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Child Maintenance Payments: An Overview

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 16 Dec 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)
  • 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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Where to begin My husbands ex (their daughter liveswith the ex) refuses to keep us updated as to what their daughter is doing in terms of education. She left school and went to college. We found out she didn’t re enroll at college for year 2. The college even called the CMS to say the daughter had left college. Mum said daughter was at another college and refused to tell us which one (so we couldn’t check). Daughter 18 at this point and PR had fallen away. Daughter doesn’t speak to us. CMS not interested and just says no evidence keep paying or call child benefit office and allege fraud, which we have... Anyone ever have these issues? If you did what’s your advice?
Fi - 16-Dec-18 @ 9:38 PM
Hi Some advise please.. My daughter lives with me full time and her mum has her every other sat for the day (long story) she is on job seekers £72a week and now on PIP at £57 a week. I know she has to pay the flat rate of £7 a week from JSA which she hasn't been but is her PIP taken into account as well? I can't find anythingabout PIP and child maintenance Thanks R
Rb - 14-Dec-18 @ 9:08 PM
Having supported my partner in trying to work with the CMS I can now offer the following advice. Do not waste time phoning the CMS and getting yourself upset, do everything by letter and have it signed for and proof of posting. If your still not happy then : 1. Contact your MP. 2, Ask him to contact the CMS ( they have a direct line ) and give a brief over view of your complaint( dont write an essay) Keep it factual. Do not bitch about your ex. 3. Provide evidence to your complaint. 4. Escalate to the Parliamentary ombudsman . Wait ....
Gem - 7-Dec-18 @ 9:57 AM
Hi I’m currently starting up my own business and haven’t had a wage for almost one year. I am taking £2k every 4 weeks out of a business loan which I will need to pay back once the business starts trading. I’ve had a letter from Child Maint stating my ex partner has advised them I’m working. I’ve told them I’m not earning a wage yet. They contacted my accountant who told them the same. The ex has challenged the decision and I’ve got another letter stating this. Where do I stand here? I’m not paying any income tax as I’m not on a wage yet I’m only taking enough from a business loan every month to cover my outgoings until my business starts up proper. I
Gaz - 27-Nov-18 @ 10:44 PM
Currently I’ve seperated with my partner, she says I’m only allowed one night a week for my 11month old daughter to stay over with me (which I feel is unfair) I’m 100% liable for the rent till the tenancy is changed but this month my partner has paid half and I’ve paid half despite myself not living there. My question is should I be paying child maintenance still even though I’ve paid half the rent and also child maintenance is only based on over night stays, I want it in the best interest of my child to have equal custody so that she can have a equal relationship with both her father and mother but at the moment my parents have her three days a week and I have my daughter for an over night stay at the weekend for 24hrs. Does the fact that my parents have her in the day for three days change the payments, or isn’t it just solely based on the fact that I only have her for one night a week?
Dada123 - 27-Nov-18 @ 8:51 AM
Karlos - the £56k equity and any other assets won't affect the maintenance payments. These are set based upon annual income, shared care and if there are any other children the paying parent is responsible for.
From The Other Side - 11-Nov-18 @ 10:18 AM
Hi some advise . I am currently seeking the former marital home and both myself and ex will get around 56k in equity . Will this effect payments to the child maintenance?
Karlos - 9-Nov-18 @ 3:12 PM
Hi, I have a 17yr old daughter who lives with her mum up in the North East, we split when my daughter was 5 and at first we had an agreement in place that I paid her xyz a month which was working fine however when I met my current wife my ex turned bitter and went through the then CSA which was fine, I have been paying for the last 12 years between £200/£250 per month which I have never quibbled about until now, my daughter left school at 16 last June and started college in the September of 2017, she finished her course (3 days a week) in September of this year and is now a little hesitant to tell me what she is doing now, she states that she is still in college but I am reluctant to believe her as she won’t tell me what course she is doing etc? Do I have the right to contact the college and ask what course she attends and if it’s full time etc? Also she has told me that she has set up a business which is in her mums name so she can earn money, which to me is all wrong, I have 2 smaller children at home and we aren’t the richest of people so every penny counts, I’m not looking to shy away from my responsibilities but if she phones me asking me for money towards a car I can’t help but feel a little bitter at the fact she’s getting £240 a month plus she’s earning money, enough money to buy a phone at £1000, I know her mum is the mastermind behind this but I feel it’s unfair, I also haven’t seen my daughter for 2yrs when she comes down it’s only to see what money she can get... ??
