Divorce and The Importance Of Child Support
Out of every three marriages today, two ends in divorce. The sad fact is that more than half of the divorcing families have kids, a situation that necessitates thorough knowledge in child support. Divorce is never easy on anyone, and most parents often are pre-occupied with their pain and financial worries that they do not give their children nearly the attention they need at that difficult time. Despite the difficulties, parents till are the most important people in the lives of their children.
Most parents at the verge of separation or divorce continuously worry about the effects the divorce will have on the children both in the short term and long term. While the parents are maybe dealing with the devastation of the divorce, children are often confused, frightened and feel that their security is at risk.
Some parents are sometimes so hurt that they turn to their children for comfort, which in turn puts undue pressure on the kids.
Age By Age Guide On How Children Are Affected By Divorce
The truth is that divorce is often traumatic for children, regardless of their age. Let us look at some of the signs of trauma in children after a divorce, and how to help them ease up to the situation.
Children Up to 18 Months
At this stage, the child can only sense the tension in the home (especially between the parents) but cannot understand the reason for the conflict. When the tension increases, especially towards the final stages of the divorce, the baby becomes irritable and clingy. The baby may have an aversion to new people. Numerous emotional outbursts often characterise this stage. The child can regress or show some signs of developmental delay.
To ease the transition, maintain a routine as children of this age are comforted by familiarity. It helps a lot to stick to a method, especially at mealtime and bedtime throughout the divorce process. Provide the child with their favourite security items or toys and take hold of the baby a little longer for physical comfort.
18 Months to 3 Years
At this age, the child has learned to bond with both parents; any significant disruption in the family life will be difficult to comprehend and accept. Additionally, this is the year when most kids are self-centred, and can easily interpret the situation as their fault. The disruption can cause the child to regress to such activities as thumb sucking and bed wetting. They may also want more attention and cry a lot for fear of being abandoned and may have trouble sleeping.
To ease the transition, both parents should work on a plan to maintain a predictable routine that the child can quickly follow. At this stage, it is essential that both parties also give the child as much attention as possible; read books together, play etc.
3 Years to 6 Years
At this age, the children can tell when there is an issue but do not yet comprehend the more delicate details of what a divorce entails. However, they would prefer the parents not to separate regardless of the tension in the house. At this age, since the child wants to control everything, may feel helpless and blame themselves. This manifested in anger outbursts, uncertainty about the future and other unpleasant thoughts that cause nightmares and disturbed sleeping patterns.
To ease the transition, the parents should talk openly to the child about the issue. They should make sure that the child understands that it is not their fault. Be sure to maintain routines that assure the child of security. Both parents should spend time with the child on a pre-planned regular schedule.
6 years to 17 years
If the child was already used to a nurturing environment, a divorce might present a sense of abandonment of them. Younger children may not understand the concept of divorce and may feel like they are being abandoned, rejected, and feel a sense of extreme loss. They worry about the separation and secretly want the parents to reconcile. Older children may blame one parent as the cause of the divorce and angrily express their blame. This is the age where children act out in school, become depressed and withdrawn and experience constant health issues.
The ease the transition, parents, should work towards rebuilding their security and self-esteem. It is essential that the parents have a conversation with the child to understand what is on their mind. It is necessary to reassure the child of their importance. The parents should work towards destroying the blame game, assure the child of their love and work on restoring security and safety.
Children of school going age are vulnerable. However, as part of helping the child cope with the new situation at home, the parents should encourage participation in extracurricular activities, events and other activities they enjoy. These enjoyable activities help rebuild self-esteem and reduce chances of withdrawal and depression.
How to Sort Out Finances after a Divorce
There are a lot of issues to sort out after a divorce. For starters, it is critical to agree on who will be granted custody, how much will be required to cover the costs of raising the family and how both parties will handle it.
In some instances, the divorce is clean, and the parents agree on a simple co-parenting plan. The parent who does not have custody agrees to give the other parent a specific amount of money periodically to help settle the bills.
In most instances, however, the divorce is bitter, and both parents cannot seem to agree on anything. In such circumstances, there is a need to involve the Child Support Agency.
Child Maintenance Options after a Divorce
Legally, both parents are responsible for all the costs associated with bringing up their children. After a divorce, one parent gets custody of the children. The parent who has no care still has parental rights and obligation and is required to make periodic payments to the parent with custody. This periodic payment is called child maintenance or child support.
