenance arrangements, if both parents agree to it.

About half of the children who live in separated families in Great Britain benefit from an arrangement where both parents contribute financially.

Many of these arrangements were made using the CSA. That's because the law used to say that if the parent with the main day-to-day care was receiving state benefits, they had to make their child maintenance arrangements this way.

Since the law changed, all parents - including those receiving benefits - can choose whether to use the CSA and set up a family-based child arrangement instead.

This is an arrangement between parents which doesn't involve anyone else. You might also have heard it called a family arrangement, a voluntary arrangement or private agreement.

Family-based arrangements give parents a greater degree of flexibility and control. For example, parents can decide between themselves what counts as child maintenance and when it should be paid.

Parents can also go through the courts to arrange child maintenance, if a family-based arrangement isn't right for them.

Questions about child maintenance? Ask us in the Child Maintenance Clinic on the forum.

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