Home > Financial > Child Support Payments: An Overview

Child Support Payments: An Overview

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 23 Aug 2017 | 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.

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Can anyone give me any advice on pension payments, can I lose some of my salary by paying 10% of my income into my company pension scheme.
iworktopaythecsa - 23-Aug-17 @ 6:26 PM
Annieb - Your Question:
Hi there.some advice would be greatly appreciated. My partner pays maintenance through the csa, his daughter was 18 in April. She was at college but dropped out january 2016. His ex told us she was going back in September last year. We had rung the csa and they said they couldnt stop payments until child benefit stopped and it hadnt. His ex is very economical with the truth but he carried on paying. We have now heard his daughter hasnt been at college and is doing nothing. How does my partner stand on this? Can he stop paying? What can we do if his ex is fraudulently claiming child benefit? Thank you

Our Response:
If your partner's daughter is 18 and no longer officially in college, child benefit payments will cease at the end of the school year (August 31). Therefore, his child maintenance payments should cease also. If your partner has parental responsibility of his daughter, he could contact child benefit office directly to report any fraudulent claims taking place.
SeparatedDads - 22-Aug-17 @ 2:12 PM
Hi there.some advice would be greatly appreciated.My partner pays maintenance through the csa, his daughter was 18 in April. She was at college but dropped out january 2016. His ex told us she was going back in September last year . We had rung the csa and they said they couldnt stop payments until child benefit stopped and it hadnt. His ex is very economical with the truth but he carried on paying. We have now heard his daughter hasnt been at college and is doing nothing. How does my partner stand on this? Can he stop paying? What can we do if his ex is fraudulently claiming child benefit? Thank you
Annieb - 22-Aug-17 @ 8:27 AM
Mike - Your Question:
I'm currently paying £500 to my ex wife for our two kids, she has a new partner who has moved into my old house and bought me out of it. She originally applied for the £500 as she stated to the court that she was on reduced hours and could not support the kids on just her salary hence the courts awarded her £500. Is there anyway that I can reduce this payment as she now has two salaries going into her household?

Our Response:
It depends upon whether your payments were ordered through the courts (in which case you would have to take the matter through the courts to request a variation), or through CSA/CMS. If the payments are made by assessment through the latter, then what you pay is not assessed on the incoming salaries of your ex and her partner, but on your earnings alone.
SeparatedDads - 21-Aug-17 @ 11:19 AM
I'm currently paying £500 to my ex wife for our two kids, she has a new partner who has moved into my old house and bought me out of it. She originally applied for the £500 as she stated to the court that she was on reduced hours and could not support the kids on just her salary hence the courts awarded her £500. Is there anyway that I can reduce this payment as she now has two salaries going into her household?
Mike - 19-Aug-17 @ 1:11 PM
I pay my ex just over £500 per month in child maintenance. This is causing me significant financial distress. I can't afford to get my own place and I'm house sharing with a friend which means I can't have my children overnight. I can barely afford my own living expenses. As a result I have incurred a great deal of debt and currently considering IVA or bankruptcy. Is there anything I can do to reduce my child maintenance payments?
Superdad - 16-Aug-17 @ 12:01 PM
I'm paying my ex partner 17.50 a week for my 15 yr old boy but he's got a part time job earning £60 a week so do I still have to pay the same amount or does my ex have to declare what he earns ?
Jamie - 13-Aug-17 @ 3:19 PM
Do cms take into account any joint debts? E.g. a council tax debt in both names for an old property we rented? I have been stuck with a large debt. Thanks
Banana1 - 9-Aug-17 @ 7:50 PM
Allnightrob- Your Question:
After paying my maintenance direct to my ex for the last 6 years I have Just had my payment through from the CMS and they are using my 2013 income figure on their computer which is much higher than my income now on my 2017 P60. They told me they don't have any record of my salary from the HMRC for 2014,15,16,17 which makes no sense as I am PAYE. I phoned HMRC and they confirmed my P60s were on their system. Phoned CMS and they said their is nothing they can do about it and as much salary is only 19% less not 25% less there hands are tied. Not only is this unfair no one at CMS or HMRC can explain why they are not looking at the same figures. Can anyone help in what I can do ?

