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At What Age Do Child Maintenance Payments Stop?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 15 Jul 2018 | 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]
If I pay child maintenance to my ex and my child is almost 19 what happens if the child is working over 30 hours per week? My child is still at college but is unsure whether to do the second year at college and has now finished until September. If she decides not to return will the maintenance payments stop on 31st August? It seems unfair that I'm paying so much per month when she is working almost full time in the holidays and earning probably close to what I am. Never begrudged paying for my child but it annoys me to be paying my ex to sit on her backside at home whilst my child works almost full time.
Frustrated - 15-Jul-18 @ 9:00 PM
Hello my son has finished college but I am still receiving child benefit for him until the end of August 2018 does my ex still have to pay maintenance for him whilst I receive child benefits. Thank you
Louise - 14-Jul-18 @ 10:35 AM
Hello, my son turns 18 this year and is going to college to do level 3 engineering. The course is 3 days a week, do i pay full or part maintenance from then?
Justasking - 13-Jul-18 @ 7:02 PM
Leesloe - Your Question:
My daughter is repeating sixth form if she fails her A levels. She is 18. If she passes and goes to uni to do teacher training to I continue to pay cm til she's 20?

Our Response:
As child maintenance goes hand-in-hand with when child benefit stops being paid to the receiving parent. As stated in the article, if they continue in full-time non-advanced education 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. Therefore, if your daughter has comepleted her A-Levels then child maintenance should end, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 12-Jul-18 @ 2:49 PM
My daughter is repeating sixth form if she fails her A levels. She is 18. If she passes and goes to uni to do teacher training to I continue to pay cm til she's 20?
Leesloe - 11-Jul-18 @ 9:02 PM
Flyer2000 - Your Question:
My daughter has recently finished her "A" levels and is awaiting her results. She is preferring to go to University but thinks she has failed or performed badly in her exams.She is already considering working part time and resitting the exams through college resit courses, night school or private tuition. Does this qualify as full time education? Do I still have to make maintenance payments to her Mother if this is the case?If not, when is my last payment considering that I pay through standing order on the first of the month. Please advise.

Our Response:
If your child passes her exams and decides to go to university, then payments will stop at the end of February, 31 May, 31 August or 30 November (whichever comes first). When young people leave in the summer term the last payment is August 31. If your daughter fails and goes back to re-sit then child maintenance payments continue as long as child benefit payments do. When child benefit eligibility stops, so will your payments. The list of approved education course can be found here.
SeparatedDads - 10-Jul-18 @ 12:05 PM
Kev537g - Your Question:
Hi, my daughter has just finished her level 3 in business and now going on to do level 4Do I still pay cm if she does her level 4Many thanks

Our Response:
You can see the list of what is classed as government approved education via the link here .
SeparatedDads - 10-Jul-18 @ 10:57 AM
My daughter has recently finished her "A" levels and is awaiting her results. She is preferring to go to University but thinks she has failed or performed badly in her exams. She is already considering working part time and resitting the exams through college resit courses, night school or private tuition. Does this qualify as full time education? Do I still have to make maintenance payments to her Mother if this is the case? If not, when is my last payment considering that I pay through standing order on the first of the month. Please advise.
Flyer2000 - 9-Jul-18 @ 9:12 PM
Hi, my daughter has just finished her level 3 in business and now going on to do level 4 Do I still pay cm if she does her level 4 Many thanks
Kev537g - 9-Jul-18 @ 12:54 PM
Goonie - Your Question:
Hi my daughter has left school now but has decided to goto 6th form. She spends the same amount of time with me as my ex. Can I stop my maintenance payment to my ex and support my daughter a little bit more. Thanks Goonie.

Our Response:
Unless you have a family-based child maintenance agreement and your ex agrees to the change, then you would have to continue to pay as you do currently until your child leaves full-time education.
SeparatedDads - 9-Jul-18 @ 11:14 AM
@ goonie .i think if you got 50 50 shared care you don’t have to pay .is that court ordered 50 50 that you have ?.if it is I think you could stop payments and I think ifthe child is still in education you have to pay up to the age 18 or 20 .
Laurie - 8-Jul-18 @ 6:09 PM
Hi my daughter has left school now but has decided to goto 6th form. She spends the same amount of time with me as my ex. Can I stop my maintenance payment to my ex and support my daughter a little bit more. Thanks Goonie.
Goonie - 8-Jul-18 @ 3:49 PM
Mike73 - Your Question:
Hi guys just after some advice please.I have two sons from my former marriage.Aged 18 & 15.The 18 yr old has just left 6th form after exams and is waiting to start uni in Sept.Do I stop paying for him now been as though he's officially left school or do I have to pay up until he starts uni.I presume you don't pay for him at uni? My ex has got in touch with the csa even though I pay her via standing order every week.We've been split up since they were 4&2 and I've always paid her.However up until recently they've always stayed with me overnight but after losing a rental house I had and with them being older,they tend to not want to stay overnight lately.With that in mind I now think she wants more money.under the new guidelines I would have to pay the csa 20% on top of any payments.Last question , on the cover letter I received today from the csa,it states that I earned 35grand last year and my payments bases on this amount are 5600 but my gross pay has ñloafs of overtime and treble time for bank holidays.Which stops this monf

