Why should I have to pay maintenance for my child?

Children|August 28th 2018

I suspect that for most people the answer to this question should be obvious: a child costs money to maintain, and the primary responsibility to maintain falls upon both parents. How the care of the child is divided between the parents may alter the amount that each parent is responsible to pay, but does not extinguish the responsibility.

But to some people, it is not as clear as that.

The first issue for the non-resident parent is that they see the money they are paying to support their child actually going to the parent with care. In their eyes, the maintenance is akin to spousal maintenance, rather than child maintenance. Why should they pay spousal maintenance? Their money is not going toward the support of their child but is actually being used by the parent with care, who is using it for their own benefit. Every time they see the parent with care spend money on themselves in some way (clothes, holidays, etc.) they are left seething at the unfairness of it all.

But there is more. They consider that the entire law on child arrangements after parental separation is unfair. It should provide that after the parents of a child separate, in virtually all cases that child should spend equal time with each parent. And of course, if they do, then neither parent would need to pay child maintenance to the other, as each parent would be supporting the child for half of the child’s life, thereby sharing the financial burden equally.

The net result of this thinking is, of course, that child maintenance, or child support (call it what you like), is simply not required. Indeed, it is an affront: I am already paying my fair share towards my child’s upkeep, why should I pay more? These thought processes may at first glance seem entirely reasonable, but is that actually the case?

Let us look at them in turn.

First, the argument that the money is being used by the parent with care for their own benefit, rather than for the benefit of the child. Well, so what? So what if the parent with care is using it for their own benefit? That doesn’t alter the fact that they have to financially support the child that is in their care. In reality, of course, the money that they receive from the non-resident parent gets mixed in with their own income, and it is impossible to say what paid for what. The important thing is: is the child properly provided for financially? If the answer to that is yes, then the question of what happens to the maintenance is irrelevant. And if the parent with care is not properly providing for the child despite being given the means to do so, then that may be grounds for a change of residence (to use the old terminology).

Then there is the ‘shared care should happen in every case, therefore, there is no need for child maintenance’ argument. The problem, of course, with this is that it conflates two entirely separate issues: the issue of which parent, if any, should pay child maintenance, and the issue of how much time the child should spend with each parent. The two issues are actually entirely separate. The latter issue is, of course, the first one that must be determined, by reference to what is best for the welfare of the child. Only once that has been decided do we move on to the former issue: how should each parent contribute towards the financial upkeep of the child?

But even if the result of the first issue is that the child should spend equal amounts of time with each parent that does not necessarily mean that there should be no child maintenance payable. What if, as is likely to often be the case, one parent has a substantially higher income than the other? Would it be fair in such a case that each party pays half of the cost of bringing up the child? Or should the better off parent pay more? I suspect that the average man/woman in the street would say that the latter arrangement was fairer.

In short, unless it is a rare case in which it is both appropriate that there be equal shared care and both parents are of similar means, child maintenance should probably be paid.

OK, the purpose of this post is not to criticise anyone, but rather to make clear that the issue of financial support for a child is not always straightforward and, above all, that the responsibility to maintain can never be abrogated: it remains with both parents, for as long as the child is dependent.

Author: John Bolch

John Bolch often wonders how he ever became a family lawyer. He no longer practises, but has instead earned a reputation as one of the UK's best-known family law bloggers.

Comments(27)

  1. Stitchedup says:

    Yet again Mr Bolch you’ve completely missed the point. Very few men object to supporting their children. Something I was taught was that to look after someone else you first have to look after yourself. The problem with the system as it stands is that it often leaves fathers in a position where they are no longer able to look after themselves. Your post is offensive in it’s assumptions and patronising beyond belief. It’s typical of a haughty lawyer who’s opinions have been formed in a bygone era.

  2. Jo Archer says:

    You haven’t mentioned the damage to the primary carer’s career – or the fact that in most cases, what the non-resident parent contributes wouldn’t pay for a professional to do the job if the primary carer were to die.

