Keeping on top of your child maintenance payments

People can fall behind in paying child maintenance for different reasons – household bills may have rocketed; working hours been reduced or sometimes you’re just not sure how to manage the money you have coming in with the bills you need to pay.

Paying child maintenance isn’t like paying a bill though – it’s paid to help children get what they need.

If you’re struggling to make your child maintenance payments, it’s important you act straight away to bring your payments up to date and continue paying on time.

If you have a family-based arrangement 

Speak to your ex-partner.  Explain your situation and try to renegotiate a new agreement. Our discussion guide can help you.

If child maintenance is paid through the CSA or Child Maintenance Service

Contact them as soon as possible if you’re having problems paying, or if you’re going to miss a payment.

If you don’t pay all the maintenance you should pay, and on time, the  CSA  or Child Maintenance Service may take enforcement action. This may include taking payments straight from your earnings or bank account.

If you continue not to pay, they could also get an order through the courts to force you to sell your home or other assets; take your driving license or send you to prison.

If you need help to manage your budget or bills

It can be difficult to know where to turn, but If you’re struggling to manage your finances there is expert help and support out there:

The Money Advice Service is an independent service set up to help you manage your finances better and show you how to budget.

If you’re in debt, StepChange Debt Charity are there to help you if your debts have got out of control.  They have a number of different solutions which can help you get your life, and finances, back on track.

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Self Employed? Get Some Help!

Being your own boss can involve long and unpredictable hours so it’s important to be able to communicate with your child’s other parent in order that you can make arrangements that suit you and your child.

Irregular hours can make it harder to make arrangements that suit everyone.  This goes with the territory in self employment but it’s important to focus on what’s best for the children.  A maintenance arrangement doesn’t need to be just based on money, it could include childcare too.

A changeable income may mean that a family based arrangement could be the best way forward as it allows you to agree some financial flexibility with the other parent and to change the amount and frequency of payments as long as you both agree. It’s important to keep a record of payments made.  You can download a Family Based Arrangement Form to help you both agree the details and set them out so that it is clear for everyone.

It’s good to talk and it’s even more important to communicate when things are always changing…..

Conversations with your ex about this sort of thing can be tricky. Help is available via the CMOptions website, where you can find a number of tools and guides that can help:

  • Download the discussion guide to help you talk to your ex partner about arrangements for the children.
  • Use the maintenance calculator to help you come to an agreement over the amount of maintenance to pay.
  • Work out the cost of raising your child using the online tool, which could help you both in any discussion.
  • Use the budget planner to help you keep things on track financially as your income changes.

Got a question? If you feel it would be easier to contact one of our trained consultants directly you could do so online via Live Chat or by email.

You can also call on 0800 988 0988 from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturday.

 

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Guest blog from StepChange Debt Charity: Get a debt solution

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In our final guest-blog from StepChange as part of their Debt Awareness Week, they look at how to find the right debt solution for you…

Step 5: The solution

So you want to get out of debt. You’ve drawn up a list of your outgoings. You’re armed with who you owe money to and how much. Now it’s about seeing which debt solution is right for you.

A free debt management plan (DMP) is one way of repaying your debts; an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) or bankruptcy are others. The best way to ensure you get what’s right for you is to get impartial advice from a debt charity.

StepChange Debt Charity offer their debt advice online through their StepChange Debt Remedy tool. Enter your budget information and it’ll instantly recommend the best solution for you. It’s free, confidential and easy to use.

The key points to remember:

  • No debt problem is impossible – facing it can often be the biggest hurdle
  • If you’re struggling, don’t apply for more credit – it won’t help
  • Creditors cannot force you pay more than you can afford – you just need to work out how much that is
  • Don’t be tempted to pay for debt help – free, impartial advice is always best
  • You’re not alone – debt charities are here to support you!

Remember, if you’d prefer you can contact StepChange to chat to an advisor over the phone, have an online chat or request a call back.

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Guest blog from StepChange Debt Charity: Speak to your creditors

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Today, in the fourth in our series of guest-blogs from Stepchange during Debt Awareness Week, they look at how you can sort things out with your creditors …

Step 4: Be confident when talking to your creditors

It can be nerve-wracking to contact a company you owe money to, but remember:

  • Credit companies are businesses not Gods
  • People who work in their collection departments are simply doing their job
  • You shouldn’t be forced to pay more than you can afford towards a debt

Armed with those three pieces of information you can contact the creditors with more confidence. Inform them that you know you owe them money and that you’ve fallen into arrears, but you’re taking steps to rectify it.

Ask them if they can temporarily freeze any interest or charges while you seek advice. Take a look at this article about what bills to pay first whilst you sort things out. Then move onto step 5!

Or if you’d prefer you can contact StepChange to chat to an advisor over the phone, have an online chat or request a call back.

 

 

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Guest blog from StepChange Debt Charity: Take stock of your debts

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In this third guest-blog from Stepchange, they take a look at how you can get a clearer view of your debts during Debt Awareness Week

Step 3: Tackle your debts

It’s human nature to put off things you don’t want to do. You might have a stack of unopened reminder letters, or you might have moved address and not informed your creditors.

Don’t beat yourself up about it; it’s in the past. But knowing now how much you owe now is crucial in sorting out the problem.

Looking at your credit file is the clearest way to take stock of your debts. Noddle offers access to your credit file free of charge. It will show who you owe money to, your balances and if you have any county court judgments (CCJs). Noddle is free but they’ll probably show you adverts for credit cards – it could go without saying, but ignore them!

Sometimes the credit search can’t locate you. If this is the case don’t panic, but instead, follow our next step.

Use the online debt advice tool StepChange Debt Remedy to help you.

Or if you’d prefer you can contact StepChange to chat to an advisor over the phone, have an online chat or request a call back.

 

 

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Guest blog from StepChange Debt Charity: Draw up a budget

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In the second of Stepchange’s guest blogs as part of their Debt Awareness Week, today they look at budgeting…

Step 2: Take control

A personal budget is important because you can only ever be made to pay back an unsecured debt (such as a credit card) at a rate you can afford. You should be paying them off with your ‘disposable income’.

This is the money you have left once you’ve paid priorities like rent, mortgage, household bills, food and living costs. Seeing how much money you have spare after accounting for these things is important.

We’d recommend that you read this article on how to create a budget

Or if you’d prefer you can contact StepChange to chat to an advisor over the phone, have an online chat or request a call back.

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Guest blog from StepChange Debt Charity: Get out of debt using their 5 Step plan – Step 1

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If you’re reading this it’s likely there’s a question keeping you awake at night: How can I get out of debt?

This week (20th-26th) StepChange Debt Charity are running Debt Awareness Week, to get people talking about their money worries.  They want to help people recognise the danger signs of a debt problem and understand how to get free debt help.

In a series of 5 guest blogs, StepChange will show how you can improve your situation with their 5 step plan

Step 1: Face the problem

From experience they know that a large proportion of people wait a year or more to get debt help. If you’re reading up about ‘how to get out of debt’ you’ve taken the first step in getting your finances back on track.

The golden nugget of advice is this: free, impartial debt help is the answer. Extending your overdraft, taking out a payday loan or extending your credit card limit isn’t. If you’re in debt applying for extra credit of any kind won’t help.

Throughout Debt Awareness Week, StepChange Debt Charity will be talking about the danger signs of debt and how to deal with them.  Complete the StepChange Debt Danger Signs test to see if you need debt advice.

Or if you’d prefer you can contact StepChange to chat to an advisor over the phone, have an online chat or request a call back.

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