Home > Ask Our Experts > Can I Get Back Pay for Child Maintenance?

Can I Get Back Pay for Child Maintenance?

Author: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 21 January 2015 |
Maintenance Child Support Arrears


I was divorced in 2007 after a 5 year marriage (including 2 years separated). We have a 5 year old child and I'm the resident parent.

My ex has been very lax in paying maintenance, for a long time we got nothing and then £9 a week which has now stopped. My main question is would we be entitled to back payments for maintenance not received in the past?

(S.F, 18 February 2009)


This will depend on whether or not you have already contacted the Child Support Agency. Although you have mentioned 'maintenance' in your question, this can be by agreement or by court order so I will answer as though firstly you have put in a claim with the CSA, and secondly as though you haven’t already put in a claim.

If You Have Made a Claim Through The CSA

You mention that for a long time you received nothing, but this then changed to £9 a week. If this payment of £9 per week was facilitated through the Child Support Agency, i.e. you have already put in a claim for maintenance, you will be entitled to claim arrears back to the date on which the CSA first contacted your ex-husband.

The CSA can take a long time to process claims and to calculate how much money a non-resident parent should pay, and this could mean that your ex-husband suddenly receives a large bill. If he thought that it was unfair he would be able to challenge it. However, once the CSA are involved in a child support case, they almost never write off the arrears. Your husband could go bankrupt and would still owe his child support arrears.

If You Have Not Made a Claim Through The CSA

If your husband has been very lax about paying voluntary child support, my advice to you would be to contact the CSA as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the CSA cannot recoup payments that your ex husband promised to pay you in the past under a voluntary or informal arrangement.

However, you may be able to take civil legal action against your ex husband to try to recover the missed payments through the courts.

If your ex husband was ordered to pay maintenance as part of your divorce settlement and he has now stopped paying under this agreement, this can have very serious consequences for him (as he’s flouting a court order.) If this is the case you should consult your family law solicitor as you may need to go back to court.

