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A Guide to Child Maintenance Payments

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 23 Oct 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Child Support Maintenance Parent Child

The second in our series of separated dads guides relates to child maintenance and the issues surrounding it.

Child maintenance is designed to make parents responsible for maintaining their children. This means that non-resident parents (who do not live with the child) make periodical payments to resident parents (who do live with the child and are responsible for the child's day-to-day care).

Parents may agree these payments via a maintenance agreement. The Child Support Agency manages the child maintenance schemes that were introduced in 1993 and 2003, but only deals with existing applications. You can contact the National Helpline for advice on 08457 133 133.

The Child Maintenance Service manages the 2012 onwards child maintenance scheme. There is a £20 fee for applying to the Child Maintenance Service. In the first instance, you can call Child Maintenance Options on 0800 988 0988 for free advice.

What is a family-based child maintenance arrangement?

A family-based maintenance arrangement is an agreement between parties made out of court. This allows you to preserve good relations and address your wishes more specifically. It can also help reduce costs. If you and your former partner have a good working relationship, a family-based child maintenance arrangement can be an amicable way to agree matters mutually.

How is child maintenance calculated?

Gross income
Child maintenance via CMS is based upon your gross weekly income. If you are self-employed, your gross income is based upon your total taxable profits.

The CMS will calculate a suitable child support amount upon application by either the resident or non-resident parent. However parents may agree a different amount.

Much like when you pay council tax, certain categories of people pay a reduced rate or are exempt from paying child support altogether.

Exemptions and deductions
You may be exempt or qualify for a reduced rate if you:

  • have a gross weekly income of less than £7.
  • are in prison
  • are under 16 years old
  • are a 16- to 19-year-old who has left school but is registered for certaintypes of government-approved training courses
  • are a 16- to 19-year-old who is in full-time, non-advanced education (up
  • to and including A-level or equivalent standard
  • are a 16- to 17-year-old who receives Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • are a 16- to 17-year-old who is included in their partner’s claim for Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • are in a care home or independent hospital, for which you are receiving help with fees.

Shared care
If your children stay with you overnight, you may be entitled to a reduction of your child maintenance payments. They must stay with you a minimum average of one night per week.

If you share care equally, neither of you has to pay maintenance to each other.

If you don’t tell the CSA/CMS about your shared care arrangements, they will estimate that the children stay with you one night a week. This means you’ll usually pay one-seventh less maintenance.

What happens if I have children from a new relationship?

If you have other children this could affect the amount of child support you will pay. Other children relevant to the equation are those for whom you (as the non-resident parent) or your partner receive child benefit for.

Other relevant children are taken into account before the calculation is completed.

When do Child Maintenance payments stop?

Child Support is paid until the relevant child is at least 16 years old.

If the child continues to study full-time (at least 12 hours per week) after the age of 16, you will still have to pay to support your child. Full-time studies include A-level standard but do not include university / professional studies after this level. Child maintenance payments will end when the course finishes or when the child turns 20 years old, even if they are still in full-time studies.

What happens if I dispute that I am the parent of a child?

When parentage is in dispute, a maintenance calculation should not be done by the CSA/CMS until the matter is resolved. There are some exceptions when parentage will be assumed however:

  • If you were married to the mother at any point between conception and birth of the child
  • You are registered as the father on the birth certificate
  • You refuse to take a DNA test or a DNA test shows you are the father
  • There has been a previous declaration of parentage
  • Court proceedings have decided you are the father

If you deny parentage, you must communicate this to the CMS/CSA and a DNA test can be arranged.

What could happen if I don't pay my child support payments?

The CSA/CMS has various enforcement methods available to ensure child support is paid. These include:
  • Deduction from earnings
  • Committal to prison for up to six weeks
  • Disqualification from driving

If one of you dies, what will happen to the children?

Whilst we never want to think about death, it is an important and responsible thing to consider when you have children. You need to know that they will be looked after should anything happen to you.

Guardians

In your will, you have the opportunity to name a guardian (or guardians) to look after your children if you are no longer here to do so. A trusted family friend is a popular option. Guardians are not paid to look after your children, but will usually get money from your estate to help with the additional costs of caring for children. It is usually better to name just one guardian, as problems can be caused if co-guardians separate in the future. However, if the other parent has parental responsibility, then they can challenge any such provision in the will. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.

