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At What Age Do Child Maintenance Payments Stop?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 17 Feb 2020 | comments*Discuss
Child Maintenance Payments Education


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)


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
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]
Before I get shot down here, I'd just like to add that I have nothing against separate Dads as such. Most Dads help raise their children as they should and shared but separate parenting IS possible! I have been through that myself and my boys are now 15 and 18. Having said that, my older daughter's father suddenly disappeared when she was 4, leaving me to face it all on my own. I had to work 3 jobs, 80 hour weeks, just to afford to pay all the bills. Fathers should support their children, and if they cannot get contact with them, go to Family Court and get visitation! Where there is a will there is a way.
SusiD - 17-Feb-20 @ 5:49 AM
@ Laurie. I cannot believe that you think you should not be paying child support, just because you have not seen your child for a period of time and had no contact with the mother since 2008/2009. It's your child's right to be supported by both parents, and that includes YOU! Does your child stop eating when you don't pay?! What about clothing, school uniforms (£350-£450 per year), school trips and equipment, electricity, gas, water, bedroom furniture? What gives you the right to withhold those funds and force someone else to fulfil your moral and legal obligations?! And why should you start paying now? Really? Perhaps your child's mother's circumstances have changed and she now needs your help raising your child. I don't see anything wrong with that. In fact, you should count yourself lucky that she paid your portion of support in the previous 10 years herself rather than coming to you for it. People like you with so little sense of responsibility and obligation towards their own flesh and blood don't deserve to have children. I wonder who will look after you when you are old, you'll just be a sad, lonely old man.
SusiD - 17-Feb-20 @ 5:36 AM
My 17 yr old son has left education and is looking for work . Do I still have to pay maintenance for him till he’s either 18 or got a job ...
Mr G - 12-Feb-20 @ 10:28 PM
Hello I don't see my child but as of last week was 18. For how long do I pay csa and how do i know if my child is in education still as I have no contact thanks
Mat - 30-Jan-20 @ 1:05 PM
My daughter has done her a levels last and got results for uni she is doing higher at mo do I still pay maintance
Donk - 27-Jan-20 @ 11:27 PM
Ounce they are 16 you don't really have to pay,now IV paid upto 18and ounce he turns 18 in a few months time I am stopping to pay him,cos he's a adult and should therefore be earning his own wage.
Spider - 22-Jan-20 @ 4:12 PM
Don't know what to do my daughter turns 20 this year, and as fare as I know she is at college how ever I can not confirm this as I have no contact with her,i have tried talking to her on messenger with out success, have tried talking with her step sister who tells me she knows nothing of which I know is not true so I do not know if I still have to pay child support. is there a way I can find out if she is still at college or working or even on the dole would be very grateful for some advise on how to find out.
BAZZER - 19-Jan-20 @ 11:04 AM
My 17 year old son is at college 2 1/2 days a week, when he's not there he works at a local pub, do I still need to pay his mum maintenance Thanks
Stubbsy - 17-Jan-20 @ 6:41 AM
Hello can anyone advise please; we pay for three kids and one of them is 18 and studying a part time vocational course which includes some maths gcse work as she failed her maths twice. The maths is not 12 hours a week, I think the course itself is a 3 day one in her chosen vocation so not full time either. We have been paying more maintenance than the cms would tell us to and finally have said we are only going to pay for two kids from thsi month because not only is the 18 year old not in full time education with enough days free to get some work, she also does not live with mum anymore, she lives with her grandparents. Mum has said we cannot stop paying her because the girl is still doing maths as part of her course. Is this legitimate? Thanks
Wondering - 2-Jan-20 @ 9:30 AM
Hi, daughter is 21 and lives with a boyfriend. My son is 17 and still lives with his mother and her partner. He refuses to have contact with me after a big falling out regarding my new wife and the death of my 18 year old nephew. I’ve approached him to try and talk but he says he doesn’t want to know. I’m not even sure whether he attends college or whether he’s an apprentice. I had a mutual agreement with the children’s mother where I paid her maintenance. This changed when my daughter turned 18 when I suddenly received a letter from Child Maintenance Service for payment for son only. I don’t begrudge paying, but as from February 2020 they have upped my payments from £209 to £351 per month. They’ve informed me they are to take it directly from my wages. As far as I’m aware I only missed one payment but via my direct debit but actually gave my ex wife cash instead after bumping into her in a shop!! My son turns 18 in July, when does my maintenance payments cease?
