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A Guide to Child Maintenance Payments

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 16 Feb 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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Ok hear goes this is embarrassing and I know this is site manly for men but Mumsnet is no help .the father off my daughter was a abusvie men a drunk and likes a bit off snif now and then we’ll when I new him he did anyway .and I had him jailed many years ago I recently meet another chap who has raised questions about why I never made claim for child support and is in my ear about making a claim against my daughter father. I have tip toed around it .my current partner is like I have kids I pay child support because I am a men why does he get a pass I have to support my other kids and now yours to and I don’t find it fair .should I make a claim against him it has been along time and feel awkward with time frame your expertise would be appreciated thanks.
Betsy boo - 13-Feb-19 @ 2:13 AM
Maybe in a different situation to many dads but here goes. Divorced in 2015 with ex spouse remarrying in 2018. 2 children from marriage who have lived with me as a single parent family from 2014 till I remarried in 2016 and now with a third child from this marriage. All above in Singapore. Spouse refused to pay any child maintenance and she had access every other weekend. Children are British citizens. We relocated back to UK in late 2017, children settled into schoold etc. Ex spouse receives access on summmer holidays and we alternate both easter and xmas holidays. I pay for ex spouse flight to UK on those and children to Singapore on Summer hols. EX spouse demanded in return to letting a British Citizen return to UK given Singapore courts had juristiction over them 90 pounds per day per child on her access days on top of flights for "expenses". Have found it hard to get good job in UK and to manage budgets with burdensome payments above. Supporting a family of 5 for a year AND having to pay out nearly 10000 pounds for non substantiated expenses surely is wrong?? Ex spouse is litigious with a lawyer who thrives on this approach. Filing for change of circumstances and looking to pay a fair sum ie based on what we spend in UK. Advice sought
anxious - 12-Feb-19 @ 11:43 PM
In a bit of a pickle. Me and my ex split up over a year ago. I currently pay for her phone, her car and pay maintenance each week too. I’m paying out around £400 a month to my 2 children. We had a joint council tax bill and she promised to pay half but hasn’t so now I’m being hunted for the lot. I’ve paid my half already. I’ve now had an attachment to earnings and there taking a hefty amount from me for her debt? I can’t afford to pay the debt and her maintenance. I’ve told her I’m going to reduce her payments weekly to get it clear. It will only take a couple weeks but she’s now telling me I’m breaking the law? Any advice?
R-wilsons - 6-Feb-19 @ 8:16 PM
Is a BAhonners degree classed as higher education ?
Gg - 15-Jan-19 @ 9:46 PM
My child is currently in her 2nd year at sixth form studying A levels. Has already sat and passed some A level exams and will be 18 in a couple of months. She intends to go to university after 6th form finishes this year. When will I have to stop paying cms ? Any help would be appreciated as most things I read are as clear as mud. Some say you continue to pay cms at university until aged 20 others say you pay until A levels completed.
Rab - 10-Jan-19 @ 7:08 PM
If I take my children on holiday for a week. Do I still pay children maintenance to their mother for that specific week in question ?
Goon71 - 9-Jan-19 @ 5:46 PM
I married my ex in 2008. We had a daughter who was 6 months old at the time. My ex also had a daughter from a previous marriage. My ex left in 2017 for another man. We shared care of our youngest 50/50. The eldest (non-biological) lived with me full time for 18 months. Now the eldest, who is 17 and in full time education, has decided no longer wants anything to do with me. What rights do I have?
Rob - 6-Jan-19 @ 8:11 AM
Both my kids have not attended school or college for six months and are over 16 , can I stop paying maintenance?
Chas - 5-Jan-19 @ 9:45 AM
How do I see the answers to above as some are very relevant to me??
Paulie - 3-Jan-19 @ 9:40 AM
My son lives with his other parent and has turned 16. Can I make payments direct to the him now instead of his other parent?
