All parents have a duty to support their children financially and pay towards their upbringing, irrespective of whether they have parental responsibility. This type of financial support is known as child maintenance, and it typically involves regular payments to the parent with whom the children spend the majority of time (sometimes known as the primary caregiver), from the other parent. As well as monetary payment, it may also include help with accommodation costs, paying bills and purchasing items of clothing and toys.
The level of child maintenance depends on the circumstances of both parents (eg. how much they earn and any assets) and the needs of the children, as well as how much time they spend with each parent. In general, parents will agree on an appropriate level of child maintenance between themselves, in what is known as a ‘family-based arrangement’. However, if they cannot agree, or in cases of domestic violence, the Child Maintenance Service will be able to calculate, collect and distribute payments.