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Child Maintenance Payments: An Overview

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 17 Sep 2020 | comments*Discuss
Maintenance Children Child Support Child

The end of a relationship with your partner is never the end where children are involved. Of course, you want to be a part of the lives of your kids, to see them and spend time with them. You also have a responsibility to give them financial support when they don’t live with you.

Arranging Financial Support

There are four real ways to pay your ex maintenance for your children.
  • You can work out a figure between the two of you – obviously the best way
  • Make an arrangement through mediation
  • Have an agreement between your solicitors
  • It can be calculated by the Child Support Agency (CSA)
  • or the Child Maintenance Calculator CMS

The first three methods are obviously better, since they rely on agreement rather than acrimony and bureaucracy.

Child Support Agency

CMS have taken over from CSA for new claims and their advisors can help calculate the level of maintenance you should pay for your children, and ensure you pay it. The amount set depends on a number of factors, but it boils down to three basic things – your gross income, how many children you’ll be paying maintenance for, and how many children are living with you.

The Child Support Agency was replaced with the Child Maintenance Service in November 2013. The CSA is still in operation and dealing with some existing cases.

Basic Rates

You’ll find that certain circumstances can reduce the amount of maintenance you pay. If you’re paying the mortgage on the home where the children and your ex live, for instance, that can reduce maintenance payments, as can the fact that you pay school fees for your children, or if you transferred capital or property to your ex before 1993 as part of what’s called a “clean break” settlement.

Additionally, if your children stay overnight with you during the week, this will lessen the amount of maintenance you have to pay. If it’s one night a week, for example, the reduction will be 1/7th, and this can rise to ½ if the children spend half the year with you.

Reduced Rates

You might be making a net income of less than £200 a week, but still more than £100. That qualifies you to pay maintenance at a reduced rate. The calculations can be fairly complex, so using the CMS calculator is the most straightforward way to assess what you have to pay.

Flat Rate

If you make less than £100 a week, or you’re on benefits, you’ll play a flat rate of maintenance of £7 per child per week (which can be deducted from your benefits). Also, if you’re living with someone who collects Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance, you play the flat rate.

