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Child Support Payments: An Overview

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 14 Aug 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]
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
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
CJ - 24-Jul-18 @ 4:10 PM
Hi divorced now I hsve 3 kids I’m sharing care 50/50 , I have a clean break agreement so as I understand she can’t ckaim spousal maintenance is this correct? Also on the break up she promised 200 pounds of child benefits/ tax credits to help me when I have the children. Now she’s just got a Mortgsge 2 weeks later she takes a 8 k paycutshe says to look after children better , so she’s saying she can’t afford to give me the 200 poundsand she wants to know how much I earnthis was put in the clean break but she now saying she doesn’t believe me. So .. can she claim any money off me ? And. Am I eligible for any of the child benefit / child tax credits seen asI care 50/50 for my children ? Thanks Mike
Meaty - 20-Jul-18 @ 7:58 AM
Please can you review and update to the figures/percentages under the new CMS. They are now set at GROSS PAY and include things like company car and allowance! This makes it very difficult for many fathers out there. Can anyone explain how they believe fathers suddenly have so much more money.........which they don't?!
Frenchie - 19-Jul-18 @ 5:20 PM
Dods- Your Question:
Hi5 yrs ago my ex said he was reducing payments - when I said I would pay for a CSA review he suddenly agreed he would continue - guess that tells us he re-calculated/spoke to CSA and was advised that figure was probably not enough. Our kids are happy, they get to see/speak to Dad whenever they want including birthdays, Christmas & Easter. We don’t argue (well not often). I have never hassled him for a review as the amount is reasonable and we survive but mostly because he kids are happy and I don’t want to upset anybody. However he does not pay for anything over and above. I have gone without to pay for school ski/Uganda/camping trips so that they do not miss out.Our eldest is now turning 19 and leaving full time education, I suggested we have a review which I feel is reasonable after 5 years of no increase and my supporting 2 adult sized/eating kids (now 14 & 18) He says no he is simply reducing his payments by 50% and not negotiating.Am I able to just contact child maintenance service to request a review on this basis?

Our Response:
Yes, you can contact CMS at any time to ask for an assessment if the family-based arrangement has broken down.
SeparatedDads - 19-Jul-18 @ 2:23 PM
Hi 5 yrs ago my ex said he was reducing payments - when I said I would pay for a CSA review he suddenly agreed he would continue - guess that tells us he re-calculated/spoke to CSA and was advised that figure was probably not enough. Our kids are happy, they get to see/speak to Dad whenever they want including birthdays, Christmas & Easter.We don’t argue (well not often).I have never hassled him for a review as the amount is reasonable and we survive but mostly because he kids are happy and I don’t want to upset anybody.However he does not pay for anything over and above .... I have gone without to pay for school ski/Uganda/camping trips so that they do not miss out. Our eldest is now turning 19 and leaving full time education, I suggested we have a review which I feel is reasonable after 5 years of no increase and my supporting 2 adult sized/eating kids (now 14 & 18) He says no he is simply reducing his payments by 50% and not negotiating. Am I able to just contact child maintenance service to request a review on this basis?
Dods - 17-Jul-18 @ 11:41 AM
Bothendsofdeal - Your Question:
Hi there I'm trying to find out if there is any help me and my husband can get with this as csa take 100 a week off my husbands earnings for his ex who wanted to change both his boys surnames and doing so wouldn't claim csa now she has done this won't discuss anything and won't let him see the boys either, we are £100 a week short and having to live off sandwiches with our 7 year old son, where is the fairness when one family works their backsides off to not be able to live when another sits on handouts and can live very comfortably????