PB - 23-Oct-18 @ 9:13 PM
Dsylic User.. Hi all, My daughter is now 15 and will be 16 next year, but I understand that school leaving age has been raised to 18 now. I have a voluteer agreement to pay a set amount each month to my Ex-wife for maintance.My question is do i continue this payment until she 18 and leave full time school or stop at 16 or when child allowance ends I do not know that date..Iam very Confused about this...HELP PLEASE ?
Dads58 - 18-Oct-18 @ 11:19 AM
Hi I have a son and daughter who I pay child mainance to their mother, My son is 18 in December he is at collage doing an engineer corse do I have to carry on paying maintenance I don’t understand this higher education thing to the age off 20 any help is very much appreciated.
Bridge - 16-Oct-18 @ 5:16 PM
Here is a brief run down on my current problem. My ex wife and I separated in March 2015, we are divorced, and I got a final consent order in summer 2017. Solicitor advised me that the court case was purely about assets, and that child custody/access were best sorted out between me and my (now ex) wife. My son was 12 when we separated. We went to mediation in March 2015, and agreed shared custody and 50/50 access, me having my son from Sunday morning to Wednesday morning, and my ex wife having him from Wednesday evening to Sunday morning. The mediation process ended when my ex wife abandoned it, when information on her finances was requested. My son is 15 now, and is staying here with me at our house as I write this. Obviously he's nearly 16, so nailing him down to a precise 50/50, or dividing up a seven day week 50/50 precisely is never going to be possible, and this arrangement was always meant to be flexible (allowing for holidays, family events, special occasions) for the welfare and benefit of our son. He has mates, and a steady girlfriend so I try not to be too rigid with him. This set up has worked for the last 3 1/2 years. I have paid for his clothes, food, travel, holidays, leisure activities etc. during this time, and continue to do so. 3 weeks ago I got a letter from the CMS. My ex wife has launched a claim against, and has told them I do not have my son staying with me. The CMS are impossible to deal with, and will not believe what I say. They claim that as my ex wife is in receipt of the child benefit (it was only £20 per week, so I let my ex wife keep it all), that is the only indicator the can work on. I don't know what to do, I am being alienated from my son, and the CMS letters are very threatening. They are demanding £200 pcm from me. It's blatant opportunism from my ex, and she has lied to the CMS. I cannot afford to pay my mortgage if I have to pay this amount. I have lots of debt from the divorce case, and I'm self employed with a very poor few months earnings this year. Please let me know if you can help...
gba1968 - 15-Oct-18 @ 10:54 PM
Here is a brief run down on my current problem. My ex wife and I separated in March 2015, we are divorced, and I got a final consent order in summer 2017. Solicitor advised me that the court case was purely about assets, and that child custody/access were best sorted out between me and my (now ex) wife. My son was 12 when we separated. We went to mediation in March 2015, and agreed shared custody and 50/50 access, me having my son from Sunday morning to Wednesday morning, and my ex wife having him from Wednesday evening to Sunday morning. The mediation process ended when my ex wife abandoned it, when information on her finances was requested. My son is 15 now, and is staying here with me at our house as I write this. Obviously he's nearly 16, so nailing him down to a precise 50/50, or dividing up a seven day week 50/50 precisely is never going to be possible, and this arrangement was always meant to be flexible (allowing for holidays, family events, special occasions) for the welfare and benefit of our son. He has mates, and a steady girlfriend so I try not to be too rigid with him. This set up has worked for the last 3 1/2 years. I have paid for his clothes, food, travel, holidays, leisure activities etc. during this time, and continue to do so. 3 weeks ago I got a letter from the CMS. My ex wife has launched a claim against, and has told them I do not have my son staying with me. The CMS are impossible to deal with, and will not believe what I say. They claim that as my ex wife is in receipt of the child benefit (it was only £20 per week, so I let my ex wife keep it all), that is the only indicator the can work on. I don't know what to do, I am being alienated from my son, and the CMS letters are very threatening. They are demanding £200 pcm from me. It's blatant opportunism from my ex, and she has lied to the CMS. I cannot afford to pay my mortgage if I have to pay this amount. I have lots of debt from the divorce case, and I'm self employed with a very poor few months earnings this year. Please let me know if you can help...
gba1968 - 15-Oct-18 @ 5:32 PM
Vinny - Your Question:
So now that I've calmed down, I do have a question.Do I stop paying maintenance when my daughter has finished her A Levels in May19, or when school term ends in July 19, even though she won't be going to school any more?ThanksVinny

