Home > Financial > Child Support Payments: An Overview

Child Support Payments: An Overview

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 20 May 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]
My wife and I have broken up after 14 years. Obviously I am wondering what goes on now regarding finances. We have a joint mortgage on the house. I have moved out to my parents and need to move into a place for my self. I work 1 week of days and 1 week of nights consecutively. The only day I don't see my 3 children is a Thursday. I put them to bed I make their tea and do all the normal things. This is while my ex goes out to the gym/pub etc. I still pay for most things in the house too and had hardly any access to my money due to the kids needing it. Even though I do all of this and have them every other fri-sun, she is still wanting £360 a month off me plus mortgage. Is this right as I'm still providing maintenance for my children by paying mortgage too? Any advice would be helpful
Mb - 20-May-18 @ 12:11 PM
Does child maintenance payments take into account the rent and expenses i have in a private rental?
CAL - 18-May-18 @ 7:46 PM
NH - Your Question:
I’ve been paying child maintenance on the old csa system and payed up until the date as instructed. The child is now 18 and is finishing collage next month, I’ve now had a letter from the child maintenance team saying that I have to pay maintenance in the new system for another year? Even though the child is leaving college and even if you factor in to September that’s only four months. Can they do this even though I’ve had a letter saying that my final payment was on the 18/01/2018

Our Response:
If the circumstances do not tally with the child benefit link here (as when child benefit stops, so do child maintenance payments), then your only option is to question why. Please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 11-May-18 @ 10:22 AM
I’ve been paying child maintenance on the old csa system and payed up until the date as instructed. The child is now 18 and is finishing collage next month, I’ve now had a letter from the child maintenance team saying that I have to pay maintenance in the new system for another year? Even though the child is leaving college and even if you factor in to September that’s only four months. Can they do this even though I’ve had a letter saying that my final payment was on the 18/01/2018
NH - 10-May-18 @ 1:16 PM
I earn about 1400 a month before taxes but have now been told that I've got to pay 260 p/m instead of 157 . Also what is a resable mileage for ex's to be apart for you child and can I claim this and hotel rooms as my child is 17 .
007 - 8-May-18 @ 5:13 PM
My partner is being assessed for Child maintenance payments following the breakdown of the original family arrangements for shared childcare. One of his most recent payslips is inaccurate, it shows a one off bonus he received in the previous tax year over 6 months ago.Can he appeal the CSA calculation?Can he insist his employer reissue a correct payslip in order to have the figure recalculated? It seems unfair to be assessed on earnings actually received over 6 months ago because his employer were too slow to record the bonus in their payroll.
Sara - 2-May-18 @ 12:36 AM
Further to the comment below, the £200 was for child maintenance not spouse maintenance. The £146,000 was for child too...
Johndr - 1-May-18 @ 5:36 PM
Johndr - Your Question:
Further to my previous post, my ex wife had a lump sum settlement of £146,000 and then an agreed amount of £200/month. This was signed and agreed by the court as a full and final settlement. Does this not constitute an ongoing settlement?

