Child Support Calculator: Managing The Finances Of Co-Parenting

Learning to co-parent amicably can be a challenge. You both want to do the best for your children, however, managing the finances of co-parenting can make things a little trickier. There are essentially two ways of working out child support – unofficially, between yourselves, or through the Child Maintenance Service.




Tips For Calculating Child Support

Every co-parenting situation is different, which means that there isn’t a definitive answer. There are guidelines, tips, and techniques that you and your fellow parent can use to make your own situation as smooth as possible.



Communication is key to an amicable co-parenting relationship. You need to compromise and hear each other out. Communication around expenses is especially important when working out child support. Activities and expenses should be discussed beforehand, and both parents should feel involved in the decision making.


Be open about your expectations. Write down for yourself what you want your co-parenting relationship to look like. Use this to influence how you communicate with each other. Be prepared to choose your battles. There will be some things that will be better to let go of to maintain an amicable relationship. The focus of all communication is your child, but you should also establish boundaries with your co-parent. Be clear about what you expect and your own priorities.


Dividing Expenses

If you’re trying to work out child support between yourselves without external help, begin by writing down your child’s expenses. Discuss how best to share the expenses between you. You should also talk about unexpected expenses. If, for example, your child wants to take up a new activity, you should have a system in place to decide how to split the cost of the expense.


Avoid Discussing Finances With Your Child

No matter how strained the relationship between you and your co-parent, avoid discussing it with your child. Keep them out of the conversations around child support. This doesn’t mean that they should be completely in the dark about the finances in each house. If you can’t afford something, tell them, but don’t say that things can’t be afforded because of issues around child support.


Child Maintenance Service Calculator (CMS)

The government child maintenance service has an online calculator that you can use. It follows six steps to work out what child support should be paid. It is based on the income of the paying parent, and not the real-life expenses of the child. However, it can be a good tool to use if communication between you and your co-parent is unlikely.


Step One – Income

The first step is to establish the income of the paying parent. If you’re only using the online calculator, you can input the details yourself. However, if you need to use CMS, then they will have this information supplied by HM Revenue and Customs. They will also check if the paying parent is receiving any benefits.


Step Two – Deductions

The next step that CMS will take is to check for deductions. These are things that change the gross income amount, so things like a pension payment, child support for other children, or children that the paying parent lives with. They will calculate the yearly income and convert it into a weekly amount.


Step Three – Child Maintenance Rates

CMS has the following rates of payment.

  • Nil rate – The nil rate applies if the paying parent has a weekly income of £7 or less. In these circumstances the paying parent does not pay.
  • Flat rate – The flat rate applies if the paying parent has an income below £100 per week, or if they are receiving benefits. The flat rate is £7 per week.
  • Reduced rate – The reduced rate applies if the paying parent has an income between £100 and £200 per week. CMS will use their formula to calculate the amount of child support.
  • Basic rate – The basic rate is applied if the paying parent has an income between £200 and £800 per week, and the basic plus rate is applied between £800 and £3,000 per week. Again, the amount of support applicable will be calculated using the CMS formula.


Step Four – Other Children

The amount of child support worked out may be reduced if the paying parent lives with other children or has child support arrangements in place for other children they have that they do not live with.


Step Five – Weekly Amount Of Child Maintenance

After all the income has been assessed, and all deductions made, the final figure is the amount of weekly child support that should be paid by the paying parent.


Step Six – Shared Care

Shared care is when the paying parent has overnight access with the child. The CMS will deduct the child support to reflect how often the paying parent has the child overnight.


If you and your co-parent are struggling to work out child support, you can make an application for the Child Maintenance Service to make the decisions for you.