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How Do I Ensure CSA Money is Spent on My Child?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 16 Apr 2023 | comments*Discuss
Child Csa Child Support Ex Parent


I am still paying my ex 15% of my income per month when she earns more than me. I look after my child overnight 2 to 3 nights per week and feel my ex nevers spends a penny on our child's upkeep. Our child is walking around with holes in shoes and secondhand clothing despite me handing over £300 per month.

She seems to be swanning about in designer clothes, shoes, handbags etc, and leaving my child with very sketchy (to say the least) childcare (with minors e.g 17 yr olds and so-called friends), while she goes off on weekends away with her new boyfriend and trips abroad.

She hardly ever seems to stay at home with our child but if I try to say anything to her about her behaviour she just laughs and says CSA allow her to get away with it. Surely this can't be right? What can be done about mothers abusing the system and using children as meal tickets? I am very worried about my child and would be interested to know if there are any positive steps I can take to improve this situation?

(A.S, 22 April 2009)


When the parents of a child split up, both sides are still responsible for the upbringing of the child until they are 16 or leave full-time education. The role of the Child Support Agency (CSA) is to make sure that the non-resident parent contributes financially. Non-resident fathers are required to pay a percentage of their salary to the mother of their child to pay for their day-to-day expenses.

The fact that your wife earns more than you doesn’t make any difference, as you are still responsible to pay a percentage of your own wages in a Child Support. However, the CSA does take into account the amount of time that your child spends regularly with each parent. If this has increased or your circumstances have changed, then it is a good idea to get in touch and have your Contributions Re-assessed.

As for your ex spending your money on herself, this is less easy to address. The CSA system is in place for good reason but unfortunately, as many fathers have found out, it doesn’t come without its problems. Once the money is handed over, there are no rules or regulations in place about how it is spent. Generally, mothers will spend it sensibly towards the needs of their children but there will always be a few less responsible ones who use it for their own needs.

As the resident parent, your ex gets to choose how she spends the money and is in charge of making decisions about the everyday upbringing of your child. As difficult as it is to see your money wasted, there is not much you can do about it legally.

If, however, you have real concerns about the treatment of your child, then this is something that you should raise. Unfortunately, there is nothing to say that she cannot leave your child with babysitters under 17 or friends, as long as they are not endangering your child.

It may be a good idea for you and your ex to Consider Mediation so you can raise your concerns and try to work together more efficiently. However, if she will not agree, and will not listen to your concerns, then you should contact your lawyer or social services to protect your child’s welfare.

