A private agreement for child maintenance is a voluntary agreement between a divorcing or separating couple that sets out the agreed schedule of child maintenance payments: how much will be paid, by whom, how often and for how many years.
You can make a private agreement if you and the other parent can agree on how to provide child maintenance for your child without involving the courts or the CSA. If you feel able to work with the other parent, then this could be an option for you. But whether this is your best option will depend on your circumstances.
If you are not the child’s parent but provide the main day-to-day care, you can also make a private agreement with either parent who is living apart from the child.
There are lots of benefits to having a Private Agreement:
- It’s quick and easy top set up
- There’s little paperwork to do
- There are no set rules so you can be more flexible. For example:
- You can agree between yourselves on how much payments should be, and when they should be made.
- If either parent’s circumstances change, your agreement can change straight away if you both agree to it.
- If you agree that you would rather pay for or receive things like clothing for your child instead of money, you can.
- It can help keep things friendly between you and the other parent.
Working out a figure
In a private agreement, you don’t have to follow a strict formula to work out child maintenance. You and the other parent could agree on a weekly figure or include payments ‘in kind’.
Payments in kind are where one parent pays for things like taking the child on holiday, buying school uniforms and clothes, food, fees or home repairs – rather than paying money to the other parent.
The important thing is that you both agree to the private agreement and that it provides reliable financial support to help towards your child’s everyday living costs.
If you need help reaching a figure, call Child Maintenance Options on freephone 0800 988 0988 and we can try to give you an estimate over the phone, which you can use to start the discussion with the other parent.
Alternatively why not use the Options Calculator to give you an idea on the amount of Child Maintenance payments.
To help you complete a private arrangement, we have produced a Private Arrangement Form, which both parents can use to keep a record of what has been agreed.
Agreeing how often
Once you have both agreed on how much the maintenance payments will be, you need to decide how often they should be paid. It could be weekly, every 2 weeks, once a month – whatever suits both of you best. Some people find it easier to budget if they pay or receive maintenance payments at the same time as salary or benefits reach their bank account. Whether this is best for you will depend on your circumstances.
However, a Private Agreement could fail if either parent won’t agree to the terms of the agreement, or if they aren’t honest about their situation. Also a Private Agreement is not usually legally binding.
To make a private agreement, you may find it useful to have the following information ready for your discussion with the other parent:
- information about your income, and theirs if you have it
- the living costs for your child, such as school costs, clothing and food
- your own living costs, such as mortgage or rent and house bills
- when you’d like to pay or receive the child maintenance payments
- a date for when you will review the agreement.
Remember if you have any concerns or questions then please ring the Options helpline on 0800 988 0988 or look at the Options Website