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When Does Child Maintenance End?
The circumstances of the birth and life of a child determines when child maintenance ends after a divorce. A father does not, for example, have parental responsibility for a child that was born when the parents were not married. Unless he: registered the birth jointly with the mother after December, 2003, both parents had a formal parental responsibility agreement drawn up, a court granted the father legal parental responsibility, the father is appointed as guardian, or the parents marry.
Assuming, however, that both parents are legally responsible for the child or children in question, most divorcing parents want to know how long they are legally obliged to provide money for child maintenance. Most parents want to do everything they can for their children, but the payments month after month for a certain amount of money can be very stressful.
First of all, the parent who pays maintenance is the parent who does not live full time with the child or children in question. The parent paying maintenance may have a lot of visitation, but they are, from a legal perspective, a non-custodial parent. The Child Support Agency then looks at all the information and decides how much the non-custodial parent will have to pay in child maintenance.
How long the non-custodial parent has to pay child maintenance is another matter entirely. Basically, how long you pay child maintenance is dependent upon what the children do with regard to their educations. How far they go with their education is the sole determining factor, providing you are not contesting that they are indeed your children and you are responsible for them.
You owe child maintenance until your children are at the very least, 16 years old. If you have several children and one is over 16 and the rest are not, you still owe child maintenance for the children who are under 16. As each child progresses to the age of 16, your child maintenance payments will be reduced accordingly until all the children are of age.
However, 16 is the minimum age where child maintenance can stop. Between the ages of 16 and 19, if the child is enrolled full-time in school (more than 12 hours per week and the course is up to and including A level), child maintenance for the child must be paid. This does not apply to advanced study, like study at a college or university, this only includes non-advanced study. Although a child may have several long breaks, the non-custodial parent still owes child maintenance during school breaks. If the child leaves full-time schooling in the summer, the non-custodial parent generally owes child support until the first week of September, of that year.
For example: You have three children, an 11 year old, a 16 year old and an eighteen year old. You must pay child maintenance for the 11 year old no matter what kind of school she is or isnít in - under no circumstances do you not owe child maintenance for her to the custodial parent. The 16 year old may be a different story. If your 16-year-old child has left school, you can stop paying child maintenance in September of the year she left. This is because since she left school, it is time for her to get a job and be responsible. No one should have to pay maintenance on someone who is able to work and support him or herself. But letís say then that your 18-year-old is still studying for A levels and wants to go to university. You would still owe child maintenance for this child because she is in school, non-advanced study and under the age of 19.