Finance

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Maintenance

Maintenance is a frequent, usually monthly, payment from the non resident parent to the resident parent, whether that be the Mum or the Dad, to help with the cost of supporting and bringing up the children. It is preferable that both parents agree on a sensible and affordable amount of maintenance to be paid.

There are factors to consider when calculating a fair level of maintenance...

  • The net income of the absent parent. This is usually based on the average from the most recent payslips.
  • The number of children.
  • The number of overnight stays with the absent parent.
  • The level of expenditure on the children.


The financial responsibility of parents to their children exists whether the parents are married or unmarried. Unlike when divorcing, it is not possible for one parent to make a one-off payment to end any future responsibility for their child. Whatever a parent has paid in the past, and no matter what has been agreed, a parent may always be called upon to support their child. Child maintenance is regular, reliable financial support to help towards a child's everyday living expenses. A maintenance order can remain in force until the child reaches the age of 18 or has completed full time education.

There are two routes to obtaining child maintenance. The first is by mutual consent between the parents. Separating parents can agree a specific amount of maintenance that will suit their individual budgets and, more crucially, the needs of the child or children. Such types of agreements rely on trust between both parties and a belief that a full and frank financial disclosure has been made. However, parents who are unable to talk with one another may not see the mutual consent route as being viable.

The second route is between the parties and their lawyers. Both parties will be required by the Court to complete forms disclosing their finances and any assets they may possess. The lawyer for the party who is seeking child maintenance will then calculate the amount per child per week at a rate usually in line with the UK's Child Support Agency's (CSA) guidelines. Although the Channel Island courts are in no way bound to these UK specific guides, they are a useful indicator as to the amount the Courts should be considering. The amount is based on affordability and an analysis of the budgets provided by both the parent's, which includes outgoings such as rent, heating and car expenses, and also the child's school fees, clothes and food. The amount that is used as a guideline is 15% of net income for one child, 20% for two children, and 25% for three or more, the payment may be increased due to the needs of the child.

We recommend that you pay any maintenance by cheque or standing order only, not cash. This way you can prove payment, if disputed, and claim tax relief if applicable. It is important that you keep receipts for all expenses relating to the children, you will gain more by attaching as much evidence as possible to your Statement of Means. If you are requested by the Court, or by agreement either between yourselves or the respective lawyers, to pay maintenance, you must pay it. Non payment, without agreement, could result in a Petty Debts Court summons or an Arrest on Wages even if you have left the Island.

We strongly recommend that you seek advice before agreeing to anything or making any decisions regarding maintenance. Remember, there may be implications that you had not thought of.

Some of the procedures described and the terms used may be different depending on whether you live in Jersey, Guernsey or one of the other Islands. Contact us for further advice.
 

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