Home > Financial > Child Support Payments: An Overview

Child Support Payments: An Overview

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 22 Feb 2018 | 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)

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

Child Support Agency

The Child Support Agency can 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 net income, how many children you’ll be paying maintenance for, and how many children are living with you.

To come up with net income, the CSA takes your earnings, whether it’s salary, profit for business if you’re self-employed, or even a pension. After that tax is deducted, along with your NI contribution, and the amount you put into an approved pension (note, though, that if the pension will also pay your mortgage, only 75% of the figure is deducted). If you derive some income from share dividends, that doesn’t enter into the calculation, but if you receive working tax credits, those are.

Items like sick pay, overtime, bonuses and commissions, among others, are also treated as income, but most payments for expenses are not.

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

Basic Rates

If your net income is more than £200 a week, then maintenance is calculated at basic rates. These are 15% of your net income if you have one child, 20% for two, and 25% for three children. However, if in your current family you have children living with you; the payments are reduced by 15% for one child, 20% for two, and 25% for three.

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, but it means £5 each week plus a percentage of your income over £100.

Flat Rate

If you make less than £100 a week, or you’re on benefits, you’ll play a flat rate of maintenance of £5 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]
Joshtww - Your Question:
Hi, I have 2 kids with my ex girlfriend, the kids stay with me in my house roughly two nights per week. I own my home outright but my income is small. Is it just the income my ex can claim off or can she claim the fact I own an asset outright?

Our Response:
Your ex cannot claim your asset. Child maintenance is based upon gross taxable earnings not assets.
SeparatedDads - 23-Feb-18 @ 12:16 PM
Monica- Your Question:
HiMy step daughter left school and has been working full time for the last 3 years. She has now decided to try college at NC level and will be 19 at start of course and 20 in January. Will my husband have to pay child maintenance again and if so until when? The age of 20 or 20years 6 months when course will end. Many thanks

Our Response:
As a rule, if your step-daughter continues in full-time non-advanced education not higher than A-level equivalent, for at least 12 hours a week, then child maintenance payments will continue until the child finishes the course or until they turn 20. However, CMS will not accept new claims after the age of 16, so you may have to approach CMS to see whether you will be expected to pay and how this is organised if the child has come out of education and is returning. As child maintenance falls in line with child benefit, much also depends upon whether your step-daughter's other parent is eligible to claim child benefit, (when child benefit officially stops, so does child maintenance). You can see more via the link here, which also lists the approved courses. Unfortunately, this does not really answer your question, as it is a bit of a grey area. So, you will have to look into the matter more via CMS directly.
SeparatedDads - 23-Feb-18 @ 10:58 AM
Hi My step daughter left school and has been working full time for the last 3 years. She has now decided to try college at NC level and will be 19 at start of course and 20 in January. Will my husband have to pay child maintenance again and if so until when? The age of 20 or 20years 6 months when course will end. Many thanks
Monica - 22-Feb-18 @ 9:08 PM
Hi, I have 2 kids with my ex girlfriend, the kids stay with me in my house roughly two nights per week. I own my home outright but my income is small. Is it just the income my ex can claim off or can she claim the fact I own an asset outright?
Joshtww - 22-Feb-18 @ 10:49 AM
Lorraine - Your Question:
Hi I have been paying 131.00 per week for the last 5 years as my ex said I never paid for my son he is now 21 years old and csa are still taking money out my wages is this right can they do that