Paying No Maintenance

There are situations where you can have Parental Responsibility but not have to pay maintenance for your children. However, this only occurs if you’re a full-time student, or aged 16-19 and in full-time advanced education, or if you’re living in a nursing home and receiving help to pay the fees.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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[Add a Comment]
Hi, I have a new son with my ex-girlfriend, I asked her about me giving her money every month to support my son, she doesn't want any money from me.Now I've heard that if you don't pay child support then you don't have the same rights as you would if you were paying child support, is that right? Any advise appreciated.
shaw - 17-Sep-20 @ 3:22 PM
I split from my wife just over a year ago I have to pay her. £575 per month in CSA as I have 5 kids with her. She lives in the house I own with her with the children and will not sell which I need her to do so I can use the money from the sale to clear my debts and set up somewhere to have my children overnight. I have given her numerous options, none of which she will consider but the amount of CSA I have to pay is crippling me. I'm looking into the option of part time education so I don't have to pay does anyone know if this is a genuine option?
MattC84 - 16-Sep-20 @ 6:13 PM
Jim bob they can only collect from earnings, my ex came into a lot of money and paying nothing and I was told I wouldn't be able to get any of it
H - 7-Sep-20 @ 9:54 AM
Hi everyone, I have a daughter which I pay Child maintenance for and she lives with her mother full time, I dont even see my daughter as her mother poisoned her against me. I'm going to be inheriting roughly around 30k from parents death and would like to know if she has any claim to the sum of money. Also I'm going self employed soon and not sure how that effects what I pay. Any info would be great thanks .
Jimbob - 30-Aug-20 @ 12:12 PM
Does a teenager ,19 & completing An open university Course alsoworking part time over 15hrs a week still remain in the criteria for support ?
Smr2 - 27-Aug-20 @ 4:32 PM
Marktone. Its hard to force a recipient parent to accept payments. Phone cms and demand you pay. She'll need to say no. Then you can't ever be asked again through cms. You can simply keep aside money for them and give it to them when they're older.
S78 - 19-Aug-20 @ 11:53 PM
Eddy. No. Apprenticeships don't count as full time education. The law is specific in this area. Apprentices are working. Full time education is 21hrs a week or more. Hope that helps.
S78 - 19-Aug-20 @ 11:51 PM
Kev. Don't quit your job. You'll be worse off. Sign up for an OU course, you need to 90 credits worth of study to legally count as a student. In Scotland undet 25k is free, in England abd wales you can get "loans" to pay fees. Unsure of NI? Check out what works for you. You'll get an education and avoid cms payments. I opted to study then was attacked by my ex for money using cms. I told them I was a student. They tried arguing I wasn't. I quoted the law to them. They try it on every year, but I'm doing a degree over 4 years, so no payments until I finish. Might sign up for another course after this one. All legit and no come back.
S78 - 19-Aug-20 @ 11:50 PM
My son is 17 and is doing an apprenticeship should I still be paying csa he does 1 day a week in collage that all Thanks
Eddy - 12-Aug-20 @ 5:00 PM
I want to support my three kids without going through the CMA. My Ex is minted with over 10k per month. I'm a spark on 3k per month. The Ex is refusing to allow me to support on my own. Is there any help out there for me? Thanks Mark
Marktone - 30-Jul-20 @ 11:55 AM
Sad people will actually quit their job your child suffers, you know you cannot quit and claim benefits? That's very stupid advice to be giving!Keep having kids with different women your child suffers. If you know better you should do better
Mini mouse - 25-Jul-20 @ 3:08 PM
Hello any one got any advice CMS are taking 45% of my wages also how are they allowed to take money off your benefits when your benefits are calculated so that that's digs act amount it takes for a person to live that's why you get that much so how are they lawfully allowed to take money that would cause you to stress also had to quit my job I am more money on benefits than I do working due to the 45% reduction of my wages and yet I've never refused to pay someone please help probably need a solicitor
Robbie - 22-Jul-20 @ 1:37 PM
Hi I separated from my wife in November, but we both still share/live in the family home and take equal turns to look after the children. Am I required to still pay child maintenance?
Dav80 - 2-Jul-20 @ 10:58 AM
@kev.quit your job mate .and are you sure you are the father ?.because if you have doubts you can apply for a (DNA test that’s the best thing with the modern world now catch’s out women )we all know what women a like money grabbing vultures that prey on honest clean living hard working men .but sleep with deadbeats and except us good guys to pay .
Chris - 20-Jun-20 @ 7:14 PM
I have currently been contacted by csa to pay maintenance on a child that I have never met, I didn't even know her gender, name or d.o.b until this letter came, when the ex was pregnant she split with me and I received threats from her family members to stay away, I also offered to her to pay her money but was rejected. Now 3 years later they are forcing me to pay 12% of my wages, is there anything I can do to see where I stand with this? Also they are calculating what I pay based on my previous p60 which is totally different now as I had a job role change and are now on a few grand less but the csa tell me that doesn't matter and they will be taking the 12% of previous years wage for the foreseeable! They also said I have no choice but to pay this or it will be automatically taken from my wages or bank account! I am fully aware that I was the man who made this child and she's my responsibility but I want to know where I stand seeing as the first 2.5 years of the child's life I had no contact or knowledge of her birth. Thank you in advance
Kev - 20-Jun-20 @ 5:45 PM
My daughter will turn 18,2nd July this year,she has been at college for the past 2 years.The course she was doing has ended apart from the final exams because of covid-19 she doesnt know when they will take place.While at college she was working part time at a kids play unit but was furloughed.She has now started a job as a carer.Myself NRP and my ex RP are no longer in contact i pay her directly child maintenance to her bank,i dont know if she claims child benefit, though im sure she will wether this is legal or not. When do i stop paying maintenance to my ex.? The reason being is,id like to continue paying my daughter directly but cant afford to until paying my ex officially ends.
P1KY - 13-Jun-20 @ 12:02 PM
My son turned 18 in May but doesnt leave FT education until July. My ex partner thinks I should pay maintenance until the child benefit finishes in September, is this correct, are the linked.
G - 11-Jun-20 @ 8:21 PM
Hi I currently pay child maintenance and half the mortgage on a house jointly owned with an ex, as well as life insurance for both of us and also armed forces help to buy repayment. Should the maintenance payments be reduced due to paying half the mortgage or because I jointly own the property would this not be taken into account?
Scott - 5-Jun-20 @ 12:33 PM
My partner pays maintenance every month but latly with covid9 his sons have been staying at his alot. But his ex is still getting the full amount but he has them.Food isnt cheap either. Can i have advice ?
Hayhay - 18-May-20 @ 8:10 PM
I have a deduction of earnings of £459 per month CSA payment due to arrears but due to the covid 19 pandemic work is very quiet with little call outs and no overtime can I get my payments reduced
Macca - 12-May-20 @ 8:28 PM
Hello. My ex earns £20k a year more than me. She is also in the process of moving new partner in with her. Does this affect any maintenance payments that I'm making? Thanks
DisFat - 26-Apr-20 @ 8:03 AM
My ex pays a monthly amount over last 5 years and last year decided to pay an extra £40.00 per month but my question is should any bonus or shares be included in the child maintenance?
Flower - 22-Apr-20 @ 1:29 PM
For last 3 years i have been paying child maintenance and the ex paying the mortgage.Ex has recently stopped paying the mortgage. I am wondering if CSM will let me start paying the mortgage again and reduce the child maintenance accordingly?
Mik - 13-Apr-20 @ 3:19 AM
I've been paying child maintenance for the last 16y and getting married in 4 Months can you tell me would my new wife be liable for payments of my son through her wages
Rueben - 26-Mar-20 @ 7:33 PM
Hi I currently pay child maintenance and half the mortgage on a house jointly owned with an ex. Should the maintenance payments be reduced due to paying half the mortgage or because I jointly own the property would this not be taken into account?
Smithy - 7-Mar-20 @ 3:44 PM
My daughter will be 18 soon and I'm waiting to find out if her dad should still pay me maintenance for her she is still in full time education, but he seems to think it should stop and be payed to her direct this is not how my daughter wants it
Ssg - 17-Feb-20 @ 7:27 AM
Hi I currently pay maintenance for my children which I have no problem paying but I have them for full week on the school holidays now do I need to pay maintenance for that week as I will be carinfor them ect we have a verbal agreement for maintenance but just wondering what my options are as it's not cheap to feed them ect
Mm - 9-Feb-20 @ 9:20 AM
My daughter has moved to her nans by choice. Her nan now wants money. Do I have to pay this even though I have not kicked her out... as if I’m paying for her it will be at home not at her nans
Jh - 2-Feb-20 @ 1:09 PM
My son will be 19 in July if he stays on at college till he is 19 will his dad still have to pay maintenance
Nik - 27-Jan-20 @ 9:24 AM
Hi I pay child maintenance for my two children but not via the csa, it was an agreement made through the solicitors.My eldest son now lives with me and I need to reduce the payments, just wondering what the correct process is without racking up legal fees.Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
Chris - 24-Jan-20 @ 12:03 PM
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