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At What Age Do Child Maintenance Payments Stop?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 16 May 2019 | 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]
If a child leaves full time education because they can’t go to the university they want to go to for a year. When they go to university a year later do you have to pay maintenance again King regards
Bob - 16-May-19 @ 8:12 PM
Hi ,does my X husband still have to pay maintenance for our son , when he starts his first year at university. Regards Ms m cardy
Shell - 12-May-19 @ 6:39 PM
I LIVE IN AUSTRALIA AND MY EX LIVES WITH THE CHILDREN IN THE UK. She is bitter and will not allow the children to communicate with me and will not communcate with me herself. I have no way of finding out anything about my children. My daughter finishes scholl in August at 16 yrs old. How can i find out if she is attending further education or what her plans are, do i just have to take the CSA word as truth? Can i get proof somehow that i am not being lied to just becuase i am a source of income for a horrible ex? Steve
STEVEL - 30-Apr-19 @ 3:21 AM
When can I stop CM payments for my daughter who is 18 in May and taking A levels this year? In one Dads article it says 'at the end of the advanced level education course' and another link says 'in September'. I'm confused - any clarification welcome.
Bobby - 24-Apr-19 @ 5:45 PM
No admin signed into site since Oct 2018, have tried everything to get connected again but like my marriage it seems dead
Sad al - 6-Apr-19 @ 4:52 PM
This would be great site if could see replies
Shaun - 5-Apr-19 @ 10:24 PM
My daughter has severe special needs due to non accidental injuries caused by her biological father.She will never be able to work. Will he still have to pay for her care when she leaves full time education?
Blondie - 4-Apr-19 @ 5:46 PM
My husbands ex has placed their children in the care of HIS family, I we still obliged to pay our family agreement payments to her or his family. Also his son is 17 doesn't attend school, college or has a job.
Ceepix - 2-Apr-19 @ 7:03 PM
My 2 daughters are 18 who both work and areallegedly still in college when they attend do I still pay full maintenance even tho 1 of them sleeps over at least 3 to 4 times a month ? I'm paying nearly 500 pound a month 100 of that goes in collect and pay even tho I never missed payments direct to the mum ,seems like a cms scam
Benjamin - 1-Apr-19 @ 5:33 PM
Do I still have to pay CM my daughter is 19 in September. My divorce papers say I am to pay until she is 18 can I stop once she leaves college
GL - 27-Mar-19 @ 4:15 PM
My son is 17 next week, I have paid a private maintenance to his mum (above what I would be obliged to pay).I am another parent who is not given information from the college about his attendance but his tutor rang me to say he had not been in college for 5 months.His mother believes i must pay as they will be homeless!She also says he should not have to get a job, apprenticeship or attend college.I have stopped her money and written to the csa informing them of this.Am I correct to do this?
Dave - 21-Mar-19 @ 8:07 PM
I agreed to pay CM until my sons finish university. The youngest is in his final months and hands in last pieces of work in May. My question is what milestone is the end of university for the purposes of CM? This is not defined in the consent order.
numptonG - 10-Mar-19 @ 9:03 AM
Full time education if you have a Court Order in place for child maintenance means it is paid until the end of 1st Stage University Degree. It does not finish at A levels if the go straight into a dull time course at University.
Quirky - 2-Mar-19 @ 11:18 PM
My other half’s son turns 17 in Aprilhe has finished college and looking for a full time job n maybe going back to college in September do we still have to pay child maintainance
Donnapaul - 1-Mar-19 @ 12:45 PM
My step son is 17 and hasn't been attending college for months now, his mother doesn't make him go but is happy to keep the maintenance coming in and there's no reason that he can't work other than not being able to get up for a job as he's awake all night gaming and his mum doesn't enforce it? My husband is paying £370 a month, this can't be right surely????? He can't get any access to college info as he's not listed as NOK? Anybody have any ideas what we can do cuz if he can't be bothered with college then surely he should work instead, why should my husband pay for him to do nothing?
Sunny - 1-Mar-19 @ 12:11 PM
Is there any answers to these stories it just seems that if a child is in college the parent that the child stays with can claim they are with out any proof
me - 24-Feb-19 @ 5:35 PM
Hi my son is now 18 but I am not able to find out if he is attending college. I have been told that he is not attending but the college will not give me the information as my ex wife did not give them my details only her own. How do I get the CSA to believe that this is not right and I am struggling to pay hundreds of pounds every month for the wrong reasons and potentially until he reaches the age of 20?
Abz - 27-Jan-19 @ 2:25 PM
I pay cms for a 18 year old but how do I find out if they’re still in education? My yearly review of cms has already decided I need to pay more even though it’s not taken place yet. It’s frustrating when I have children at home that don’t get this sort of money spent on them.
