Q: My ex-partner and I separated over 2 years ago and our two children have lived with me ever since. He has not paid any maintenance for the children and whenever I try to discuss it with him we always end up arguing and cannot agree.
I am a single parent and I pay all the bills by myself. On top of this, I have to pay for everything the children need and I am really struggling. Is there anything I can do to make my ex-partner pay maintenance?
A: You have obviously tried to put in place a private arrangement regarding how you will both financially contribute to the upkeep of your children. This is called a ‘family-based arrangement’. Generally speaking this is the recommended form of arrangement because it can be specifically worked out to suit your family’s situation and provide flexibility for amendment. If you are struggling to reach an agreement, however, mediation may help.
In 2012 The Child Maintenance Service was introduced and this can calculate how much your ex-partner should pay to you based on a standard formula. A binding agreement can then be put into writing and the calculated maintenance payment can be collected from your ex-partner and passed on to you. Alternatively arrangements can be made for payments to be paid directly from your partner to you if that is suitable.
There are some factors which must be met for you to qualify for a child maintenance arrangement. Your solicitor can advise you on your eligibility. If you believe that the amount decided by the CMS is insufficient you can apply to the court for an Order. This Order will make the agreement between you and your ex-partner legally binding and if your ex-partner does not keep to what has been agreed, you can enforce the Order through the courts.