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A Guide to Child Maintenance Payments

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 19 Jun 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 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]
My husband has stopped paying for his 18 year old son last month as this is when he’s finished college. Child maintenance are now threatening to take the money out his wages (potentially a lump sum) as he doesn’t see why he has to pay when he’s finished full time ed. I have three kids which he helps look after and apparently this is not taken into account financially? How long does it take for them to get the authority to whip the money out of his wages forcefully? My ex partner has missed about seven payments this year and CSA have done nothing but merely sent him some letters! How does this work???
LucyDee - 19-Jun-18 @ 5:25 PM
Do i pay child maintenance if my child has a child of her own and claims benfits?
Lad - 19-Jun-18 @ 5:23 PM
Dad 1- Your Question:
Currently starting court proceedings for half custody.Is it true that there will be no requirement to pay maintenance if I have court ordered half custody.

Our Response:
If you are currently the non-resident parent, then you should pay child maintenance to help support the day-to-day care of your child as usual or as per the child maintenance calculator or CMS assessment.
SeparatedDads - 19-Jun-18 @ 12:18 PM
Harry - Your Question:
Do I still need to pay child maintenance if my son is 18 and has recently had a child of their own?

Our Response:
If your son is still in full-time education and his other parent is in receipt of child benefit for him, then you would continue to pay child maintenance. Please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 18-Jun-18 @ 2:55 PM
Currently starting court proceedings for half custody. Is it true that there will be no requirement to pay maintenance if I have court ordered half custody.
Dad 1 - 17-Jun-18 @ 9:26 PM
Do i still need to pay child maintenance if my son is 18 and has recently had a child of their own?
Harry - 17-Jun-18 @ 8:54 PM
Not so much of a question but a point... After viewing daily media treats (typically on the BBC) highlighting equality issues which are only ever about the plight of women, equal pay, pink toys, Tennis prize money etc etc. I would like to point out that all non resident parents (predominantly Fathers) are being subjected to sexist laws, rulings and policies by the powers that be. Aside the fact that Mothers inevitably get presumed/assumed sole custody upon separation, they are then financially encouraged by our Regime (they like to use that term agains Syria & Russia, so seems highly appropriate with our own government) to keep diminish a Fathers role in their childs life. The CMS adopts a completely mathematically flawed assessment calculation that defrauds I assume hundreds of thousands of Fathers each month. Let me explain their swindle. For arguments sake let's say a Dad is assessed to pay Mum £70 a week. If she graciously allows 1 overnight stay per week, you are assessed to pay 1/7th less. On the face of it, this seems completely fair until you look at those figures more closely. If for example you were to have your child for 6 nights a week, you are still assessed to pay £10 a week!! Get equal contact 3.5 nights a week and you still have to pay £35 a week!! Clearly the reduction should actually be 2/7th's off per night to be mathematically correct, but such a simple fair calculation who be far too much to ask for in this day and age of equality and feminism. Of course it would be beneficial from the outset that their is assumed shared parenting, then distribute contact based on what is best for the child and the parents involved. Can't see it happening in my lifetime, there is a media push to flood us with womens equality issues, be refreshing to hear about something far more important than checkout versus warehouse wages... a pathetic issue compared to being shut out of your childs life.
Dr Zemf - 17-Jun-18 @ 7:56 PM
My partner has outstanding child maintenance dating back to 2016, we've been together since 2015 and I have 3 children and one due in less than a week he was unaware of the arrears as the letters were all going to previous address and is unable to contact the mother How would this affect what he has to pay to his ex partner
Chris - 16-Jun-18 @ 12:15 PM
col - Your Question:
Is my wife entitled to child maintenance as I am on JSA.

