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A Guide to Child Maintenance Payments

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 13 Dec 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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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
Sorry light humour on the nick name but im wondering if i open a savings account for my son and paid 25 pound a week into it for when hes older would i still have to pay me ex partner money.
Robbie long slong ha - 2-Nov-18 @ 12:07 AM
@angrydad.i wouldn't no what its like to pay child support and don't intend to find out .my x would never do that to me[ she gave me a pass] because i was [young ]at the time .and she truly was unhappy with me so to make herselfhappy she told me she found a new father dad for her kids that truly loved her and wanted to pay and support her and the kids when she told me we cried and hugged and i said this is the best thing that could happened to us now we truly can be our own selfs .she is a gem my old ex not to many out there like her she was the best women to have a child with and play happy family with for couple of years good experience playing dad and hubby for a little bit should have broke up 3 years before the final break up that would have saved a lot of drama .but at the end of the day the arrangements we have is the best zero contact means zero fights means peaceful life .
chriso - 1-Nov-18 @ 7:37 PM
Been paying for my child for 13 years no problem even tho I’m on the bread line, barely afford to survive week by week, I rob Peter to pay Paul constantly but I get by its extremely stressful. My problem is the mum is in full time employment earning more than I do, her partner also full time employment earning more than me. How is it fair I still have to pay ? My child stays with me weekends, I buy her cloths, I give her everything she needs. She so cared for. Why do I still have to live like I do on the bread line, I’m surviving not living how can this be rite?
Angrydad - 1-Nov-18 @ 1:01 PM
Hello, a basic question...regarding child maintenance support, do the amounts calculated as per CSA guidelines set the minimum amount you have to pay, or they can be overruled by a joint agreement with the other party? Many thanks for the advice
LondonDad77 - 1-Nov-18 @ 12:26 PM
Any advice pls? Son's ex girlfriend has said she is pregnant (baby probably now born) and he is already paying maintenance for a child from a former relationship. Question is - how much will he have to pay for 2 children but from 2 different relationships? We can see on the website it says 16% of gross pay for 2 kiddies, but not sure this is exactly right if two different relationships. Wonder how is he ever going to get back on his feet.....
PJ - 31-Oct-18 @ 9:25 AM
I have two young children with my wife and we have a mortgage. I have a daughter with an ex partner who I provide for monthly but she is bitter and threatening to go to child maintenance even though I provide a lot for my daughter monthly and extra for things like uniform, jackets,shoes and clubs etc. I just want to know that if she was to go through the child maintenance route would my children in my new relationship and mortgage etc be taken into consideration? I give her a lot but nothing is ever good enough. I don’t like the thought of going down the route of child maintenance getting involved as I do right by my daughter and I don’t like things like court and so on as I’m a fair and amicable person but would like to know in advance that my family home life won’t be affected as my ex keeps using this as a threat. It’s making mine and my wife’s life a misery and it’s not fair on my daughter as her mother behaviour affects her.
Dan - 30-Oct-18 @ 11:45 PM
Hi needing advice please, my son lived with me from October last year until the end of May and went back to live with his mother right away she started claiming child maintenance which was fine. At the beginning of September she chucked our 13 year old out againto live with me and my wife so you would think that child maintenance would stop but know they keep taking money from me and arrears from when he lived with me as she was in receipt of child benefit and still is. I contacted child benefit and put in an application forum in this can take 8 weeksbut child maintenance is Still taking 466.00 every 4 weeks of us and it's left us completely skint. I have issued evidence to child maintenance of his new school as we live in a different district but this is not good enough it's only child benefit they can accept. It's so unfair we are so skint and it's not benefiting the children at all I have 10.00 left until I get paid in 5 days but will be skint again after bills and 466 to her. Please any advice would be great
Ally - 29-Oct-18 @ 7:44 AM
Hi can anyone tell me that my son who now lives with his grandmother should be recieving money for his upbringing by his mother? She has handed him to her mother as his legal guardian, i just dont think its right that i pay to bring him up and have never been allowed in his life yet she hands him over to her mother coz she couldnt handle him and doesnt pay to bring him up??
Jam - 25-Oct-18 @ 6:38 PM
If I'm going through the courts for contact, do I have to pay the mother maintainence still or can I put the money towards court proceedings without being help prosecutable
Husky47 - 23-Oct-18 @ 8:49 AM
it really bothers my ex that i live in a room share ?.i think its great cheap as chips lodging fee great companions to drink beer with and cover bills.do you no why i think it bothers her because i can't my daughter for over nights stays because i don't have spare room so she to drag the children along with her new husband on date night ?.i told her straight i need my weekends i am single how can i meet my future wife if i am stuck home babysitting ?doesntsounds fair to me .
chriso - 22-Oct-18 @ 11:49 PM
@chriso.i can afford pay child support l live in a friends garage .why my ex is living the high life she married rich man doctor and he is more then happy to pay my way he is gentleman and a scholar .and my ex and myself had a understanding when we spit up no money for no contract I have keeped my end off the deal up .she would never renege because she don’t want punch in face and I don’t want a restraining order on me so grow well child may you turn into well rounded productive member of society in the future .
Ren - 22-Oct-18 @ 9:47 PM
@sam.legally even if you are living with another chap as husband and wifey and told the bio father he get never see the kids because you don't like a punch face or kick in the kidney .he still has to pay if he is earning it is up to him to fight though court if he wants to see his children its just the way it is if he doesn't well speaks for it self enough said in my book .
chirso - 22-Oct-18 @ 8:12 PM
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