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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Yeah I offered( cash) for education so my( daughter) be a( professional). I'm a guy who grow up in(housing commission )I only went to grade 8 so I would off paid for her gods truth .
C w laurie - 16-Apr-23 @ 10:03 AM
The truth is 99% of mothers who have custody like me use maintenance payments to run the home. Rent/mortgage, utilities like hot water for the children to have a bath and switch a light on, car for everyone to get about in and for mum to do food shopping, council tax, school trips, pocket money, Netflix, WiFi as well as the obvious expenses like clothes and food. As he and I have split up, he no longer has a say in how a grown woman runs her home and finances. Both parents have a responsibility to contribute financially to the home and lifestyle that their children grow up in. In the UK the CMS takes a percentage of an income for the children. This is fair because as a percentage, they can afford it. It's not like they take half the wages and someone is left destitute. In my case, the more he earns, the more he contributes to his children. Unfortunately it has come to this because some fathers feel they have a right to control what they consider 'their money' is spent on, leaving mothers struggling to pay for the basics. If I want to buy a decent car, I will. That is the car his children also get to be driven around in, the car that drives them safely to see their friends and family and doesn't break down on the motorway. The controlling attitude around money was one of the reasons why I left him. I work hard at my job and at raising our children and I don't have to justify how I spend every penny. I earn more than he does, but that does not absolve him of his responsibilities as a father. It costs huge amounts of money to run a safe, clean and decent home that my children are growing up in and I'm not going to let them grow up any where less than that just because their father thinks I should spend 100% of my income on the children and nothing on myself, while he pays for mobile phone bills and takes them out for food a few times a year. He lives in a bigger house than we do, yet he lives alone. If he can afford a home like that and run it, plus eat out every day for lunch and buy a motorbike, he can contribute to the home his children live in. Yes, I buy myself clothes and make up and why shouldn't I? 99% of my income goes into the home and the family lifestyle. I cannot understand how a parent who doesn't want to pay towards the home their children live in can look at themselves in the mirror. And yes, the children can live with him if they want and they were given a choice. I would pay maintenance to their Dad if they did and it would be a darn load less than it costs me right now.
EmmaB - 16-Apr-23 @ 8:20 AM
My daughter (18) is re-taking her A-levels. She lives full time at her boyfriend's parents house and yet I am still paying maintenance to my ex. Am I not able to either, redirect my payments to the household actually incurring her costs or stop them altogether? It just seems bonkers.
MarkH1883 - 8-Sep-22 @ 9:05 AM
@rhi The only viable option i see available to your situation would be court action. Firstly I would suggest finding a local mediation service and asking the mother to attend.(I expect her to refuse) once you have done that you then file to the court for a contact order. And file evidence that you have tried to use mediation. (Goes in your favour) if she does accept to attend mediation and it happens great, but if no agreement is made then again your at the point of contact order proceedings. (Again file all meditation paperwork). Then I would advise you have a clear and reasonable idea of what you want to achieve. I.e in my situation my ex and I had an agreement that I had my daughter every Sunday. She would chop and change this to suit her and then not allow me to see my daughter. So I now have her every other weekend. So same amount of time just different format. And this is a legally binding and the court order over rules her and she cannot deny access. (Including during lockdown) hope this helps
Chaz - 23-Aug-20 @ 9:59 PM
Hi so my partners ex missus won’t allow him to see his son and hasn’t for about 2 years now we’e tried a sorts and she won’t have any of it her excuse as to why she wont now is because his son won’t know him again we’ve tried alternatives like having her sister have the son and he see’s him that way until they can build up a relationship again or even the mum and my partner going somewhere like a park she has now asked him if she can change his last name and for him to sign away his parental rights which he doesn’t and won’t do but we are wondering what the next step would be to try and see him and she won’t reason with us
Rhi - 19-Jun-20 @ 3:42 PM
I’m a woman and let me first say that not all women are the same, trust me, just as all men are not the same, some men are as bad as the women you hate. I’ve been there, treated like sh!t because you care and you’re nice and after a while it changes you. Men and women are equally as good and bad as each other; you’ve just met some bad women, and I’ve just met some bad men....I would never use my child as a weapon against an ex, or abuse them for money, because I also know how this would one day affect the child, the child is the one who will get hurt. I know this because I also grew up as one of these children who had a mother who did these things to my father and once I found out it really hurt me.But let’s be honest there is also some bad fathers out there also, but that doesn't mean they cannot change how this system works well for both the innocent mothers and fathers. I think the csa system is a disgrace. I completely agree with men on how unfair this is. In favour of the women and men get no say. I have a brother going through the same as you all and it breaks my heart to see how he suffers and how he cannot win no matter what he does. I think they should turn the money you pay into tokens that they can use on certain items like children’s clothes and food etc and not be able to spend it on themselves. I hate that some women abuse this and it takes the mik out of all these fathers. It really needs looking at and changing, it is not good enough, I’ve seen men suffer and backed into corners over this and it drives them into madness. Upsetting.
