Home > Financial > Child Support Payments: An Overview

Child Support Payments: An Overview

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 12 Oct 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.

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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I have 2 children - 1 has now chosen to live with her mum and not stay at mine any nights - hence I have now received a CMS letter (Had a personal arrangement in place before this). 2nd Child stays with us both exactly equally on a "Joint Residency" Sheriff's Order. The CMS, for their calculations do not recognise my 2nd child as being able to be "any other children living in the household" as she is not there 7 nights. I still have to provide a home, bills, food, uniform, and everything else for her but they don't see her as an additional child. Totally twisted mentality! - they told me only changes can be done to this type of thing through your MP etc. Total cop out. Another anomily - the first child spends at least 2 or 3 nights/days at a friends family home and most hloiday nights but my Ex is still classed as her staying 7 nights a week 365! Anyone got any ideas on this?
George - 12-Oct-17 @ 1:42 PM
DP - Your Question:
I saw a response before saying that whatever the resident parent earns is irrelevant by law to what you have to pay. By law yes.but surely the whole point of maintenance is that you share the responsibility of the cost of the child? If say the average cost to raise a child is £500 a month (I making this number up for the point I'm trying to make), and the maintenance calculation says I earn enough to pay £500 a month, then where is the contribution from the resident parent? I think that is people's frustration with the service. It should look at the combined income of the 2 parents and split accordingly. But all it does is penalise the non resident parent, who in most cases only want the best for their children but still have to live themselves. In that case the resident parent gets to do all the nice stuff with the extra cash they have whereas the non resident is seen to be just doing enough as entitled by law. The whole system is unfair

Our Response:
The system is viewed that if the non-resident parent is not living under the same roof as the family, then it is calculated regarding what they might ordinarily pay if they were living at home. Therefore, on the basic rate, if a person is paying for one child, they will pay 12% of their gross weekly income, two children 16% and three or more children 19% of their gross weekly income to help support their children, which by law they have to do. By the very fact the resident parent is living with the child/children then they too are contributing on a day-to-day basis with regards to rent/mortgage, clothing, food, utility bills etc, etc and to keep a roof over their children's heads.
SeparatedDads - 10-Oct-17 @ 10:10 AM
I saw a response before saying that whatever the resident parent earns is irrelevant by law to what you have to pay. By law yes....but surely the whole point of maintenance is that you share the responsibility of the cost of the child? If say the average cost to raise a child is £500 a month (I making this number up for the point I'm trying to make), and the maintenance calculation says I earn enough to pay £500 a month, then where is the contribution from the resident parent? I think that is people's frustration with the service. It should look at the combined income of the 2 parents and split accordingly.But all it does is penalise the non resident parent, who in most cases only want the best for their children but still have to live themselves. In that case the resident parent gets to do all the nice stuff with the extra cash they have whereas the non resident is seen to be just doing enough as entitled by law. The whole system is unfair
DP - 9-Oct-17 @ 1:55 PM
I work commission sonsome months are more but I understand csa is calculated based on your gross income however, my payments have now doubled because of a some good months of commission and for one child I should now pay £300. I now live with my fiancé her child and my boy so I have to support her child as my boy is on already but my payments are now £290!! Some massive drop right and now I am paying rent and supporting a larger family. To me this doesn't make any sense....?
Trying Father - 27-Sep-17 @ 4:55 PM
Sanday - Your Question:
Can anyone clarify if I am able to pay more into my pension at work to enable me to keep my maintenance payments down?Or is it only a private pension that the csa will accept ?