Our Response:
You can complain, please see gov.uk link here.
SeparatedDads - 25-Jul-17 @ 2:04 PM
After paying my maintenance direct to my ex for the last 6 years I have Just had my payment through from the CMS and they are using my 2013 income figure on their computer which is much higher than my income now on my 2017 P60. They told me they don't have any record of my salary from the HMRC for 2014,15,16,17 which makes no sense as I am PAYE. I phoned HMRC and they confirmed my P60s were on their system. Phoned CMS and they said their is nothing they can do about it and as much salary is only 19% less not 25% less there hands are tied. Not only is this unfair no one at CMS or HMRC can explain why they are not looking at the same figures. Can anyone help in what I can do ?
Allnightrob - 24-Jul-17 @ 10:03 PM
Willows - Your Question:
Hi my son and his girlfriend separated not long after they had their 1st child she cheated on him and asked him to leave demanding she looked after their child only when it suited her and her new relationship. Basically 3/4 times a week and every weekend hairdos period pains and so on.They agreed he paid maintenance of £100. He buys her clothes nappies food etc.She has now married and had another baby and has told my son CSA will now be involved with payments and have upt his payments to £196 is this fair as to me he is paying for another mans child the £100 a they agreed on was fine until his ex took on a mortgage got married and had another child. Looks to me like she is taking money from my son because she has bitten off more than she can chew and CSA have let her get away with it.Please can you give me some adviseMany thanksWillows.

Our Response:
Child maintenance is not based on your son's ex's earnings or her financial circumstances, but upon your son's earnings. You can see more via the gov.uk link here .
SeparatedDads - 24-Jul-17 @ 2:33 PM
Hi my son and his girlfriend separated not long after they had their 1st child she cheated on him and asked him to leave demanding she looked after their child only when it suited her and her new relationship. Basically 3/4 times a week and every weekend hairdos period pains and so on. They agreed he paid maintenance of £100. He buys her clothes nappies food etc. She has now married and had another baby and has told my son CSA will now be involved with payments and have upt his payments to £196 is this fair as to me he is paying for another mans child the £100 a they agreed on was fine until his ex took on a mortgage got married and had another child. Looks to me like she is taking money from my son because she has bitten off more than she can chew and CSA have let her get away with it. Please can you give me some advise Many thanks Willows.
Willows - 22-Jul-17 @ 7:18 PM
Much- Your Question:
HelloMy husband has cancer and is im hospital. He is receiving 80 per cent of his wages. As he may be off work for up to a year he may get personal independence payment. Does he still have to pay for daughter please? Thanks

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. If your husband receives PIP, his child maintenance payments will be recalculated accordingly and will be either at base or nil rate. Please see link here for more information.
SeparatedDads - 20-Jul-17 @ 12:59 PM
Hello My husband has cancer and is im hospital. He is receiving 80 per cent of his wages. As he may be off work for up to a year he may get personal independence payment. Does he still have to pay for daughter please? Thanks
Much - 19-Jul-17 @ 2:53 PM
businessquestiondad - Your Question:
I work full time, I pay direct to my ex after the CMS has worked out the payment. I'm starting a LTD company on the side with the eventual intention (hopefully) that it will become full time and I leave my job.Will the profit of the ltd company be taken into account with cms calculations?With regards to the ltd company, what factors would the cms look at for the calculation?

Our Response:
All taxable earnings/income is taken into consideration with regards to child maintenance.
SeparatedDads - 14-Jul-17 @ 2:53 PM
I work full time, I pay direct to my ex after the CMS has worked out the payment. I'm starting a LTD company on the side with the eventual intention (hopefully) that it will become full time and I leave my job. Will the profit of the ltd company be taken into account with cms calculations? With regards to the ltd company, what factors would the cms look at for the calculation?
businessquestiondad - 14-Jul-17 @ 11:34 AM
I'm retired and have a pension am I still liableto pay maintance as my child is 18 and in full time education and me and wife are seperating?
Jon - 7-Jul-17 @ 7:40 PM
big daddy - Your Question:
If my son pays off his mortgage will this affect the amount he has to in relation to his child support payments