PedroJ70 - 29-Dec-19 @ 10:57 AM
My sons children are 18and 15 the 18 year old son is living away from home on a four year cadetship can my son pay his share of maintenance directly to him. Does he have to pay maintenance for both of them until the 15 year old has left full time education?
Pamelaaaa - 26-Dec-19 @ 12:48 PM
I would like to no if my sons dad have to still pay child support when my son turns 16 yes old he be going to full time collage and suffers from autism he has very low grad
Cat - 22-Dec-19 @ 12:56 AM
@king billy.(you the men )I did the same I quit my (job) because I new this women was going to hit me (child support) she be (laughing )with her boyfriend or girlfriend( eating fish and chips on my money saying things taste better when they are free)I tell you (now) only one eating (fish and chips) on my money is (me ).i am a nice men so I would let her have the used up paper so her and her family can lick the salt from the paper.
Chris - 6-Dec-19 @ 10:23 PM
Hi folks my daughter is 17, turns 18 next June. She is no longer in any education and works part time, 16 hours a week. That's it.. I still pay £200 per month. I'm checking on here with any experienced individuals as my ex wife is not the most honest individual. I know that family allowance has ceased and thats about it.Should I still pay CMS
Mickus19 - 3-Dec-19 @ 8:27 PM
In the modern world now a lot off men are finding out they are not in fact the bio father with the (technology) we have now (DNA tests )are exposing the truth .i wonder how many fathers out there been robbed paying child support for years only to find out the mailman or milkmen is in fact the bio father ?.yeah sneaky sneaky slappers.i am blessed because I never had a child in reality I found out the truth I never needed the snip because I was born sterile it gave me the answer To why the mother never hit me child support .
C.laurie - 29-Nov-19 @ 9:27 PM
Hi. Depressing. Stuff. After 18 my boy got a part time job and goes to college on a full time course 10.5 hours per week joke l wanted to pay him directly my ex his mum gave me such a hard time over it l dont hear from either of them now money is such an ugly thing moneys paid and not thanked for may just stop makes me angry wish ld never had a child think twice before you bother.Recently had the snip... to gtee it never happening again tbh
Neil Harrison - 29-Nov-19 @ 12:27 PM
@jasonanddazza.i don’t pay child support or see the child .but if my daughter does go college it would be (good for her ).i don’t think anyone on my side off the family even finished high school .theres been a few that’s been to jail .so if she does go to college would be (good ).i don’t think I should pay child support I never have seen the child plus I broke up with childs mother in 08or09 I can’t remember.but it’s 2019 now why start now ?.
Laurie - 8-Nov-19 @ 12:52 AM
@jasssson.i am on a disabled pension I can’t afford to pay child support .
Daryl - 8-Nov-19 @ 12:16 AM
My son turns 20 this January and is due to finish college in September 2020 . I've just been to a meeting at college with my son and have been told if he doesn't get a university place he can apply for a new college place till he's 25 years old . I've paid child support from the first week me and my ex partner split and been happy to do so my question is after reading is will I need to keep paying if he goes to a new college
Jasssson - 7-Nov-19 @ 10:51 PM
@bye bye..this is “ toodle loo” that’s what I Said when i found out about all the cheating .my regret was my daughter not been smart enough to instruct at solicitor ASAP for full time custody .