Our Response:
Child maintenance is based on gross earnings making it more difficult for you to sideline extra money into your pension.
SeparatedDads - 22-Sep-17 @ 1:02 PM
Can anyone clarify if I am able to pay more into my pension at work to enable me to keep my maintenance payments down? Or is it only a private pension that the csa will accept ?
Sanday - 21-Sep-17 @ 5:51 PM
Donut- Your Question:
Hi I'm paying child maintenance to my ex but I'm struggling to afford my general day to day bills is this considered when working out how much to pay

Our Response:
Child maintenance is purely based upon a percentage of your income. On the basic rate, if you’re paying for: one child, you’ll pay 12% of your gross weekly income, for two children, you’ll pay 16% of your gross weekly income, or for three or more children, you’ll pay 19% of your gross weekly income. Your own expenditure is not taken into consideration unless you are supporting another child.
SeparatedDads - 19-Sep-17 @ 3:05 PM
TJ - Your Question:
HiMy 18 year old daughter has decided that she wants to go to Uni, afterall. She has a place and has started today. Her dad (we are divorced) has been paying me between £100 and £150 a month for her until she turned 18. This I understood as she was going to be working. As she is now at uni and I will have to continue to help her financially, is her dad legally obliged to start paying maintenance again?Thanks

Our Response:
Child maintenance ends when child benefit ends, generally at age 18 and up to A-Level results and/or the equivalent. This means you daughter's dad no longer has to pay child maintenance to you. If he chooses to help yoru daughter, then this is at his discretion. If he refuses to help his daughter through university, you may be able to take him to court. However, you would be advised to seek legal advice regarding this.
SeparatedDads - 19-Sep-17 @ 12:33 PM
Hi I'm paying child maintenance to my ex but I'm struggling to afford my general day to day bills is this considered when working out how much to pay
Donut - 19-Sep-17 @ 3:22 AM
Hi My 18 year old daughter has decided that she wants to go to Uni, afterall. She has a place and has started today. Her dad (we are divorced) has been paying me between £100 and £150 a month for her until she turned 18. This I understood as she was going to be working. As she is now at uni and I will have to continue to help her financially, is her dad legally obliged to start paying maintenance again? Thanks
TJ - 18-Sep-17 @ 2:20 PM
currently work full time and just had my PIP approved for standard daily living and mobility. Does this change my CSA payments I pay?
berry - 18-Sep-17 @ 10:18 AM
My ex has a soon to be eighteen yr old who works four days a week and college one day. And a seventeen yr old daughter who works six days he claims he's payin csa still so pays me hundred an fifty a month for our three children. They are thorteen twins and nine yr old. Is he lying to me he pays more for older two.
ata - 17-Sep-17 @ 2:20 PM
Rab - Your Question:
What does the law say in regards to paying 100% of the the joint mortgage and bills (ex an child in house) and full CSA?

Our Response:
I'm afraid there is no law specifiying this. By law you are obligated to pay child maintenance where you are not the resident parent. Anything above and beyond this has to be negotiated between you and your ex. If you feel the situation is unsustainable, then you may wish to seek legal advice in order to explore your options. If you own the house between you, then one option is to live under the same roof until you can sort your finances out.
SeparatedDads - 15-Sep-17 @ 2:44 PM
Afro shampoo - Your Question:
Hi just looking a bit of advice my son and I live with my partner he has a daughter to one of the nastiest people I've ever met. long story short he's allowed to see his daughter when she wants him to currently she has stopped him seeing her to get more money thru the cms claim she admitted this. he was paying her 160 into her account every month which was fine we managed to scrape by but this wasn't enough for her she has a great job earning 50k per year her boyfriend is the same. Cms told my partner he has to pay 430 per month he works on minimum wage and is barely bringing 1200 home with overtime. if cms take this from him per month we aren't going to even meet rent payments car payments and be able to eat etc. I work but only part time as my son is so young. How can the cms plunge one child into poverty to give money to another who is living in a family with 100k income per year. Is there anything he can do?

