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I pay child maintenance and half of my children’s private school fees to my ex-partner but I have been placed on Furlough, with no top-up from my employer, so my income has dropped significantly. Is there anything I can do?

a. You should first try and discuss this with your ex-partner, either directly or through a Solicitor, to see whether an amicable agreement can be reached.

If you contribute to private school fees voluntarily, it is a matter for you and your ex-partner to resolve the issue with the school, depending whose name is on the bills. You may need to speak to the children’s school to see whether they can offer any reductions or remedies in relation to those payments. If you contribute to the school fees as part of a Court Order, you will need to ensure you do not breach the Order and you may need to consider applying for a variation of the Order if you can no longer afford the payments or reach a compromise agreement with your ex-partner.

You can use the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) calculator (https://www.gov.uk/calculate-child-maintenance) to recalculate your child maintenance obligations using your amended income. This recalculation can then be used in your discussions and you can formally instruct the CMS to verify that calculation if you and your ex-partner cannot reach an agreement about it. If you have already formally involved the CMS, they do carry out an annual review of child maintenance payments, however, they will also recalculate payments outside of the review period where there has been a change in income of 25% or more. We expect the CMS will be experiencing a high volume of enquiries at the present time so anticipate there may be delays in them assisting.

The position on child maintenance payments included in a Court Order are slightly more complicated and how you approach this will depend on how much time has passed since the date of the Order.