Our Response:
Firstly, you officially stop paying child maintenance when your ex's eligibility for child maintenance stops, please see the link here . You cannot stop paying child maintenance because you have reached a certain amount, child maintenance is paid to the resident parent towards the day-to-day welfare of your child. Your ex does not have to justify what she spends it on - as it theoretically goes into the pot towards maintaining a roof over your child's head. However, you do not have to pay anything more than CMS assesses that you have to pay by law. Anything above and beyond this is deemed voluntary - i.e. no one is forcing you to bail out your ex etc. That decision is up to you and unfortunately has nothing to do with how much you pay in child maintenance.
SeparatedDads - 21-Sep-18 @ 10:22 AM
So now that I've calmed down, I do have a question. Do I stop paying maintenance when my daughter has finished her A Levels in May19, or when school term ends in July 19, even though she won't be going to school any more? Thanks Vinny
Vinny - 20-Sep-18 @ 10:38 AM
Hi, I have been divorced from my ex wife since 2009, although we officially separated in 2007.When we split up we had a shared (mortgaged) house, and I agreed to pay the mortgage until it was sold.I continued to pay when she moved her new fella in whilst they were looking for a house of their own, I believe he lived there for approximately 5 months I also took on all the joint debt so she didn't have to worry about paying that.When the house finally sold, she received 60% of the equity and I received 40%, out of which I paid all of the solicitors fees. Since then I have paid a regular agreed amount each month, this has always been just slightly over the amount that I would have paid if we went through the CSA as I wanted to make sure my daughter was ok.On top of the monthly payments, I have also bought my daughter clothes and paid half towards all of her school trips. My ex has remarried and has another child, I know that she can't possibly be spending all of the money I give her on our daughter.During this Summer, our daughter has mainly been with me and my wife or her boyfriend, so I assume that most of the money has gone on my ex wife's lifestyle which seems to involve eating out a lot. When she did eventually go home, her mother moaned about having to buy food for her. I spoke to my daughter last night and she told me that her Mum is skint again so she has been buying her own food, this seems to be a regular occurrence ATM. My Ex's new husband is possibly related to Scrooge as when she asked him for money to go shopping he gave her £20. Apologies if this seems like a rant, but that's exactly what it is!! Since we split in 2007, I have kept a spread sheet which shows most of my payments although not all of them (not included clothing).I am currently up to £98658, by the time I can stop the payments, this figure will be up to just over £102,000.I am not bitter about paying for my daughter as that is my responsibility, but I am very bitter about the fact that over the years, less and less of my money seems to be going towards her and more of it on my ex wife's new family. It doesn't matter how much I do to help my ex, it is never enough.I have previously bailed her out when she needed money because she couldn't ask her current tight fisted husband, I have also just offered to pay the remaining amount up front to help her out as I know she has no money and Xmas is just around the corner.She has thrown that back in my face. The validation word I have to type in before I post this is MUG, how appropriate!! Role on July 2019 when all this stops!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Vinny - 20-Sep-18 @ 8:31 AM
CMS calculate based on gross income from HMRC using the P60 End of year certificate. Your article says it uses net income.
Addy - 16-Sep-18 @ 1:40 PM
MICK - Your Question:
Hello i've just been asked for a divorce by my wife, we live in a morgaged house at the moment, with our two children (5 & 3) there has been no foul play che has just decided that she noi longer loves me and doesnt want to live with me anymore, with regards to the morgage and other bills depts does anyone know what I have to pay, at the moment I'm the main contributer to the marrige paying all the bills but the wife has just started going back to work twice a week. do have to pay the mortgage still? should I sell the house and split everything?should I keep paying the bills/mortgage and rent elsewhere? (major struggle finacially)

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. The link here should help you answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 13-Sep-18 @ 2:58 PM
Hello i've just been asked for a divorce by my wife, we live in a morgaged house at the moment, with our two children (5 & 3) there has been no foul play che has just decided that she noi longer loves me and doesnt want to live with me anymore, with regards to the morgage and other bills depts does anyone know what i have to pay, at the moment i'm the main contributer to the marrige paying all the bills but the wife has just started going back to work twice a week. do have to pay the mortgage still? should i sell the house and split everything? should i keep paying the bills/mortgage and rent elsewhere? (major struggle finacially)
MICK - 13-Sep-18 @ 10:48 AM
AJ - Your Question:
Hi, could you tell me if CSA payments take into account extra activities a child does? I spend just over £110 per month and the paying parent tells me they give enough in the monthly payments.Thank you in advance.

