Does Child Maintenance Cover School Uniform?

Mariam Abu HusseinLegal Assessment Specialist @ Lawhive
Updated on 29th January 2024

A separation is a stressful time for anyone, and when children are involved, it can get even more complicated. Many divorced or separated parents fall out over the issue of custody and child maintenance, including how much should be paid and what it should cover.


The resident parent (the parent who the children live with) might be worried about how they will manage financially if they have gone from a joint to a single income or a single income to no income. Raising children can be expensive, especially when it comes to things like school uniforms, so it is understandable that the resident parent will want to make sure that the children will continue to have their needs met after the family situation has changed.

One commonly asked question relating to child maintenance is: what exactly does it cover? Specifically, does it cover things like school uniforms?

Does Child Maintenance cover school uniforms?

Whether or not child maintenance covers uniforms depends on the arrangement between parents. It’s important to remember that CMS payments are intended to cover a child’s basic needs when they are with the resident parent. Therefore, when it comes to covering costs like school uniforms and school trips, it is a good idea for parents to come to an agreement on this initially, as disputes often arise if it is not clear who is responsible for paying for what, and how much.

For example, a separated couple might each decide to buy their own school uniform to be used by the children when they are in their care. Other parents may arrange for a separate additional payment which covers school uniforms, or account for this when they agree to the child maintenance amount. Which arrangement works for them depends on how child custody arrangements work and each parent's income and/or budget.

Ultimately, there is no one size fits all arrangement when it comes to CMS and school uniforms. Rather, parents and guardians must come to a mutual agreement to which they can both stick to.

What is child maintenance?


Individuals with parental responsibility have a legal responsibility to provide financially for their children, regardless of whether they live with them or not.

Child maintenance payments ensure that parents with day to day custody of the children (known as the resident parent or receiving parent) get the necessary financial assistance to cover essential expenses for a child's upbringing.

In an ideal world, it’s best for parents and guardians to agree to child maintenance arrangements privately. This is called a voluntary or family-based agreement. This can be done through discussions between the parents directly, or via a third party like a family mediator or solicitors.

If parents can’t reach an agreement, or if one parent is refusing to contribute, the resident parent may have no choice but to go through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to reach a fair resolution.

The CMS uses a statutory framework to calculate child maintenance payments taking into account relevant factors like:

  • The non-resident parent's income;

  • Number of children involved;

  • The amount of time the non-resident parent spends with the child.

What does child maintenance cover?

Child maintenance payments should go towards a child’s living costs, like housing, food, clothing, and education. However, there is no set list of things that child maintenance should cover and the receiving parent doesn’t have to provide receipts or justify what the money is spent on.

If parents go through the Child Maintenance Service to arrange payments, they can ask for other expenses that total more than £10 per week to be taken into account.

Should you need more information or advice relating to child maintenance, arrangements or family law, our expert family solicitors are on hand to help. To get started, simply tell us about your case, and we will provide you with a fixed-fee quote for the advice you need and match you with the very best family lawyer for your case.

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