    • Stitchedup says:

      If the primary carer were to die, i.e. The mother, one would assume the father then become the sole carer

    • Mr T says:

      The primary caregivers career? Are you for real? if you CHOOSE to have a child the damage to your “career” is the sacrifice you make FOR the child. This response is typical of the plague of narcissistic women in today’s society which is probably as a direct result of the broken society we live in.

      This is what men are up against nowadays! Women who want it all and have been told by generation they can have their cake and eat it. Reality check, YOU CAN’T. You were sold a lie you can’t have it all unless you just happen to be a millionaire and even then your children will have to have some form of parental sacrifice.

      Women need to choose career or family. You cannot have both. Attempting to have both and wanting to be single and have a career is nothing but a pipe dream. It’s simple maths one has to lose out.

      If you pick a career and have kids you do not have time for a relationship (which is usually what suffers and ends and due to the enabling of the CMS) is the obvious choice 80% divorce rate not to mention non-married couples.

      If you choose (like men have for generations) to raise and care for a family then I’m sure the children will benefit greatly from this.

      However western society promotes both parents to work so the powers that be get the most money (look up your history) the children and the family unit suffer, fact.

  3. JamesB says:

    Men and women need to need each other as a family. If you allow the money to flow even if you kick him out then you are promoting faithlessness and single parenthood.

    Before the CSA women were less likely to instigate separation and divorce as they were not so sure they could continue to fleece the ex.

    Third point as Bolchy seems to like threes and keeping things simple, divorce is not divorce if the two people are still tied. Are your children still your children if you dont live with them? Now, thats a subject a lot more worthy of an article than this one. Having not been living with my children for fifteen years, your (never having been there yourself) nonsense about your kids are your kids and you should pay for them regardless is nonsense and causing single parenthood and more division between the sexes than it helps, as is the CSA. The matter should go back to the courts.

    It is bad that the government didn’t think more about causes and effects, as indeed you should, before implementing this kind of nonsensical policy. Indeed most experts on this subject agree that a broad brush csa type law is not a good way forward and causes more problems than it solves. E.g. all the initial and subsequent consultations on the CSA/CMEC/CMOptions/CMS, e.g. Cardiff Family social welfare research establishment etc. Hence why we now have more emphasis on what fathers think and trying to get their consent and ideas like a joint account both parents can spend from on the children promoted by the CMOptions people.

    To further take apart your argument, the formula thing isnt fair, for some people 20% is too much to pay for some it more than covers what is reasonable for others it does not.

    If you have your car stolen you dont continue to pay for it and the running of it. If you ask a judge they would say clean breaks are best, thats what we used to have. At least then you dont have to pay the person who stole your children from you for doing that bad thing and then shacking up with someone else playing Dad and spending your money on their lifestyle! You dont understand or empathise.

    Yes, lets for arguments sake regard children as property, then you may get the point and understand the real issues better. Such an approach is far more honest and natural. Lets have a bit more objectivity.

  4. Mr T says:

    I totally agree with Stichedup. You need a good divorce that’s what you need to put you in a place where you would experience the issues that dads have keeping a roof over their heads and contact with their children.

    You Sir are totally off point and pre-historic.

    Why should I financially provide for my children when they are not in my care? It is the responsibility of the parent and their choice to leave so should fund their own home and allow the children to be a part of it automatically. Why an ex-partner should still be tied to her financially is an outdated and now feminist narrative that needs to end.

    Sure there are small things like school trips that need to be funded, it’s nothing that should take a whole government organisation and massively outdated laws to enforce.

    On top of which, why should I fund and do ALL the travel to pick up \ drop off?

    All of a sudden they’re my children when money is concerned.

    One word, equality, or rather lack of.

    No mention of these finances creating and fuelling parental alienation after separation. Holding dads ransom. Stopping dads from seeing their children for money, the family courts, police, CAFCASS and social services do nothing and allow these children to be abused for money.

    It’s a sick legalised extortion racket that needs to be exposed and STAMPED out forver.

    When we look back in years to come we will hopefully gasp at what we allowed some women to do to “their” children. There is already a long generational issue with alienation. It will get much worse if we don’t do anything about it right now. Thank God for people like Karen Woodall and Dr Childress otherwise our children (and dads) would be completely helpless.