Ada - 22-Jan-19 @ 3:44 PM
Son is at college but doesn't attend He also claiming universal credit He is 19 years old When do CM payments stop ???
Muggins - 18-Jan-19 @ 1:47 AM
Everyone in Britain knows you become an adult at 18. And 12 hours a week is not full time in anyone's book The CSA and the government are a pathetic joke.
Finchy - 16-Jan-19 @ 4:03 PM
my daughter is 17 and has been kicked off one of her college courses, she is now doing 8 hours per week, im led to believe that she should be doing 12 hours per week to receive child maintenance?
Mrd - 16-Jan-19 @ 3:01 PM
Hi been paying csa since my wife and I divorced that was 2007 however its come to light that he may not be mine he's 18 years old now what can I do?
Lordy04 - 16-Jan-19 @ 6:46 AM
My son is 16 and at 6th form. I’ve recently been told he is working part time. Do I still have to pay for him? :/
Beas - 13-Jan-19 @ 7:20 AM
My stepdaughter got kicked out of college or left on her own accord.We made payments directly to her mother and wasn't made aware of the situation and carried on paying for a few weeks until we found out from a third party about the situation, we then stopped the payments. After two months she has decided to go to a different college so my questions are do we need to start paying again and how do we obtain proof that she is actually in full time education. Her mother will not supply it. Thank you.
Jojo - 12-Jan-19 @ 8:33 PM
Facts about maintenance... You have to pay maintenance till the day before they turn 20!! (If they are in college 12 or more hours a week) You do not pay maintenance from 16 if the get a job.This has been confirmed to me by child maintenance helpline. Seen so many comments about their kids and this whole 12 hours and calling it Full Time!! So my husbands son is 18 and is doing exactly 12 hours per week. His mother is trying to get him to stay on for another couple of years so she can get her maintenance till he’s 20 but college are trying to refuse a course saying there are no courses left for him to do and needs to do the apprenticeship.I think it’s ridiculous that a perfectly capable 18 year old can keep doing these 12 hour a week courses ( since leaving school at 16) so that they can keep getting their maintenance! Feel sorry for all the guys out there supporting these mums who encourage their kids to stay in education (not for purposes of real job prospects) Not exactly very good parenting. My step sons mother is nearly 35 and has NEVER worked (she’s not ill) we both work hard to pay stupid amounts of maintenance support for the son who now doesn’t want to work and who is thinking of now applying for a council flat of his own! The stupid government are setting our future generations up to believe that 12 hours is full time!!! Husband works 40-50 hours a week! That’s full time!
Nats84 - 11-Jan-19 @ 9:48 PM
Hiafter 4 years of cm takeing my money out of my benefits I have now got a job then cm got hold of me big arguments etc I’m fine with paying it into her bank she’s not happy with that so she wants cm to do it but they wonna charge me extra as service charges and I’m tell them I’m not paying the charges but I’d pay the money into her bank thay have told me If I ring up when I go to pay my arrears witch is 280 I owe them they will set it so if I keep on top of it for 6 months proving I will pay it they can sent me her account details and sort code account number and I can pay it in to hers without the CM charges and after it gone I’ll only have to pay 16.??pound a weekso if I put 17 in a week she can’t make me pay anymore and child maintence will be off my back how ever if I don’t pay it after that then she can take me court and get the child maintenance back
Guess who - 4-Jan-19 @ 10:06 PM
I don't see my child and never will. My name on the birth certificate as the father witch I am but I don't have a pearet roll with him. Do still need to pay child maintainments
Ry - 30-Nov-18 @ 5:01 PM
Seems this page is out of date.... full time education is 12 hours per week.Which is amazing as the British Government achknolwdges full time employment as 37 hours per week. Also a child as far as the Child Maintenance Service is concerned is now up until the age of 20.So maintenance continues as long as the child performs minimum of 12 hours each week up until the end of the school term beyond the age of 20. Criminal! Double standards yet again from this British Government.
Jamie - 28-Nov-18 @ 8:02 PM
The gov website states full time education is and average of 12 hours education per week.How is this calculated? Over 52 weeks? It is not clear. When I spoke to a CMS agent they stated it needed to be 20 hours in a classroom per week, they seem to make the rules up every time I talk to them in favour of the woman.
Jamie - 28-Nov-18 @ 6:59 PM
Hi I would like to know my daughter is 19 next June do I stop paying child maintenance then,my daughter has been college since leaving school, she is not even gcse standard and failed 3 years,can anyone help
Sarah - 26-Nov-18 @ 3:44 PM
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