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Guest blog post from Rosanne Cubitt, Joint Head of Professional Practice at Relationships Scotland.

Child Maintenance is changing – charges are being introduced in 2014 for the use of the statutory service (previously the CSA, Child Support Agency). There are routes to avoid the charges. The preferred option is to set up a private arrangement, agree who is going to pay for what and make the payments directly. If this is too difficult the charge for the statutory service to calculate a maintenance payment will be £20. If this is paid directly between parties there are no further charges. If the statutory service gets involved in collecting the money or enforcing the payment there are additional charges.

These charges have been introduced to encourage parents to try to sort out their own arrangements without reverting to the statutory service by default. Although this is a good intention, it can be very difficult for separated parents to communicate and agree appropriate financial arrangements. This is where family mediation can help. Parents can meet together with an impartial third person to discuss all matters relating to the future care of their children and as part of that can agree what makes sense for them for the future. This allows for creative and alternative solutions to sharing the upbringing of children. It might be that one parent agrees to pay for school uniforms, or activities, rather than or as part of the financial payment each month.

If you would like help to agree a private family based child maintenance arrangement contact your local Relationships Scotland family mediation service. Help and advice are also available through the Child Maintenance Options website (which also has an online child maintenance calculator tool) and telephone service on 0800 988 0988

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