    I do not ask for money because I care for my children, that is my parental responsibility and I as well as the vast majority of dads am more than happy to shoulder that responsibility. if the RP cannot sort out and discuss money then they should get nothing. The government needs to butt out completely. It’s not helping anyone. It’s allowing abuse of children. It’s financially abusing dads (and a very small minority of mums) and teaching entitlement to generation on generation of women. To the point where you have grandma’s teaching their disordered daughters what to do to get the most money. Hide behind a solicitor and keep him \ her… It’s sick.

    You need to get a massive reality check. Just because this doesn’t happen to you or your kids doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

  5. Mr T says:

    First, the argument that the money is being used by the parent with care for their own benefit, rather than for the benefit of the child. Well, so what?

    Realistically what extra costs? They should be providing their own roof \ bills for themselves children do not cost that much more and surely since the NRP is paying for them while HE has them the NRP should? That’s how equality works.

    So what if the parent with care is using it for their own benefit? That doesn’t alter the fact that they have to financially support the child that is in their care. In reality, of course, the money that they receive from the non-resident parent gets mixed in with their own income, and it is impossible to say what paid for what. The important thing is: is the child properly provided for financially?

    If the answer to that is yes, then the question of what happens to the maintenance is irrelevant.

    And if the parent with care is not properly providing for the child despite being given the means to do so, then that may be grounds for a change of residence (to use the old terminology).

    Then there is the ‘shared care should happen in every case, therefore, there is no need for child maintenance’ argument. The problem, of course, with this is that

    it conflates two entirely separate issues – then why are the inextricably linked by overnight stays?

    by reference to what is best for the welfare of the child. Only once that has been decided do we move on to the former issue: how should each parent contribute towards the financial upkeep of the child?

    How each parent contribute towards the child? Hahahahahaha! This displays how completely out of touch you are. My ex-wife has never paid a penny and is quite happy to sit and let the government fleece me for as much as they seem fit, why? Because who doesn’t want free money that they have to do nothing to get except make a phone call and get the governments bailiffs onto me? That is EXACTLY what the CMS is.

    I’ll leave it there, I think I’ve highlighted more than enough issues with the paper-thin, white knight \ old fashioned pre-historic view of the now massively outdated and feminist child support laws and the views you have on them.

    The whole system needs an overhaul. It needs to be brought back to equality, which is what is best for children – BOTH parents being treated equally. At the moment its a system of monetary gain for women who most times have residency of their children and men have no say whatsoever. It’s all part of the matriarchy that you’re are supporting with your outdated feminist views.

  6. Proton says:

    The welfare of the child is mutually exclusive from each parent so far as to say, each parent should sacrifice themselves for their child.
    You must no the research concerned with divorce and child outcomes, and as you do, the only inference I can obtain from your proclivity to write such biased nonsense must be found in ideology.
    An ideology does not value truth, or fair outcomes, it values power and who has it. The destruction of the family is predicated on the complete overturning of our cultural norms, you john are a flag bearer of this. Marriage is for the child, as individuals we observe the world differently from one another, we’re biologically different, granted were more the same, but different. No human that’s lived or will ever live occupies the same space in time, thus we all uniquely absorb the world differently iterated over time this can lead to vastly differing opinions. Knowing this to build civilizations we needed something to bind humans together, drag us up the moral spectrum,, marriage embodied through religion did this. It became the optimal system for the rearing of children, no other system has ever worked better than marriage to build civilizations, john and his cohorts are disciples of postmodernists, that truth does not exist, we’re all blank slates, malleable and adaptable, well we’re not, children are not. Children require their mum and dad and everything in society should be dedicated to providing this for them.

  7. DD says:

    Interesting, I have been on both sides, I started off as the payer of maintenance (via CSA) and watched the money squandered on many things but not the child !! Where Mr Bolch gets the idea that you could get change of residency based on how they spend the money baffles me, as if that would ever happen !!!
    Due to other circumstances, I now have residency, although mother refused to pay maintenance, so the court order states I won’t collect any.