Our Response:
Your ex may be entitled to the flat rate of £7.00 per week if you are in receipt of benefits.
SeparatedDads - 14-Jun-18 @ 9:40 AM
Is my wife entitled to child maintenance as I am on JSA.
col - 13-Jun-18 @ 4:20 PM
Pablo - Your Question:
The entire set up is flawed I have a decent relationship with my ex after our marriage broke down my kids stay over two nights a week I would have them more but have to work 5 days so I can have a house for them to stay over in and earn enough to pay bills maintenance etc but I also pick them up from school three days a week feed them take them to and from kickboxing etc. But my friend only gets £30 a month from her ex he has nothing to do with their child whatsoever just shows how flawed the system is

Our Response:
Child maintenance is based on a percentage of earnings. If your friend only receives £30 per month, then the child's non-resident parent must be earning a lower income.
SeparatedDads - 12-Jun-18 @ 11:25 AM
The entire set up is flawed I have a decent relationship with my ex after our marriage broke down my kids stay over two nights a week I would have them more but have to work 5 days so I can have a house for them to stay over in and earn enough to pay bills maintenance etc but I also pick them up from school three days a week feed them take them to and from kickboxing etc . But my friend only gets £30 a month from her ex he has nothing to do with their child whatsoever just shows how flawed the system is
Pablo - 11-Jun-18 @ 11:55 AM
Not so much of a question but a point... After viewing daily media treats (typically on the BBC) highlighting equality issues which are only ever about the plight of women, equal pay, pink toys, Tennis prize money etc etc. I would like to point out that all non resident parents (predominantly Fathers) are being subjected to sexist laws, rulings and policies by the powers that be. Aside the fact that Mothers inevitably get presumed/assumed sole custody upon separation, they are then financially encouraged by our Regime (they like to use that term agains Syria & Russia, so seems highly appropriate with our own government) to keep diminish a Fathers role in their childs life. The CMS adopts a completely mathematically flawed assessment calculation that defrauds I assume hundreds of thousands of Fathers each month. Let me explain their swindle. For arguments sake let's say a Dad is assessed to pay Mum £70 a week. If she graciously allows 1 overnight stay per week, you are assessed to pay 1/7th less. On the face of it, this seems completely fair until you look at those figures more closely. If for example you were to have your child for 6 nights a week, you are still assessed to pay £10 a week!! Get equal contact 3.5 nights a week and you still have to pay £35 a week!! Clearly the reduction should actually be 2/7th's off per night to be mathematically correct, but such a simple fair calculation who be far too much to ask for in this day and age of equality and feminism. Of course it would be beneficial from the outset that their is assumed shared parenting, then distribute contact based on what is best for the child and the parents involved. Can't see it happening in my lifetime, there is a media push to flood us with womens equality issues, be refreshing to hear about something far more important than checkout versus warehouse wages... a pathetic issue compared to being shut out of your childs life.
Dr Zemf - 10-Jun-18 @ 9:25 AM
Not so much of a question but a point... After viewing daily media treats (typically on the BBC) highlighting equality issues which are only ever about the plight of women, equal pay, pink toys, Tennis prize money etc etc. I would like to point out that all non resident parents (predominantly Fathers) are being subjected to sexist laws, rulings and policies by the powers that be. Aside the fact that Mothers inevitably get presumed/assumed sole custody upon separation, they are then financially encouraged by our Regime (they like to use that term agains Syria & Russia, so seems highly appropriate with our own government) to keep diminish a Fathers role in their childs life. The CMS adopts a completely mathematically flawed assessment calculation that defrauds I assume hundreds of thousands of Fathers each month. Let me explain their swindle. For arguments sake let's say a Dad is assessed to pay Mum £70 a week. If she graciously allows 1 overnight stay per week, you are assessed to pay 1/7th less. On the face of it, this seems completely fair until you look at those figures more closely. If for example you were to have your child for 6 nights a week, you are still assessed to pay £10 a week!! Get equal contact 3.5 nights a week and you still have to pay £35 a week!! Clearly the reduction should actually be 2/7th's off per night to be mathematically correct, but such a simple fair calculation who be far too much to ask for in this day and age of equality and feminism. Of course it would be beneficial from the outset that their is assumed shared parenting, then distribute contact based on what is best for the child and the parents involved. Can't see it happening in my lifetime, there is a media push to flood us with womens equality issues, be refreshing to hear about something far more important than checkout versus warehouse wages... a pathetic issue compared to being shut out of your childs life.
Dr Zemf - 9-Jun-18 @ 6:35 AM
Hi cms have made a mistake and now has backdated the payments how are they allowed to do this it wasn’t my fault and they also said the wouldn’t backdate aswell when changes where made not only that there using 2016-17 p60 cause the 2017-18 p60 wasn’t available Iv since gave them the p60 but aren’t willing to change things is there anything I can do cause the payments are going to cause me to struggle to pay them and won’t be able to afford it for them to collect the money as it adds even more money to the payments
Nightwolf - 8-Jun-18 @ 1:41 PM
Mama Smurf - Your Question:
I raised my daughter for 12 years until last year when she decided she wants to live with her dad. Being self employed, although working, he dodge CSA payments her whole life by working cash in hand jobs or going on benefits but still working. When CMO took over, he paid about a years maintenance before she left me. Now the CMO are stating that because I earn legally , I need to pay 12% of my wage to him.despite him dodging paying me.Why is this not calculated in the payments. It seems so unfair that I have to pay a man for my daughter when he dodge paying me but now wants me to suffer financially.!