Our Response:
There is a '12-month rule' with child maintenance payments (if the child maintenance payment was part of the settlement - you haven't said whether the £200 is spousal maintenance and/or child maintenance). Where child maintenance is agreed as part of a divorce settlement, after 12 months have elapsed either party may then apply to the CMS for a child maintenance assessment which can override the court order. In this case, you should check with your solicitor whether you can update any court order that contains previous agreements, if circumstances have changed.
SeparatedDads - 30-Apr-18 @ 10:51 AM
Further to my previous post, my ex wife had a lump sum settlement of £146,000 and then an agreed amount of £200/month. This was signed and agreed by the court as a full and final settlement. Does this not constitute an ongoing settlement?
Johndr - 29-Apr-18 @ 8:19 AM
Hi guys, I’m looking for some advice ASAP. My ex wife and I have a family based arrangement. My usual routine for seeing my daughter is that I have her every other Friday and Saturday night and every Wednesday night. So 8 nights per month. However, during this month, I’ve had extra time with my daughter, as I took a week off work and had this time with her in the holidays. So in April, I had my daughter a total of 14 nights. When I used the CMS calculator to work out my payments this month and advised my ex the payment would be lower this month, she’s now advised she’ll stop me seeing my daughter on some of the nights as I’m charging her extra to see her? As I right to have worked it out this way? Please help me out here guys? Thank you!
Ron - 27-Apr-18 @ 7:58 AM
@Clare - that wouldn't really be fair would it? And it is not a very nice approach. No wonder ex's get a bad name.
BenJ - 26-Apr-18 @ 11:11 AM
Hi My daughter is 19 and studying at college She lives in student accommodation as I live too far away from college for her to travel Myself and her dad came up with an arrangement when she moved out from my house that instead of paying me maintenance he would pay her student rent and the left over money he would give to her directly. This totalled the full maintenance amount She has 5 months left of the student rent contract I am now moving closer to her college and she is moving in with me. Can I claim maintenance on top of what he is paying out as we can not get out of the rental agreement of her student accommodation. Thanks
Clare - 25-Apr-18 @ 8:14 AM
Johndr - Your Question:
@AndyC I know this but if I take home £2k/ month and the CM is £500, that leaves £1500, my mortgage and bills are £1700/month, how does that add up??

Our Response:
On the basic rate, if you have three or more children you’ll pay 19% of your gross weekly income. This is standard and across the board. If you have any arrears, then these can be factored in and CMS can take up to 40% of a non-resident parent's income. CMS does not factor in the NRP's outgoings. If this were the case, many NRP's would ensure they had very high outgoings to avoid paying child maintenance. Therefore outgoings are not accounted for, but gross earnings are.
SeparatedDads - 24-Apr-18 @ 2:01 PM
Johndr - Your Question:
My wife signed a full and final settlement when we divorced in 2009. She has spent that money (on failed businesses and plastic surgery partly) and I now have to pay full child maintenance at 12% of my gross income.I do want to pay for my daughter but the amount of money is crippling me to the point that I cannot afford my mortgage.Do I have a case if I present the signed document to the CMS?I will then sort a more reasonable amount with my ex that means I can give my daughter money too as she is always asking me to give her money, she is 17. My daughter does not stay with me very often but does come over once a week.

Our Response:
There can be no financial 'clean break' where children are concerned. Your only option would be to apply to court. However, it is unlikely a court would overrule a CMS decision. All non-resident parents are legally responsible for helping to financially support their children until they leave full-time education and there are no exceptions, unless the NRP does not have an income.
SeparatedDads - 24-Apr-18 @ 1:51 PM
@AndyC I know this but if I take home £2k/ month and the CM is £500, that leaves £1500, my mortgage and bills are £1700/month, how does that add up??
Johndr - 23-Apr-18 @ 11:00 PM
My wife signed a full and final settlement when we divorced in 2009. She has spent that money (on failed businesses and plastic surgery partly) and I now have to pay full child maintenance at 12% of my gross income. I do want to pay for my daughter but the amount of money is crippling me to the point that I cannot afford my mortgage. Do I have a case if I present the signed document to the CMS? I will then sort a more reasonable amount with my ex that means I can give my daughter money too as she is always asking me to give her money, she is 17. My daughter does not stay with me very often but does come over once a week.
Johndr - 23-Apr-18 @ 10:57 PM
Mo - Your Question:
Hi My husband pays child maintenance for his daughters who he never sees. £65 per week. It has came to light that his eldest left school Feb last year and not in to work/training or higher education. After contacting the CMA they have advised hey have tried to contact his ex who hasn't responded to letters advising of any changes?and won't answer her phone. They have now taken his daughter of the direct debit. However that is 14 months of payments fraudulently taken?? We are under Scots law how do we get proof of date of leaving school and rebated on the payments made? Very frustrating as if we had not been paying it would be a very different scenario. TIA