Our Response:
Regardless of what your partner's ex earns has no relevance on the fact that by law your partner is responsible for paying towards supporting his child's day-to-day care by a mandatory system which calculates child maintenance based upon the non-resident parent's earnings. As a rule, if your partner is on the basic rate and is paying for one child he will pay 12% of his gross weekly income. The only time CMS will try to extract more from his wages is if he has fallen behind through previous child maintenance arrears (in which case CMS can take up to 40% of a person's wage to clear the debt). The CMS also take into consideration that he also has to support another child. Child maintenance and child access have no bearing upon each other. If your partner's ex has stopped access, he would have to take advice via the link here. If he cannot afford legal representation, he can self-litigate, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 14-Sep-17 @ 4:08 PM
What does the law say in regards to paying 100% of the the joint mortgage and bills (ex an child in house) and full CSA?
Rab - 12-Sep-17 @ 8:34 PM
Hi just looking a bit of advice my son and i live with my partner he has a daughter to one of the nastiest people I've ever met.. long story short he's allowed to see his daughter when she wants him to currently she has stopped him seeing her to get more money thru the cms claim she admitted this. he was paying her 160 into her account every month which was fine we managed to scrape by but this wasn't enough for her she has a great job earning 50k per year her boyfriend is the same. Cms told my partner he has to pay 430 per month he works on minimum wage and is barely bringing 1200 home with overtime. if cms take this from him per month we aren't going to even meet rent payments car payments and be able to eat etc. I work but only part time as my son is so young. How can the cms plunge one child into poverty to give money to another who is living in a family with 100k income per year. Is there anything he can do?
Afro shampoo - 12-Sep-17 @ 8:00 PM
@Mojo - it should be negotiable between you and your ex if you're paying through a family-based arrangement.
Harri - 11-Sep-17 @ 2:55 PM
We have redone a payment calculation on the child support agency website and are need to reduce payments, what is a fair amount of notice to give.
Mojo - 9-Sep-17 @ 8:14 AM
DJ, bring a good dad is not related to how much money you give to your ex. Being a single father is very difficult emotionally with absent sons and daughters, without additional pressures of money. Single mothers are usually very well looked after with csa payments, divorce settlement and child tax credits. Please try and put yourself first and look after yourself and concentrate on being a good dad. You sound responsible, I'm sure you will use it wisely and that your children will benefit.
DaddyD - 7-Sep-17 @ 10:04 PM
@Dj - wow! You are one generous dad and ex. You don't see many of 'you' around. If you wanted, you could just pull the rug and pay only child maintenance and/or the mortgage (if you want to keep joint ownership of the house). You don't have to pay your ex spousal maintenance, that no longer exists. Yes, I think you need to grow a pair, your ex is laughing all the way to the bank. I hope she can't access your kid's savings, I'd be saving for them in a separate account so that you have control of the money. Yes, absolutely, time to grow a pair.
Mac&8 - 7-Sep-17 @ 3:23 PM
Am I paying too much?? Obvious question and I think I know the answer. I have been separated 18 months now and since separation I have paid the full amount advised by the csa(700 p/m) I pay 75% of the mortgage on the marital home (£620) and pay a further£250 a month into my childrens savings and pocket money and a further£100 For the ex's car. (About 50% of my net pay) I recently suggested to the ex we clear the mortgage with the children's savings and I will then build them back up with what was my mortgage contribution within 18 months. However as we had talked about the mortgage payment as being a form of spousal maintenance the ex has rejected this offer as she expects to gain that as additional income once the mortgage is paid so sees this as money she is losing out on. Personally I think she is being unreasonable and I thinm i am being more than generous as she is also claiming benefits on top of what I'm paying so is in a much better financial position than me. So, question is should I grow a pair of balls??
Dj - 6-Sep-17 @ 11:47 PM
Antonio- Your Question:
What happens if I live alone paying all the bills my self ie gas, electric. Water, tv license, water Food shopping every thing and other bills and I can barley keep my self living but just about manage will they still demand maintenance off me as surely putting a roof over my kids heads and paying everything should count for something shouldn't it as I worked everything out I pay for to what I earn after tax and I'm literally left with nothing at the end of it all What happens then I ask please if someone can help As my Ex lives with a partner and she gets all the child tax credits and child benefit and family tax credit I don't get any of these or have a partner to help me cover everything and I'm thinking if csa is still demanding money for my ex surly there has to be something for single dads in my position about paying for everything toRun a house and am struggling to do it without maintenance payments on top cause at least I'm putting a roof over my children's heads and covering all the bills and don't care I got no money left to play with but doesn't that count for anything if someone can help me there