Our Response:
Child maintenance is based upon taxable earnings, so this will not make a difference to the amount he pays you.
SeparatedDads - 30-Jun-17 @ 3:38 PM
If my son pays off his mortgage will this affect the amount he has to in relation to his child support payments
big daddy - 24-Jun-17 @ 8:11 AM
Wow, just had my new schedule through and i am not impressed. Im guessing they got rid of the csa as there are those of us whose children are nearly 18 and their policy was out of date and it must have been legally dubious to force all this ne legislation through, and hey presto kill the csa and ooooh here we now have the wonderful cms. (We are calling the the child maintanance frendleee scheme) now the cms must get 1 positive point. They dont seem to be populated by embittered man hating rugby playing ladies as before that will not listen to the fact that you had made payments in cash but got no reciepts. (You live and you learn!) Here it ends, somehow (lord only knows how) my payment has been escalated a full 25% from £48 per week to £60.33 and i didnt even get a pay raise this year! Not only that but i volunteered to do whatever necessary months ago, but the harpy of doom is demanding it be collected (previously free under csa, now +20% in fees! Outrageous!) Meaning i would be paying £72 per week. How the hell am i supposed to afford this sort of money? Its like ive gone out and bought a high spec bmw on hire purchase!! I dont see my son due to my ex being the plate chucking, vengance filled kindo person and havent in 10 years. I earn 26k a year but live in devon with sky high living costs. I cant believe that the government are making a ton of money on peoples misery.
Sic1978 - 23-Jun-17 @ 2:54 PM
Just a quick one now they take payments befor tax and NI how does this work Is that not take free money they are getting then I pay the tax on it
Warfield - 8-May-17 @ 7:17 AM
I have a similar story here to tell. Ex wife refused to help out and work for 13 years (9 Years Married). It would have been possible, but in her world the husband has to pay and work. Didnt take care of the kids, neglect is already visible with the eldest (16). Housework mediocre, spent 6h per day on Facebook.Has now a council house, benefits and CMS payment (1600pm) without ever paid a penny TAX in this country. And what is being spent on the kids? Food only. Clothes, pocket money, tutoring, mobile phones, still all by me. As a first time buyer I accumulated a lot of debts in my Name and last year I was unemployed and on top accumulated more debts as the CMS miscalculated by 11k and I had to pay. My reduced income of 25% was only considered with in the 2017 calculation (which was wrong again. No I am going through the financial divorce were I have to pay spousal maintenance and she gets 75% of the the house equity I bought in 2012. I bought the house for 250k and now I have 290k on my mortgage balance. The 70k I paid of in the last 6 years gone, too .... I have currently around £5200 on bill to pay every month and I struggling to maintain these (forgot to mention that in the 9 years of marriage I took off around 12-15 work days per year) I am paying around £1000 off debts and it seems NO one in this country seems to care. I am 47 years old and the last 13 years I was not able to maintain a pension and the house is the only thing i have. If would work more hours I would even have to pay more to here so it a vicious circle were no escape is possible. All the time you hear "in the interset of the children". I will have to sell the house to support my pension and NOTHING will be left for the children. My ex will have spent everything (exp 2016 3k holiday living on benfits) so please tell me how do the children benefit from a biased system like this one? I have to turn around every peny twice and that on a 100k contractor salary (Gross)
LifeinDebt - 21-Apr-17 @ 10:35 AM
I am self employed and have recently been receiving employment and support allowance since having an operation on 16 Dec 16, (13 weeks) and am due to return to full time employment next week. Prior to my operation I paid a mutually agreed monthly amount of money directto my ex, (I have read that this is not a legally binding agreement). My ex is aware (via the children) that I am due to return to work next week and has been quick to tell me that I now owe her the full amount of money, that I would have paid, had I have been in receipt of my usual weekly wage. Does anybody have an official take on this or had a similar experience Would I not have been expected to pay a reduced rate whilst I was in receipt of my employment and support allowance or would I be expected to pay back pay??
NickC - 9-Mar-17 @ 5:32 PM
Josiejo - Your Question:
Hi, I'm having a nightmare with the cms. Some of you may be relieved to know that I am a mother and I am the paying parent after a lengthy messy custody case. So the issues with cms are also experienced by mothers. How can I make a formal complaint about the cms. They are a shambles and appear to make processes up. I've not received letters, been refused pay direct at my exes instructions. Have plucked a tax year to suit them. Give conflicting information when questioned.