Our Response:
If your husband feels his ex has been claiming child maintenance fraudulently, his only recourse would be to apply to court. Your husband would have to seek legal advice regarding requesting information from the school etc, as data protection will be in force.
SeparatedDads - 16-Apr-18 @ 12:53 PM
Sam - Your Question:
My ex partner and I have been spilt up 5 years we have three kids. I’ve paid regular child maintenance through CSA and later cash to her ( verifiable by text messages etc ) She now wants to sell the house and move abroad. We have a joint mortgage that she has paid last 5 years.She is telling me that a lump sum for child maintenance will come out of my share of the equity even though I am not in child maintenance arrears. She is moving to France and expects me to pay towards school fees there. I’m unemployed at the moment, I lost my job in January. I’ve no savings and am supported at the moment by my current partner. Please can you advise ? Thanks

Our Response:
Child maintenance is based upon earnings, not money from assets. Therefore, a court, or CMS would not order you to pay child maintenance from the equity from the house - not order you to pay school fees. However, if you have not been paying the mortgage or contributing to the house in any way then your equity share will be diminished as a result. If you cannot come to an agreement between you both, then mediation should be considered. Court will be seen as a last resort and will cost financially on both sides if you take this route. Therefore, trying to come to a mutual agreement it in all your best interests.
SeparatedDads - 16-Apr-18 @ 9:50 AM
My ex partner and I have been spilt up 5 years we have three kids. I’ve paid regular child maintenance through CSA and later cash to her ( verifiable by text messages etc ) She now wants to sell the house and move abroad. We have a joint mortgage that she has paid last 5 years.She is telling me that a lump sum for child maintenance will come out of my share of the equity even though I am not in child maintenance arrears. She is moving to France and expects me to pay towards school fees there. I’m unemployed at the moment, I lost my job in January. I’ve no savings and am supported at the moment by my current partner. Please can you advise ? Thanks
Sam - 15-Apr-18 @ 10:40 AM
Hi My husband pays child maintenance for his daughters who he never sees. £65 per week. It has came to light that his eldest left school Feb last year and not in to work/training or higher education. After contacting the CMA they have advised hey have tried to contact his ex who hasn't responded to letters advising of any changes?and won't answer her phone. They have now taken his daughter of the direct debit. However that is 14 months of payments fraudulently taken?? We are under Scots law how do we get proof of date of leaving school and rebated on the payments made? Very frustrating as if we had not been paying it would be a very different scenario. TIA
Mo - 14-Apr-18 @ 1:26 PM
Daddio101284 - Your Question:
So. My annual review came up and it's came up with me earning £80 pw from HMRC. This is what I earnt last full tax year. They now only want £7pw for two children. I actually earn now more like £400 gross pw. Everything I read says that I'm not obliged to update this as it's a HMRC figure and on the next annual review it will automatically update. (I did when I started the job bit they still put the payments down based on the last full tax year once it got to the annual review my employer even told them my wage when the direct pay was set up!)My question is. If I don't update the difference when it gets to the next annual review based on my now earnings will I end up having to back pay as I'm only paying the £7pw currently with a wage of £400 because of what I earnt in 2016/2017? Like tax credits where they adjust the payment to take an underpayment into consideration? Or will it just be 20% as per usual? I would prefer to spread the cost and pay what I should rather than paying extra next year or being penalised for cms weird way of doing things.

