Planning your child maintenance discussion

To help you plan your discussion about child maintenance, there are four main questions you need to ask yourself.

We’ve turned each of these questions into a separate step, so you can work through each question one step at a time.

Step 1 – What do you want to talk about?

Step 2 – How will you put your ideas forward?

Step 3 - When and where do you want to talk?

Step 4 - Would you like someone else to be there?

Step 1 – What do you want to talk about?

Write a list of everything you want to talk about in terms of arrangements for the children.

Looking at your list, decide which things are most important to sort out.

Think about what your ideal result would be for each thing on your list.

Then think about which things you are prepared to compromise on.

Step 2 – How will you put your ideas forward?

Think about the best way to explain your ideas. You could write them down, or just talk about them.

Start with the ones that you think will be easiest to agree on, even if they're not your top priority.

Step 3 – When and where do you want to talk?

Some people prefer to talk somewhere private, like their home. If you feel uncomfortable going to the other parent's home or having them in your home, then think about asking a friend or relative to let you use their home instead.

You may prefer meeting the other parent somewhere more public and "neutral". This could be somewhere like a cafe or a park.

Try to find a convenient time when you are both able to concentrate on the conversation.

Leave yourself plenty of time to talk so you're not under pressure.

Children's pick-up and drop-off times are usually not the best time to have your conversation. In fact, try to have the conversation when the children are not around.

Finally, avoid late night conversations when you are both more likely to be tired.

Step 4 – Would you like someone else to be there?

If you think it would be helpful, you could ask a friend or relative to be there during your conversation to act as mediator.

Some people say this is very helpful, if it is a person that both parents trust and they can stay calm and neutral.

You could also ask a professional family mediator to help you.

If you want to do this, make sure you tell the other parent so that they know what to expect.

For more information about using a professional mediator, read About mediation.