Can I Stop Paying Child Maintenance if My Ex Stops Me Seeing the Kids?

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Sarah Whitelegge - Senior Associate

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Child Maintenance and Access to Children

Parents have a legal responsibility to provide financial support for their children even if they no longer live with or spend time with them.

Often, children who have separated parents spend more or all of their time with one of their parents. The parent who has the greater amount of overnight contact with the children will be able to claim child maintenance from the other parent who has less or no overnight contact with the child with the children to assist with meeting the child’s living costs.

Child maintenance is not payable where parents have shared care and the children spend an equal number of nights with both parents.

Speak With a Family Solicitor

How much maintenance am I entitled to?

Sometimes parents agree on private arrangements between themselves for child maintenance. 

Otherwise, you can carry out an assessment with the Child Maintenance Service online. The rate of child maintenance liable to be paid, assessed by the Child Maintenance Service, will be determined based on the gross income of the paying parent and will take into account the number of nights that child spends with them, as well as considering the number of other children living with them.  

child maintenance

Can I stop paying child maintenance if my ex stops me from seeing the kids?

It is commonly misunderstood that child contact and child maintenance are linked, and a parent who is refused contact with their child may consider that they do not need to pay child maintenance for a child they are not able to see. 

Equally, if a parent is not paying child maintenance that they are liable to pay, the parent with whom the children live may feel that they should have less contact with the child on the basis they are refusing to pay.  

Under the law of England and Wales, if you are liable to pay child maintenance, this liability remains even if you cannot see your child. 

If you cannot agree on contact arrangements with your ex-partner, you may need to apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order.

A Child Arrangements Order decides the arrangements for whom a child is to live with, spend time with or otherwise have contact with and where a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person. Before making an application to the Court, parents must consider attending a mediation service to discuss the arrangements for their children.

Get in Touch With a Family Solicitor

My ex has stopped paying child maintenance. What rights do I have?

Where both parents are living in England and Wales, you can pursue child maintenance through the Child Maintenance Service, who can assess how much child maintenance is payable, arrange payments and take action if a parent does not pay what they are liable for.

If you are going through divorce proceedings and agree to enter into a financial consent order making provision for child maintenance payments, these can be enforced for a period of 12 months after the order is made (thereafter reverting back to the CMS).

In certain limited circumstances, it is also possible to seek an order for maintenance under Schedule 1 Children Act 1989, such as if:

  • The paying parent lives abroad.
  • The income of the paying parent is more than £3,000 per week gross (or the maximum income limit the CMS takes into account, as it may be variable from time to time)
  • The child has a disability.
  • You seek payments towards a child’s education.
  • Maintenance is sought from a step parent. 

The failure of a parent to pay child maintenance should not be seen as a basis for restricting that parent’s contact with the children. If you are having difficulty with contact arrangements, you should seek legal advice.

Child Care Arrangements

Contact Our Family Law Solicitors

The law around child arrangements is complex. If you are having difficulties agreeing on contact arrangements with your children, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our specialist Family Law Team below.

0161 941 4000

Sarah Whitelegge's profile picture

Sarah Whitelegge

Senior Associate

Sarah has over 17 years of experience acting as a Family solicitor. Sarah has specialist expertise in complex children matters and has experience of dealing with applications for child arrangement orders, prohibited steps orders, and special guardianship orders.

About Sarah Whitelegge >