Other parent

If the resident parent were to die, the non-resident parent has rights to the children as a parent. This does not mean that you will automatically get residency of a child you have not previously lived with. However the court will look to see if you are a suitable parent to have full custody. If you are suitable, you will get custody over any named guardian in your partner's will. If you are not suitable, custody is likely to go to the named guardian, which is why it is important to name someone in your will who you trust.

We know that some of the dads on here don't have much free money. So we are offering the guides for free.

To help us develop more guides and other products to help separated dads we would really appreciate a small PayPal donation. Our content is written by a qualified barrister. It would really help us and we would appreciate it.

We hope that we can help you in some small way with your Child Maintenance application or questions.

Need to write to the CSA/CMS?

We have produced a series of letter templates to accompany the guides relating to maintenance and support. Why not take a look at these easy to use templates.

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]
@aqua.i have never had a court order to see the child and never will .and if her mother thinks I would go back to her she must have (mental issues) .and if I don’t see my maybe daughter again (oh well) it is want it is .so we have come full circle and everyone has a (sound understanding off the situation).and everyone has found peace and have there own lives to live .no need to bring up the past I am (done) with the past .
C.laurie - 23-Oct-19 @ 12:20 AM
If my ex ignores court order and refuse contact do I still have to pay child maintenance?
Aqua - 22-Oct-19 @ 8:53 PM
Should I stop child maintenance to my ex wife (daughter is 13) if I'm no longer having contact? It's been 51 days without my daughter staying here. Up and until then she was here alternate weekends from age 4. The mum moved taking my daughter when 4 and hour away giving me less time. I've been a great dad driving up and down the motorway for sports day, xmas plays etc now the disdain has set in with my daughter too. I'm thinking of just stepping back and getting on with my life. Ex moved to be with her now husband away from me and our family. I'm human with feelings and I feel the pain. Of course daughter is focussed on friend and they live up there. I've always focused on my daughter but since turning 11 3/4 she's treated me with disdain like her mother. If she realises maintainance is not going into her account I'll respond with contact the CSA or whoever because if I'm not having time with my daughter then you crack on. Any thoughts please?
Smiley - 20-Oct-19 @ 1:23 PM
Hi, I got divorced in January in Slovakia as my ex wife is from there and she filed for divorce there. So I had to go to court there. We agreed a sum of €250 for both kids as I have maintenance to pay my other ex for the kids I have.I also said to the judge that I won't contest the divorce cause my ex and I have an agreement where I can stay by hers when I come over etc... As it costs to much money to fly over aswell as stay in a hotel. I also said to the judge that if I have money left over and I can afford it when mirka asks for extra I will try but that is if I have the money to give otherwise no as I also have to live... Well everything was ok for the first couple of months then out of the blue I get told by her I must stay in a hotel etc.. and she knows full well I can't afford to do that... She has threatened me by saying she will take me to court to get more money as that is what I agreed upon, which is not like I said above.She doesn't let kids talk to me she says they don't want to talk to me.... Didn't even get a phone call for my birthday.... I got my divorce papers and all it says is that i must pay her so much a month and that there is no regulations in place for me. Nothing about me have to pay extra money to her when she wants it. After the divorce my ex got a better job where she gets around €150 extra a month.. she chose to do other things for the kids which cost money but expects me to pay for them.I told her she needs to budget just like I do, I even get told that her father is a better father than I am. When ever I do go over I do spend alot of money on the kids, be it clothes, toys etc, I even spent money for groceries.... But I get told I am useless etc... I have always paid her her maintenance 10 days earlier than what the courts have said, but she still wants more.My question is can she now go back to the courts and ask for more money after 10 months when I received my divorce papers saying what I must pay? Or is out of jurisdiction as I live in UK and she lives in Slovakia, I know tricky isn't it. I need help on this as she just wants more and more from me... Please help.... Shaun
Shaun - 6-Oct-19 @ 9:31 AM
