I came across some very interesting research recently about child maintenance for single parents in the UK and wanted to share this with you in case you or someone you know can benefit financially. If you’re not from the UK, this still might be of interest to you in case you have a similar system where you live.
One fifth of single parents who took part in a recent survey are not receiving any child maintenance support from their ex partner, despite being eligible for it. What’s more, these single parents could be missing out on as much as £2132 per year!
How much does it cost to raise a child these days?
That’s a lot of money to be missing out on, because let’s face it, kids are expensive! We all know this, but just how much can you expect to pay to raise a child these days?
Well in the UK, when you take into account everything that a child needs during their journey to adulthood at age 18, you can expect to pay around £67K in total.
That figures includes necessities such as nappies, clothing, shoes and food as well as the cost for school lunches, school trips, extra-curricular activities, driving lessons and tuition fees. In the UK, university tuition fees are now at £9K per year.
I don’t know about you but that figure is making me wince. I have a daughter myself and I’m married, so my husband and I are funding our daughter’s upbringing together. But imagine if you’re going it alone as a single parent?
The expenses of raising a child as a single parent would be made marginally easier if the resident parent was to claim child maintenance. Here in the UK, child maintenance could equate to £41 per week (that’s currently the basic rate).
So what’s stopping some single parents from claiming?
This study into child maintenance for single parents has been done by PayPlan, who are financial advisors here in the UK. As part of the research undertaken with the single parents they surveyed, they also found that:
- 6% said they weren’t sure if they were eligible for child maintenance or not.
- 8% said that the process for getting statutory based child maintenance support was too complicated for them to pursue.
- 71% said they were experiencing financial struggles.
- 8% (those who were already making child maintenance payments) didn’t know what help was available to them if they were struggling themselves.
- 4% of men surveyed found the process of sorting out child maintenance too complicated, compared to 26.6% of women.
- 1% of 25-34 year olds have a family based arrangement as opposed to a statutory arrangement, compared to 26.4% of 45-55 year olds.
For the record, a family based child maintenance arrangement is one where both parents agree a child support payment based on the child’s needs and what the paying parent can afford. This basically is more likely to happen when both parents are on amicable terms.
A statutory child maintenance arrangement is one that is set up by the Child Maintenance Service (a UK government service). There is a fee involved with this type of arrangement which affects both parents.
Where to find some answers about child maintenance
To demystify the process around child maintenance, PayPlan have created a child maintenance resource hub, which is packed full of useful information to help support single parents who may be struggling financially.
The resource hub contains a user-friendly guide on how child maintenance works, what child maintenance options are available, a child maintenance calculator and much more.
The information within the resource hub is useful for single parents who aren’t currently claiming child maintenance, but also for those who are currently receiving or making payments.
For example, if you’re a single parent who is already paying child maintenance and you’re struggling to make ends meet, you may well be paying too much.
I have a close friend who paid way too much child maintenance to his ex partner (for twins no less!) for over five years and it basically left him with virtually no disposable income whatsoever.
My friend wanted to support his kids in every way he could, but by overcompensating financially, this almost led to him having a financial breakdown.
In an ideal world, the child should absolutely get the financial support they need but at the same time, the single parent paying child maintenance should be able to afford to live too.
The calculator in this resource hub is a good reference point for checking how much you should be paying or receiving as a single parent.
Managing your finances effectively isn’t an easy task at the best of times and if you’re a single parent, then the chances are that your purse strings are going to have to be pulled that bit tighter.
If you’re eligible for child maintenance but you haven’t looked into it yet or if you think you might be paying too much, I’d encourage you to look into this further. You might just end up a lot better off.
Are you a single parent? What’s your experience of child maintenance?
*Images courtesy of Unsplash (under Creative Commons Zero) with text overlay added.