Blank - 29-Dec-18 @ 11:22 PM
My child lives with the other parent and has turned 16. Can I make payments directo the the child now instead of the other parent? I am not sure if my payment is used for my child but more for the remainder of the new family
Dohey - 29-Dec-18 @ 3:00 PM
I pay more in child maintenance then it would ever cost me in additional costs if my children were in my full time care. The system is broken it financials penalises parents that have already suffered having their access to their children restricted. Would an appeal look into that? and hopefully with commonsense someone would realise that I am already paying for a home setup for my children so I shouldn't have to pay their mothers rent and utility bills as well. I shouldn't be paying for two homes I should just be paying my share.
J&TN - 21-Dec-18 @ 2:50 PM
Bit of advise needed the CMS have went straight to deduction of earnings order. I missed 2 months payments while awaiting a reply from themselves and receiving parent. This was due to receiving parent wanting all parental rights removed and my name of birth certificate. I had fought for my child for 4 years and made decision to stop my fight. But not to stop maintenance . Until the mother pulled this. After 3 weeks of back an forward with CMS and constantly getting contradicting info I asked for it to be raised to an investigation as not one piece of info I was given over the phone matched the next call. And same with messages to my self service portal. Twice ibwas told complaint was raised. Twice the complaint was not raised. I was also told by an advisor that the receiving parent claimed I have no children in my house. I have 3 step kids and a child to my wife. They where taking of my file without consulting me. My case worker told me 2 days ago they would raise this as a fraudulent claim. Since then this has not been taken to the relevant department and I gave a new case worker who is refusing to do so. And when speaking to them I asked for a third time to raise this as a complaint against this case and that I want the receiving parent investigated for this fraudulent claim I was told no and I am ending the call goodbye . I am totally at a loss as what to do now. There has been a fraudulent claim made on this case. A case worker has removed 4 children of the file without evidence other than a receiving parents word. I was also led to beleive (and case worker repeated this 3 times to my client rep) that there was no deductions of earnings for months of December and January. My new case worker says this was false and I am now looking at 2 Does in December right before Christmas. Someone has to be held accountable for this and consequences faced.
AGibz - 13-Dec-18 @ 7:57 PM
Bit of advise needed the CMS have went straight to deduction of earnings order. I missed 2 months payments while awaiting a reply from themselves and receiving parent. This was due to receiving parent wanting all parental rights removed and my name of birth certificate. I had fought for my child for 4 years and made decision to stop my fight. But not to stop maintenance . Until the mother pulled this. After 3 weeks of back an forward with CMS and constantly getting contradicting info I asked for it to be raised to an investigation as not one piece of info I was given over the phone matched the next call. And same with messages to my self service portal. Twice ibwas told complaint was raised. Twice the complaint was not raised. I was also told by an advisor that the receiving parent claimed I have no children in my house. I have 3 step kids and a child to my wife. They where taking of my file without consulting me. My case worker told me 2 days ago they would raise this as a fraudulent claim. Since then this has not been taken to the relevant department and I gave a new case worker who is refusing to do so. And when speaking to them I asked for a third time to raise this as a complaint against this case and that I want the receiving parent investigated for this fraudulent claim I was told no and I am ending the call goodbye . I am totally at a loss as what to do now. There has been a fraudulent claim made on this case. A case worker has removed 4 children of the file without evidence other than a receiving parents word. I was also led to beleive (and case worker repeated this 3 times to my client rep) that there was no deductions of earnings for months of December and January. My new case worker says this was false and I am now looking at 2 Does in December right before Christmas. Someone has to be held accountable for this and consequences faced.
