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At What Age Do Child Maintenance Payments Stop?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 15 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Child Maintenance Payments Education

Q.

Can you please tell me at what age do payments actually stop for child maintenance? My daughter has turned 16 but is looking to go to 6th form.

(R.B, 20 April 2009)

A.

If you would like to read about Child Support Payments in more detail then take a look at our Child Support Guide, where the subject is covered in more detail along with a free downloadable guide and letter templates. So maybe take a look at our Child Support Guide.

Your Basic Responsibility

Every parent has the basic responsibility to provide for their child up until the age of 16, when they are legally allowed to leave school and get a job. After this age, it depends what your child chooses to do. If they continue in full-time non-advanced education (see below for information about the new school/education leaving age rules), not higher than A-level equivalent, for at least 12 hours a week, then your maintenance payments will continue until your child finishes or until they turn 20.

Law Change in 2013 - Leaving School/Education Age is Raised to 18!

In 2013 the law changed, making it compulsory for all UK children to continue in some kind of further education until the age of 18 (that is the end of the school year in which they turn 18). This is not necessarily a full time college course - it can be an apprenticeship or full time employment (over 20 hours a week) that includes some education or training.

There are certain higher education courses, such as apprenticeships, that do not count as full-time education, so it is important that you check with the CSA/CMS.

If your daughter changes her mind and decides that she wants to get a job and not continue in full-time education - which includes studying for 12 hours or more a week - then your payments would end in the September after her final school term. If they have officially come to an end, you may still want to continue supporting your child.

What if You Want to Continue Support?

At this stage it will be your choice about how much you pay and also in what way. You will no longer have to pay the money to your ex and may consider helping your child in other ways. Even after they have left school it is important to be supportive, both financially and emotionally, as they find their feet in the adult world.

Higher Education

If your child is planning on attending university then they can apply to the courts for maintenance from the non resident parent. The courts do have the power to extend child maintenance to cover the duration of higher education if the non resident parent has the ability to cover the costs.

The courts will consider the genuine needs of the child for support and even if student loans are available the court may still rule that the non resident parent must pay. For more information about this you should contact a family law solicitor, most offer free 20 minute consultations.

More About Child Maintenance Payments

Child maintenance payments are put in place to make sure that both parents are paying to support the upbringing of their child. This may be agreed privately between the parents, but more often is calculated by the Child Maintenance Service (formerly CSA). If you apply for any benefits, you may find that a claim is automatically made with CMS to obtain payment from the other parent.

The non-resident parent will have to pay an agreed percentage of their monthly income to the resident parent who is responsible for the everyday care of the child.

Joint Residency

If there is Joint Residency or the non-resident parent looks after the child for a number of days each week, then this will reduce the payments.

If the child stays over night with the non resident parent on average at least one night a week, this is classed as shared care. In this case maintenance can be reduced as long as the basic rate or reduced rate is being used. For each night the child stays with the non resident parent overnight the weekly maintenance amount is reduce by 1/7th.

Further Reading

For more information on child maintenance payments have a read through our articles on:

Child Support Payments
and
Working With the CSA/CMS on Support Payments.

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]
galls1975 - Your Question:
I have been paying child maintenance since my child was 4 when the csa contacted me. Never missed a payment. But I believe they back date arrears. She is now 22 and left full time education at 17 when she droped out of six form. I am still being charged monthly out of my salary. I was surprised to find that the csa have sent an order to my employers to deduct money until april 2018 when she will be 23.