Hi, I got divorced in January in Slovakia as my ex wife is from there and she filed for divorce there. So I had to go to court there. We agreed a sum of €250 for both kids as I have maintenance to pay my other ex for the kids I have.I also said to the judge that I won't contest the divorce cause my ex and I have an agreement where I can stay by hers when I come over etc... As it costs to much money to fly over aswell as stay in a hotel. I also said to the judge that if I have money left over and I can afford it when mirka asks for extra I will try but that is if I have the money to give otherwise no as I also have to live... Well everything was ok for the first couple of months then out of the blue I get told by her I must stay in a hotel etc.. and she knows full well I can't afford to do that... She has threatened me by saying she will take me to court to get more money as that is what I agreed upon, which is not like I said above.She doesn't let kids talk to me she says they don't want to talk to me.... Didn't even get a phone call for my birthday.... I got my divorce papers and all it says is that i must pay her so much a month and that there is no regulations in place for me. Nothing about me have to pay extra money to her when she wants it. After the divorce my ex got a better job where she gets around €150 extra a month.. she chose to do other things for the kids which cost money but expects me to pay for them.I told her she needs to budget just like I do, I even get told that her father is a better father than I am. When ever I do go over I do spend alot of money on the kids, be it clothes, toys etc, I even spent money for groceries.... But I get told I am useless etc... I have always paid her her maintenance 10 days earlier than what the courts have said, but she still wants more.My question is can she now go back to the courts and ask for more money after 10 months when I received my divorce papers saying what I must pay? Or is out of jurisdiction as I live in UK and she lives in Slovakia, I know tricky isn't it. I need help on this as she just wants more and more from me... Please help.... Shaun
Shaun - 6-Oct-19 @ 9:25 AM
Hi have ? Can I as biological father on birth certificate.acces my son's medical records? Ex has recently c stopped access andvholds certificate. Wat steps do I need to take . My son has recently been referred to specialist s and she ain't sharing anything ,only with her new bloke. Plse can anyone help.hes only 3 and if I remain away to long he may forget me. Many thanks.
Charlie's angels - 4-Oct-19 @ 7:31 PM
Hello!! I would like to know about that my husband has one son and he is supporting the child support for every week. His ex wife claimed from the Child Maintenance Service ( UK ). So, he needs to pay for his son £ 2960.94 per year and every month for £ 246.74 per month. I already know that kind of support and I agreedto pay £ 250 per month. But my husband paidto him more than £ 250. He paid every week Friday £ 100 to him. Sometimes he paid to him £ 500 and £ 400 per month. I do not have a job in UK and I still depending on my husband totally. He doesn’t havea handsome salary. That’s why we are struggling to 3 necessary things ( I mean foods, clothing and shelter ). We don’t have a house and we rent just one room in Southall. We have to pay £ 550 for a month. My husband needs to support for me entirely but he won’t. So, can I sue my husband for child maintenance extra pay money? Because I am not well for this case because of not enough support money from my husband. Hopefully, I am waiting for your legal advice. Many thanks.
Susan - 4-Oct-19 @ 11:38 AM
Hi Guys , Me and my wife have agreed child maintanance in consent order . She is working now and what happens if she decides not to work or lost job ? Will I be in a situation to pay more ? Please advice
Sat - 1-Oct-19 @ 10:42 AM
hi guys are the child maintenance allowed to leave the payee short every month as they take it out of my wages but im struggling after that
nicky c - 28-Sep-19 @ 8:49 AM
Hi Guy’s! It’s a bit long winded so bare with me.... My wife has a son who turns 18 (in June 2020) from a previous relationship who now lives with him (only since this years summer holidays 2019) I have bought him up since he was 4 years old and now because he is living at the dads house he is expected my wife to pay maintenance! He is deducting maintenance and child benefit from the monthly figure that he pays my wife! The 17 year old son is at college 3 days at week learning carpentry do we my wife and I have to pay the money?
CF - 20-Sep-19 @ 3:08 PM
Hi, I’ve been split from my partner over a year now, it’s getting to the point we can’t talk without having an argument but what I would like to know is, instead of giving my ex partner the child maintenance can I put it in an account for the kids rather than giving it to my ex partner?
K - 20-Sep-19 @ 2:17 PM
My son stopped going to school. He also attacked some people and currently has been removed from the mother. I don't want to give money to the mother anymore, for she has 0 expenses for him at the moment and he is now 16 and does not go to full time school. Also, just on a side note, she works in a bank, where I’m a sucker and working for a charity trying to do good in the world, and she makes almost three times what I make, plus has property worth over a million pounds, and a wealthy boyfriend, but Child Maintance don't actually care about context. And so I have to give money straight to her for my son up to the age of 20, as long as he is in full time education. But now he is not in full-time education and the law states that if a child reaches 16 and no longer in full-time education, then the payments can stop. However, I'm told by Child Maintenance that none of this matters and that because his birthday was a few days after September 1st, which is the date they calculate a child's age, that they still consider him 15 until next September 1st, when he will then be almost 17. How