Our Response:
Every non-resident parent, by law has to pay to help support their children based upon their taxable earnings (not outgoings). The percentage taken from the non-resident parent is a blanket one and to help for towards the day-to-day care of their child when living under the resident parent's roof. This is regardless of what level of income the resident parent has coming into the house. As it is about the non-resident parent's contribution. Unfortunately, if CMS has calculated an amount (usually 12% of the earnings based on the basic level), this is deemed affordable. There is little room for negotiation.
SeparatedDads - 16-Jul-18 @ 12:46 PM
Hi there I'm trying to find out if there is any help me and my husband can get with this as csa take 100 a week off my husbands earnings for his ex who wanted to change both his boys surnames and doing so wouldn't claim csa now she has done this won't discuss anything and won't let him see the boys either, we are £100 a week short and having to live off sandwiches with our 7 year old son, where is the fairness when one family works their backsides off to not be able to live when another sits on handouts and can live very comfortably????
Bothendsofdeal - 14-Jul-18 @ 3:25 PM
Kenny - Your Question:
I am in a sales role and my pay, based on commission can fluctuate. After tax, and child maintenance payments for three children, I am left with just enough money to pay rent and not enough to pay bills and feed my daughter who lives with me and my wife.Is there a way that I can get a reduction of how much I pay or get the CMS to consider my struggling financial situation?The best option I can see is to leave my job and my for my wife to work.

Our Response:
Please see link here , which will tell you all you need to know.
SeparatedDads - 28-Jun-18 @ 3:09 PM
I am in a sales role and my pay, based on commission can fluctuate. After tax, and child maintenance payments for three children, I am left with just enough money to pay rent and not enough to pay bills and feed my daughter who lives with me and my wife. Is there a way that I can get a reduction of how much I pay or get the CMS to consider my struggling financial situation? The best option I can see is to leave my job and my for my wife to work.
Kenny - 26-Jun-18 @ 10:46 AM
Hi. My ex wife Lithuanian, my kid is living in Lithuania. Wife living in UK, she got new partner and she is pregnant now, whey bought a house now. She said to me she want bring kid to the UK and arrange new child support. The thing is we divorce in Lithuania and child support been arrange in Lithuania. I am British citizen now. Can she do that, i mean bring the kid and arrange new child support payment in UK? Thanks.
Pinkman - 25-Jun-18 @ 2:28 AM
How can a father stop paymments through csa . Doesnt it come straight out of his wages before he gets paid .
Soo - 20-Jun-18 @ 2:09 PM
Geester - Your Question:
My daughters 18 years old she finish college in July 2018 but is going on to further education at University its not a levels so when would I stop paying maintence

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). As child maintenance falls in line with child benefit, you can see what is considered as 'government approved education' here.
SeparatedDads - 14-Jun-18 @ 1:56 PM
My daughters 18 years old she finish college in July 2018 but is going on to further education at University its not a levels so when would I stop paying maintence
Geester - 12-Jun-18 @ 8:37 PM
Jeffhoff - Your Question:
I have 3 Kids, have them 3 nights one week and 4 nights the next so 50:50. We have an out of court agreement to pay my ex £500 per month which I pay every month. I recently looked at how much I pay my ex on top of that and on average this is actually a payment of nearly £650 per month. Using the maintenance calculator it says I should be paying 58 per week or 232 per month. I feel after 5 years I need to reduce my payments to the lower figure. Can I do this?

Our Response:
If you have a family-based child maintenance arrangement you would be within your rights to do this. You might wish to give your ex a bit of notice if this is the course you wish to take.
SeparatedDads - 11-Jun-18 @ 2:43 PM
I have 3 Kids, have them 3 nights one week and 4 nights the next so 50:50. We have an out of court agreement to pay my ex £500 per month which I pay every month.I recently looked at how much I pay my ex on top of that and on average this is actually a payment of nearly £650 per month. Using the maintenance calculator it says I should be paying 58 per week or 232 per month. I feel after 5 years I need to reduce my payments to the lower figure.Can I do this?
Jeffhoff - 9-Jun-18 @ 5:18 PM
Postie - Your Question:
My daughter is 17. I'm still paying but can't prove she is in college or not. Or when it will come to an end date

Our Response:
If you are paying via CMS, when eligibility to child benefit stops (for the receiving parent) so will child maintenance payments automatically, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 8-Jun-18 @ 12:27 PM
My daughter is 17. I'm still paying but can't prove she is incollege or not. Or when it will come to an end date
Postie - 6-Jun-18 @ 10:05 PM
MrT - Your Question:
When will my maintenance payments stop my daughter will finish her exams and school by the end of June 2018. I read that I pay until September is this correct or are my last payments made in June?