Our Response:
When your child leaves approved education or training (at A'Level or equivalent), payments will stop at the end of February, 31 May, 31 August or 30 November (whichever comes first). You do not have to pay at university level. However, if your child needs funding then helping them directly is an option. Additionally, the non-resident parent can apply to court under certain circumstances to extend child maintenance payments. As your child maintenance is assessed from the previous year's earnings, if you earned more last year (including overtime) then the following year's payment would be assessed on your gross earning including bonuses and overtime etc.
SeparatedDads - 3-Jul-18 @ 1:52 PM
Bob - Your Question:
My child has completed his GCSEs and has managed to secure an apprenticeship am I right in thinking that my CM finishes as he will be doing 1 x day a week in college and the rest working and getting paid? If this is the case how do I find out will the CMS contact me or do I need to contact them as I know the ex will not tell the truth to me. Also Along with this the ex wife has asked me to up the other child’s maintenance as she is struggling. also using the children as a weapon. stating that I would need to provide more for the youngest ie clothes, hobby equipment etc. don’t get me wrong I don’t mind helping the kids direct but envy them going through her. to get to me.

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). If your child is earning money through an apprenticeship and you are paying via CMS, then child maintenance will automatically stop on Aug 31. If you pay more for your other child than CMS has assessed you should pay, it is at your discretion.
SeparatedDads - 3-Jul-18 @ 1:42 PM
Mick - Your Question:
My daughter went to 6th form college and has now left and is working full time. (She is also 18). My ex wife thinks I have to.keep paying child maintenance until the end of August. I haven't got a problem paying for my daughter, just wondering where I actually stand as the court order stated when the childfreaches 18 or f8nishes full time education whichever is later.Surely if she is working full time (and not studying ), then child maintenance stops.?

Our Response:
As a rule, when your child leaves approved education or training, payments stop at the end of February, 31 May, 31 August or 30 November (whichever comes first). Your payments continue until eligibility for the resident parent to claim child benefit stops, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 3-Jul-18 @ 11:53 AM
Rob - Your Question:
HiMy son is 16 and left school last September, did nothing and joined the Navy in March, then left in April and now can’t get a job, or join a college course. My daughter just finished her degree. I have been paying thenagreed sum up until now, but don’t see why I should continue. What is the legality of this situation?

Our Response:
You do not have to continue to pay for your daughter. If your son's other parent is eligible to receive child benefit for him, then you should continue to pay child maintenance until child benefit payment eligibility stops. However, much depends upon whether you have a family-based arrangement or not. If you do, then you decide between you and your ex when to stop. If you have an agreement through CMS then CMS will inform you when to stop.
SeparatedDads - 3-Jul-18 @ 11:50 AM
Hi guys just after some advice please.I have two sons from my former marriage.Aged 18 & 15.The 18 yr old has just left 6th form after exams and is waiting to start uni in Sept.Do I stop paying for him now been as though he's officially left school or do I have to pay up until he starts uni.I presume you don't pay for him at uni? My ex has got in touch with the csa even though I pay her via standing order every week .We've been split up since they were 4&2 and I've always paid her.However up until recently they've always stayed with me overnight but after losing a rental house I had and with them being older,they tend to not want to stay overnight lately.With that in mind I now think she wants more money..under the new guidelines I would have to pay the csa 20% on top of any payments .Last question , on the cover letter I received today from the csa,it states that I earned 35grand last year and my payments bases on this amount are 5600 but my gross pay has ñloafs of overtime and treble time for bank holidays .Which stops this monf
Mike73 - 2-Jul-18 @ 11:17 PM
My child has completed his GCSEs and has managed to secure an apprenticeship am I right in thinking that my CMfinishes as he will be doing 1 x day a week in college and the rest working and getting paid?If this is the case how do I find out will the CMS contact me or do I need to contact them as I know the ex will not tell the truth to me... Also Along with this the ex wife has asked me to up the other child’s maintenance as she is struggling... also using the children as a weapon... stating that I would need to provide more for the youngest ie clothes, hobby equipment etc... don’t get me wrong I don’t mind helping the kids direct but envy them going through her... to get to me...
Bob - 2-Jul-18 @ 11:05 PM
My daughter went to 6th form college and has now left and is working full time. (She is also 18). My ex wife thinks I have to.keep paying child maintenance until the end of August. I haven't got a problem paying for my daughter, just wondering where I actually stand as the court order stated when the childfreaches 18 or f8nishes full time education whichever is later. Surely if she is working full time (and not studying ), then child maintenance stops.?
Mick - 2-Jul-18 @ 8:10 PM
Hi My son is 16 and left school last September, did nothing and joined the Navy in March, then left in April and now can’t get a job, or join a college course. My daughter just finished her degree. I have been paying thenagreed sum up until now, but don’t see why I should continue. What is the legality of this situation?
Rob - 2-Jul-18 @ 7:58 PM
@Claire - yes. there is actually no excuse for kids to still be doing a-levels at 20 and getting child benefit. It's another way of keeping our kids children for longer and unfair of us having to fork out for child benefit and for dads to still be paying for their kids when their kids are quite clearly adults.
MaV - 2-Jul-18 @ 3:16 PM
My son is 17 and dropped out of school last November. I separated from my husband in May this year. My son is starting a diploma level 1 in contruction in September this year. Can i force my husband to pay maintenance. He is paying nothing at the moment Thank you Tina
TB - 30-Jun-18 @ 4:04 AM
My daughter is 18 and is Down’s syndrome.I have been told that she is doing another year on life skills classified as 6th form.I do not mind paying maintainable for this, but I have just been informed that the council will try and keep her at the college for a further 2 years doing life skills she will be 21 when leaving that. I am not tying to get out of supporting my child, but my ex is stating that I will be made to pay her full maintenance until she is 21.Now, I have been looking under the guidelines for full time education and life skills does not fall in that category.Could someone please advise if I follow the government ruling of paying up to the end of 6th form, or till she is 20?Or what is the legal requirement. Roy
Roy - 30-Jun-18 @ 12:54 AM
It’s a disgrace that parents should pay until 20 my partners still paying & his sons 19 in college 12 hours a week & doing part time work . It’s not giving young people the incentive when fathers are having to pay & we have 2 children to look after & pay bills it should be 18 they should then support themselves lots of kids are staying on at college doing 12 hours then getting a job for the rest of the week & the government are doing nothing to change this why
Claire - 29-Jun-18 @ 3:35 PM
Kelly - Your Question:
Hi my daughter just turned 18 years old on 21/06/2018, she has left school and working 30 hrs per week in tescos, I have a private agreement with my ex and have been paying her £250 per month. Does this stop now, and I financially support my daughter personally? Any advice would be really appreciated before I broach the subject with my ex and the argument ensues! Thank you