Our Response:
You should tell the Child Maintenance Service or CSA if the paying parent’s income increases or decreases by: 25% or more for Child Maintenance Service cases, 5% or more for CSA cases which began after 3 March 2003, please see link here. The main objective is to never bury your head in the sand when it comes to child maintenance issues. As you say, it can come back and bite you.
SeparatedDads - 10-Apr-18 @ 9:48 AM
So. My annual review came up and it's came up with me earning £80 pw from HMRC. This is what I earnt last full tax year. They now only want£7pw for two children. I actually earn now more like £400 gross pw. Everything I read says that I'm not obliged to update this as it's a HMRC figure and on the next annual review it will automatically update. (I did when I started the job bit they still put the payments down based on the last full tax year once it got to the annual review my employer even told them my wage when the direct pay was set up!) My question is... If I don't update the difference when it gets to the next annual review based on my now earnings will I end up having to back pay as I'm only paying the £7pw currently with a wage of £400 because of what I earnt in 2016/2017?Like tax credits where they adjust the payment to take an underpayment into consideration? Or will it just be 20% as per usual? I would prefer to spread the cost and pay what I should rather than paying extra next year or being penalised for cms weird way of doing things.
Daddio101284 - 9-Apr-18 @ 1:09 PM
SH - Your Question:
I was caught-out. Yes, I should have been more careful but I was assured contraception was in place. I don't regret, I love my daughter. However, I am really annoyed to the point where I am obsessed with trying to find a legitimate way to reduce my CM payment. I don't want to deny my daughter anything but at the same time I don't want to support my ex's lifestyle - which is what appears to be happening. I pay a large amount in CM each month, far more than what most children need and enough to ensure a really lovely upbringing. I have no idea what the money is spent on and I'm treated like a second-class citizen by the system, of which, at the heart of it, is the CMS. Affordability and the receiving parent's income need to be taken into account. I just can't understand why this isn't part of the legislation,. Something needs to change and fast. The prospect of another 19 years is quite upsetting and the impact on my financial security significant. Surely I need to be in the best possible position to provide for my daughter and at least have some say in what my money is spent on,.

Our Response:
If you have one child then on the basic rate you’ll pay 12% of your gross weekly income. This is across the board as non-resident parents are treated uniformly. If the non-resident parent's living expenses were taken into account then you could be assured that many NRP's would ensure their living expenses were high so that they wouldn't have to pay. By taking the same percentage amount from each NRP's wage, it ensures a fairer system.
SeparatedDads - 6-Apr-18 @ 2:16 PM
I was caught-out. Yes, I should have been more careful but I was assured contraception was in place. I don't regret, I love my daughter. However, I am really annoyed to the point where I am obsessed with trying to find a legitimate way to reduce my CM payment. I don't want to deny my daughter anything but at the same time I don't want to support my ex's lifestyle - which is what appears to be happening. I pay a large amount in CM each month, far more than what most children need and enough to ensure a really lovely upbringing. I have no idea what the money is spent on and I'm treated like a second-class citizen by the system, of which, at the heart of it, is the CMS. Affordability and the receiving parent's income need to be taken into account. I just can't understand why this isn't part of the legislation,. Something needs to change and fast. The prospect of another 19 years is quite upsetting and the impact on my financial security significant. Surely I need to be in the best possible position to provide for my daughter and at least have some say in what my money is spent on,..
SH - 4-Apr-18 @ 10:33 PM
@John - child maintenance is based upon the average earnings from the year previously, so any call-out earnings will be attributed to next year's payments.
AndyC - 19-Mar-18 @ 12:22 PM
My relationship has broken down and heading for divorce. I have three children. In my line of work I get a basic pay and I have to undertake a call out rota. On call i sometimes earn extra, but sometimes I don't. Is this taken into account when calculating maintenance payments
John - 17-Mar-18 @ 11:04 AM
@Mug - what about the child you have with her? Don't you get any joy from him/her? If a man want to make sure he's not going to get someone pregnant, he can wear a condom. Some people!
Mitchell - 2-Mar-18 @ 3:48 PM
I trusted a woman she said that she had contraception under control unbeknown to me she never used any we were both 40 years old not teenagers she decided to go ahead the pregnancy she engineered this pregnancywhat kind of woman would do that so far she's cost me £20,000 where is the fairness in that
Mug - 2-Mar-18 @ 10:25 AM
1342 - Your Question:
A girl I slept with on a few occasions got pregnant and had the child which was against my wishes. Do I still need to pay the child support she’s demanding? Seems pretty unfair I should have to pay for something I never wanted?

Our Response:
Every non-resident parent is deemed responsible by law to contribute financially to the day-to-day upkeep of their children. An individual has the option to use contraception if they do not wish to take the risk of getting a woman pregnant.
SeparatedDads - 1-Mar-18 @ 3:12 PM
Yeh done that and came back postive unfortunately. I just can’t see how this would be fair at all. For all I know she got pregnant intentionally to get support money.
1342 - 1-Mar-18 @ 8:14 AM
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