About family-based arrangements

  • I have a private agreement, is this the same as a family-based or family arrangement?

    Yes they are exactly the same thing. All of these names simply refer to an arrangement that you have made for your family without involving the statutory child maintenance service or the courts.

  • How is a family-based arrangement different from a statutory child maintenance arrangement?

    A family-based arrangement means you and the other parent agree together how you will arrange child maintenance for your child.

    A statutory child maintenance arrangement means the statutory child maintenance service arranges child maintenance on your behalf.

    For more information about the difference between these arrangements, see our comparing your options page.

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  • Do I have to involve any authorities or anyone else in a family-based arrangement?

    No. Only you and the other parent need to be involved in your family arrangement. You don't have to show it to anyone else. The statutory child maintenance service can’t get involved in family-based arrangements.

    In England and Wales you can't register a family arrangement with any organisation (to make it legally binding) unless it’s part of a divorce process. Then, you can register a family-based arrangement with a court as part of what is called a Consent Order.

    In Scotland a family arrangement could become a minute of agreement through being registered for preservation and execution in the Books of Council and Session. This can happen outside of the formal divorce process. However, in most instances it is advisable to seek legal support in drawing up a legally binding document such as a minute of agreement.

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  • How long does a family-based arrangement take to arrange?

    Your family-based arrangement can start as soon as you and the other parent reach agreement on how you each contribute to the upkeep of your child.

    Find out more about how family-based arrangements work and what you can include in your family-based arrangement.

    You can also use our family-based arrangement form to keep a record of what you agree.

    For help reaching an agreement, see our page talking about child maintenance.

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  • Can a family-based arrangement take into account our personal circumstances?

    Yes. With a family-based arrangement you have the flexibility to arrange child maintenance in whichever way works best for you and the other parent. You can also change your family-based arrangement quickly and easily if your circumstances change.

    Read our pages family-based arrangements and Making a family arrangement.

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  • What help can I get with talking about child maintenance with the other parent?

    A good place to start is our Discussion guide and talking about child maintenance. pages. You can also find more information and support in our guide Talking about money (1.74MB)PDF.

    If you’re struggling to get past your emotions or worried about conflict with the other parent, see our Help dealing with separation section.

    Remember, the Child Maintenance Options team are available to talk things through if you need to. Simply call for a confidential chat on 0800 988 0988.

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  • How can I know what's happening to the child maintenance money I pay?

    If you have a statutory child maintenance arrangement, you or the statutory child maintenance service can't control how the money is spent.

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  • What happens if the other parent stops paying through our family based arrangement?

    Family-based arrangements are not generally legally enforceable. If the other parent stops paying child maintenance, you could talk to them to find out why they've stopped paying and see what you can do to get things back on track. If there circumstances have changed, remember you can always change your arrangement too.

    If they refuse to start paying again and you can't find another solution, you can call us on freephone† 0800 988 0988 for guidance on what to do next.

    As a last resort, you could ask the statutory service to arrange child maintenance for you. The service can collect payments on your behalf and they can take enforcement action if the other parent stops paying. Read more about statutory arrangements.

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  • How could changes in our circumstances affect child maintenance?

    Personal circumstances can change over time and you may want to plan for possible changes when you're arranging child maintenance.

    Changes that could affect your child maintenance arrangement include:

    • the income of the paying parent
    • how many children you or the other parent have or support
    • how many nights a week the child spends with each of you.

    If you choose to make a family-based arrangement, you can always alter your arrangement if circumstances change for you or the other parent – and you both agree to the changes.

    It's important to be open and honest with the other parent, and it’s also a good idea to tell them about any changes as soon as you can, so they have time to get used to the new arrangement.

    If you have a statutory child maintenance arrangement, you should report any changes to your circumstances to the statutory child maintenance service as quickly as possible

    Some changes will affect how much child maintenance you pay or receive - but bear in mind, the change will usually only be taken into account from the date that you tell them about it.

    You are also required by law to report certain changes to your circumstances. For more information about this, visit www.gov.uk.

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  • How can I change a family-based arrangement?

    You can always change your family arrangement if circumstances change for you or the other parent – and you both agree to the changes. If you do change things, you should write down your new agreement so you're both clear on what you've agreed. You can use our family-based arrangement form to do this.

    It's important to be open and honest with the other parent, and it’s also a good idea to tell them about any changes as soon as you can, so they have time to get used to the new arrangement.

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