Our Response:
Child maintenance payments are made towards the child's day-to-day care, this encompasses everything under one umbrella. Your child's paying parent is not obliged to pay any more than calculated by CMS, if they do it is discretionary.
SeparatedDads - 10-Sep-18 @ 9:59 AM
Hi, could you tell me if CSA payments take into account extra activities a child does? I spend just over £110 per month and the paying parent tells me they give enough in the monthly payments. Thank you in advance.
AJ - 9-Sep-18 @ 10:42 AM
razzler - Your Question:
HiMy daughter turned 18 in May and goes to university this monthWhen do I stop having to pay maintenance for her pleaseWas of the impression it was the end of August

Our Response:
When your child leaves approved education or training, payments will stop at the end of February, 31 May, 31 August or 30 November (whichever comes first).
SeparatedDads - 4-Sep-18 @ 12:57 PM
@Mouldy - I think you would go into arrears for the year as child maintenance is based retrospectively. Give CMS a call, only they can tell you what you should do.
HarrYC - 4-Sep-18 @ 12:14 PM
Hi My daughter turned 18 in May and goes to university this month When do I stop having to pay maintenance for her please Was of the impression it was the end of August
razzler - 3-Sep-18 @ 10:57 AM
I have some big chaghes in circumstances coming up and need some guidance. I currently pay nearly 400 pound monthly to my ex for our two children. I am with a new partner (co habiting) and we are expecting our first child in November. This is meaning having to relocate so i have had to leave my current employment. I am obviously needing to and currently looking to find work in the future but having some time off before hand maybe a month or so to get settled and so forth. What does this mean for my current direct payment plan of nearly 400 per month. If i leave my employment within the first week of september will i have to pay the full 400 for that month even tho i will not be working for the majority of it.
Mouldy - 30-Aug-18 @ 12:43 AM
My ex says he don't have to pay csa due to him becoming a student while working full time still ? I feel this his just his way to try to not pay anymore but he's as a goodwill he will pay for a further few months till I get on my feet can anyone advice me of the rules are . He's got a pretty good job earns easily £500 a week
Bear - 28-Aug-18 @ 5:37 PM
Hi I’ve agreed to my ex having the matrimonial home and the equity in it place of me making regular payments for our 2 kids, we’re going through the divorce process now, am I right in not signing the house over until the courts agree to the payments and this being in writing, her solicitor has set out the financial arrangement but there’s nothing mentioning the lack of payments for the kids, she said this gets done later but I’m confused. Any advice gratefully received
AJ - 23-Aug-18 @ 7:43 AM
CJ - Your Question:
Have been paying via csa for over 10 years, case is now closed and I have an agreement with the ex to pay monthly, however my son is now 17, has left school and is not in further education and going into the RN, do I still have to pay until he is 18 or should I have stopped paying when he turned 16, thanks

Our Response:
As child benefit eligibility and child maintenance end in unison, then you can see when you can officially stop paying via the link here .
SeparatedDads - 17-Aug-18 @ 3:40 PM
I was told today that they don’t take pension into account if it’s with your employer I.E. an occupational one They only take into account a private pension?
Millo - 14-Aug-18 @ 7:48 PM
mooozy - Your Question:
I'm confused as to whether pension payments are being taken into account in my CSA case. They quote the gross but it's always the amount before pension contributions. Is this correct?

Our Response:
Child Maintenance is calculated on gross taxable income (net of pension contributions). However, should pension contributions be considered excessive (usually over 12%), then CMS can intervene to make a discretionary decision.
SeparatedDads - 27-Jul-18 @ 1:56 PM
I'm confused as to whether pension payments are being taken into account in my CSA case. They quote the gross but it's always the amount before pension contributions. Is this correct?
mooozy - 27-Jul-18 @ 5:37 AM
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