Child maintenance and contact arrangements

Many parents feel that child maintenance should be linked to how much time their child spends with each parent. This is not something recognised in child maintenance or family law.

If you’re the parent living apart from your child

Providing financial support does not automatically entitle you to contact with your child.

But you do have a legal responsibility to provide for your child financially. It can be painful, but your child’s needs still have to be met, even if you’re not currently seeing them as often as you would like.

What’s more, parents can find it easier to make arrangements about other things once child maintenance has been agreed – so it’s often a real incentive to get the financial side of things sorted. And the child maintenance arrangement you make could take into account the times you regularly care for your child, as well as other types of financial support.

If you’re the parent with the main care of your child

Whatever has happened between you and your child’s other parent, your child still needs to be able to have a relationship with them, unless doing so puts them at risk of harm.

Research shows that when children have a positive relationship with both parents, they are more likely to:

  • do better at school
  • stay out of trouble
  • have higher levels of self-esteem
  • develop healthier relationships as an adult

Plus, if you can agree with the other parent when they can spend time with your child, this is likely to make it easier for you to work together on financial arrangements.

So, while it may be difficult to do at the moment, talking about contact arrangements with your child’s other parent could be helpful for everyone.

Help with resolving issues around contact

Many parents find it useful to get someone neutral to be there during conversations about arrangements for the children. This is called mediation.

Find out more about mediation.

Or, you could use a Child Contact Centre. These are neutral places where children can enjoy safe contact with their other parent.

Find out more about Child Contact Centres (external website).

Even if you can’t make arrangements for your child by yourselves, then you should still make sure they are provided for financially.

Even if you can’t make arrangements for your child by yourselves (through a family-based arrangement), then you should still make sure they are provided for financially.

Find out about other ways to arrange child maintenance.