This section contains answers to commonly asked questions about child maintenance.
How do I set up a child maintenance agreement?
Parents can set up a child maintenance arrangement between themselves, through a Private Agreement.
You don’t have to speak to anyone else in setting up a Private Agreement, but if you want to you can speak to Child Maintenance Options for free, impartial information on this kind of arrangement.
If you think a Private Agreement will not work for you, you may be able apply to the Child Support Agency (CSA). The CSA can accept applications from:
- either parent
- children aged 12 or over who live in Scotland
- other people caring for qualifying children
Which children are covered by child maintenance?
Child Support law governs the level of child maintenance that should be paid by a natural parent who is not resident in the child's household, to the parent with main day-to-day care of the child.
For child maintenance purposes, a child is anyone under 16 or someone between 16 and 19 who:
- is not, nor has ever been, married or in a civil partnership, and
- is in full-time non-advanced education.
However, in certain circumstances, someone under 19 can still be regarded as a child for child maintenance purposes even if they are not in full-time non-advanced education.
How much child maintenance should be paid?
With a Private Agreement, you and the other parent can agree between yourselves how much child maintenance should be paid, and how often.
A Private Agreement would also allow for times where you would rather pay for or receive specific things for your child, for example new clothes or a school trip, instead of money for child maintenance.
You can get an idea of what your payments might be, using the Child Maintenance Options calculator. You could use this figure as a starting point for a Private Agreement.
If you cannot agree on an amount, the Child Support Agency (CSA) can calculate a child maintenance amount for you.
How does the Child Support Agency calculate child maintenance?
The Child Support Agency (CSA) calculates an amount using rules set out by Child Support law. This amount is based on:
- the net income of the non resident parent, and
- the number of qualifying children the non resident parent lives apart from.
You can get an idea of what your payments might be, using the Child Maintenance Options calculator. You could also use this figure as a starting point for a Private Agreement.
What child maintenance payments can a court order?
The court still retains its powers to make orders for
- the payment of school fees
- child maintenance for step children or disabled children
- child maintenance for those who are in further education and certain other specific situations
It can also order that capital sums be paid for children, or that property must be made available for them, in certain circumstances.
Child Maintenance Options can provide more information on court orders and the other options available to you.
If child maintenance has been agreed, does the CSA have to be involved?
The CSA will only become involved at the request of a parent, and only as long as there is no Court Order in force already regulating payment. If you have arranged child maintenance through a Private Agreement, the CSA and the courts will not usually become involved.
Do I have to use the CSA to manage child maintenance?
No. There are several options for arranging child maintenance. These are:
- through a Private Agreement
- through a statutory arrangement, provided by the Child Support Agency
- through a court order
Child Maintenance Options can provide more information on the different choices available to you.
Either parents may apply to the CSA for an assessment if they wish to, as long as there is no Court Order in force regulating payments. You may prefer to agree a figure for child maintenance in a Private Agreement that is based on the CSA calculation. Child Maintenance Options can help you with this.
You can get an idea of what this figure might be using the Child Maintenance Options calculator.