Child maintenance is regular financial support that helps to meet your child’s day-to-day living costs. It is usually paid until a child turns 16, or stops full-time school or university education, whichever finishes later.
You may prefer to make a private agreement with your partner about the level of child maintenance that one will pay to the other.
If you cannot agree, either you or your partner can apply to the Child Support Agency (CSA), a government agency, to set up an arrangement for you. If a private agreement you have previously agreed is not working, or payments are not being made, you can apply to the CSA to make an arrangement for you.
Some parents also agree that one of them will continue to meet specific expenses, such as school fees or paying money into savings accounts set up for the children. If there is a dispute, a court can make orders to provide for things like school fees, a computer or a holiday.
The Child Maintenance Options service has lots of information on the options available in relation to child maintenance - see Useful links.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you can contact the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Division (CMED) for an impartial information and support service – see Useful links.
In some circumstances, you may be eligible for spousal maintenance, see Maintenance for more information.
Some parents reach an agreement about the level of support that is going to be paid by each of them to help with their child's expenses.Find out more about Private agreement
The CSA can help you with the process of maintenance for your children following divorce or separation.Find out more about Agreements through the Child Support Agency (CSA)
There are a number of situations where you may use a court to make a decision.Find out more about When to use a court
To make sure that your children would be financially secure if you or the other parent were to die you may wish to consider life insurance.Find out more about Insuring child maintenance