Home > Download Guides > A Guide to Child Maintenance Payments

A Guide to Child Maintenance Payments

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 30 Sep 2020 | 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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
If my son spends his time equally between his mother and myself,should I be paying maintenance? He has mentioned a number of times about living with me. At the moment his mothers niece (25 years old) is living with his mother. I have never missed a payment.
Paddy - 30-Sep-20 @ 8:52 PM
Hi, I haven’t seen my son for over 6 years :(. I have always paid maintenance. He is now over 18 and finished 6th form. I believe he is doing an apprenticeship. Do I need to carry on paying maintenance?
Beas - 30-Sep-20 @ 2:24 PM
Thanks for the laugh Christopher. I needed that and I wish I'd made the same deal with my drunk of an ex. I now work myself into an early grave so she can get wasted on CMS payments. Child is with me of course
Angry Ball - 25-Sep-20 @ 4:49 AM
Hi, bit of knowledge needed please. My ex has broken our informal agreement and now the cms are involved and it is criminal what they are going to take from me. My question is my child is at college but does less than 12 hours per week study, I believe this falls below the full time education criteria! Should this be taken into account and which way should it go, pay more or less? Before I start poking the bear I thought I'd be sure first. Cheers
sterlo - 22-Sep-20 @ 10:49 AM
My ex wife has turned my kids against me and after a year of going to court and costing me thousands she has not stuck to any court order and I can’t afford to take her back to court! And to top it off she is letting them use her surname! What can I do? I’m so stressed
GeraintO - 21-Sep-20 @ 8:13 PM
Can I stop paying as soon as my daughter is 20 even though she will continue in college?
Dave - 20-Sep-20 @ 8:36 AM
Do I still need to pay child maintenance for my child who is over 18 and will have an apprenticeship butstill going to college 1 day a week? As I've read that I have to pay until child maintenance until my child is 20?
gav-o - 19-Sep-20 @ 3:57 PM
My boyfriend and I both have kids and are a blended family. The amount of child support that is taken from him each week leaves him far less to even support himself. I on the other hand do not collect child support. In the even that we do get married and he adopts my kids, would we be able to request to lower his payments? Are we able to request that now? He is a great father who would love to have them full time and its frustrating to see all his hard working money go so fast.
Bri - 15-Sep-20 @ 2:30 AM
All I want now is my surname removed legally from her daughter .i just don't no how to get that done .she will be left nothing when I do die .(and i made it crystal clear they are not welcome at my funeral).(her mother better well explain that to her).she has her mother and her relativesthat's her family .she is not wanted bye myself or any of my famìly that's the gods truth .
Christopher - 11-Sep-20 @ 12:55 AM
I am fully( self aware) that I am not cut out for been a father .and now I am older and realise it was( wrong of me to have a child in the first place) .but in my defense I was only 22 at the time back then I couldn't even make my bed let alone been a father .thats why I was willing to sign parental rights over to her boyfriend he must have wanted a women with children and to take on a father role .i don't think it would have bothered the child at all she would have been happy about the idea .because I never spent any time with the child and now she has a father that spends time her she would happy.( I think I did the right thing for everybody ).
Christopher - 10-Sep-20 @ 11:49 PM
@valpster. I feel for you brother paying support would do my head in .but lucky for me I had a (old school deal with the child's mother) no support for no contact I was even willing to sign my parental rights over to her boyfriend. (Because I new deep inside of me I wasn't cut out for been a father ).i never really wanted children .but if they are married now and living the family life good for them .if they are in a abusive family I don't care its none of my business. Because I was 100 percent committed to the deal I had with child's mother .and one thing I will say about the mother even though I hate her .she keep her end of the deal up so I respect her for that .
Christopher - 10-Sep-20 @ 11:12 PM
I am in a relationship and so to is my ex. She has been with her partner for nearly ten years now and they are engaged and have been for 5 years or more. Do l still need to pay maintenance as my household suffers financially while her household benefits from my payments?
Valpster - 10-Sep-20 @ 9:09 PM
I’m paying for my 2 boys which is more than fine, I have a new partner who has a child who I am also supporting can this effect my payments ?
