Parents living apart can also arrange child maintenance using a court order (in England and Wales), or a minute of agreement (in Scotland). You would usually need to get legal advice to do this, and pay legal costs.
Consent order (England and Wales)
A consent order is an order made by a court in England and Wales. It makes an agreement between two parties legally binding. The courts can make a consent order for child maintenance which says that the parent expected to pay must keep to the child maintenance payments they have agreed.
This applies to agreements between parents and to arrangements made through solicitors. A consent order can be enforced through the courts if either parent does not keep to what has been agreed.
Going to court and using a solicitor can be expensive. Legal Aid won’t always cover these costs if you are only going to court to get a consent order for child maintenance.
Minute of agreement (in Scotland)
In Scotland a minute of agreement can be agreed between the parents or with the help of solicitors if needed. It is then registered in the Books of Council and Session. This will allow the minute of agreement to be enforced through the courts if either parent doesn’t keep to what has been agreed.
What else you need to know about consent orders and minutes of agreement
To make either of these types of arrangement, you are likely to need:
- information about your income, and the other parent’s if you know it
- details of living costs for your child, such as school costs, clothing and food
- a date for when you propose to review the agreement
Important: Currently, parents cannot set up a statutory child maintenance arrangement within 12 months of setting up a consent order or a minute of agreement. Parents who have consent orders or minutes of agreement made prior to April 2003 cannot by law set up a statutory arrangement.
For more information about consent orders and minutes of agreement, visit www.gov.uk.