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A Guide to Child Maintenance Payments

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 29 Nov 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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My eldest daughter lives with me permanently but the other 2 with my ex, I have my children every weekend, how should we work out a fair amount and what about times I'm not working?
Daz - 29-Nov-19 @ 11:34 AM
My children were put in my care Aug 2016, I received my first payment in Feb 2018 after making my £20 payment in Sep 2016. The mother then cancelled payments for July and Aug it then went to deduction from earnings which started in Sep 2018, she has been paying through deductions of earning up until Aug 2019 when the CMS changed payments to direct debit and as soon as this was done she cancelled payments. I have been told so many lies and different stories. Now i receive nothing and waiting a call back even though i call weekly! I am owed £4590. I requested a copy of all my com's between myself and the CMS because i was getting sick to death of their bull so i could write to my MP and what do i hear on the CD's they sent me, 2 employee's of the CMS taking the mick out of me and laugh at my expenses! absolute joke, the employees are dishonest and disrespectful. All i got was a closed cased.... Explain that!!
CSJP - 29-Nov-19 @ 11:15 AM
I’ve got a personal agreement with my child’s mother regarding monthly maintenance payments, No CSA involved. However she’s recently become awkward with my access Can I stop giving her money every month and put it to one side until I get access again or would this go against me further down the line if I had to go through courts?
KP - 28-Nov-19 @ 9:37 PM
@steph.i haven’t seen my daughter sence she was 5 she is 16 now .i have never paid child support and I wouldn’t no if she is doing a apprenticeship or in school .(i hope she is in school or doing a apprenticeship )from the research I have done I am legally required to pay child support but that was up to her mother .i personally think she never went to child support was because she was with my uncle and a roofer the whole entire time she lived in (my house ).i don’t know about everyone else but that’s not how (relationships work) I am so glad I don’t (deal) with this women anymore (gods truth ).and the reason I walked away .
Chris - 20-Nov-19 @ 7:10 PM
@life.i can relate to your story except the (suicide and child support part).i understand the frustration when you want to meet your (own child) but have orders on you And I know first hand how difficult it is to see your child then .i understand for me I had to walk away for my own sanity .because the mother off my child is older and so is the guy is was sleeping with my (own uncle and other family members)he would off been in her ear ha ha .they deserve each other gods truth .for me I will see my daughter again shewill realise for herself what her mother is like and understand my decision to walk away .
Chris - 20-Nov-19 @ 6:37 PM
My son is now 16, he is doing an apprenticeship, also retaking English at the college. Should his father still pay maintenance for him? Thanks
Steph - 20-Nov-19 @ 6:30 PM
My husband has been paying for his sons child maintenance since he was 2 years old and that was the last time he has seen him. He’s now 5 years old. My husband was never married to his sons mother but they had broken up but got back together when the child's mother said she’s pregnant with his baby. They both never got on and made my husbands life so bad that he attempted suicide but survived it. He soon moved out and got his own place and was able to see his son but then his ex stopped it all and my husband went through court which went on for years. The ex made up so many accusations about my husband to Court which were all lies but unfortunately my husband did not do the same because he was afraid they both could lose the child and the child could end up in care. All this made my husband so unhappy and he started to suffer from high blood pressure. His ex is older than my husband and has been married before with an older son who also has never seen his father and she claims benefits pretends her son is crazy and has never sent him to school. My husband decided to stop it all and now has not seen his son for 3 years and not allowed to even write or send gifts but by law needs to pay child maintenance for over £400 a month. How is this fair? The justice system in the uk sucks!!
Life - 20-Nov-19 @ 12:34 PM
@wazza.even though the mother off my child and myself don't see eye to eye with a lot off things and it was a[ messy break up to say the lest ].she has never hit for child support and she has single handed raised my daughter without any help from me .i will see my daughter again one day .i am letting her mother and partner raise there children in peace i gave them in enough trouble .
greg - 6-Nov-19 @ 10:14 PM
@wozza.that sounds like nightmare (16 000 pounds taking out your account)ex wife got your (house) and kids are in there 20 s.(did he get to see the kids after the divorce?).my daughter is 15 i haven’t payed child support that does( scare me how they can take money out your account like that) .but on brighter note for me I don’t have 16 000 in the bank all they get off me 16 dollars ?? and the mother off my child never took my house (I didn’t have one take and still don’t) .i hope she doesn’t want my 16 dollars and my room in my share house that’s just (evil) and on top off that I have been (allowed )to see the child .at least she won’t cripple my business I have cash business (recycling )
Greg - 6-Nov-19 @ 5:21 PM
I am writing this for my friend who cannot see very well at the moment as he is waiting for a cataracts operation. I hope I have all his details correct. 'I have just had £16,000 taken out of my bank account for my two children who are both over 20 years old. The kids have lived with their mother and grand mother ever since we split up and divorced. My wife gained the family home, that was our agreement. This will cripple my business and may well make me bankrupt. My ex wife and I had an agreement when we separated. Please can somebody tell me if there is a cut off point for claiming maintenance payments? This payment has come completely out of the blue and my children are over 20 years old, the youngest being 22). Thank you in advance for any help and/or advice you are able to give. W Timmins'
Wozza - 6-Nov-19 @ 1:54 PM
Hi my ex whom I have three children with has come to heads with his employers and he will be leaving the business I believe there will be a settlement figure given to him. He has now said he will no longer be paying maintenance as he is classified as unemployed even though he will be receiving a large payoff. I would also of thought he would be paid his three months notice period and holidays due etc.. Are my children therefore not going to be entitled to maintenance from his payments? Thank you in advance
Ginger - 5-Nov-19 @ 3:07 PM
My son turns 18 in February, but has finished college as he was struggling as is now looking for work. Will I still have to pay maintenance to his mother until he is 20 whether he finds work or not?
Matt - 5-Nov-19 @ 10:54 AM
@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
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