Wow3112 - 9-Sep-20 @ 11:17 PM
Hi My daughter has just finished school at the age of 16.. She’s wanting to do child care at collage do I have to continue paying child support as she isn’t studying A levels or doing further education ??
steve - 9-Sep-20 @ 4:31 PM
I'm in a very similar situation as A John who posted his comments on the 2nd of Sept 2020.My daughter turned 18 in January and as far as I know is now no longer in full time education. The CMS won't give me a date as to when I can stop my child support payments as my ex is telling them that my daughter is still studying. The CMS are asking ME to prove that this is not the case. Surely the responsibility of providing proof that my daughter is still in education should belong to my ex? To make matters worse, my 14 year old son who has been living with me for the past 5 years following a court order that was granted after my ex was proven to be emotionally abusing him, decided to stay with my ex "for a few weeks" without my consent back in April. Since then she has convinced him to stay with her and there seems there can be nothing I can do other than go back to court which I can't afford. To make that process more difficult for me, my ex has also put in a claim for child maintenance for him which it seems the CMS are going to uphold despite there being a court order in place. Surely if there's a court order and a child shouldn't be with that parent, the parent shouldn't be able to claim child maintenance!
MattD - 9-Sep-20 @ 9:02 AM
I'm in a very similar situation as A John who posted his comments on the 2nd of Sept 2020.My daughter turned 18 in January and as far as I know is now no longer in full time education. The CMS won't give me a date as to when I can stop my child support payments as my ex is telling them that my daughter is still studying. The CMS are asking ME to prove that this is not the case. Surely the responsibility of providing proof that my daughter is still in education should belong to my ex? To make matters worse, my 14 year old son who has been living with me for the past 5 years following a court order that was granted after my ex was proven to be emotionally abusing him, decided to stay with my ex "for a few weeks" without my consent back in April. Since then she has convinced him to stay with her and there seems there can be nothing I can do other than go back to court which I can't afford. To make that process more difficult for me, my ex has also put in a claim for child maintenance for him which it seems the CMS are going to uphold despite there being a court order in place. Surely if there's a court order and a child shouldn't be with that parent, the parent shouldn't be able to claim child maintenance!
MattD - 8-Sep-20 @ 9:57 PM
I'm in a very similar situation as A John who posted his comments on the 2nd of Sept 2020.My daughter turned 18 in January and as far as I know is now no longer in full time education. The CMS won't give me a date as to when I can stop my child support payments as my ex is telling them that my daughter is still studying. The CMS are asking ME to prove that this is not the case. Surely the responsibility of providing proof that my daughter is still in education should belong to my ex? To make matters worse, my 14 year old son who has been living with me for the past 5 years following a court order that was granted after my ex was proven to be emotionally abusing him, decided to stay with my ex "for a few weeks" without my consent back in April. Since then she has convinced him to stay with her and there seems there can be nothing I can do other than go back to court which I can't afford. To make that process more difficult for me, my ex has also put in a claim for child maintenance for him which it seems the CMS are going to uphold despite there being a court order in place. Surely if there's a court order and a child shouldn't be with that parent, the parent shouldn't be able to claim child maintenance!
MattD - 8-Sep-20 @ 5:51 PM
My daughter is 17, left college and is now working full time. Doing no study at all. do I still have to pay Maintenance for her? Can anyone help me as I cannot find an answer.
Ash - 2-Sep-20 @ 8:03 PM
My son is now 18 years old. Sadly for the last 9 years his mother has refused me any form of contact and so I am not aware of where he is in his education and whether my child support payments are now to finish. The only contact on this to try and get some answers is from the child maintenance service and I am never convinced they have as the paying parent my interests at heart. If I am in doubt as to the fact that he is in full time education and therefore requires me to continue paying child maintenance, am I allowed to request and see evidence of such. Sadly the mother of my son has been known to lie over the years to do with my son and so I know she will try and avoid providing evidence.
