As parents, you are both financially responsible for your children, including any adopted children. This means the parent without main day-to-day care is expected to help with the cost of looking after the children. This is usually done by paying maintenance to the parent who does.
Each parent should pay towards the costs of the children according to their resources. However, if the parents cannot agree about how much they should each contribute, it is the parent without main day-to-day care who can simply be obliged to pay maintenance at a specific rate.
This applies whether you are getting divorced, dissolving a civil partnership, splitting up after living together or where you have never lived with your childs other parent.
If you are married or in a civil partnership, depending on the circumstances, you might be responsible for step children, for example, if they were treated as children of the family and you both supported them financially. This is a complex area, so you will need to get advice from a solicitor – see Useful links.
If you are unmarried, you will not be financially responsible for any step-children of your former partner.
There are a number of ways to help pay for your children's upbringing for example –
- Private agreement
- Child maintenance through the Child Support Agency (CSA)
- Going to court
- Insuring child maintenance
You may also want to think about what financial support may be available from government, and what you'll need to do if your circumstances change.
This section will give you information about all of these different ways of meeting the cost of bringing up your children.
Your children's savings accounts or Child Trust funds are not taken into account when working out child maintenance, but you will need to contact the providers to let them know if there is a change of name or address.
Sorting out and enforcing maintenance payments either through your own private agreement or through the Child Support Agency (CSA).Find out more about Maintenance for children
Who can claim child benefit, eligibility for tax credits, other state benefits you may be able to claim or may now have to review.Find out more about State entitlements
The effect on maintenance payments, state entitlements and other matters if you or your former partner remarry, start to live with someone, lose or start work, or your income changes.Find out more about If your circumstances change
Your rights to, and responsibilities for, managing your child(ren)'s Child Trust Fund account(s) and any other savings they have.Find out about Child Trust Funds and children's savings