Kat - 18-May-20 @ 1:03 AM
Right not sure if this is allowed but I I worry about my nephew. Hes paying £200 per week 0n one child .shes scammed the system proper. Her boyfriend lives there and has been for 3 years with declaring he lives there .bloody disgusting one child £200 per week wtf
Matt - 14-Apr-20 @ 9:36 PM
@mthoko.truth is I don’t want to see the child .in reality I never wanted a child .and yeah I have come to terms with her mother she loves all the guys .(and I look down on her I just can’t help it I really do think I am better then her I can’t help how I feel I think she is the bottom off the barrel )This women jailed me right and she had the audacity to flirt with me on the phone wtf this women is (complete loser with a short memory good lord this women has some serous issues ).
John - 25-Jan-20 @ 11:37 PM
@mthoko.i still have (serous hate for the child’s mother and others) .where it is best to stay away forever I like my (freedom) . because I will always have that dark side in me I have had it sense a child my earliest memory is me pulling a knife on my cousin and stabbing him I would have been 6 years old I was at my aunties house and I walked home and when my crying mother told my father. he congratulated me and awarded me with a ice cream then drove me to his family’s house and told the story with pride to them my boy got balls he said and savvy enough to find he’s way home .my uncle Allen said to my father I wish I had your boy for son my son is soft and girl like and couldn’t find he’s way to the corner shop without help .
John - 25-Jan-20 @ 10:19 PM
@mthoko.i (100 percent believe) what you said about men are not (protective anymore) off they child only the (old timers are ).who haven’t lived or been though what us (younger generation) been though the worlds changed 100 percent .what the mother did to me with the (police and orders and cells years ago broke me and changed me ).(i was a controlled wiped naive trusting dumbass )and when I got out I wanted revenge and wanted to hurt them like (hurt me including family )I had a (rage in me like volcano ready to blow my top )and my thinking was if they can jail me over something so (small )I give something to jail over when I shotthem (dead) this was my thinking I even planned it to the (last detail) .i am glad I never did it now other wise would be spending the rest off my life a (cell) and that would have been a waste off life .
John - 25-Jan-20 @ 9:50 PM
I'm so surprised to find out how unfair the law is. I'm the father of the child and my child has taken away from me because the mother can't live with one man, she still claim me for a child maintenance, but I still don't have a say if I see that my child's support is being misused. That means I must support the man that took my wife in the name of my child? Ok that's fine, but what about my child that is raised under that abusive situation? Woeeee hhay ngeke, that's why we'll see most of man misbehaving it's because they're misused and nobody cares about how we fill. Everything is about women women . This country is spiritually killing everyman. Men of this country are no more protective to their families because they've spiritually killed. To put all of them in jail will never help but to raise them from their spiritual death of their manhood will bring back a good will and plan of God when He created Man from the beginning. I Love You South Africa.
Mthoko - 25-Jan-20 @ 11:28 AM
Why is it a all on womens side just because the children live with them . All these laws are all for womens side regardless how many ppl out there thinks its acceptable that csa have the right to take a percentage of ppl gross pay when we all get net pay . No wounder this stuff bring fathers to killing then selfs its a womens world and men have to work for it . Women these days have the same rights as men now why cant men have the same rights as women . In ways like this . The system is a total joke and needs to change . Why cant i spend the money on the childs needs but prove it with receipts but no we have to give it to the ex and have no knowledge of where it goes . But that ok
Geezer - 21-Sep-19 @ 2:22 PM
I'm convinced my ex is donating a great deal of my payments (that I pay on time and never miss) on herazy, unemployed boyfriend with a drug habit. Is there no way I can demand proof of where my money goes? Its so one sided all of this, I.e we pay and they have no accountability.
Frustrated one - 3-Sep-19 @ 2:04 PM
Please can someone advise. I have a direct pay arrangement with my ex to pay for our three children via CMS. My ex has updated bank details via CMS and the new bank details are in the name of the eldest child. When I questioned this the advisor told me it was none of my business to which account this money goes to only that I continue to make payments into the new account on schedule. I was a bit taken a back as after all yes I’m due to pay towards my children but this is still my money I work hard for. I find it very odd that this is ok when there are two other children the money goes towards. How do I know they all get a fair share? I have no contact with the children, which is a whole other story so I am clueless as to what is going on. The eldest is now 16 and I don’t even know if he is going into full time education or not. I can’t see CMS checking on my behalf accurately either. Please can anyone advise as to whether this is normal or even correct practice? Thank you
Branded - 19-Aug-19 @ 12:29 AM
Can my ex make a family arrangement where he buys clothes and shoes for the choodren instead of paying the money to me? If he keeps proof of what he spent each month and it is the amount he would have to pay.
Loua - 12-Jul-19 @ 8:30 AM
