How much child maintenance should I pay?

In Divorce Children advice

Child maintenance payments can be arranged with your ex-partner or calculated by the Child Maintenance Service. But how do you work out what you need to pay?

How is child maintenance calculated?

You can arrange child maintenance payments with your ex-partner through a ‘family-based arrangement’ or have it worked out for you by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) if you cannot agree.

Arranging child maintenance with your ex-partner means that you can pay anything, as long as you both agree. But you should check that the agreement you come to is in line with what the CMS recommends. This is because either one of you could go to the CMS for a calculation if you became unhappy with your arrangement.

You can calculate your child maintenance payments on GOV.UK.
 

How much child maintenance should I pay?

The amount of child maintenance you should pay is determined by the CMS. You will need to pay child maintenance to your ex-partner if they are responsible for the majority of childcare. The CMS will determine how much you should pay based on several factors:
  1. The amount of money you earn
  2. The number of children you have with your ex-partner
  3. The amount of time you spend with your children
  4. If you are paying child maintenance to other children from separate relationships

As the non-resident parent, the CMS calculates child maintenance payments by applying a specific rate to your gross weekly income:
  • Basic rate
  • Reduced rate
  • Flat rate
  • Nil rate
 

Basic rate

You will be placed on the basic rate if your gross weekly income is between £200 and £800. The percentage of your income that you will pay depends upon how many children you are responsible for and the amount of childcare that you provide. Assuming that you are responsible for one child, your child maintenance payments would be 12% of your gross weekly income.


Reduced rate

A gross weekly income of more than £100 but less than £200 will put you on the reduced rate. You will pay a standard weekly rate of £7 on your first £100, plus an additional percentage of the rest of your income. Assuming that you are responsible for one child, you will pay £7 on your first £100, plus 17% of your remaining gross weekly income.


Flat rate

A flat rate of £7 will be applied to you if your gross weekly income is below £100, or if you are on benefits.


Nil rate

You do not need to pay any child maintenance if your gross weekly income is less than £7.
 

Paying child maintenance for more than one child


The number of children you have with your ex-partner will increase how much child maintenance you need to pay. Assuming you are on the basic rate, you will need to pay:
  • 12% of your gross weekly income for one child
  • 16% of your gross weekly income for two children
  • 19% of your gross weekly income for three or more children

If you are on the reduced rate, you will pay a standard weekly payment of £7 on the first £100 of your income, plus a percentage of your remaining gross weekly income up to £200:
  • 17% of your remaining gross weekly income for one child
  • 25% of your remaining gross weekly income for two children
  • 31% of your remaining gross weekly income for three or more children
 

How shared parenting affects child maintenance

The amount of parenting that you share with your ex-partner will reduce how much child maintenance you pay for each child. ‘Shared parenting’ is defined as being responsible for your children overnight. If you look after your children between:
  • 52 – 103 nights: child maintenance is reduced by 14%
  • 104 – 155 nights: child maintenance is reduced by 28.5%
  • 156 – 174 nights: child maintenance is reduced by 42.8%
  • 175+ nights: child maintenance is reduced by 50%, with a further reduction of £7 for each child


If you are supporting children from another relationship

If you are supporting children from another relationship, the CMS will reduce the amount of your weekly income that they will consider. If you are paying for:
  • One other child, your considered income will be reduced by 11%
  • Two other children, your considered income will be reduced by 14%
  • Three or more children, your considered income will be reduced by 16%
 
If you want to work out a family-based arrangement to decide on the amount of child support to pay to your ex-partner, you could use a mediation service.

 

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