Our Response:
Please see gov.uk link here which will point you in the right direction.
SeparatedDads - 24-Feb-17 @ 1:47 PM
Hi, I'm having a nightmare with the cms. Some of you may be relieved to know that I am a mother and I am the paying parent after a lengthy messy custody case. So the issues with cms are also experienced by mothers. How can I make a formal complaint about the cms. They are a shambles and appear to make processes up. I've not received letters, been refused pay direct at my exes instructions. Have plucked a tax year to suit them. Give conflicting information when questioned.
Josiejo - 24-Feb-17 @ 12:27 AM
As a mother and having been on both sides of paying and receiving maintenance(or not) then I have a great story to share. I split up with my ex husband 10 years ago, I was left in £50k of debt due to the loans he had take out in my name, I suffered abuse and when we separated I did not get any help to pay off the debts nor a penny in maintenance for my then 6 year old son. I ultimately was forced to go bankrupt and was homeless having to move my young and teenage son into my mums. I had lost everything I had worked for since I was 16, I have always worked full time even when my kids were baby's and for nothing. My ex did not see my son on a regular basis for the next 5 years. Two years after we separated I went to the CSA because he refused to pay e a penny all I asked for was £20 per week. The CSA were useless, he hardly paid anything, every time they caught up with him he moved jobs to avoid this. There was thousands of pounds in arrears he didn't pay and I could get nowhere. When my son was 12 he started seeing his dad a couple of times a week and he asked for the maintenance(that he wasn't actually paying anyway) to be reduced, I agreed. After a huge row when he tried to move my son to another school behind my back just before he was 14, he tool my son and would not bring him back. I could do nothing, the police would not get involved, the solicitor told me because he was over 12 it was pointless going to court. I have not seen my son for 3 years now, he cut off his mobile and all contact with myself and my family Shortly after he took him he then went to CMS as this had changed from CSA and claimed maintenance from me. it has took me years to rebuild my life but he takes £420 a month from me when he owes me £1000's but my claim was with CSA and his was with CMA I can do nothing. I have thrown myself into my work to try and re-build my life and after nearly 10 years and finally having a clear credit rating I am buying a house again at 47 years old. He continues not to pay me a penny of what he owes and if I refuse to him the CMS will take an extra 20% from me. How is this fair? What type of twisted system are they running? All managed by computers and drones who refuse to take anything into consideration other than a ridiculous calculation system. I know not a penny of this will go on my son, effectively I am paying maintenance so he can pay maintenance to year another child he has not seen. Will he wait until she is over 1 and then use her as his cash cow! This country is finished!
Jo - 22-Feb-17 @ 9:33 PM
Oldqueenian- Your Question:
My daughter is about to go to university. I am happy to pay for her as I did my son index but linked. Do I have to keep paying my ex wife maintenance whilst my daughter is studying at uni? We have two children, one has finished a degree and I will be retired living on a pension. My former wife has an income from a business.

Our Response:
Please see link: At What Age Do Child Maintenance Payments Stop? here which should help you further. You certainly do not have to pay your ex wife child maintenance from (the end of the school year Aug 31) when your daughter finishes her government approved education (on the completion of A'Levels).
SeparatedDads - 22-Feb-17 @ 9:50 AM
My daughter is about to go to university. I am happy to pay for her as I did my son index but linked. Do I have to keep paying my ex wife maintenance whilst my daughter is studying at uni? We have two children, one has finished a degree and I will be retired living on a pension. My former wife has an income from a business.
Oldqueenian - 21-Feb-17 @ 10:55 AM
Moving from CSA to CMS, makes you want to swear, turn violent and give-up on life. My monthly payments increased from £435 to £645p/m. CMS don't care about pensions or car allowance (to reduce your monthly charges).If you surrender some of your holiday entitlement for cash, they add that to their calculation too.Earn extra from working harder at work (one time bonus vouchers) and that'll be included in the CMS calculations. Let me recap - working harder and longer brings more pain and offers no financial benefits, in fact it'll most likely cost you more by the time the CMS has hacked away at your salary. How can the CMS obtain one figure from HMRC which differs from my P60 of the same tax year?CMS believes I earn £400 more a year and not willing to adjust because it's less than a 25% variance. Speaking of variances, how on earth can the CMS create a schedule of costs based upon random numbers and then say - you cannot change those numbers unless of the 25% ruling applies.When I haven't agreed to the schedule or provided any details to the CMS the 25% ruling should not even be a consideration. In otherwords, when the CMS starts off on the wrong foot, they are not willing to fix their mistakes.....how can we tolerate such an organization. I did sign the Nett vs Gross petition as I'm so angry at them!
jayce - 20-Feb-17 @ 2:33 PM
Hi All, CMS is totally unfair specially for fathers, if you really want the system to change please sign petition 'https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/168993' get your families and friends to sign it too, thats the only way we can change the system.
Jay - 16-Feb-17 @ 12:20 AM
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