Home > Download Guides > A Guide to Child Maintenance Payments

A Guide to Child Maintenance Payments

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 24 Apr 2018 | 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.

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 a great 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.

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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
We have a deal (NO CONTACT FOR NO MONEY .)stick to your end of the deal .if i wanted to see your daugher i would get (legal help.)I dont want to see her.you have your family i have mine .do not rock the boat with silly games .there is no battle you get your daughter and you dont touch my wallet happy days ..
s j b - 24-Apr-18 @ 10:49 PM
@brad .I am in the same boat when I was young I sleeping with a old women who had a kid she got knocked up calms I am the father( ha ).the whole town was getting a ride off that thing .been years now because she is broke she wants money from me I said I don't think so miss .give me a DNA and then we can talk business. I heard she had a bad drug issues been in abusive relationships one after the other .she was just a ride in my 20s nothing else and I am not the father.she didn't want child support but now she does 9 years later f off I smell a con mile away.thanks PS there is no way she will get money
s j b - 24-Apr-18 @ 9:50 PM
Hi, I had a one night stand with a girl a few years back. I am not on the birth certificate, I have no contact or no way of contact as I do not know location or contact details. I have requested details through the CSA but she only sends bank details and nothing else. I have a son with my wife (who works part time) so I support both. Do I still have to pay maintenence to a child I have never met and when the mother refuses me any parental rights? Regards
Brad - 24-Apr-18 @ 8:14 PM
lol - Your Question:
My partner lost his job resently. Luckily has now got bk in to work but it’s less that he currently earned. Meaning after his out goings only left with £26 a wk to live on. We have done the online child maintenance calculator which states based on his new wage would be only £58 a week child maintenance but currently pay £98 a week. He has called to get looked in to and reduced. But told this would not change as it’s not a big enough change. Is this the case how can he possibly life on this. Once he puts petrol in his car to go to work nothing let at all. Surly this isn’t right ????

Our Response:
CMS can only change the annual income figure it uses to make a child maintenance decision if the paying parent provides proof that their gross income is at least 25 percent different to the latest available income figure it holds. Please see link here . The figure your partner currently earns will be reflected in the next annual review.
SeparatedDads - 24-Apr-18 @ 11:26 AM
My partner lost his job resently . Luckily has now got bk in to work but it’s less that he currently earned. Meaning after his out goings only left with £26 a wk to live on. We have done the online child maintenance calculator which states based on his new wage would be only £58 a week child maintenance but currently pay £98 a week. He has called to get looked in to and reduced. But told this would not change as it’s not a big enough change. Is this the case how can he possibly life on this . Once he puts petrol in his car to go to work nothing let at all . Surly this isn’t right ????
lol - 23-Apr-18 @ 5:46 PM
hh - Your Question:
My payments for my kid should. Of stopped. When. There claim dwp.

Our Response:
Please see link here. Child maintenance payments stop at the same time that child benefit eligibility does.
SeparatedDads - 20-Apr-18 @ 3:01 PM
Borny007 - Your Question:
Hi, we separated, child stayed with my ex. My question is, five days a week I'm there in her house to look after my son for 5-6 hours while she's working, how do I calculate how much child maintenance have to pay? Is these hours means any reduction, like the overnight stay? Why I calculate with gross payment, and pay after net payment?Regards

Our Response:
Only overnight stays are calculated via CMS. If you look after your child throughout the day then this would be considered to be a voluntary arrangement. If you usually have a family-based child maintenance arrangement, then you would negotiate between you both what you agree is fair.
SeparatedDads - 20-Apr-18 @ 2:00 PM
My payments for my kid should. Of stopped. When. There claim dwp.
hh - 20-Apr-18 @ 3:22 AM
Nash - Your Question:
If I have my daughter for 3 nights do I still pay maintenance. @the moment I'm paying £42.20 a week.

Our Response:
Yes. You would still pay child maintenance if you are considered the non-resident parent.
SeparatedDads - 19-Apr-18 @ 3:48 PM
If I have my daughter for 3 nights do I still pay maintenance.. @the moment I'm paying £42.20 a week..
Nash - 19-Apr-18 @ 2:23 PM
Littlegi100 - Your Question:
I have the children every night. He took them on holiday for 1 week and reduced my maintenance payments by £100. Can he do this?