A John - 2-Sep-20 @ 10:42 AM
hi my daughter is 15 her mum has kicked her out shes now living with my ex mum and dad do i have to still pay my ex wife thanx
cheggs - 29-Aug-20 @ 9:32 PM
My daughter is nearly 19. Just finished full time education and about to stop maintenance payments . She is starting university And I Am being told by x that I need to carry on paying maintenance whilst at uni , as student loans grant not enough . Never was I consulted about income for grant to be issued . Daughter doesn’t talk or see me , whilst willing to make contributions to food / rent etc , am I expected to by law ?
Mc - 28-Aug-20 @ 4:39 PM
I pay child maintenance to my ex. I have since married. Does my new wife's earnings get taken into account when calculating child support payments?
Franklin - 27-Aug-20 @ 7:50 AM
I split from my partner in 2018. We have two children together aged 16 & 13. Since the breakup I have contributed various amounts each month despite either one or the other living with me on and off over the past 18 months. at present my son ( 16 year old ) lives with me full time and has done for almost a year. My ex partner is now threatening to get the CMS on me because , and I quote, she wants what she is owed !I question what she does with the money I transfer and I get abuse.Forgive me if I have this wrong, but CMS is meant to be towards the welfare of the children ? I will always do what is best for my kids but I am not prepared to roll over and pay, what apparently the government decides without proving I have contributed. My bank transfers will be testament to this. Maybe I should also mention that she is claiming Family Tax credits for two children, despite the fact that only one lives with her. Is there anything I can do to rectify this, because as per usual, the dads always seem to miss out, and all because I have a good job. Any advice would be appreciated.
Shaun - 26-Aug-20 @ 4:25 PM
I split from my partner in 2018. We have two children together aged 16 & 13. Since the breakup I have contributed various amounts each month despite either one or the other living with me on and off over the past 18 months. at present my son ( 16 year old ) lives with me full time and has done for almost a year. My ex partner is now threatening to get the CMS on me because , and I quote, she wants what she is owed !I question what she does with the money I transfer and I get abuse.Forgive me if I have this wrong, but CMS is meant to be towards the welfare of the children ? I will always do what is best for my kids but I am not prepared to roll over and pay, what apparently the government decides without proving I have contributed. My bank transfers will be testament to this. Maybe I should also mention that she is claiming Family Tax credits for two children, despite the fact that only one lives with her. Is there anything I can do to rectify this, because as per usual, the dads always seem to miss out, and all because I have a good job. Any advice would be appreciated.
Shaun - 26-Aug-20 @ 4:20 PM
My daughter is 16 she left school in summer to be honest last two years she hardly attended, she has now got into some sort of course with the school or careers office not 100% she has to go into school now and then for meetings and do stuff online at home I personally see this as a cop out on getting a job and bleed me dry , can anyone give me advice if I have to keep paying??
Robo2 - 23-Aug-20 @ 2:31 PM
Hi, i am paying maintenance for a 18 year old. Her mother has told the CM that i am renting a house out. I am renting a house or at least have a friend living there as more of a favour to them. I receive money which goes to pay mortgage but doesn’t fully cover the full amount. If i was to sell the house, i only keep it to keep a roof over my friend. If its going to cost me more in payments to my ex, i would rather sell. Would she be entitled to any profit from the sale of the house ?
Bob - 21-Aug-20 @ 9:12 PM
I get pregnant with my ex-boyfriend we have been together over two years then we break up and as we tried to make work out relationship again I got pregnant. He was clear about that he want me to go abortion and he don't want any kids and he don't want be involved in anything like that. I have decided to keep a baby. Do I have right to claim child support from him, as he is father of the baby?
Ivi - 20-Aug-20 @ 1:06 PM
Hi,my son starts an apprenticeship next month so would I be liable to make maintenance payments even though he will be getting paid?,thanks
Platty - 19-Aug-20 @ 1:14 PM
Hi my daughter is 17 been chucked out of her mums and now living with grand parents she is now looking for work and no longer in education what happens now with child maintenance
Joebloggs - 16-Aug-20 @ 11:55 PM
You have stated that on shared care that , If you share care equally, neither of you has to pay maintenance to each other . Is this fact as i had 50/50 custody and was still paying over £250 per month as they said its up to the case worker and who does the most washing and spends more on activities? Is this correct ?
Bogie - 14-Aug-20 @ 5:58 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments