Keeping on top of your finances is a lifelong struggle, but paying child maintenance is something you should always prioritise. Use these top tips to help you never miss a payment…
Child maintenance is money to help pay for your child’s living costs. It’s usually paid by a parent who has moved out and no longer lives in the same house as the child, to the person who takes care of the child regularly.
The amount of child maintenance you pay will vary depending on various factors. These include the number of children you have, the amount of time you spend with your child, and the salary you are on. If you think you’re paying more than what you should be paying, you should always seek legal advice from your Somerset, Manchester, or Lincoln family solicitor, for example, before taking formal action.
To avoid having to take legal action, here are ten top tips for paying child maintenance on time. So, let’s begin…
1. Try to Maintain a Good Relationship with the Adult You’re Co-Parenting With
If you can, it’s best to try and remain as civil as possible with your child’s other parent. Try to discuss your child maintenance privately, without getting third parties involved, to save you a great deal of time and money.
Remember, trying to maintain an open and healthy relationship with your ex is essential to the success of co-parenting.
2. Set Up a Direct Debit to Never Miss a Payment
If you decide to sort out child maintenance amongst yourselves, without using a solicitor, remember to set up a direct debit to avoid missing any payments.
Family-based arrangements are often the quickest and easiest way to arrange child maintenance. However, they’re not legally binding, so it’s important to trust your child’s other parent and set up a direct debit to ensure the trust isn’t broken.
3. Use the Child Maintenance Service for Peace of Mind
If you and your ex-partner can’t agree on a child maintenance plan, you can contact the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to help. The CMS work out how much child maintenance should be paid and can arrange how the money is paid.
Usually, there are two ways: Direct Pay and Collect and Pay. Direct Pay is a direct transaction from one parent’s bank account into another. Collect and Pay is when the CMS collects the money and passes it between the two parents.
Although Collect and Pay is a better alternative if your ex-partner is continually missing payments, parents must bear in mind that there are additional charges for this service.
4. Make Sure You Have a Payment Plan
When using a Child Maintenance Service, you are often sent a Payment Plan which details how much child maintenance you need to pay and when.
It’s incredibly beneficial to paying parents, as it tells you exact payment amounts and the dates they will come out of your account. Usually, Payment Plans are delivered when the CMS first work out the amount.
If you do not have one already, we strongly advise contacting the CMS for a copy and keeping it in a safe place.
5. Budget at the Start of Every Month
Budgeting is a skill that you acquire as an adult, and it is imperative in gaining financial stability.
So, why not try sketching out a budgeting schedule at the start of every month? This will give you a clear picture of where your money is ending up, and ensure you keep on top of your finances.
Remember that every month is different, so don’t rely on the previous month to set you up for the next. It’s vital that you consider all costs as well as accounting for the unexpected.
6. Set Yourself Reminders
As well as setting up a Direct Debit or using the Child Maintenance Service, set yourself reminders throughout the month to ensure you’re on the right path.
Whether you set an alert on your phone each week or have a note on your chalkboard in the kitchen, visual reminders will help you remember upcoming payments. Try to mix up your reminders i.e., where you write the memo, or at what time your alert goes off, so you don’t stop noticing them.
7. Pay Off Any Outstanding Debt
To ensure payments are sent in time, it’s helpful to eradicate any pre-existing debt. Depending on your circumstances, this could be a lengthy process, but will ultimately help in ensuring your finances are in order.
To ensure you’re making the right decisions, contact a financial adviser or wealth management company, and they’ll be able to advise you on your next steps.
8. Keep Your Solicitor Updated
You may not have used a solicitor to sort out your child maintenance plan, but if you did it’s important to keep them in the loop. In order for your solicitors to provide you with sound advice, they must be made fully aware of the situation.
Lying to your solicitor about your financial situation will complicate matters and cost you more money in the long run.
9. Reduce Your Outgoings
Whether it’s changing your service providers, cutting down on luxuries, or even down-sizing home, reducing your monthly outgoings will help you reap the rewards.
It’s certainly not the easiest thing to do, but if you’re struggling to pay your child maintenance on time, it’s probably because you don’t have enough disposable income. Take time to reassess your finances and write down a list of your outgoings to find out where your biggest spends are.
10. Keep Your Child’s Welfare in Mind
Finally, remind yourself why you’re paying child maintenance. Your child deserves to have the best possible chance in life and your financial contributions can have an incredibly positive impact.
Whether it’s putting food in their mouths or paying for after school activities, child maintenance help towards creating a loving and stable environment for your children.
If you’re struggling to remind yourself of the reasons to financially support your child, try speaking to a friend, family member or counsellor, who may be able to help.
Remember, Don’t Give Up!
Although paying child maintenance on time can be tricky, stay focused and remember to think about the end goal. By financially supporting your child, you’re contributing towards their happiness, and can rest assured you’re fulfilling your job as a parent.