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether she is working long term or going back to college or further training in September. As a rule, when your child leaves approved education or training, payments stop at the end of February, 31 May, 31 August or 30 November (whichever comes first). If your daughter is working as an interim job before going back to further education or training then payments will continue. Your payments continue until eligibility for the resident parent to claim child benefit stops, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 29-Jun-18 @ 9:28 AM
Tayla- Your Question:
Hi I pay child maintenance but I do not see my children ( not my choice ) I don’t pay though the csa I pay direct debit each month and have done since 2011 never missed a payment and my eldest child turns 16 in August and I’m not sure what to do about paying my child maintenance I know I still pay if my child stays in education but I don’t know if she is or not what should I do

Our Response:
As specified in the article, if your children continue in full-time non-advanced education 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. As child maintenance falls in line with child benefit, if your child leaves education then child benefit would stop. If child benefit stops, so does child maintenance payments automatically if you pay via CMS.
SeparatedDads - 28-Jun-18 @ 3:34 PM
Tiptop - Your Question:
My daughter is 18 and starting stage school in september. Am I still liable for child maintenance

Our Response:
You'll pay child maitenance if you’re financially responsible via child maintenance for one or more children under 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training) and your ex is eligible to claim child benefit. You can see what constitutes approved education./training via the link here .
SeparatedDads - 28-Jun-18 @ 12:48 PM
Pecked - Your Question:
I am seperated from my wife (pending divorce proceedings. My daughter lives away from home and I cover her food and accomodation costs directly. I am also still paying the mortgage on the family property in full at present. Despite this my wife is making a 'spousal maintenance' order within the divorce application (she earns in excess of 32k per annum). Needless to say, I'm concerned I'm going to be taken to the cleaners suring the proceedings despite honouring all current financial commitments and acknowledging there should be a fair split of our financial assets. I have sepnt every living moment making sure I am available to support my daughter, despite the efforts of her mother to break our relationship. My daughter turns 18 in late 2018. (Any positive advice/support would be most gratefully received).

Our Response:
Unfortunately, we cannot advise without knowing the discrepancy in wages and whether your ex is considered the financially weaker party and by how much. If the marriage is deemed to have changed the course of your ex's life (i.e she has given up a successful career to focus on bringing up your child or supporting you, then it may be considered if your ex's financial life will be made more difficult without some sort of ongoing financial support or compensation. Your solicitor will be able to advise more accurately whether your ex may be successful or not.
SeparatedDads - 28-Jun-18 @ 11:02 AM
Hi my daughter just turned 18 years old on 21/06/2018, she has left school and working 30 hrs per week intescos, I have a private agreement with my ex and have been paying her £250 per month. Does this stop now, and I financially support my daughter personally? Any advice would be really appreciated before I broach the subject with my ex and the argument ensues! Thank you
Kelly - 28-Jun-18 @ 11:00 AM
Hi I pay child maintenance but I do not see my children ( not my choice ) I don’t pay though the csa I pay direct debit each month and have done since 2011 never missed a payment and my eldest child turns 16 in August and I’m not sure what to do about paying my child maintenance I know I still pay if my child stays in education but I don’t know if she is or not what should I do
Tayla - 28-Jun-18 @ 6:58 AM
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