  8. Fred says:

    The issue is that child maintenance should be calculated based on the needs of both sides. Not some arbitrary figure, dreamed up by some distant civil servant. The reality is much more nuanced than John describes. And due regard should be shown for the impact of child maintenance on for example situations where the Mother has remarried, is doing very well for herself yet the Father finds himself continuing to live in penury – his life has been ruined. Maintaining this blanket ideology is nonsense.

    I found myself being criticised for not doing enough with the children – the reality I couldn’t afford to go out myself much less do things for the children. Meanwhile, sitting very pretty on the other side, there is a life of foreign holidays, London restaurants and trips away, while I consider myself lucky to be able to buy them a cheap birthday present.

    Secondly labouring over such ideologies, when the law shows not a jot of interest in maintenance payers own relationship with the children is difficult to swallow. It is notable that the state considers you a Father when it comes to taking money off you. However, lets say you need state help for a while – you are not a father and the sizeable lump of your income that you have to pay out is not taken into account in anyway whatsoever. Need help with housing, you are a single man. Need help feeding your kids at the weekend? Forget it.

    We are all too familiar with paying all our cash in child maintenance then seeing our children turn up in ill fitting or inappropriate clothing, forcing you to have to buy more – the reality for us? Several days without food.

    It is an unfair, arbitrary and rigid system. Good riddance to it, and don’t have children until such time as this gets sorted out.

  9. spinner says:

    John, could I put in a request for your next article with the working title.

    “Why should I not be able to see my children even though I have a court order that say’s I should?”

  10. SF says:

    Unfortunately, when parents can’t agree on maintenance payments they have to rely on an unfit for purpose ‘CMS’.
    The CMS are understaffed, biased towards receiving parents and take months to resolve changes in circumstances which results in huge back dates and arguments between parents who can’t distinguish the difference between concepts of 1) maintenance payments and 2) contact between paying parent and child.

  11. JamesB says:

    In divorce you loose the assets – for the children – then you pay maintenance – for the children, then you pay extra – for the children, all for having your children stolen from you for no good reason, its adding insult to injury and wrong.

    • Seriously says:

      Then when the children eventually grow up and mature, escape the manipulation and brainwashing of the alienating parent and gain independence, what do they then suffer? Guilt and shame that they were used and the cause as such of the financial abuse suffered by their loving targeted parent. The children then suffer depression and other mental health problems, then the generational cycle continues.

  12. Seriously says:

    Mr Bolch speaks as though we live in a perfect world where all parents are honest. All the above issues are linked and in turn the outcome of one affects the outcome of the next . Wake up Mr Bolch, millions of innocent children are emotionally and psychologically poor because people are rewarded financially if they make sure that the children of the marriage remain with one parent and not the other. The best welfare for the children is two have two parents, even if one parent is incarcerated then the child is required to visit that parent . Why then is it acceptable for children to be manipulated by one parent so they shun the other usually non resident parent . That’s not their true “ wishes and feelings” , wake up Mr Bolch see the damage that all this “ winner takes all “ mentality dies to our children and young people. Adolescents are not adults , welfare means two parents having an equal role in the child’s life .
    No financial incentive then to gain control of the child.
    Jo Archer , if you wanted a “ career” don’t have children in the first place, children are a privilege and and a joy. No child in this country could ever be poor, it’s only the resident parent that would make this the case through the choice of their style of living. Children come to this country to seek asylum, they want to work, they then send money home to their family, their parents. Yet English children expect financial entitlement, come from broken families and as a result suffer poor mental health, something which you don’t find no where near as high as in the third world countries of Africa and certainly not in those countries where they are family focused and make parental alienation ( the manipulation of a child’s mind ) , a criminal offence.

    • Fred says:

      Of course, this is what Family Law does. Women good Men bad. Men don’t even get heard! And as long as it is primarily staffed by women, I see little hope – particularly when you get into the depressing depths of the social workers and psychologists making a buck out of your misfortune, charging you thousands and then demonising you – because that is the easy thing to do in court. Blame the man its what the judge expects — (I have recordings of psychologists actually saying this).

