Q: My ex-husband and I split up amicably and got a ‘quickie’ divorce on grounds of two years separation with consent. By mutual agreement our daughter lives with me and her father has always paid me maintenance for her every month, a sum agreed between us. However, I have now met someone who is planning to move in with me and my ex-husband says when that happens he will no longer need to pay maintenance for our daughter. Is that right?
A: When a couple divorce and one party takes responsibility for caring for children of the marriage the other party usually pays maintenance. This can be either child maintenance or spousal maintenance. Generally, if the parent who lives with the child starts living with a new partner this will not affect maintenance payments relating to child support. In your case however, the amount of maintenance being paid to you appears to have been decided between yourselves and not through the Child Maintenance Service or a court. That being the case, you really need to consider an assessment being undertaken relating to the level of maintenance that your ex should be paying for your daughter.
You can ask the Child Maintenance Service to calculate how much you should be receiving for the benefit of your daughter. They will take into account how many children you have, the income of the absent paying parent, how much time the absent parent spends with the child and whether that parent is also paying maintenance for other children. Child maintenance is normally payable until a child is 16 or until they are 20 if they are still in education doing A-levels, Higher Education or equivalent. You can find a child maintenance calculator at https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-child-maintenance. Your situation does however demonstrate that there can be considerable disadvantages in divorcing couples trying to sort out financial arrangements themselves without legal advice.