Our Response:
If you didn't ask permission from CSA to drop payments (if your daughter dropped out of college), then money can still be deducted (if your child's mother was in receipt of child benefit at the time). Child benefit and child maintenance run parallel, meaning if your ex was eligible for child benefit, then she was also still eligible to receive child maintenance, regardless of whether your daughter was attending college or not. It would have been up to CSA to decide when child maintenance payments should stop.
SeparatedDads - 16-Nov-17 @ 12:18 PM
I have been paying child maintenance since my child was 4 when the csa contacted me. Never missed a payment. But I believe they back date arrears. She is now 22 and left full time education at 17 when she droped out of six form. I am still being charged monthly out of my salary. I was surprised to find that the csa have sent an order to my employers to deduct money until april 2018 when she will be 23.
galls1975 - 15-Nov-17 @ 7:18 PM
Maureen - Your Question:
My partner's son dropped out of college after a row with his mother in March this year and came to live with us (uninvited - he just turned up). My partner had voluntarily paid maintenance of £76 a week to his mother up to this point, which obviously stopped when he came to live with us. He was 16 at that point, but turned 17 in June. We made him find full-time employment, and within 5 weeks he had done so, earning £200 a week. His mother did not pay a penny towards his keep while he was with us (i.e. over 6 months), and neither did he despite his earning capacity (this latter not being his mother's fault, I realise). His behaviour over time became untenable and last month I told him to leave and go back to his mother's after he assaulted and threatened me in my own home. He's now living with his mother again. We know from conversations he has had with his brother and my partner that he has not re-enrolled at college or gone into training of any kind, and is lying around all day playing computer games and watching television. In any case his college would not have him back as he very rarely attended before he dropped out and he isn't academically gifted, having no qualifications whatsoever and no realistic prospect of gaining any. However his mother is trying to claim he is now back at college full-time and my partner therefore has to pay maintenance. We don't see why he should - his son categorically is not in training or education of any kind, and he could easily have kept the relatively well-paid, full-time permanent job we found for him but he made the choice to leave work and lie around all day instead. Is my partner really obliged to pay anything under these circumstances? He is not an irresponsible parent but we feel he is being taken advantage of. Grateful for any advice.

Our Response:
Unfortunately, CMS does not look at the reasons behind each case. If your partner's son is enrolled in college (regardless of his attendence record) and his mother is claiming child benefit, then your partner will be eligible to once again pay child maintenance until his son finishes the course.
SeparatedDads - 14-Nov-17 @ 12:32 PM
My partner's son dropped out of college after a row with his mother in March this year and came to live with us (uninvited - he just turned up). My partner had voluntarily paid maintenance of £76 a week to his mother up to this point, which obviously stopped when he came to live with us. He was 16 at that point, but turned 17 in June. We made him find full-time employment, and within 5 weeks he had done so, earning £200 a week. His mother did not pay a penny towards his keep while he was with us (i.e. over 6 months), and neither did he despite his earning capacity (this latter not being his mother's fault, I realise). His behaviour over time became untenable and last month I told him to leave and go back to his mother's after he assaulted and threatened me in my own home. He's now living with his mother again. We know from conversations he has had with his brother and my partner that he has not re-enrolled at college or gone into training of any kind, and is lying around all day playing computer games and watching television. In any case his college would not have him back as he very rarely attended before he dropped out and he isn't academically gifted, having no qualifications whatsoever and no realistic prospect of gaining any. However his mother is trying to claim he is now back at college full-time and my partner therefore has to pay maintenance. We don't see why he should - his son categorically is not in training or education of any kind, and he could easily have kept the relatively well-paid, full-time permanent job we found for him but he made the choice to leave work and lie around all day instead. Is my partner really obliged to pay anything under these circumstances? He is not an irresponsible parent but we feel he is being taken advantage of. Grateful for any advice.
Maureen - 13-Nov-17 @ 9:52 AM
dave - Your Question:
Hi peeps - Ive scrolled through the above but dont have an answer yet, My 2 daughters (19 & 20) are both at Uni.I pay approx 25% of my salary in maintenance.If I wanted to, when could I legally stop making payments.??Thanks

Our Response:
Yes, unless a court has ordered you otherwise. Child maintenance payments generally end when child benefit does, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 10-Nov-17 @ 12:46 PM
Annoyed Mom- Your Question:
I have been divorced for more than 13 years, my X paid me £200 per month and has done for about 10 of those 13 years not through the CSA just agreed between ourselves, My child turned 18 in the summer, has now has gone to university that is away from home as its miles away and for the first time in November he has refused to pay me any maintenance. I pay more than double that for clothes, food, petrol and university equipment. I have also saved to help pay towards the first year living expenses and not asked him for a penny or for anything for University (which all adds up) He has just got re-married and I thought he would just continue to support through UNI - But reading the comments it doesn't look like he has to pay anything - any advise. I work full time so do not receive any benefits, but I am annoyed that he just doesn't seem to want to support his child.

