It is always a worrying time for all involved when couples separate, as there are many issues to consider and to make important decisions about.  One of the most concerning is undoubtedly financial considerations; especially where children are involved. The basics explained:

Maintenance payments

To simplify what usually happens in these cases, the Law says that the parent who does not have care of the child or children, is legally obliged to pay maintenance to support their needs, following a breakdown of a relationship with the other parent.

If the parents are married, the parent who does not have primary care of the children may also be required to pay maintenance for their spouse or ex-spouse if they are divorced/legally separated.  This is dependent on the financial circumstances of the payer and their ability to make these types of payments.

How best to agree child and spousal maintenance

The most cost effective way of agreeing child maintenance and spousal maintenance is often for parents to come to their own agreement; usually by themselves, through their solicitor or through mediation.

Another option is to go through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), although if they are required to collect the maintenance a penalty of an additional 20% of the monthly payment is added for the payer, as well as a loss of 4% of the maintenance each month for the payee.

The CMS does however have a formula, which can be found on their website:  This can be used for calculating child support without any third party assistance.

Know where you stand before you decide

Whilst some couples can agree financial arrangements relatively amicably, it is not uncommon for this to become an area of dispute during separation.  If you have questions about this or if you just want to know where you stand, we are happy to give you some free initial advice over the phone, before you decide whether you want to go ahead with anything.

You are welcome to contact a member of our Family Law team at any of the offices below:

Request a fixed fee initial appointment

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, you may be able to book an initial appointment with a specialist family law solicitor at a fixed, set price. This price will include a full hour of the solicitor’s time as well as an email or letter to confirm what was discussed in writing. To request a fixed fee initial appointment, email Head of Department David Berridge at or call him on 0116 2045 380.