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Divorce and children: more questions answered

Mark Christie, the head of the dedicated Children’s Department here at Stowe Family Law, answers more of the many questions about children that have brought visitors to this blog in recent weeks.


The non-resident parent has free living accommodation – does this affect child maintenance payments?

The living accommodation costs or absence of them does not affect an assessment of child maintenance if carried out by the Child Support Agency.  However if the Child Support Agency is not involved and you negotiate directly with the other person about the amount of maintenance, or if the Court is dealing with child maintenance (and it has limited jurisdiction to do so) then the living costs or absence of living costs will be a factor to be taken into account as it frees up more income.


What is a fair amount of child support?

There is no such thing as “a fair amount of child support”.  If the CSA is dealing with child maintenance the assessment takes a formulaic approach based on percentages of income for the number of children, with an allowance given for overnights spent with the paying party. Please go to for further information on the assessment process.  If on the other hand maintenance is being negotiated directly between the parties or the Court is involved (and the Court has limited jurisdiction) then a fair amount is arrived at by balancing the reasonable needs of the receiving party for the child/children with the ability of the paying party to meet those needs out of his/her disposable income.


Can I claim child maintenance from my ex wife?

In short, yes you can claim child maintenance from your ex-wife if the child/children reside with you and she has an income. You can either try to negotiate directly with her but if you can’t agree an amount then you should contact the Child Support Agency who will undertake an assessment.  Please go to for further information.


My ex-partner has moved abroad – will this affect child maintenance obligations?

Your ex-partner’s move abroad will not affect your obligation to continue to pay child maintenance but it does have practical as well as legal implications.  If the maintenance is currently being paid through the Child Support Agency then they will lose jurisdiction as a result of the move abroad. You would then have to renegotiate directly with your ex-partner with regard to the payment of child maintenance or you may be able to issue an application to court if this fails to produce an agreed solution.  Please note, however, that if you do obtain a court order in this country then there can be difficulties in enforcing it abroad.


My husband has committed adultery and has another child – can I stop him seeing our kids?

Unfortunately your husband’s adultery and the birth of another child of whom he is the father would not in themselves give you the right to stop him having contact with your children. There is a presumption that it is in the best interests of the children to continue to have a relationship with their separated parent unless it can be shown that this such contact presents a risk of harm, whether physical, emotional or otherwise. Your husband’s adultery and the birth of another child does not present, in the absence of anything else, a risk to your children and so would not be considered irrelevant.


I am self-employed – does this affect child maintenance payments?

The fact that you are self-employed does not affect your obligation to pay child maintenance or the actual payments themselves. The only difference is that the assessment of the amount you should pay will be made upon your earnings as a self-employed person and you will be required to produce accounts and details of your finances, and all other relevant documentation kept in connection with your business,s in order to disclose your income on an annual basis.


What are the rights of partners with two children who have parted?

The rights of unmarried partners are significantly different to unmarried partners upon separation.  Unmarried partners do not have a right to maintenance for themselves or to a share in any property or assets owned by the other person. However, an application can be made to the court under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 for the transfer of property for the benefit of the child during his or her childhood, and for associated expenses as well as maintenance. In addition, unmarried partners  would not automatically inherit any assets on the death of their ex-partner. Unmarried partners do, however, have an obligation to pay maintenance for any children of the relationship in the same way as a married couple, and of course have the same rights in relation to residence and contact.


When a mother changes a child’s name where does the husband stand with maintenance?

The changing of a child’s name does not affect the obligation to pay maintenance.  If you are paying maintenance then you will be required to continue doing so, even if the child’s name has been changed. Please note however that a child’s name (particularly the surname) should not be changed by the mother without your written consent or the consent of the court.  Moreover it should not be changed informally – i.e. by way of simple usage.  If you disagree with the change of name then you would be entitled to make an application to the court for an order known as a Specific Issue Order, under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989.

Mark Christie is the head of Stowe Family Law’s dedicated Childrens Department. Mark has specialised in family law for more than 35 years and provides clients with a wealth of practical experience.

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  1. Tulsa Divorce Lawyer Matt Ingham says:

    Mark shares a lot of valuable information in this post.

  2. debbie says:

    Please can you help. I just want to know if I am entitled to maintenance from my husband and his new partner towards my daughter (15)? Can I claim her income as part of his income when calculating?

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Debbie
      You are entitled to child support from your husband. His partner has no liability but I suggest you call Child Maintenance Options free of charge for a personal discussion about how the payment is calculated and what is should be.

  3. Marie says:

    Please could you help? My husband is paying 20% of his salary for child support. This is simply not enough as it just about covers half the mortgage payment cost, never mind all the other living costs. He claims this is all he has to pay. He is now living with his new partner in a luxury 5 bedroom house whilst my children and I face the prospect of losing our home. What can I do? Can I force him to pay more?

  4. Paul says:

    Why should he finance your lifestyle? If you don’t make enough as it is, dump your children on him and find a better paid job for your self. Sad to say but separation comes with a price however you look at it. How much time is he looking after them at the moment?

  5. JamesB says:

    Marie, you may be able to get more if you go to court for ancillary relief and divorce and an order. Inc. spousal support.

  6. JamesB says:

    You could and should also go to the cm ooptions and csa people.

  7. JamesB says: for cm options people I think is their website. Good luck with that.

  8. JamesB says:

    Good luck in general.

  9. Ms Ray says:

    Hi I divorced in 2013 and as part of the consent order was asked to pay £1100/ month for my sons school fees. My son was staying with me half the time then.he only sees me on a fortnightly basis now.
    Since then my finances have changed drastically and I can no longer afford the school fees ,I have offered to pay maintenance as per CSA calculator.
    I am requesting to vary the court order. What are my chances ?

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