Our Response:
In theory, your child's father is only obligated to pay to support your child until your child finishes full-time education to A-Level (or equivalent), as are you, as this is when parental responsibility ends. However, you have chosen to continue to support your child and your child's father not. In certain circumstances a court does have the power to opt to extend child maintenance to the end of the child’s university degree if the child is genuinely in need of financial help. The court considers each case individually and will look at your child’s financial needs, plus both parents’ ability to pay. You could suggest attending mediation with your ex in order to try to come to a resolution. However, if he refuses, you will be able to apply to court. Approaching CMS may help too, as it may have some jurisdiction to request that child maintenance continues.
SeparatedDads - 10-Nov-17 @ 12:06 PM
Hi peeps - Ive scrolled through the above but dont have an answer yet, My 2 daughters (19 & 20) are both at Uni. I pay approx 25% of my salary in maintenance. If I wanted to, when could I legally stop making payments.?? Thanks
dave - 9-Nov-17 @ 7:35 PM
Joshie - Your Question:
My son is 19 and is at college. He was doing 3 days per week from Sept 2017 but from Oct 2017 now only does 1 day per week for 3:45 hours. He has mild Aspergers, (though I have never seen an official diagnoses even though having asked his mother numerous times) and attends a college to help him get some GCSE's as well as doing social skills even though he does not seem to bother to take part in those. He had previously attended a college in Sept 2015 only to drop out in January 2016 but I was not informed of this until April 2016. He then did nothing except play on his computer game console until the early hours of the morning until Sept 2016 when he started this new college. He did attend for that school year but since going back this Sept he has now changed subjects and is doing an AAT course I day per week and I cannot see this increasing. I have paid for my son every month since he was born and have never missed a payment but I feel that my son and his mother, who is now remarried and her husband has two businesses, should now stand on his own two feet do I have to continue to pay and if I do when can I stop as I can see him being a student for the rest of his life.

Our Response:
Are you paying via a family-based arrangement? If so you are free to stop paying. If you are paying via CMS, and your son's mother is still in receipt of child benefit, then you would need to keep paying. However, his course should fall into one outlined in the link here, in order for you to still be eligible to pay. If it doesn't, then you theoretically wouldn't need to pay. But if you are paying via CMS, then this would need to be verified with CMS directly.
SeparatedDads - 9-Nov-17 @ 2:49 PM
My son is 19 and is at college. He was doing 3 days per week from Sept 2017 but from Oct 2017 now only does 1 day per week for 3:45 hours. He has mild Aspergers, (though I have never seen an official diagnoses even though having asked his mother numerous times) and attends a college to help him get some GCSE's as well as doing social skills even though he does not seem to bother to take part in those. He had previously attended a college in Sept 2015 only to drop out in January 2016 but I was not informed of this until April 2016. He then did nothing except play on his computer game console until the early hours of the morning until Sept 2016 when he started this new college. He did attend for that school year but since going back this Sept he has now changed subjects and is doing an AAT course I day per week and I cannot see this increasing. I have paid for my son every month since he was bornand have never missed a payment but I feel that my son and his mother, who is now remarried and her husband has two businesses, should now stand on his own two feet do I have to continue to pay and if I do when can I stop as I can see him being a student for the rest of his life..
Joshie - 7-Nov-17 @ 8:26 PM
I have been divorced for more than 13 years, my X paid me £200 per month and has done for about 10 of those 13 years not through the CSA just agreed between ourselves, My child turned 18 in the summer, has now has gone to university that is away from home as its miles away and for the first time in November he has refused to pay me any maintenance. I pay more than double that for clothes, food, petrol and university equipment.I have also saved to help pay towards the first year living expenses and not asked him for a penny or for anything for University (which all adds up) He has just got re-married and i thought he would just continue to support through UNI - But reading the comments it doesn't look like he has to pay anything - any advise. I work full time so do not receive any benefits, but i am annoyed that he just doesn't seem to want to support his child.
Annoyed Mom - 7-Nov-17 @ 2:17 PM
@Smithy - If your son's other parent is still in receipt of child benefit, then you would have to still have to pay until his child benefit stops.
GeorgEU - 7-Nov-17 @ 1:43 PM
Ceg - Your Question:
When does csa stop. My son finishes collage in june. He will be 18 middle of june. Or can my ex still recieve csa?