      I’ve had reports written where nothing – absolutely nothing that you say gets taken into account and where much that is invented about you is taken as fact

  13. Andy says:

    Blimey here we go again…women are great and Fathers are scum.
    So,in short the child comes first and this is the priority of most FATHERS..
    trouble is this typical stero type judgement and of course not actuall telling what the point is apart from the Child needs or children’s needs.
    But what about the disproportionate salary comments well the PWC can earn whatever with benefits to suite whilst the NRP gets one big kick from just about all agencies that deal with family separation,Child Maintenance Services and to top it all off Spoucal Maintenance..
    So Fathers are spitting on such topics…this relates to the Joe average Father not the high earner that large sums can be attributed to salary..
    Yet again the scheming mothers who flought the law in cheating the benefit system with on line form filling also the CMS calculation with no nights over with Father because they will lose a Tenner etc etc…and of course the generouse spending power now given to the PWC..
    This equates to a new car. Nice holidays. and new furniture for the once marital home gained by telling porkies to just about any family law system that will listen…the answer she would give is IT’s for the children for transport and at least a holiday and they need new furniture bla bla
    and a little something for me..

    In reality I think our once expert blogger need to give us a answer to one simple question..
    What are your thoughts in CMS Gross calculation and the proposed new enforcement guidance on obtaining more money out of the NRP..introduced later this year..
    For once the guest speaker should take a rest and perhaps give up HIS view on the subject and let the experts listen to both sides of the argument.
    May I suggest Basket weaving..

  14. BillyO says:

    Sadly financial provision and child access are not separate issues at all. The parent with primary care is rewarded financially for limiting child access to the paying parent and in most cases will play the system to their advantage.
    In my case my children were spending 50% of the time with me and 50 % with the Mother. It worked very well and the children were happy. However soon after the CSA told me that they “didnt think she would agree to such a shared arrangement as she wont get ant payments” things changed!
    That is a real world scenario John Bolch.
    In an ideal world shared care and shared financial responsibility should be assumed and is what works in other countries. It would never work here as the systems are all geared up for restricting access for financial reward.
    Child access and financial support are completely separate………….Really?!

  15. JKG says:

    This man is really shallow in his reasoning when it comes to child related matter. The trouble is that because they are lawyer and they know more about the law they tend to believe that it makes them experts in parenting and child related matters.

    Child access and financially support are completely separate; that what what they have convinced them of and that’s what they want those of us who are not lawyers, or what they call layman to buy into. If child access and financial support were/are completely separate, parents would not be in court to fight over who should have custody of a child; who keeps receives and who access pays, that’s how it seems to be working for those of us who end up being visiting parents… listen to this: visiting parent or non resident how “cute is that?” to have responsibility of your own child and being referred as a visiting parent. Smell pretty much alienation from distance to me. Non resident also sounds like absent by default; and then you have to pay to see your own child, just like a Netflix subscription, one’s responsibility as a parent is reduced to a mere pay per view.
    In which one has to expect we the unexpected glitch( the rule book of the so called resident parent over the so called non resident) In fact I would go as far as arguing that the fact that one parent is referred as non resident is a clear indication that that same parent responsibility has been curtailed to suit the resident parent’s endeavour dictate to the non resident parent and be paid.
    BillyO I couldn’t agree with you more. 50/50 arrangement does not work because it does not suit resident parents. The y wants the money and also have control over the relationship between the child and the non resident parent.
    Besides the fact that the non resident parent has to pay the so called resident parent does mean that she is doing a good job in the child upbringing; or does it?

    • Fred says:

      Quite, when the reality is the Family Law and the courts are operating of a dodgy body of knowledge and prejudicial largely female players within system. All governed by governing / regulatory bodies that aren’t worth a fraction of the money they consume and fail to protect the public from rogue practioners.

      The Gross rule – how is it fair to take money from a sum that is never in the hands of the payee.Just which bent pillock of a civil servant came up with this idea?