AGibz - 13-Dec-18 @ 6:22 PM
If my daughter is on maternity leave from full-time education do I still have to pay child maintenance
Ray - 12-Dec-18 @ 12:58 PM
hi I currently pay my ex £75 a week through a family based arrangements (we have done this for 3 years) However now my ex wants to go through the CMS to see if she can get more money. If I am already paying her £75 a week can she do this?
bell - 10-Dec-18 @ 12:20 PM
Can anyone give me any advice? My partners ex has blocked contact and moved house and refuses to let us contact or know the new address. This has happened because concerns were brought up to social. We are now stuck not knowing how the kids are, she won’t tel us where they are but has the cheek to tell us to makesure we pay her. This can’t be legal for her to personally remove his rights and still be okay to push him for money. Our side of the family are absolutely heart broken.
Meg - 30-Nov-18 @ 5:46 PM
I need some advice I have my child 1 week 2 and half day and the other week 2 days my ex only has the kids 2 a day week and when they are not with me they are either at her friends or her nans house, she want me to pay more cm now as she doesn’t get any help from government and she has had a new kid with her current parent, she also trying to change my times I pick and drop the kids off to her because “she has a life to live to” but I work Monday to Friday 5am till late or something I work away depending on my job, I’m really struggling to know if I go down the though csa and sort the money out that and show them the letter from solicitor and stuff or just give in to her, any advice would be great
Gc1234 - 28-Nov-18 @ 10:17 PM
Hi, some asked about commission based bonuses and if they are considered. My husband recently got his review and yes bonuses guaranteed or not are taken into account.As far as i’m aware they use your P60 for the calculation so any taxable income is included.My husband got a bonus last December which put last years income up.As his review is done every November it now means this next year he will be paying more every month despite not receiving any bonus this year.It should mean however that come next November his payments will be reduced again.
Jayne - 26-Nov-18 @ 10:34 PM
Hi Can you please advise on whether commission based bonuses are to be taken into account when calculating maintenance payments. I have heard that only guaranteed annual bonuses should be taken into account . . I can’t seem to find any information on bonus payments. The CMS says that all bonuses are to be considered. Is this correct ?
Jonzie - 26-Nov-18 @ 9:49 AM
Hi there I have been paying Maintence to my daughter for the last 14 years and maintenance to my twin boys for the last 9 months , I have recently started a three year college course, I have read heard and been told that my payments could stop due to this as my wages hours have been reduced, I spoke with someone from CMS went on the Direct Gov website and spoke with others in the same situation, please could you confirm or deny this please Craig
Craig - 26-Nov-18 @ 7:29 AM
Hi cant not find anything tangible online anywhere onwhat happens when my child reaches 16 next yr and the CM payments He is severely disabled and therefore can not do ' further education' and will begetting the PIA /DSA rather than child maintenance I have spoken to CM but they do not know either so are seeking guidance , anyone know
Seeking info - 22-Nov-18 @ 12:20 PM
My husband left over a year ago and has never paid a penny towards our 2 children he barely sees them or contacts them he is on benefits and I want to know does he legally still have to pay maintenance Im aware it wouldn't be alot because he's on benefits but anything would help as I've been a single mum and been doing it all on my own for just over a Year I do work part time
Minniemouse - 21-Nov-18 @ 7:54 PM
I pay maintenance which I believe is slightly higher than the csa would request It definitely isn't lower It is voluntary and has been standing order for years My rd has convinced herself she is owed more and threatens to go to csa What will they do if they can see I'm.already paying a reasonable amount?
Jax - 21-Nov-18 @ 7:39 PM
Have recently separated from my kids mum and to begin with helped her every time she was struggling with money this has come to just under £6000 in 6 months. I have asked to sit down and discuss a fair maintenance payment moving forward but she is refusing she wants £700 a month plus £200 for child care on top. I have done the csa calculater and it says £480 a month she won’t discuss it despite me offering to meet her and for her to bring whoever she wants with her. I don’t want to stop paying as know csa will expect a back payment but also they won’t take into account the fact I have paid over the odds for 6 months. Any help or advice on what’s best for me to do
Stokesey - 20-Nov-18 @ 11:30 AM
My question is if you aren't sure who the dad is but there is a name on the birth certificate the other child is his not sure about the other.when making a csa claim can you just put the one child on and not the other. If I'm going too sort dna out myself.