Our Response:
If your son finishes college in June after A-Levels (or the equivalent), then payments should stop on August 31, which is the official end of the school year.
SeparatedDads - 6-Nov-17 @ 2:59 PM
Tracey - Your Question:
Hi I had to take my son out of school due to being fined, he is 16 this week and his dad said he is stopping child maintenance this month due to him being out of school and 16, after a bit of advice please, as he technically had this school year left in education.

Our Response:
If you are eligible to receive child benefit, and your ex pays child maintenance via CMS, then your ex will have to continue paying child maintenance. Once child benefit stops, then your ex can officially stop paying. However, if you are in a family-based arrangement your ex can refuse to pay child maintenance and you would have to attempt to resolve this issue, or apply directly to CMS.
SeparatedDads - 6-Nov-17 @ 12:20 PM
When does csa stop. My son finishes collage in june.He will be 18middle of june.Or can my ex still recieve csa?
Ceg - 6-Nov-17 @ 8:18 AM
Hi I had to take my son out of school due to being fined, he is 16 this week and his dad said he is stopping child maintenance this month due to him being out of school and 16, after a bit of advice please,as he technically had this school year left in education.
Tracey - 4-Nov-17 @ 4:51 PM
My son is 17 not at school or collage he is doing nothing! Do I still pay?
Smithy - 4-Nov-17 @ 9:19 AM
Pl - Your Question:
My son is 17 and a half years old and has been in full time employment since leaving schoose, my ex partner has been claiming CM from me despite my son being in full time employment, is she committing fraud by making a false declaration ?

Our Response:
Yes, if your son is not eligible to receive child benefit as laid out here , then you should not be paying child maintenance and your wife is claiming fraudulently.
SeparatedDads - 3-Nov-17 @ 3:46 PM
Aldrick - Your Question:
I understand your frustration with this. My ex has told child benefit that my son is doing a level 3 but in actual fact he is doing a level 4. If you are studying level 4 and above the child is not entitled to child maintenance. However I do not mind paying for my son but his mum sits on her backside all day and rakes in a whooping £360 per month from me. Doesn't give my son anything at all. In fact my son no longer lives with her, he actually lives with my mum but she continues to lie to the child benefit office so that the child maintenance payments continue.

Our Response:
If you can gain evidence from the college your son is not eligible for child maintenance or child benefit, please see link here , then presenting this to CMS should mean that both child benefit and child maintenance should stop. If you wish to continue to support your son, you can pay him directly.
SeparatedDads - 3-Nov-17 @ 3:06 PM
My son is 17 and a half years old and has been in full time employment since leaving schoose,my ex partner has been claiming CM from me despite my son being in full time employment, is she committing fraud by making a false declaration ?
Pl - 3-Nov-17 @ 12:07 PM
Fsw - Your Question:
My son is 18 in January, he has left education and is already in full time work, but I've been told I still have to pay!!! There must be something wrong here??