      Child maintenance should be based on circumstance. We have a negligent government that has done nothing useful for 8 years. In reality has caused far more harm than good. The dark shadowy figures who come up with the child maintenance laws clearly work in splendid isolation and are unable to recognise the wage squeeze, rapidly rising costs, cost of rents, costs of running a car to get work and all the other things penalising people. Fathers also have these costs but the dullards in government, seemingly hating as they are of men, are entirely unable to recognise this. And force more increases and costs onto Fathers.

      It is actually untenable to live. Being a divorced father represents decades of penury, where trying to better oneself results in being penalised by the Gross rule. Every week I have to ask myself Why bother? Paying a fortune, never listened to and alienated from my children by a vicious Mother and a court system that couldn’t give a damn.

      The court doesn’t act for children, it doesn’t act for Fathers it acts for Mothers and Mothers alone. So please stop saying that courts act in the best interest of the child because they bloody well don’t. Abuse committed by a Mother is seemingly fine in the eyes of our courts.

      This is a disreputable system propped up by the vested interests of lawyers and other bottom feeders cashing in on misery – psychologists and social workers in the majority.

      Anybody profiting from this system who isn’t campaigning for change should hang their heads in shame. Those of you that profit in this way are a disgrace.

    • JamesB says:

      The trouble is that because they are lawyer and they know more about the law they tend to believe that it makes them experts in parenting and child related matters. An excellent point, well made.

      I make one of my own now also, that, of course, the CSA/CMS/CMEC/CMOptions was not setup to help children (as Bolchy misleadingly says), it was setup to reduce the cost of single parenthood to the treasury and DWP.

      To be more positive I do like the idea (from CMOptions I think) of both separated parents and the children having access to a pot which both pay into and if they both are reasonable and agree to that both being able to withdraw from, even the children when they are older.

      Parents who do a deal between them, away from the CSA/CMS/CMEC/CMOptions or lawyers tend to get on better ongoing, especially wealthier parents where there is enough to go round.

      Government intervention into the innermost workings of the family where there is no abuse has caused more problems than it has helped. Especially by promoting single-parenthood.

  16. Anon D says:

    Its a feminist (man) tax.

    Any one who pushes it is evil or doesn’t know what they are talking about.

    Should be dealt with on a case by case and conduct basis in court as it was before the radical feminists got the government ear when they said (as said above) that it would save the government money. It has not and has and continues to be enormously destructive to society.

  17. Andy says:

    Did anyone see the police missing persons episode tonight 03/09/2018..If you did you will know…
    This will ring a cord with all fathers…and makes the law look like a joke..

    In short..
    Bloke meets woman on Internet she claims the child is his after 9 months or so…they then split up…
    Bloke spends £10,000 in money to gain and access to see his child…courts drag it out and the process takes years….
    He then rings POLICE to say he has not seen his Son and wishes to report missing person…
    Police track down mother.
    After the twist and turn of the story it emerges after police interview she played mother to some one else’s child and used that child,still as an infant,to get single parent benefits,child support and child maintenance payments from all area and also told porkies to the courts…
    In reality the bloke was never the father and this is where the system is wrong…
    All mother groups and benefits schemers play the system and in turn gain all the help they need and lie…
    Bloke never had a child and paid Maintenance..Good old CMS never believed the bloke did they..
    No wonder they are incompetant…

    • Mr T says:

      I’ll have to watch that sounds like a great example of the joke that is our public services.

      The saddest thing about that story is? That poor child and nobody gives a ****.

      It’s not too dissimilar from my story but it was my child. I’ve had exactly the same issues. Been stopped seeing her for 10 months then got battered by the CMS for 1k a month. Have been prosecuted for sending apology text messages… currently on bail for her faked “assault” at a handover. I’d say you can’t make it up but clearly, you can for money.

      What public services should be doing is asking why these women are emotionally abusing and controlling their ex-partners and their children for money. The police should be locking these women up as simple as that. It’s fraud, false allegations.

      This is a crime and needs to be stamped out.

      • DD says:

        Until the courts, CAFCASS, social services, NSPCC wake up to the fact that one parent stopping a child from seeing his other parent is paramount to child abuse and coercive control of the parent nothing will change.

  18. Mr T says:

    I couldn’t agree more.

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