Toodle loo - 4-Nov-19 @ 1:59 PM
My step son do not want to come round anymore he is nearly 17 and got a girl friend he is still at College couple days a week as he can’t get a job he used to come round Fridays Saturdays and go home Sunday evening every fortnight now he is saying he don’t want to come round as much do we have to pay more now he is not coming so much his dad says it’s not his fault as he still says he can come
Bye bye - 4-Nov-19 @ 11:25 AM
good morning advice, a friend of mine is paying for his daughter, who is 16 and has left home for 12 weeks to work in a government funded training course which is 24/7; whilst she is away my friend is still having to pay her mother maintenance.The childs mother does not have to pay anything towards the course and is being paid in case the daughter might decide to come home... this does not seem fair
pringle - 4-Nov-19 @ 11:02 AM
Just so we are on the same page .(apparently )this child was (raped )it’s most likely attention seeking or lies so I would do something about it ?.if in fact the child was raped it’s none off my (business) it’s not (my fight in reality )I have been absent for over 10 years( literally)what do you want me do ?.anyone with (common sense would go to the police ).and her mother never had problem calling the police on me so I know she knows the number she had it on speed dial years go.i personally thinkit’s from her mothers upbringing that’s why she got herself in that situation .who cares now get step daddy beat his chest .Or get the police .
C.laurie - 1-Nov-19 @ 3:37 AM
I just want to (stress )this to the mother off my child .(in hope she reads this) if I catch her at the( cricket nets )again Or following me ).if she thinks my (temper) was off the (richter scale )years ago .it will be a lot (worse )this time around gods truth and I don’t want to go to jail but I am not (scared off jail gods truth)so just leave me (alone ).You can have your (daughter) and be with whoever you want .i will respect your (privacy) but you must respect (mine ).and if your (boyfriend) ever calls me again there will be (trouble) .our situation is going to be like timmys (gods truth ).(except it )
C.laurie - 31-Oct-19 @ 10:35 PM
This is my final post( gods truth) .if the mother off my child reads this( I hope) she does .i want to tell her to (stay away) from me (forever ).i will never talk to (her )again (gods truth ).now her daughter is 14 or 15 and I haven’t had contact sence she was (5 )and there will be no (court action )for (visitation) so I really want my surname (removed) from her daughter( gods truth).and just a (heads up )to her mother if I catch her at the (cricket nets )again there will be (trouble )I thought she was (smarter) then that .dont make it that (easy for me )she will no what I (mean )bye that .and if boyfriend ever calls me again (I will come )for both off them (gods truth) .he can have her daughter and the mother you will get no (fight) from me .
C .laurie - 31-Oct-19 @ 10:06 PM
@rick.i am the same us you I don’t see my daughter .i can’t answer your question about child support because I never paid it .but from the research I have done I think. You still have to pay to 18 .I think it (sucks)browhen you don’t see him .then us men have to (pay a solicitor go to court )just to see our children .and in my experience my child mother was a (unpaid prostitute) and what gets my back up I am the one that’s has to go to court to see my daughter .(I wouldn’t leave my dog with women She would end up molesting him gods truth this women is a freak .That’s why she never hit me child support (guilt) .and moved miles away with my daughter she 100 percent successful severed the bond I had with my daughter with orders to keep me away why she played happy familys with jobless drug addicted fool .
C.laurie - 30-Oct-19 @ 11:35 PM
I dont see my son. He is 14 and is kept at home and with no education in place. Am I still liable for child support?
Rick - 30-Oct-19 @ 7:16 PM
My daughter is 13 turns 14 in may... am I correct in thinking I have 54 more payments left until I stop unless.... she has a baby, gets a job or leaves home? I sound harsh but I dont feel my wages go towards my daughter they go towards her mothers other 5 children more which are not mine.
Mattu - 28-Oct-19 @ 8:25 AM
I have a consent order in place after a divore and it states maintenance to finish when my daughter reaches 18 but got my ex sending letters to me asking for money to finish when she reaches 21. Can she do this
matty - 28-Oct-19 @ 7:02 AM
I have a son who is 16.5 years old. Finished school but at Uni 2.5 days pw, should I still be paying maintenance? Looks as though may come down to the 2.5 days being classed as FT or PT?
Help - 26-Oct-19 @ 6:53 AM
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