Our Response:
If your ex previously made a claim via CSA/CMS and you didn't pay via the arrangement organised through CMS/CSA, then CSA/CMS can take money officially owed. If you feel you have been treated unfairly, you would have to claim via the link here.
SeparatedDads - 20-Feb-18 @ 10:57 AM
hi i have been paying 131.00 per week for the last 5 years as my ex said i never paid for my son he is now 21 years oldand csa are still taking money out my wages is this right can they do that
Lorraine - 19-Feb-18 @ 5:43 PM
My ex wants to give me half the morgage monthly payments and expect me to pay everything else should he also be payingmaintanence for our child who will be living in the house
Ticktock - 13-Feb-18 @ 8:01 AM
Our son had a brief relationship that has resulted in a baby ( he hasn't seen). This week he has been contacted by CMS. We understand he has a legal responsibility to support the child but he is already in so much debt. Would a court order take his circumstances into account if he went down that route? After using the CMS calculator we realise he can't afford the expected amount.
Stepmom - 1-Feb-18 @ 10:18 AM
Hi there, I am paying maintenance for my two boys, both of whom are living with their mother. I'm happy to pay my maintenance, however, I do have a question around the amount. In short, I have to commute a long way to work and have to pay my own fuel, I also do all the picking up and dropping off for the boys when they stay with me twice a week, school pick-up etc. My ex doesn't do any of the picking up/dropping off at all. My fuel bill is around £80 per week as a minimum. This equates to over £4000 per year. Can this be deducted before calculating my maintenance payments? As it stands I'd be better off taking a pay cut and working more locally but this isn't really an option for me. I'd appreciate any advice you can give before I see a solicitor. Many thanks.
Andrew - 29-Jan-18 @ 2:46 PM
@k3vin - child maintenance is based on earnings. If you stop work you too won't have to pay. But then you'd be on a limited budget like your ex. So it's a way of balancing the books if you like and making it fair. It doesn't mean I agree, that's just the way it is. The kids are always put first.
MattR - 26-Jan-18 @ 12:36 PM
hi. I have 2 kids with my ex! 1 lives with me and 1 lives with my ex. how is it possible or fair that my ex is claiming csa off of me for my daughter? in my eyes if there's1 child living with each of us then there should be no payment to either of us? all because I have 2 kids in my house (one is 18 months and one is 9)yet me and my wife still find time to work, I earn £90 a week and csa want £57.40 a week off me? really?? yet because my ex can't be bothered to work I can claim nothing? dont get me wrong ive been happy with nothing because my boy lives with me and she has my girl.Apparently there's been a case open since march and the cms have sent 3 letters out to me in this time. 3 letters 3 differnt addresses(this is the best bit) I've never lived at any these addresses!! my ex phoned me in June saying I need to get hold of csa so I did. I've paid every amount on every date csa have asked me to( I've sent the proof twice) and now I'm going to collect and pay because of none payment??? wtf?? Think the csa is a shambles!!
k3vin - 25-Jan-18 @ 9:29 PM
Hi all, It's important to understand that the government organisations have broken systems for calculating this stuff.You need to figure it out yourself, and agree it with the other party.If they don't agree and want to go through CSA/CMS etc. they will use PAYE paperwork, but it's important to ensure that other factors, like supporting other children, are taken into account. It's stupid, but possible that getting you current partner to go 'formal' might even lower your payments to your previous partner, as the amount they take is split equally over the children receiving it.
GotThisSorted Now - 24-Jan-18 @ 1:07 PM
TC - Your Question:
I’m in the process of potentially selling a business. I’m only paying child maintenance and it was agreed via the courts during the divorce that that’s all me Liability will ever be, she has agreed to no future recourse on anything other than this. I just wanted to check if any capital gains from the sale of my business assets is taken into account with the CMS calculations?

Our Response:
Only taxable earnings/income are taken into account.
SeparatedDads - 22-Jan-18 @ 12:28 PM
I’m in the process of potentially selling a business. I’m only paying child maintenance and it was agreed via the courts during the divorce that that’s all me Liability will ever be, she has agreed to no future recourse on anything other than this. I just wanted to check if any capital gains from the sale of my business assets is taken into account with the CMS calculations?
TC - 21-Jan-18 @ 7:11 PM
Would I have to pay child support arrears for the past two years if I didn't k ow the child was mine and the mother was saying it was someone else's and he's the one on the birth certificate
Dstorey91 - 16-Jan-18 @ 12:37 PM
Huddy - Your Question:
My son is 15, turning 16 in Feb 2018. He has not been attending school or having any home schooling for the last 6 months, despite my objections to his mother he has no intention of going back to school. Do I legally have to pay Child Maintenance to his mother any more?

Our Response:
You have to pay child maintenance while the mother is eligible to claim child benefit, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 15-Jan-18 @ 3:21 PM
My son is 15, turning 16 in Feb 2018. He has not been attending school or having any home schooling for the last 6 months, despite my objections to his mother he has no intention of going back to school. Do I legally have to pay Child Maintenance to his mother any more?
Huddy - 13-Jan-18 @ 10:19 AM
Aj83- Your Question:
I recently received a bill of £1563 arrears payments and then a letter from CSA stating that I've now to start paying £244 +plus the arrears payments on top monthly without any knowledge this whole process was going on until receiving these letters. I my ex partner has stopped me seeing the kids since May and blocked any forms of contact with me to arrange payments. I'm aware of the calculating system CSA are using but surely they have to make the person who is being claimed against know that this is happening, also they have to take into account income and bills of each individual case. I might have to stop working as the amount quoted will financially cripple me. I was happy to pay for my 2 daughters and was so regularly when in stable employment. Is there any where I can go to get help with this?

Our Response:
Child access and child maintenance payments are not related, meaning if your ex stops you seeing your kids, it does not give you a green light to withhold paying child maintenance (even if your ex has blocked contact). Regardless of whether you have access to your kids or not, by law you still have to help financially towards their day-to-day care. If there are access issues, these should be dealt with separately via mediation or court. However, CMS will continue to take money or expect you to pay child maintenance. Therefore, if you were unable to pay the money, you should have kept the money back to guard against an arrears situation such as this, knowing at some point child maintenance may wish to collect those arrears. Unfortunately, there is little you can do except to complain if you feel you have been treated unfairly, please see link here. However, if you intend to complain on the basis your ex withheld access and therefore you didn't/couldn't pay child maintenance, your argument will not hold water.
SeparatedDads - 12-Jan-18 @ 11:41 AM
I recently received a bill of £1563 arrears payments and then a letter from CSA stating that I've now to start paying £244 +plus the arrears payments on top monthly without any knowledge this whole process was going on until receiving these letters. I my ex partner has stopped me seeing the kids since May and blocked any forms of contact with me to arrange payments. I'm aware of the calculating system CSA are using but surely they have to make the person who is being claimed against know that this is happening, also they have to take into account income and bills of each individual case. I might have to stop working as the amount quoted will financially cripple me. I was happy to pay for my 2 daughters and was so regularly when in stable employment. Is there any where I can go to get help with this?
Aj83 - 11-Jan-18 @ 11:37 AM
DadOf2 - Your Question:
Hi, do mortgage payments on the marital home constitute towards CMS payments?Many thanks!

