When a couple separates, there are a number of things that require to be agreed – from financial matters and the division of matrimonial assets, to the care and residence of any children. Whilst many parents choose to enter into a shared care arrangement where they share the residence of the children, commonly the children will have their residence with one parent, and have agreed residential and non-residential contact with the other parent.
Child aliment (commonly referred to as “child maintenance”) is regular financial support from the non-residential parent to the residential parent to help towards the child’s everyday living costs. In most cases, this level of aliment is agreed between the parents and set out in a Minute of Agreement. Where it can’t be agreed, then either parent can apply to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) for an assessment of aliment. The Child Maintenance Service took over from the Child Support Agency (CSA). The assessment takes into account the paying parent’s income, how many residential nights contact they have with the child on average over the course of a year and whether they have any other dependants living with them. In some cases, where the CMS doesn’t have jurisdiction to deal with a application (i.e. due to the location of the paying parent), then an application may require to be made to the court for aliment to be awarded.
Whilst many people believe that the obligation to aliment a child ends upon the child turning 16, this is often not the case. The CMS have jurisdiction to deal with assessments of a child up until the child is 20 years old if that child is in full-time education (not higher than Scottish Highers or equivalent). It is advisable to include terms within any Minute of Agreement to regulate the circumstances upon which aliment will continue to be payable.
If you wish to discuss the issue of aliment further with one of experienced family law lawyers, please get in touch.