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Child Maintenance Options has helped hundreds of separating and separated parents sort out child maintenance. Here are the true stories of two such parents.

Mario, a Non Resident Parent

When Mario split with his wife he began paying her £600 per month for their 5 year old daughter under a Private Agreement drawn up by solicitors. It dropped to £450 when nursery fees came down. His ex kept phoning him and asking for more money. He felt guilty but couldn't afford to give anymore. His business started to suffer and he was really struggling to cope financially.

He rung Options to find out exactly what his obligations were. He learnt that under the CSA calculations, he was paying more than enough. He also mentioned that he had paid off a £l0k loan that his ex-wife had taken out, and allowed her to keep the money from the sale of their house even though he had paid the deposit when they first bought it. Options told him that this all 'counted' towards the amount of maintenance he had to pay.

Mario says: "I found the Options agent incredibly helpful. She explained all my choices and I feel much more informed now. When my ex-wife calls to ask for more money, I feel comfortable saying no because I know I'm paying enough."

Jane, a Parent with Care

When Jane's husband left her in August last year, she had no idea how she and their eight year old daughter Emily were going to manage. When she then discovered she had been left with all the bills, including a phone bill for £200, she was devastated. Unable to pay, the phone got cut off. " We had to use my mobile which was really expensive" recalled Jane. "He left us high and dry , and it wasn’t fair because he earns nearly double what I get."

Jane called the CSA initially, who calculated that she should be getting £33 per week from Emily's father. He agreed to pay £30, but rarely paid anything at all. Meanwhile, Jane couldn’t afford to buy their daughter a new school uniform and grew even more upset when Emily told her how all the other girls has been showing off their new clothes. "It was heartbreaking to see Emily going without, but with so little money to live on, I couldn’t do anything about it." said Jane.

When Jane's brother saw an advert for the Child Maintenance Options helpline, he rang her immediately with the number. Jane made the call and hasn’t looked back. "They were incredibly helpful. It was such a relief to talk to someone who not only understood my circumstances, but who could also give me good, solid information" she explained. They told Jane that she was entitled to ask for £33 to be paid every week. Feeling empowered and armed with all the facts, Jane approached Emily's dad and suggested that they make a private child maintenance arrangement. He agreed.

Jane said "He's been paying on time ever since. The family phone is back on, and Emily now has her new uniform. I can even afford to give her pocket money again, so she can socialise with her friends more. The help I got from making one phone call has made a big difference to both our lives.

Remember if you have any concerns or questions then please ring the Options helpline on
0800 988 0988 or look at the Options Website for more information

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