Our Response:
Every non-resident parent has to help pay towards supporting their children's day-to-day needs by law. The CMS estimate that a non-resident parent can afford to lose a percentage of their salary to help pay towards this. On the basic rate, if you’re paying for one child, you’ll pay 12% of your gross weekly income, two children 16% of your gross weekly income and three or more children, you’ll pay 19% of your gross weekly income. The non-resident parent is expected to be able to pay this amount as they would if living with the children. I'm afraid the primary carer's salary of living situation is not taken into consideration, as they are naturally helping to pay towards your children's day-to-day care and needs.
SeparatedDads - 1-Sep-17 @ 11:04 AM
Antonio- Your Question:
What happens if I live alone paying all the bills my self ie gas, electric. Water, tv license, water Food shopping every thing and other bills and I can barley keep my self living but just about manage will they still demand maintenance off me as surely putting a roof over my kids heads and paying everything should count for something shouldn't it as I worked everything out I pay for to what I earn after tax and I'm literally left with nothing at the end of it all What happens then I ask please if someone can help As my Ex lives with a partner and she gets all the child tax credits and child benefit and family tax credit I don't get any of these or have a partner to help me cover everything and I'm thinking if csa is still demanding money for my ex surly there has to be something for single dads in my position about paying for everything toRun a house and am struggling to do it without maintenance payments on top cause at least I'm putting a roof over my children's heads and covering all the bills and don't care I got no money left to play with but doesn't that count for anything if someone can help me there

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this, with rising rents and prices it is becoming more difficult for people to manage when two incomes are no longer coming into a house. Understandably couples have more disposable income than a person living alone. Child maintenenace is based upon what you would ordinarily financially contribute towards your children on a day-to-day basis if you were living together with your ex. I'm afraid the non-resident parent's living accommodation is not considered, this is why many live in shared accommodation or go back home to their parents etc. The CAB offers a budget calculator, please see link here . This may help you further.
SeparatedDads - 31-Aug-17 @ 3:05 PM
What happens if I live alone paying all the bills my self ie gas, electric. Water, tv license, water Food shopping every thing and other bills and I can barley keep my self living but just about manage will they still demand maintenance off me as surely putting a roof over my kids heads and paying everything should count for something shouldn't it as I worked everything out I pay for to what I earn after tax and I'm literally left with nothing at the end of it all What happens then I ask please if someone can help As my Ex lives with a partner and she gets all the child tax credits and child benefit and family tax credit I don't get any of these or have a partner to help me cover everything and I'm thinking if csa is still demanding money for my ex surly there has to be something for single dads in my position about paying for everything to Run a house and am struggling to do it without maintenance payments on top cause at least I'm putting a roof over my children's heads and covering all the bills and don't care I got no money left to play with but doesn't that count for anything if someone can help me there
Antonio - 31-Aug-17 @ 2:45 PM
What happens if I live alone paying all the bills my self ie gas, electric. Water, tv license, water Food shopping every thing and other bills and I can barley keep my self living but just about manage will they still demand maintenance off me as surely putting a roof over my kids heads and paying everything should count for something shouldn't it as I worked everything out I pay for to what I earn after tax and I'm literally left with nothing at the end of it all What happens then I ask please if someone can help As my Ex lives with a partner and she gets all the child tax credits and child benefit and family tax credit I don't get any of these or have a partner to help me cover everything and I'm thinking if csa is still demanding money for my ex surly there has to be something for single dads in my position about paying for everything to Run a house and am struggling to do it without maintenance payments on top cause at least I'm putting a roof over my children's heads and covering all the bills and don't care I got no money left to play with but doesn't that count for anything if someone can help me there
Antonio - 30-Aug-17 @ 10:33 PM
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
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