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 - 5-Jun-18 @ 2:22 PM
When will my maintenance payments stop my daughter will finish her exams and school by the end of June 2018. I read that I pay until September is this correct or are my last payments made in June?
MrT - 4-Jun-18 @ 11:04 PM
CH - Your Question:
I pay child maintenance to a child and have fathered another with my partner. Sadly we are separating and this will leave me with 2 maintenance claims. how do the payments get split? Will it be double what I pay for the first child?

Our Response:
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. You can see more via the link here .
SeparatedDads - 1-Jun-18 @ 3:35 PM
I pay child maintenance to a child and have fathered another with my partner. Sadly we are separating and this will leave me with 2 maintenance claims. how do the payments get split? Will it be double what I pay for the first child?
CH - 1-Jun-18 @ 9:56 AM
My daughter's father has our 6 year old once a fornight overnight Friday & saturday how will this effect my £28 per week maintenance, he has only just started seeing her again never goes a full year he is very ad hoc in her life though now says this time it's for Good?
Treehuger - 24-May-18 @ 1:34 PM
Me - Your Question:
Do I need to keep paying child maintenance if my ex gets married? I currently pay for a quiet life as my parents have my child 2 nights a week and I have her 2 nights a week. We also have her between us at holiday times and take her abroad. I dont think I should be paying anything at the minute but want to know if its legally ok to stop paying when my ex marries?

Our Response:
Your ex's new husband is not responsible for the financial upkeep of your child if he marries your ex. You would not be eligible to stop paying child maintenance.
SeparatedDads - 24-May-18 @ 12:15 PM
Bindo - Your Question:
I’m 17 and I’m a full time student at college. I live with my dad and my mum comes in once a week to see me sometimes not even that. Anyway over the last 4 years in which they have been separated she has paid no child maintenance to me or my dad only birthday and Christmas presents that cost like £400 altogether. How much does she owe me ?

Our Response:
Your mum doesn't owe you anything. When a non-resident parent (your mum) pays child maintenance to the resident parent (your dad), it should either be negotiated between them, or organised through the Child Maintenance Service, CMS. However, if your mum is not earning, then she will not be eligible to pay. Child maintenance is based upon the tax the non-resident parent pays through HMRC (HM Revenue & Customs). It is up to your dad to claim via CMS, if he thinks your mum is eligible to pay child maintenance and they cannot agree.
SeparatedDads - 24-May-18 @ 9:30 AM
Hi, Im a divorced father of 3 children, aged 16, 12 and 6,i have regular access with the younger 2. We got divorced 2 years ago and our agreement in mediation was the children would stay with me between 2 and 3 nights a week. Unfortunately my ex and her new partner who are well off have in my opinion "bought" my eldest and he wont see me. my ex has now decided she is reducing my access to one night a week , and has approached the CMS to re calculate maintenance based on 2 children for 1 night a week. This then has the knock on effect that I will no longer be able to afford this property and will have to downsize to a one bed/studio so this will mean I can no longer have the children overnight at all, further increasing my maintenance. First of all how do you calculate for 2 out of 3 children staying as the on line calculator does not have this facility, also having spoken with the CMS it would seem my ex can restrict access and then claim more, even though the younger two want to spend more time with me. Any words of assistance would be appreciated.
Fredfrog - 23-May-18 @ 8:22 PM
Do i need to keep paying child maintenance if my ex gets married? I currently pay for a quiet life as my parents have my child 2 nights a week and i have her 2 nights a week. We also have her between us at holiday times and take her abroad. I dont think i should be paying anything at the minute but want to know if its legally ok to stop paying when my ex marries?
Me - 23-May-18 @ 6:34 PM
I’m 17 and I’m a full time student at college. I live with my dad and my mum comes in once a week to see me sometimes not even that. Anyway over the last 4 years in which they have been separated she has paid no child maintenance to me or my dad only birthday and Christmas presents that cost like £400 altogether. How much does she owe me ?
Bindo - 23-May-18 @ 12:47 PM
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