Child maintenance is a regular financial payment used to take care of the children’s daily living costs. Both parents can agree on how to share the responsibilities. There are provisions to allow the parties to agree or have the government assistance. If the situation is complicated and you cannot seem to agree on much, this is where Child Support Agency comes in.
What Are the Available Child Maintenance Options?
Child maintenance options are;
- Family-based where both parties come to an agreement
- Government scheme where both parties agree to let the government make the rules of engagement
- Court order where the court determines the rules of engagement
Let us look at each of these options briefly.
Family Based Child Maintenance Plan
Usually, this is the fastest way to play for child maintenance. This option requires that both parties agree how to sort out parental responsibilities. This arrangement is a gentleman’s agreement; it is not legally binding. So, if the deal is in breach, you cannot go to court to enforce it.
However, if for some reason the family-based arrangement fails to work, you can still consider other legally enforceable child maintenance options.
There are cases where a family-based agreement cannot work, especially if there has been a history of abuse or domestic violence. In other cases, the parents cannot agree on the amount that paid as child support. In such cases, a government child maintenance scheme is more appropriate.
Government-Arranged Child Maintenance Schemes
The government can step in to help parties sort out their child support issues. There are three government schemes from which you can make a choice. Remember that these rules are known as statutory schemes and are legally binding.
The 2012 Scheme
The 2012 Child maintenance plan is a statutory scheme run by Child Maintenance Service. It is open to all new applicants who cannot come to a family-based agreement. Applicants from Wales, England, and Scotland will be required to cover the application fees for this scheme.
The 2003 and 1993 Schemes
The Child Support Agency runs these statutory schemes. 1993 the project handles all cases that started before the 3rd of March 2003. The 2003 plan handles all claims opened on or after 3rd of March 2003.
It is important to note that the Child Support Agency has since stopped taking new applications into these two schemes. However, the agency still manages all the cases opened under these schemes and will continue to do so until the plans are phased out.
Court-Arranged Child Maintenance Scheme
All new applications go through the Child Maintenance Services. However, a court is authorised to deal with a new application under these exceptional circumstances.
- Your co-parent lives outside the UK so you cannot apply to the CMS
- There are extra childcare expenses not considered by CMS such as the additional costs associated with raising a child with a disability
- The ex-spouse has a high income and can pay more child maintenance than the CMS can direct
Once a court order is in existence, the ex-spouse is required pay as stipulated. The court order is enforceable by law should the ex-partner fail to honour the arrangement.
More information is required about the application process if;
- Have been married
- Are you living together
- Or in a civil partnership
Divorce and child maintenance arrangements are often a complicated matter. As such, you will need as much information about the legal processes as possible, so you know what your options are. You can call the Child Maintenance Services on 0843 455 0070 today, to find out more about the options available to you.
How to Contact Child Services Agency
Child Services Agency lines are open Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 20:00, and Saturday from 09:00 to 16:00, excluding holidays.
You are free to ask any question regarding child maintenance options available, the legal process of applying for child support as well as any other financial assistance you can get to assist with raising a child. All the information you give is confidentiality.
Need help? Here are the Child Support Agency numbers you can call.
CSA Birkenhead (North West England) Dudley (The Midlands) Hastings (South East England) Plymouth (South West England)
|Description||CSA Number to Call|
|For new applications||0843 455 0030|
|Existing applications||0843 455 0070|
|CSA National helpline||0843 455 0070|
|Falkirk Office (Scotland & North East England)|
|Belfast Office (East England)|
If you are placing a new application, call CSA number 0843 455 0030 and if you are following up on an existing claim, call CSA number 0843 455 0070
How Does Child Maintenance Affect Eligibility for Other Benefits
If You Get Child Support
Child maintenance is not seen as income when determining means-tested benefits such as Housing Allowance, Job Seekers Allowance or Income Support. Therefore, the amount you can get as benefits will not be dependent on whether or not you get child maintenance.
If You Pay Child Support
Any parent who should pay child support and gets government benefits is required to pay £7 every week when on a CSA or CMS aided arrangement. If on a family-based arrangement, both parents can agree on the amount payable from the benefits.
Does Child Maintenance Affect Your Taxes
It is important to note that you are not required to pay tax on any child maintenance services you get.
It is equally important to note that child maintenance payments are not eligible for tax relief. However, if you are required to pay child support and were born before 6th April 1935, you may be entitled to specific tax relief packages based on the circumstances.
Have you just signed the divorce papers? Are you wondering what your next step should be? Call Child Support Agency on 0843 455 0070 today and get a head-start.