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether you have a family-based arrangement or one via CMS. If the payments are arranged via CMS, then they are averaged out over the year meaning you would receive money regardless of whether your ex takes the children on holiday. If you have a family-based arrangement, then you would agree between you both. However, there is no recourse to claim arrears via a family-based arrangement - whereas there is via a CMS organised one.
SeparatedDads - 19-Apr-18 @ 11:21 AM
I have the children every night. He took them on holiday for 1 week and reduced my maintenance payments by £100. Can he do this?
Littlegi100 - 18-Apr-18 @ 6:02 AM
BLACKMALE - Your Question:
Hi I am just seeking clarificationi currently pay through the cms for my 19yr old. (20 in october)her college course finishes end of may 2018 so do my payments officially stopa. at the end of may (ie the end of her course, according to your paragraph above orb.at the end of august (ie just prior to the beginning of the 'new' college term, according to the cmskind regardsAG.

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), please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 17-Apr-18 @ 12:13 PM
hi i am just seeking clarification i currently pay through the cms for my 19yr old. (20 in october) hercollege course finishes end of may 2018 so do my payments officially stop a. at the end of may (ie the end of her course, according to your paragraph above or b.at the end of august (ie just prior to the beginning of the 'new' college term, according to the cms kind regards AG.
BLACKMALE - 16-Apr-18 @ 8:57 PM
mummamia - Your Question:
My Ex husband has been paying CM which he dropped in line with regs when he had another baby. However he has now split from the mother of this new child and she is now applying for maintenance. My question is, will maintenance for our son be reduced again please? (sorry sounds very mercenary but I really need to know)

Our Response:
You can see more about how child maintenance is paid via the link here, which should help answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 13-Apr-18 @ 10:16 AM
Cakie - Your Question:
Do I pay more if I don't have my kids staying with me less then 2 days a week

Our Response:
You can see more via the link here , which should help answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 12-Apr-18 @ 3:15 PM
Jo - Your Question:
My children’s father is in a high flying career, he has always been very good at getting his own way to any extent. lives in a big new house and both he and his wife have big expensive cars, he also owns a property abroad. I am in a rental property doing my best to raise my children by myself. I feel I have been let down way by the system. I went to CMS in Nov for help to retrieve child maintenance for my 2 children. In Feb their father told me I wouldn’t receive another penny, and he got his wish. A payment schedule was sent to me showing how much he should be paying me. He had been underpaying me by hundreds per month. He had always underpaid but He stopped paying anything. I asked for it to go to collect & Pay and was told it was not it in his best interests for this to happen or the childrens. I have had to borrow money to keep a roof over our heads. Even though he had underpaid by over £1,000 from the time I opened the case, I was told he no longer had to make up the shortfall, a miscalculation had occurred, I tried to explain but no one really listened to me. Again acting in his best interests. He hasn’t paid me since the end of January, he is still working (I’ve called his work landline) he works in a Big national organisation, and doing a really good job of beating the system), I feel the system has failed me. I feel they have looked after his needs and let myself and the children down.

Our Response:
If you cannot resolve issue via CMS directly, then you may have an option to take the matter to court. However, this will cost and only if you can prove you have a strong case should you take this route. Therefore, in order to explore your options you may wish to seek legal advice.
SeparatedDads - 12-Apr-18 @ 11:21 AM
My daughter is has epilepsy so is classed as having learning difficulties and is unable to access work or higher education. She has an EHCP which covers her until 25, does csa payments stop at 20 years old?
Star - 12-Apr-18 @ 9:28 AM
My Ex husband has been paying CM which he dropped in line with regs when he had another baby. However he has now split from the mother of this new child and she is now applying for maintenance. My question is, will maintenance for our son be reduced again please? (sorry sounds very mercenary but I really need to know)
mummamia - 12-Apr-18 @ 7:44 AM
My children’s father is in a high flying career, he has always been very good at getting his own way to any extent. lives in a big new house and both he and his wife have big expensive cars, he also owns a property abroad. I am in a rental property doing my best to raise my children by myself. I feel I have been let down way by the system. I went to CMS in Nov for help to retrieve child maintenance for my 2 children. In Feb their father told me I wouldn’t receive another penny, and he got his wish. A payment schedule was sent to me showing how much he should be paying me. He had been underpaying me by hundreds per month.He had always underpaid but He stopped paying anything. I asked for it to go to collect & Pay and was told it was not it in his best interests for this to happen or the childrens. I have had to borrow money to keep a roof over our heads. Even though he had underpaid by over £1,000 from the time I opened the case,I was told he no longer had to make up the shortfall, a miscalculation had occurred, I tried to explain but no one really listened to me. Again acting in his best interests. He hasn’t paid me since the end of January, he is still working (I’ve called his work landline) he works in a Big national organisation, and doing a really good job of beating the system), I feel the system has failed me. I feel they have looked after his needs and let myself and the children down.
Jo - 11-Apr-18 @ 4:40 PM
Do I pay more if I don't have my kids staying with me less then 2 days a week
Cakie - 10-Apr-18 @ 7:18 PM
csa - Your Question:
Hi, my daughters partner has come back into his sons life after 4 years of never being there and has gone to court for access this has been granted and she has never opposed this but she has now gone to csa for payments as he refused to give her any money they have said he has to pay a certain amount each week he says he isnt paying it as its too much can he dispute this or if the csa has said this is what he has to pay does he have to pay it by law he somehow thinks he can do what he likes and still see his son.