Kat - 16-Nov-18 @ 11:20 PM
My first wife and I divorced in early 2004. We both had good jobs. I did long term contract work and she had a local permanent job. I bought her out of her share of the matrimonial house and also paid her a lump sum ancillary payment with which she bought a house on the other side of town from where I live. We obtained a court order giving us equal custody of our daughter (born in May 2000) - whereby she would spend one week with me and one week with my ex-wife. I remarried my second wife in November 2004 and we had a daughter born in the summer of 2005. My second wife did not work as she looked after this daughter as well as the first daughter when she stayed with us. In August 2016, my contract ended and I have not been able to find any "permanent" job since then - so I do short term consultancy work when I can and am in effect self-employed. My ex-wife has still got her job and she has been living with her boyfriend who also has a well-paid job working for the same company. They have been living together since early 2017 (and recently got married and moved into a house about 20 miles away which they bought together). The "one week on and one week off" arrangement with my first daughter continued until Aug 2017 - when my daughter moved out of my house stating that she found it "more convenient" staying with her mother. Since Sep 2017, I have been paying child maintenance (CM) of £200 at the beginning of every month to my ex-wife. (She had demanded £400). The £200 has been a voluntary payment on my part as it was all that I could afford. My second wife started an admin job in Dec 2017 which does not pay much. My first daughter received a large court settlement for a birth injury to her arm caused by medical negligence. Although this was thought to be a significant disability at the time, it turned out that it did not cause any disability to her lifestyle at all. None of the money was used to pay for making special amendments to our respective houses. This money was held and invested by the court until my daughter turned 18 earlier this year when the court transferred the money into her bank account (the amount of the award had increased in value over the past eighteen years to over £90k). As regards her academic status, she is due to complete an A level equivalent course in June 2019. She attends college in the same town that I am living in. She has a boyfriend who lives in this town; and they have been together for two years. As my ex-wife has moved to another town, I believe that my daughter could be staying with her boyfriend at his parent’s house during the weekdays when she attends college and also works part time (sixteen hours per week) in one of the town’s shops. Given that my first daughter has £90k, and lives with her mother who has recently married her boyfriend and who both earn a combined salary in excess of £160k, I am not sure if I still need to continue making CM payments to my ex-wife. She insist
Blue - 6-Nov-18 @ 4:46 PM
HI I would like to ask you for help i have a child maintaince and father of my kids didnt paid for nearly 2years and he is working i let them know where does he work live Everything.I am constantly calling cma but they always telling me I have to wait for further action...its long process I am single mum.I am working partime.Please can z.you help me what should I do or where should I go...i would like to go to court but I am not sure is it worth it how long does it take and how much is it and is it any chance I can get to court for free.Sorry for my English still learning and please I apriciate any help.Many thanks Marie.
Marry - 6-Nov-18 @ 10:32 AM
My husband has a daughter who turned 18 oin March and is attending university.We thought our maintenance (court ordered) finished on 30 June 2018 as it says 17 years of age or full time education whichever is the latter.However, her mother has asked for an extension which was granted pending proof from the uni of a full time course.We’ve now had a letter from court ordering us to continue to pay £125 (same rate as before) until 2021 as it’s classed as full time education. This is quite frankly ridiculous.We had already spoken to his daughter about money and she has a) savings b) a grant c) is looking for a part time job. We agreed with her privately to put a certain amount away each month (when we could) for emergencies and this is what we have been doing since 1 August 2018 as we paid maintenance on 1 July 2018 as we weren’t sure when it ended.We also paid for other expenses for her such as student card etc Surely this isn't right.We've two other children together as well who need our financial support
lewis1711 - 5-Nov-18 @ 3:11 PM
I have had my son removed from the case ànd my payments have increased. WTF
Magik - 3-Nov-18 @ 8:38 PM
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