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether you have a family-based child maintenance arrangement where you decide between you, or an agency-based child maintenance assessment. Child maintenance is based upon your earnings and child maintenance is the only payment you would have to make. However, as you are responsible for also paying your mortgage, then you would have to decide what you wished to do about this matter. Mutual negotiation and/or mediation may be a way to work this issue out.
SeparatedDads - 9-Jan-18 @ 3:59 PM
Hi, do mortgage payments on the marital home constitute towards CMS payments? Many thanks!
DadOf2 - 9-Jan-18 @ 6:36 AM
I just wanted to ask if CMS write or call employers to ask for salary information? I just want to know so I can inform the relevant department to expect this
Zunaid - 5-Jan-18 @ 2:25 PM
Thank you for your advice I have spoken to CMS and they have informed me they are willing to wait and any for the payslips and any under/over payments will be adjusted once they get the payslips. They have also informed me they only work on the Payslips and thereafter they get the yearly figure from the HMRC and also use this yearly figure to work out any under payments / over payments in your annual review. Bank Statements are not acceptable unfortunately as they said I could have had expenses paid into my account at the same time as my pay.
GW - 4-Jan-18 @ 12:58 PM
GW - Your Question:
I have informed CSA that my income has been reduced and my monthly contributions are incorrect. They have informed me that they my payslips which I do not and have misplaced it. I have been informed that they need at least 2 months or 8 weekly payslip which I do not have. The Accountant is away and he has informed me that he will do this once which will be in another 4 weeks or so.The Accountant has told me that I need to inform the CSA and they can get all the figures from the Inland Revenue / HMRC. I have informed them that and they have said they only get a yearly figure I really dont know what to do.

Our Response:
You would have to see whether a) your employer can do reprints of your payslips, or you ask whether you can show salary payment via your bank statements. Or speak to CSA/CMS directly to enquire what your options are.
SeparatedDads - 4-Jan-18 @ 11:28 AM
I have informed CSA that my income has been reduced and my monthly contributions are incorrect. They have informed me that they my payslips which I do not and have misplaced it. I have been informed that they need at least 2 months or 8 weekly payslip which I do not have. The Accountantis away and he has informed me that he will do this once which will be in another 4 weeks or so. The Accountant has told me that I need to inform the CSA and they can get all the figures from the Inland Revenue / HMRC. I have informed them that and they have said they only get a yearly figure I really dont know what to do.
GW - 3-Jan-18 @ 4:38 PM
my mums just said my dad cannot claim csa because im am 16 and in education is this true? She hasn't paid for me since I was 3 years old, she hasn't bothered with me but she's bothered wit my biological sister who is only 9months older than me. I feel like a whole chunk of my life is missing because of it
AverageCloud - 27-Dec-17 @ 1:52 PM
@SeperatedDad - mediation or court. If you stop paying the mortgage your ex will say in a few years time 'well he stopped paying the mortgage', so I should have more of a share in the house. I'd take some legal advice.
Mark\n - 22-Dec-17 @ 2:39 PM
BigGuy78 - Your Question:
Hi cms have been taking £250 a month since may I am earning 800-900 pound a month my last wage they have left me with £493 I have 2 children with my ex and am supporting 3 children with my now wife 2 of which our my own Is this right I have phoned them so many times and they are useless really had enoughI am all for supporting my children but surely this is too much?????Thanks in advance

Our Response:
If you feel you are being unfairly treated, you can complain via the link here.
SeparatedDads - 18-Dec-17 @ 11:41 AM
Hi cms have been taking £250 a month since may I am earning 800-900 pound a month my last wage they have left me with £493 I have 2 children with my ex and am supporting 3 children with my now wife 2 of which our my own Is this right I have phoned them so many times and they are useless really had enough I am all for supporting my children but surely this is too much????? Thanks in advance
BigGuy78 - 15-Dec-17 @ 4:46 PM
Mushtaq - Your Question:
Hi dear I need some about child maintenance. I have been caring two children my ex wife are caring two as well. Then I have to pay child maintenance. My wage 168 pound per week. I am paying mortgage £320.I have been giving pickaxe drop service which is cost me £25 around per week.I received a notice from child maintenance agency. I have to pay 19.50 per week. Can I deduct the amount of mortgage and fuel cost.

Our Response:
It is your earnings that are assessed not your outgoings. Therefore, on the basic rate, if you’re paying for one child, you’ll pay 12% of your gross weekly income, two children, you’ll pay 16% of your gross weekly income and three or more children, you’ll pay 19% of your gross weekly income. You can see more via the link here.
SeparatedDads - 8-Dec-17 @ 9:36 AM
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