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access are not connected. Therefore, your daughter would have to keep to the court order. Child maintenance is a different issue and is not to be confused. Child access is deemed not to be dependent on money. If it was, some parents would be holding their children to financial ransom which would be considered to be unfair on the child. If your daughter's ex feels the amount he is paying has been miscalculated, then he has every right to dispute this. However, if it is proved that the amount is indeed correct, then he will have to pay the amount missed in arrears.
SeparatedDads - 10-Apr-18 @ 3:32 PM
Hi, my daughters partner has come back into his sons life after 4 years of never being there and has gone to court for access this has been granted and she has never opposed this but she has now gone to csa for payments as he refused to give her any money they have said he has to pay a certain amount each week he says he isnt paying it as its too much can he dispute this or if the csa has said this is what he has to pay does he have to pay it by law he somehow thinks he can do what he likes and still see his son.
csa - 10-Apr-18 @ 9:44 AM
Hi, we separated, child stayed with my ex. My question is, five days a week I'm there in her house to look after my son for 5-6 hours while she's working, how do I calculate how much child maintenance have to pay? Is these hours means any reduction, like the overnight stay? Why I calculate with gross payment, and pay after net payment? Regards
Borny007 - 6-Apr-18 @ 6:00 PM
Hi can someone help please if my sons fartheris in a relationship with someone who has two kids that are not his and there not married does how much maintenance he pays me will that be affected
Terri - 5-Apr-18 @ 9:21 PM
Cali- Your Question:
My daughters ex partner pays monthly maintenance to her for his two sons. He works 5 days a week but has decided he now wants to only work four. It’s his decision can he reduce her maintenance.He has a new son with a new partner.

Our Response:
Child maintenance is based on earnings and taxable income assessed via HMRC. If the paying parent has less income, then he will be assessed on the earnings and over a period of time the child maintenance payment would reduce accordingly.
SeparatedDads - 5-Apr-18 @ 2:56 PM
My daughters ex partner pays monthly maintenance to her for his two sons. He works 5 days a week but has decided he now wants to only work four. It’s his decision can he reduce her maintenance. He has a new son with a new partner.
Cali - 4-Apr-18 @ 6:45 PM
In your article above, under the section "SHARED CARE", you cite that: "If you share care equally, neither of you has to pay maintenance to each other." How can this be so, when the CMS calculator / guidance figures suggest that the paying parent should still contribute a substantial weekly amount even when they have the children "approximately 3 nights a week" or "more than 3 nights week"?? Surely being responsible for your children for this amount of time per week makes you a Shared Carer? Or possibly even the Primary Carer?? I have my two children for, on average, 3 nights a week. So I fail to understand how the CMS can determine i pay a large amount to my ex, when your article clearly suggests that, based on these numbers, I am a shared carer. How do you and the CMS define the word "equal"? Please help!!
M - 29-Mar-18 @ 3:43 PM
Mike - Your Question:
I had custody of 2 daughters for the last 10yrs. In that time, and up to date my ex wife is in child maintenence arrears to the tune of just over £13,000 of which I am still owed. My daughters (now 14 and 13) decided they want to live with her for various reasons, and she is now making demands for child support despite being in arrears. How can this be so?

Our Response:
The claims are treated separately and much depends upon the reasons why CMS cannot extract the payments from your ex. In the case of her claiming from you may be more straightforward in terms of your ability and eligibility to pay. You would have to take this up with CMS directly.
SeparatedDads - 29-Mar-18 @ 10:25 AM
I had custody of 2 daughters for the last 10yrs. In that time, and up to date my ex wife is in child maintenence arrears to the tune of just over £13,000 of which i am still owed. My daughters (now 14 and 13) decided they want to live with her for various reasons, and she is now making demands for child support despite being in arrears. How can this be so?
Mike - 28-Mar-18 @ 1:13 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SeparatedDads website. Please read our Disclaimer.