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At What Age Do Child Maintenance Payments Stop?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 31 Mar 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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@princess.i don’t know about your situation but there is no (jobs in my circle everything is closed )and everyone is on (welfare) stay home are the (orders from the government) .so there will be no child support paid maybe 7 pounds a fortnight out off welfare check .its a (new challenging time for everyone with this virus ).(in my 38 years on this planet I have never seen anything like this ).We have no pubs we can’t go fishing or water skiing we can’t have bbq with work mates at our own house .all we are allowed to do is go to the shopping centre to get the basic supplies if there is anything left on the shelf.and now the government is restricting how much alcohol we buy. it’s like I’m living in a (dictatorship )we use to live in a privileged country god damn you China you have f the world congratulations.
Chris - 31-Mar-20 @ 10:02 PM
My stepson is coming 19yrs old here,does my child maintenance stop now hes on universal credit?
Princess - 31-Mar-20 @ 4:51 PM
My daughter is 17. Was at school (A level) and I was paying her mother weekly agreed together amount (daughter stays with me 3 nights). Due to coronavirus school is now closed. Do I still have to pay each week (my daughter still staying 3 nights each week with me).
Amcl - 30-Mar-20 @ 6:28 PM
My daughters (17) and in FT education father has stopped payments for three months now again without telling me. When I asked him why he said because he doesn’t want to pay unless I’m going to be nice and friendly to him. He has recently sold his flat and is currently training to be a pilot with those funds. He also says that legally he doesn’t have to pay because he’s made himself unemployed as he wanted to train to be a pilot. Can he get away with repeatedly not paying by making himself unemployed?
Shh - 27-Mar-20 @ 11:11 AM
Hi, My Son is due to finish college in June with no wishes to go back for another term however with the Corona Virus the college is now shut for the term. Do my payments stop, carry on till june or are they suspended till September to see if they will complete the course ? Thanks Mr H
Mr H - 23-Mar-20 @ 5:46 PM
Please can you advise My son has been kicked out of college and is not working or studying , he has turned 18 year a month a go, do I still have to pay maintenance to September?
Tommymotto - 17-Mar-20 @ 3:49 PM
@susiD.i have (no legal) right to the (child) so there is no (moral obligation). I gave my rightsup (11 years ago) .so that’s why I don’t need to (pay child support).it was done (legally) too the child was( adopted bye the mothers husband) .so get off my back .
Laurie - 7-Mar-20 @ 3:03 AM
@suslD.and if the mothers circumstances have changed it’s not( my problem).and she was the one that didn’t want( child support) she even told me (face to face) she wants (no money for no contact) .and I think it would be a bit funny going to court now for a child that lives with her boyfriend?.what do you people think ?.
Laurie - 7-Mar-20 @ 12:58 AM
@susiD.why would I go to (family court) after 11 years the (child lives with her boyfriend )I personally think that( ship us sailed) .and you say I have no sense off responsibility or obligation towards the child and don’t deserve children hey maybe I don’t no these things no one gave be a (rule book) on been father .i don’t class myself as her( father) I haven’t seen her in 11 years .and who going to look after me when I am old a (age care facility) and I won’t be sad lonely I will have friends be the head off the lawn bowls community or mini golf president.
Laurie - 7-Mar-20 @ 12:28 AM
My daughter has not been to school since she was age 14 at least She is now 16 and I stopped maintenance as no longer lives with her mum Lives with her boyfriend Her mum still wants maintenance till September I believe Where do I stand please
Poolboylee - 6-Mar-20 @ 12:28 AM
Hi my daughter was 20 on the 3 of March this year and still at college when can I stop paying for child maintenance.
Rocky - 4-Mar-20 @ 5:50 AM
I am paying maintenance to my son since 2003, he will be 18 year old on Jan 2021, is the. Maintenance will stop automatic Ally or shall I go to family Court, to stop maintenance, his mother is house wife and father is private teacher Kindly suggest me
Rani - 26-Feb-20 @ 10:48 AM
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
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