Our Response:
The two cases are completely separate. Also, it is not about you and your ex's disagreements, it's about the non-resident parent being financially responsible by law to help support their child. If your ex was not paying tax, then HMRC could not legally collect child maintenance. The only recourse in situations such as this is to inform HMRC that someone is working illegally.
SeparatedDads - 8-Jun-18 @ 12:59 PM
@mamma smurf. i am in the same boat my daughter didn't live with me, until she was 14 I didnt pay child support because of the mothers (guilt for affairs) .so yeah when Shecome to live with me I made her pay me child support Its only fair money doesn't grow on trees .plus its a good wake up call for her.pay a man ,yeah pay a man its 2018 baby and I am not a old shearer that has to beat his chest for women or show how big is wallet is .I don't need to I just smile and nex;t thing you no they are cooking Bacon and eggs for me at breakfast wink. And for my daughter To trying play mummy to her .then we go spent that child support money like there is no tomorrow .
papa bear - 6-Jun-18 @ 8:50 PM
I raised my daughter for 12 years until last year when she decided she wants to live with her dad. Being self employed, although working, he dodge CSA payments her whole life by working cash in hand jobs or going on benefits but still working.. When CMO took over, he paid about a years maintenance before she left me. Now the CMO are stating that because I earn legally , I need to pay 12% of my wage to him .....despite him dodging paying me . Why is this not calculated in the payments . It seems so unfair that I have to pay a man for my daughter when he dodge paying me but now wants me to suffer financially .!
Mama Smurf - 6-Jun-18 @ 7:05 PM
SS - Your Question:
HiI would love to have my son 50% of the time but my ex won't let me so on average I have him 14 nights a month and she has him 16 but I also have him a couple of days (she won't let me overnight them days) but according to cms I still have to pay her £200 a month which seems crazy due to the fact it's pretty much 50/50.Is this right as all online calculators only take into consideration nights!

Our Response:
Only overnight stays are considered via CMS. You can see more regarding how child maintenance is paid via the link here .
SeparatedDads - 5-Jun-18 @ 3:02 PM
Hi I would love to have my son 50% of the time but my ex won't let me so on average I have him 14 nights a month and she has him 16 but I also have him a couple of days (she won't let me overnight them days) but according to cms I still have to pay her £200 a month which seems crazy due to the fact it's pretty much 50/50. Is this right as all online calculators only take into consideration nights!
SS - 4-Jun-18 @ 8:15 PM
none - Your Question:
Hi,I have a daughter who is now 18 and leaving school in June 2018. I have paid my monthly child maintenance payments continuously over the years even though I have not seen my daughter for numerous years. I understand my daughter is allegedly going to college, what are my rights.I understand that I can stop paying my ex the monthly child maintenance now that my daughter has left school.