did such a corrupt system get put into place?! On another side note, which most of society don’t seem to care about: Men are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than women. Men make up the majority of incarcerations. Women are more than a third more likely to go to university. So many men live in insecure housing, while paying a big part of their pay checks to the women and thus can’t afford better accommodation, and the courts so rarely give parental control to men unless men pay a fortune in lawyer fees, and then often still lose. And even though there are all these threats from the government to make sure every week money is given over to the women, there is no help from the government when the women decide not to give access to the man to see their kids. I have a friend that was in such a situation – insecure housing, little money and no access to their child – and so killed himself. I personally have not been able to get the access to my children like I should be able to and now my eldest son is all screwed up because of a lack of a father figure in his life. But other than paying a fortune in lawyer fees, where one lawyer straight up told me it’s not worth it for there is a good chance you will lose, there is nothing else that I can do. What a sick system!
Matt - 19-Sep-19 @ 1:36 PM
Hi I have been paying maintenance for about 5 years for my 4 son . The two oldest are now over 16 and left school. They are not in further education and not working. Do I still have to pay for them. Thanks
A - 18-Sep-19 @ 7:28 PM
Hi everyone, My son has left school and started a training program and gets paid £25 per week, which will rise to £150 after a month or two. Does anybody know if I still need to pay his mother child maintenance please?
Tony - 11-Sep-19 @ 9:07 PM
Hi . I’ve been paying child maintenance for the last 16 years. I have no contact with the child or child’s mother as we were not together for long . I’ve never missed a payment since she was born. All arrangements are threw csa. I was just wondering at what point I pay child maintenance until. ? Thanks in advance for your time.
Rob - 11-Sep-19 @ 7:54 PM
Hi, I have 2 children and me and their dad have been split for over 3 years. Over the last month he has stopped paying for his kids and has been causing a lot of arguments. Iv had enough now of the constant arguing so decided to see if I would be able to get any help doing it through CSA but not so sure how to go about it. Please get back to me and let me no what the best thing to do is
Jess - 10-Sep-19 @ 1:14 PM
Hi. I have been split from my daughters father for almost 10 years. He has never been able to hold a job down so constantly lets me down with child support. We have a court order which explains when he can have her, what’s says he must phone her etc. I am now at the end of my tether. Please advise me what I can do?
Kay - 7-Sep-19 @ 10:54 AM
Hey. I've been paying child support for my son since me and his mum divorced. He is now 18 and still in full time education (sixth form)he has recently got a part time job at the local supermarket and he will be working a minimum of 12 hours per week. Overtime is available as well. Where do I stand on my payments to his mum as she has already told him that when he gets paid he has to contribute to the house, food, Bill's etc. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thankyou. Steve.
Barffy - 7-Sep-19 @ 10:05 AM
Hi just wondered what age does child maintenance stop as my son is disabled and will be in full time education till he's 24 year old.
Minnie - 3-Sep-19 @ 11:15 PM
Do I have to pay child maintenance if my daughter, has an apprenticeship
Dp - 1-Sep-19 @ 6:58 PM
My ex husband has been receiving maintenance for his daughter from his ex partner. His daughter lives me so he should not have been getting it. When his ex challenged this they said it goes to whoever gets child benefit. Well I do. They were told he was being paid the maintenance and keeping it instead of passing it on to me and did nothing about it.
Nicky - 31-Aug-19 @ 3:13 PM
My Son lives with me, stays Monday to Thursday night, his mum has him Friday to Sunday night or Monday morning (it rotates weekly) I work part time nights, and take him to school, I buy everything for him seeing as I am the main carerer, yet his mum wants maintenance from me, I believe she's entitled to nothing from me?
D - 22-Aug-19 @ 11:22 PM
Hi, I'm divorced with two children, one is at university and one has just turned 16. The one at Uni is out of the maintenance loop, the other will start college for A levels in a few weeks. Both live with me as my ex has decided to desert them. She has given up her job and is selling up to move to Wales to have a small holding and guest house with her new partner. She will have considerable savings from the house sale that will go over and above the purchase of a new property. The question is with no job I assume I can expect to get zero financial help for child maintenance from her even if I go via the CSA route. Has anyone any experience in this situation?
WithWith - 21-Aug-19 @ 10:34 AM
Hello all, I have two sons one at 18 years old who is going to start an apprenticeship, when do I stop paying for him, and a 17 year old son who has just started his basic training in the airforce and has pledged his allegiance to the queen. But he says he doesn’t think the airforce is for him so he is going to give it a couple of months the come out, so as for as I’m aware he has started in a full time job, so if he comes out of the airforce as he is 17 will I still have to pay for him as he as started a job then packed it in ?? And also if they don’t get jobs at what age can I stop paying for them ?? I appreciate any reply’s and explication’s cheer