Our Response:
Do you have arrears? Or is his other parent still in receipt of child benefit? As child maintenance falls in line with child benefit, 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). Asking CMS directly why your payments are being extended may help answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 3-Nov-17 @ 12:06 PM
I understand your frustration with this.My ex has told child benefit that my son is doing a level 3 but in actual fact he is doing a level 4.If you are studying level 4 and above the child is not entitled to child maintenance.However I do not mind paying for my son but his mum sits on her backside all day and rakes in a whooping £360 per month from me.Doesn't give my son anything at all.In fact my son no longer lives with her, he actually lives with my mum but she continues to lie to the child benefit office so that the child maintenance payments continue.
Aldrick - 3-Nov-17 @ 10:03 AM
My son is 18 in January, he has left education and is already in full time work, but I've been told I still have to pay!!! There must be something wrong here??
Fsw - 2-Nov-17 @ 7:31 PM
Rick - Your Question:
My daughter is 15 and hasn't attended school in the last year. I pay my daughter direct through the cms. Should I still pay as she isn't in full time education? I was wondering if I could use this as a lever to try to persuade her back into full time education ? Any help on the matter would be greatly appreciated.

Our Response:
You would still have to continue paying in this case, as your daughter is too young to leave full-time education voluntarily. Therefore, you are still responsible by law for paying towards her day-to-day upkeep.
SeparatedDads - 2-Nov-17 @ 3:49 PM
Coolz - Your Question:
Does anyone know if a student have to pay for child maintenance?

Our Response:
If you are not paying tax via HMRC, then you would not have to pay child maintenance. Nil rate means the paying parent pays no child maintenance because they are a student, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 2-Nov-17 @ 1:41 PM
Does anyone know if a student have to pay for child maintenance?
Coolz - 1-Nov-17 @ 9:23 AM
My daughter is 15 and hasn't attended school in the last year. I pay my daughter direct through the cms. Should I still pay as she isn't in full time education? I was wondering if I could use this as a lever to try to persuade her back into full time education ? Any help on the matter would be greatly appreciated.
Rick - 31-Oct-17 @ 8:29 PM
DB - Your Question:
Just a little clarification really as the CMS aren't ever really that helpful for the father. Don't got there! My daughter will be going off to university in September next year, placement pretty much secured. A little premature to ask this but want to know where I stand. Her birthday is in January when she will turn 18, she will leave college with 3 A-Levels in June. At what point in this process do I stop paying child maintenance? June when she walks out of college for the last time? Or September when she starts University? Few months difference so want to make sure I get it right as her Mother is non communicative.

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 after she leaves college, usually August 31). It runs in line with when child benefit stops, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 31-Oct-17 @ 12:00 PM
Just a little clarification really as the CMS aren't ever really that helpful for the father.Don't got there! My daughter will be going off to university in September next year, placement pretty much secured.A little premature to ask this but want to know where I stand.Her birthday is in January when she will turn 18, she will leave college with 3 A-Levels in June.At what point in this process do I stop paying child maintenance? June when she walks out of college for the last time?Or September when she starts University?Few months difference so want to make sure I get it right as her Mother is non communicative.
DB - 30-Oct-17 @ 9:36 AM
I have 2 sons with my ex wife one lives with me and the other with her. As I work I have to pay £63 a week and as she’s on benefit I only receive £7 a week but hasnt paid for 7 weeks now My eldest son who lives with my ex is 17 and attends college 3 days a week to do a kart mechanic course which has no qualification at the end of it and will be 18 in March if he’s still at college after he turns 18 do I still have to pay child maintenance
Sparky - 26-Oct-17 @ 6:20 PM
My daughter has started university in September away from home.She resides with my x wife as we are now divorced.Csa payments were in place but stopped when my daughter started uni. Recently i have been summoned to court by my daughter for the collection of adult child maintenance to cover uni costs.Does anyone know or have any experience with this procedure.I paid over £300 for csa payments and was wondering if this adult child maintenance will be as much or less than previous csa.My daughter has a full grant in place and a bursary.......
Stann - 24-Oct-17 @ 10:45 AM
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