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). If you are paying via CMS, then payments will stop automatically when child benefit does. Please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 1-Jun-18 @ 2:16 PM
Hi, I have a daughter who is now 18 and leaving school in June 2018. I have paid my monthly child maintenance payments continuously over the years even though I have not seen my daughter for numerous years. I understand my daughter is allegedly going to college, what are my rights. I understand that I can stop paying my ex the monthly child maintenance now that my daughter has left school.
none - 28-May-18 @ 3:58 PM
Cms are demanding more than I can pay after I have paid rent etc. Is there anything I can do. My ex is also.spreading rumours that I'm a pedofile which is untrue what can be done about this. She is using this an excuse to stop contact between me and my son so she can play happy family with her new boyfriend. Is there anyway I can get help with the court fees I need so I can get a child arrangements order? I work full time and have two jobs but I really can't afford the court fees.
John Doe - 27-May-18 @ 8:50 AM
My ex husband has never paid me any cms, he ignored the letters from them and so they checked with HMRC for his previous tax returns. As he had never filed any tax returns they said his earnings where zero and therefore he didn't have to pay me! It took them a year to conclude this. In That year he started a new job and so I asked them to 're look at our case. His girlfriend very kindly sent me a copy of his contract with his new emplyer and so I shared this with cms. I know he is still working for said company as I see him in his work van most days. Today I received a letter from cms saying that the original decision of zero payment still stands! How can this possibly be? I need to know how he is still not having to pay for his three children when I know for a fact her earns money.
Nicole O'CARROLL - 26-May-18 @ 5:04 PM
JD - Your Question:
My daughter decided she did not want to speak to me three years ago and cut all ties, I have still made my payments ( a private agreement). I have been told now she starts uni in September. What are my options regarding payments because it seems I have the option then to stop paying? This issue seems a bit clouded?

Our Response:
You can see more via the link here , which should tell you all you need to know. plus, child maintenance payments stop when child benefit payments do, you can see more here .
SeparatedDads - 25-May-18 @ 3:50 PM
@Kex - On the basic rate, if your ex is paying for one child, you’ll pay 12% of your gross weekly income, two 16% and three 19%, it is divided between the kids equally.
BYF - 25-May-18 @ 12:36 PM
My daughter decided she did not want to speak to me three years ago and cut all ties, I have still made my payments ( a private agreement). I have been told now she starts uni in September. What are my options regarding payments because it seems I have the option then to stop paying? This issue seems a bit clouded?
JD - 24-May-18 @ 3:58 PM
Sparkius - Your Question:
My ex-wife and I have been divorced for 10 years and have four children.During the 10 years I have my children overnight on alternate weekends (Fri - Mon) and every Wednesday night. Recently my three daughters asked to also stay over on Tuesday evenings, which they now do each week.This means that they spend exactly the same number of nights with me, as they do with their mum.I'm pleased to say that the girls have a decent life with each parent buying the same amount of clothes, gadgets etc at each home.I recently informed the Child Maintenance Bureau of the change in circumstances, and have been told that I must continue to pay their mum support each month.The annual figure is approx £1500 which is a month's money for me. As we both spend the same amount on the children each money and look after them for the same amount of time, this seems very unfair?Over the past five years, the children have had a number of problems at their mum's house including a step-dad who hangs around their bedrooms, threats of suicide from mum when they suggested spending more time with me, physical abuse on my son (now 18) from step-dad.All of the incidents have been logged with the police and social services, and I am now wondering if I should pursue a residency order?Can anyone give me any advice on the process and the potential pitfalls, please?

Our Response:
Yours is a bit of a tricky question, in that it is rare that a court will change a living arrangement unless absolutely necessary. Certainly, money would not factor in any court decision regarding where the children should reside. In order for the court to change an arrangement, then you would have to prove your ex is unfit to look after the children.
SeparatedDads - 24-May-18 @ 1:53 PM
Dbi - Your Question:
Hi, if Ias a father buying toys, clothes for kids every week, can it be deducted from maintenance?

Our Response:
No. Anything you pay above and beyond child maintenance is at your own discretion. Child maintenance is paid by the non-resident parent to help support the child when they are living under the roof of the primary carer. Most NRP's buy clothes/toys etc for the child for when the child spends time with them.
SeparatedDads - 24-May-18 @ 9:13 AM
Hi does the amount of maintanace change if the father has 2 children by one woman and one with another. My ex has 3 kids but only 2 love together and Im mum to his 2 yr old son.
Kez - 24-May-18 @ 6:57 AM
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