Mickey - 19-Aug-19 @ 5:44 AM
Hi, I’m divorced as of June ‘19 and since Feb ‘19 have had my eldest 2 children (15/13) living with me in blocks of 9 nights of every 14 (their decision) and 7 nights through school holidays. My youngest (5yrs) stays with me 5 nights every 14 and 7 through the holidays. As a result I have not been paying OR claiming any child maintenance. My ex-wife has now said that she has had some advice from her legal team at work and that she’s entitled to claim child maintenance. I can’t see how this could be the case but interested to understand if this is true? I effectively cover 55% of the childcare. I have also left child allowance with my ex as I wouldn’t benefit from it. Thanks in advance.
Ian - 18-Aug-19 @ 8:20 AM
Hi all, I am just wondering, I have a 9 month old that is due to start part time nursery. Mother currently has full overnight care of the child as she only tends to let me have baby overnight if it suits her, but anyway won’t go into that. When he starts nursery me and my family will be having him from 8am to 8pm one day through the week and I’ll be having him myself 8am-8pm one weekend. If mum refuses to let me have him overnight can I still reduce the maintenance payment on the basis that during those days I am having to pay for his care all day? I’ve looked for articles but it only classifies it as ‘overnight’ Thanks in advance
Dale123 - 17-Aug-19 @ 12:25 AM
My partner has 2 children from a previous relationship. The boy lives with my partners parents. The girl also spends a lot of time there too maybe sleeps at moms once a week. The mother of the children on paper is the residential one, but the children don't actually live with her, (only on paper) hope that makes sense. To cut it short she dumps them at my partners parents 99% of the time. Weregularly take the children out along with my daughter. Buy what they need and more. Partner and ex have been split since the kids were 2&3. They're now 9&10. The father child relationship is well established and was so before I arrived on the scene (2 years ago) The mother is now trying to claim csa/cms. We have given her money numerous times for uniforms and other things and she has relatedly. Spent it on nights out or on herself. So we stopped doing this and decided to carry on with what we do, and buy them what they need when they ask or need it. If we had a bigger house we would let them live with us if they wish to, which is something they asked us about.(looking for bigger house) Several times we have given money for uniforms ect and then had to go out and buy them because she has spent the money.What can we do?
confused - 16-Aug-19 @ 2:18 PM
My partner has 2 children from a previous relationship. The boy lives with my partners parents. The girl also spends a lot of time there too maybe sleeps at moms once a week. The mother of the children on paper is the residential one, but the children don't actually live with her, (only on paper) hope that makes sense. To cut it short she dumps them at my partners parents 99% of the time. Weregularly take the children out along with my daughter. Buy what they need and more. Partner and ex have been split since the kids were 2&3. They're now 9&10. The father child relationship is well established and was so before I arrived on the scene (2 years ago) The mother is now trying to claim csa/cms. We have given her money numerous times for uniforms and other things and she has relatedly. Spent it on nights out or on herself. So we stopped doing this and decided to carry on with what we do, and buy them what they need when they ask or need it. If we had a bigger house we would let them live with us if they wish to, which is something they asked us about.(looking for bigger house) Several times we have given money for uniforms ect and then had to go out and buy them because she has spent the money.What can we do?
confused - 16-Aug-19 @ 2:15 PM
Hi I live in Canada with my Canadian partner who has 2 children with his ex they were born in Canada but she took them to Uk when they were 6 pays for the children to fly to Canada twice a year which is very costly he also flies to U.K. To visit the children as well does he still have to pay child support as he could no way afford to pay her and buy them flights to visit him? Please help
Jani - 6-Aug-19 @ 2:37 PM
my ex and I have two children aged 18 and 15 . he signed a financial agreement to pay £500 per month, this lasted 6 months, then he decided to reduce the payments to £400 per month, then again to £330 , this month he has reduced his payments to £150 that is £180 short, I am not sure how I am going to manage this month... I feel as though he takes no responsibility for the children....takes them out when I struggle to make ends meet. I work 3 jobs to pay for the mortgage and support the children, do I challenge him again or go back to my very costly solicitor ? I have never stopped access as I felt the children were old enough to make there own decision when they see him and where. After all they are not a commodity it took two people to make them.
frustrated - 5-Aug-19 @ 1:13 PM
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