Advantages and disadvantages of arrangements by Child Maintenance Service

Sometimes parents cannot reach a family-based arrangement about child maintenance. There might be no trust between you or other reasons that stop you agreeing child maintenance. Or you might prefer to involve the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to assess and collect payments. CMS can also enforce a parent’s payments.

Advantages and disadvantages

Advantages Disadvantages
Using the Child Maintenance
Service Direct Pay option is a
free service.
There is a charge for
the Child Maintenance Collect
and Pay service.
This might be suitable
if you have a strained
relationship with the other
You may find it helpful for the
Child Maintenance Service to
collect and enforce the right
level of maintenance to pay.
When people have a
family-based arrangement,
this can get money to the
receiving parent more quickly.
Also it can be easier to resolve
breakdowns in payment when a
third party is not involved.
If you don’t know where the
other parent is, or they don’t
want to accept responsibility,
the Child Maintenance Service
can try and trace them, assess
payments, collect payments
and enforce when they don’t
Due to the formal process and
the paperwork involved with
Child Maintenance Service
arrangements, it can take time
to update these arrangements,
for example when your
circumstances change.
You don’t have to be in 
contact with the other
parent if you don’t want to, for
example if there’s a history of
Once you ask the Child
Maintenance Service to decide
on how much maintenance
to pay, you have to abide by
their decision. It is not possible
to ask the Child Maintenance
Service to collect a different
amount of maintenance other
than what has been determined
by their formula.
The amount of child
maintenance will be set by
the Child Maintenance Service.
They will provide parents
with the relevant payment or
collection schedules to advise
them of their payment
There is less flexibility about
how and when you make and
receive payments. Making
special arrangements for
things like summer holidays
is more difficult with a
Child Maintenance Service
arrangement than with a
family-based arrangement.
The Child Maintenance Service
uses a set formula to work out
You can go back to a
family-based arrangement
in the future, if both parents
You have to share your details
with the Child Maintenance Service.
With a family-based arrangement,
you only have to share your
details with the other parent.
If a parent won’t share their
details, the Child Maintenance
Service has the authority to
get those details from other
government bodies, or the
parent's employer.
The more ‘legal’ things
become, the harder it can be
sometimes on your child and
your relationship with the other

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