Child maintenance and the cost of living

As the cost of living continues to soar, what happens if you are struggling to pay child maintenance or if the amount you receive is no longer sufficient?

The court understands that circumstances can change and that what was once affordable, or sufficient to live on, can become an issue in a cost-of-living crisis. People may lose their job or receive an inheritance, resulting in a marked change of financial circumstances. Given this, it is possible to seek a variation of a child maintenance order.

However, while this is possible, it is important to appreciate that not only is seeking a variation expensive, but it is also subject to lengthy time delays. We would always advise our clients seeking to pay less (the payor) or to receive more (the payee), to consider some of the following options:

  • Is the financial pressure a short or a long-term issue?
  • If it’s short term, for example while a payer looks for new employment, could the maintenance be paid from savings or be reduced on a temporary basis?
  • Are you able to sit down together to look at where you can both make financial savings?
  • Could you reach an agreement between yourselves or with the help of an impartial mediator?

If you can reach an agreement between yourselves, it will be much cheaper and more time efficient than going back to court. If this is achievable, do keep a record of the agreement in writing because the child maintenance order will still be in place, and you can show that any reduction in payments was agreed with consent. If your resolution is to a be long term agreement, a family solicitor can write it as a consent order which can then be formally recognised and approved by the court.


As family law specialists, we have the expertise and experience to both advise you on strategies for reaching an agreement or advise you on making a court variation application. If you would like to speak to one of our team, we offer a fixed fee no obligation initial consultation to discuss your specific circumstances and how the law relates to you. To arrange a meeting please call us on 01444 472700, email us on or complete the form below.

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