So I have recently split from my partner or rather my partner split from me.We decided to move up north as I had a job opportunity. I have two children one 4 and one who is one.My partner missed her family and decided to move home after about a month but I was left up north as I had commitments that would cost us money if I left early.She has recently got benefits as she lives rent free with family members until she can get a council house.she does not work and to be honest has never worked even before we had kids.We have debts as a couple that I have had to sign for as I work but since she has moved away she has nothing to do with but items that we both benefited from. I have given what money I could to support my kids given the fact I am trying to survive up north for a period,before I can try to get a place closer to my kids I have been contacted by the Csawho Has stated that given my salary for two kids I need to pay close to 500 per month.If I am to pay this and all the debts we accumulated as a couple but in my name I would not have food to eat. I am not entitled to financial help the csa want a chunk of money and do not care if I get into financial trouble as a result.It is not always black and white.I have recently been told by joint friends of our that she is having a beauty treatment hair and such next month when asked how much it would be she replied one maintenance payment from me as she laughed which infuriates me when I am asked for money constantly for food to feed my kids etc.It should not be black and white.It should not just be fathers pay a percentage we should be able to have a say how the money is spent surely.
Simonsays - 9-Jun-19 @ 11:57 AM
Hi, I don’t know where to start. I have two kids ages 8 & 10 who I haven’t been allowed access to for a few years. No reason other than the mums very spiteful, has a new boyfriend and doesn’t want kids having dad on the scene. She’s brainwashed the kids with all sorts, I 450.00 each month straight to the csa. I tried going through court before she kept making it very difficult and I couldn’t afford it. I have recently been diagnosed with depression due to this it’s really starting to affect my mental health. I want nothing more but to be a dad to my children. Can anyone help me how do I go about trying to get this sorted? You
Hibee - 9-Jun-19 @ 8:36 AM
Hi do I have a right ask my ex to provide me receipts for proof to ensure that our daughter's needs like iPad or laptop etc after I paying direct pay to my ex parnter account?
Dad6969 - 7-Jun-19 @ 3:38 PM
I pay maintenance to my ex for my two children she has. I pay the maximum CSA has told me to pay and I don’t contest it! The kids are starting to look scruffy (school wear) and there shoes are falling to bits. Can I deduct the clothes if I raise it with her and she doesn’t do owt about it?
Noname2019 - 30-Apr-19 @ 4:01 PM
As a father that’s always financially paid my way and then some not that money should and never will be my issue but when when you’ve been paying a lot of money and you find out your x when bankrupt and had never worked for many many years and is now trying to tell the powers that be she should still demand / need the same amount though you don’t earn same amount and you have gave them money and never told the authorities this and they still think you earn that wage and demand that amount but you don’t, is this a false claim and can you take this person to court as they have and are claiming false claims.
T - 4-Apr-19 @ 1:52 AM
@perezmario.i can relate to your story I myself live with my brother .but (I don’t get on with mother off my child )I would (never hurt her) but (I want nothing to do with her )she done things I could (never forgive) it’s (my personality).i made a choice to let her get on with her life with her children and not go for( rights )to my daughter many years ago and (move on with my life ).now she never went to (child support )we both (no why) .(now if she hits me all these years later there is not much I can do about it it is what is )just as long as they leave me alone to get on with my life .i have (finally )put the past to bed it (tormented me )inside over not seeing my daughter but under the circumstances (we didn’t end well )and I didn’t have much off a choice her mother moved and changed numbers wanted to be single .
Chris - 20-Mar-19 @ 10:49 PM
Hi. I am currently paying child maintenance however due a new baby with another partner. I do not live with this partner but will have a family based arrangement seeing as we still get on well. How will child maintenance calculate my payments from then on? Will they simply work out how much I should pay for 2 children and then split it in half for me to pay the recieving mother of my first child? I also live with my brother and he has 2 young children (my nephews which I care for and help my brother to provide for as he is a single father) is this taken into account as me living with 2 dependants or is that only the case if it is a partner I am living with?
PerezMario - 20-Mar-19 @ 6:14 PM
I have been separated from my children’s mother 2 coming up to 3 years. I pay the amount that CSA has calculated , which I don’t contest. I’am picking our children up to to see them with stained,dirty clothes and footwear that isn’t the right size. Both their heads are scabby , mud underneath long uncut nails and inappropriately dressed for certain weather, which makes them frequently ill and they are constantly falling over with huge footwear resulting in injury. I have taken many pictures and kept documents as I believe the money they she gets isn’t going towards the children. I understand the money is for everything (house they live in and bills etc) but it definitely isn’t going on clothing , food and anything else that greatly benefits the children and rather on the lavish stuff for herself , new partner and their baby. I’am having to make sure they have the plenty of food and warm suitable clean clothing when they’re with me. These things don’t cost a great deal and can be bought from Primark and Asda. However what can I do to make sure our children are kept healthy , well fed and clothed? It’s gone on long enough.
LukeO1991 - 28-Oct-18 @ 5:30 PM
My ex has recently decided to go through CSA instead of our original agreement of me paying her directly. I think she may have changed her bank details from the one i have from previous payments i have made. This will be so i default on a payment and then have to pay the extra 20% collection charge. I have been blocked on all modes of contact. What can i do to avoid defaulting and it costing me more??
Johno198512 - 19-Sep-18 @ 9:27 PM
Dad4555 - Your Question:
Can I take money from the maintenance if I’ve bought school shoes for the children. ex kids mother taking over 3 weeks to buy school shoes?

Our Response:
If you have a family-based child maintenance arrangement, then you can decide between you. If you pay via CMS, then you would not be able to deduct this money.
SeparatedDads - 5-Jun-18 @ 2:11 PM
Can I take money from the maintenance if I’ve bought school shoes for the children.. ex kids mother taking over 3 weeks to buy school shoes?
Dad4555 - 4-Jun-18 @ 5:40 PM
Hi, myself and my ex have been separated for 8 Months now ever since i have been paying her R3000.00 every month without a court order any legal advise. she does not pay anything towards my kid i pay everything when i ask her to send me some proof of what she was doing with monies to make sure that school fees and medical aid has been paid she refuses. I don`t get paid a basic salary i only work on commission how much do i as parent really need to pay? advice would be appreciated. Thanks G
Gerie - 29-May-18 @ 8:01 AM
Pecker - Your Question:
My ex partner and I have split for well over 15 years if longer and we have a daughter of 13 yrs of age for who I have being paying for but my daughter was never getting the money spent on her she would come and visit me with holes in her trainers and was not clothed properly when I confronted my ex she told me that it was up to me to pay for them when I asked where the money I was giving her was going I was told to mind my own bussiness and now after having my daughter for 3 months staying we me due to vilonce I was not offered a penny now she has my daughter back in her care and is putting a claim in against me am I in my writes to open up an account for my daughter so I know when she is 18 that she will have the money there for her please help as this is affecting my marriage and my step kids don’t need this

Our Response:
Firstly, your ex does not have to explain what she spends child maintenance money on. Secondly, if your daughter was living with you for a period of time, then it was up to you to put a claim in to CMS to claim child maintenance from your ex. Thirdly, you can certainly open an account for your child to have the money from when she is 18. However, you will also still be required to pay child maintenance directly to the mother of your child.
SeparatedDads - 6-Apr-18 @ 12:42 PM
Anna - Your Question:
I have split up with my ex partner, do they take into account what he’s paid me this year?

Our Response:
I'm not quite sure of your question. However, if you are talking about child maintenance payments then it is based upon your ex's annual earnings and averaged over the year. This only begins when you register with CMS. Therefore, if you have had a family-based arrangement to date, then these payments will not be taken into account. If you mean general money your ex has given you, then neither this will be taken into account.
SeparatedDads - 3-Apr-18 @ 9:07 AM
I have split up with my ex partner, do they take into account what he’s paid me this year?
Anna - 2-Apr-18 @ 7:38 PM
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