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[Add a Comment]
@don don - if you have applied then you need to follow it up. You don't give the reason why no maintenance has been paid, but I suggest you personally, not your daughter, take it through the complaints procedure if this has been going on since 2007. You can apply via the link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Jan-15 @ 11:40 AM
My ex husband has not paid any maintenance since 2007, despite applying for maintenance through the csa, they have been totally unable to make him pay. my eldest daughter is now 19, can she make a claim herself?
don don - 21-Jan-15 @ 3:33 PM
@Mick - I have given you a link to the Child Maintenance Options website here which gives you a rundown of what child maintenance is actually for (there are many misconceptions) but the main one is the day-to-day upkeep and welfare of your children. I can understand that if you are paying £500 per month that you don't want to buy shoes for your children on top. Perhaps you suggest that if she doesn't look after the adequate clothing of them you are happy to take it on board and subtract it from the money you pay her. Or you could just bite the bullet and buy your son an inexpensive pair of shoes. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Jan-15 @ 11:38 AM
Myself and my wife are now divorced and payments are agreed at £500 per month for our two children. My youngest's school shoes are in a shoking state of repair and my ex wife refuses to replace them quoting "the money I give her is for the house" unquote" I totally disagree as she gets child tax credits at about £700 pm, her net salary of approx £1200 pm and reduced council tax plus 'child maintenance' from me! She is happy for him to go to school like this and use them as 'weapons' against me in this affair not to mention it is distresing for them as well. Can you advise please?
Mick - 12-Jan-15 @ 4:06 PM
i have never had a penny of my childrens dad. we lived together for 13 years, we had 6 houses together, i didnt marry him but was engaged, i tried csa for n monies but they couldnt get a penny off him. im just about to lose my homei hope someone can help me
toystory - 9-Jan-15 @ 9:04 PM
I'm laughing at that comment up above 'Bunch of gold diggers the lot of you. Just look at all the comments. Not one bit of compassion. For the father' in my case I'm hardly a gold digger with the payments I recive a week from the absent dad it's a joke!! Maybe if these absent dads showed a bit of compassion to the kids they up and left and nowhere to be seen again, then maybe us mothers wouldn't have to use the c.s.a
Batfink - 9-Jan-15 @ 11:58 AM
@Drew - I'm afraid the CSA do not award retrospective payments. Your mother would have had to have claimed when you were younger for payments towards your day-to-day upkeep.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Jan-15 @ 10:55 AM
I moved out of my farthers at 12 and now have managed to get into uni at the age of 18. My mum has never recieved anything towardse finacially off of my farther. Unfortunatelythere was no child support arrangement filed. Can i claim any form of back payment for the 6 years
Drew - 7-Jan-15 @ 3:40 PM
@nik - I don't think you can apply through the CSA for a retrospective payment. He should have applied at the time as the payment will be seen to have been agreed between him and your mother.
Jack - 5-Jan-15 @ 12:28 PM
Me and my mum had a falling out, we have not spoken in a couple of years. when i moved out i was 15 and she did not pay any money to my uncle for me, she just gave me bits of money which was no where near as much as she owed. i am now 19 and was wondering if i can still claim back the money that she owes.
nik - 29-Dec-14 @ 10:37 PM
So will they clear his account cause someone told me that they couldn't take any money from his residential money so im confused
sam - 10-Dec-14 @ 7:54 PM
Ok i have been trying to ask the office here in the northwest Territories cause this money is from when he went to residential school but he has 50.000 and owes 11.000 and trying to get him to buy groceries but no he drinking it all up
sam - 10-Dec-14 @ 7:49 PM
I have been trying to ask if child maintenance is allowed to take payment from residential payment
sam - 10-Dec-14 @ 7:43 PM
@disgruntled after 10 - Yes, they will take in to account taxable income from any of the following sources: property, (for example from rental income), savings and investments, plus miscellaneous income, such as casual earnings from one-off jobs, or late payments received for a business that is no longer active.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Nov-14 @ 2:44 PM
I have just been asked for an increase after all these years because my ex-wife who has overcommited herself recently despite having an amicable agreement for the last decade.Please can you tell me if money received from a rental property can be taken into account as earnings.
disgruntled after 10 - 27-Nov-14 @ 2:31 PM
@racer - if he is living in the UK I can comment as this is a UK based site. However, we are not familiar with US laws, so if he is living there I can't help, sorry.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Oct-14 @ 11:48 AM
My son and girl friend had a baby she was born on 3/19/91 soon after the girl friend told my son that see did not want him to stay and did not want any contact with him, as the rest of my family had moved to the USA by now he then moved to the US after many years with out contact the ex girl friend has now contacted him through Facebook and wants him to pay her money, he is still living in the USA
racer - 27-Oct-14 @ 10:48 AM
@Andrew - with something like this I'd advise you call the CSA directly and explain your problem directly.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Oct-14 @ 2:40 PM
I have had a Liability Order made against me due to missed CSA payments. During the time period for which my former partner has claimed my daughter lived with me. Can I make a retrospective claim/ counter claim against my wife for the time my daughter stayed with me? If so are there any time restrains on when this claim has to made by?
Andrew - 17-Oct-14 @ 3:28 PM
Bunch of gold diggers the lot of you. Just look at all the comments. Not one bit of compassion. For the farther
gold diggers - 8-Oct-14 @ 4:37 PM
If you want the problem sorting out then you really need to approach the Child Support Agency and ask them to follow it up. If he is working he should be obliged to pay maintencance. You can't rely upon vague promises to put the money in a trust fund.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Oct-14 @ 12:49 PM
My son was born in uk in 1998 and due to circumstances both my son and I returned home to Ireland in 2000. My ex paid maintenance voluntarily for one year and then didn't maintain a relationship or maintenance payements there after. Didn't hear from him for about two years when he said he was going to backdate payments and sort out this... Much to my dismay it still isn't sorted out! He then got in touch two years ago to say he has been putting it in a trust find for our son! How am I to know if this is the case! What can I do!
Pickle - 8-Oct-14 @ 11:47 AM
My son is 3yrs old and going to start his schooling by next year , we are just having homeschooling for now.His dad and I were not married but he is on his birth certificate as well as baptismal.He was been generous supporting him until he went back to Uk for his sick mum.From Aug. last year and upto the present he failed to send support.The last email i got from him was last March telling he was just waiting for.his mum probate who was died last Dec. from then and upto now nno more news from him.Is there anyway to contact him? Also is it possible to ask support for his child..thanks so much for any advice you can give.God bless.
nigella - 30-Sep-14 @ 7:48 AM
My Legal Aid Case Worker filed for Child Support when I separated from my ex-husband when the children were just 3 and 6 years old.Legal Aid Case Worker fought hard to get maintenance off him, but then he decided to give up his job so that he did not have to pay.I left Australia with the two children to reside in the UK.I recently returned to live in Australia 15 years later and received a pathetic cheque for just over $2000 towards child support. After I cashed it in I then receive a letter to say that I now owe my ex husband just over $17,000 because my son chose to leave the UK and return to live with his father at the age of 14.It is ok for him to claim $17,000 from me but what happened to my claim through CSA when the kids were 3 and 6 years of age and living with me?My Legal Aid team alongwith Child Support just gave us so easily, why?I am now giving the cheque of $2000 for the children to share!If I am given the chance to counterclaim and if I am successful in receiving any maintenance money from their father then it will also be shared by both my children who are now in their early 20's.
Steph - 28-Sep-14 @ 5:23 AM
I was With my ex husband for 20 years! We had three children! He had an affair and walked out when the children were 11, 9 and almost 4 ... He proceeded to make us homeless and make no contribution financially to the family. Five years down the line myself and the children are living with my parent and he still makes NO contribution what so ever? The children don't even receive bday or Christmas cards from his family?!?! I have spent five years in court! And had a financial order in place which he never paid! And have had the CSA and CMS on his case? The debt is running into many many thousands! Which he is apparently receiving constant notifications about? He has a home! A car! A company van! His own business! Eddies Boilers based in Sawbridgeworth Herts. Many holidays! A new wife! A big wedding! A honeymoon! And now another child! And yet seems to bare NO responsibility at all for his other three children ... What is going on with the system? How can the responsibility of his children fall so easily on me and my family? He wonders why his children won't even speak to him? What ever kind of example is he setting to them? And what is the system worth when I am doing ALL the donkey work informing them of his changes of address? New telephone numbers? New jobs? And yet still? My children are receiving nothing?
Polly - 27-Sep-14 @ 12:01 AM
My x partner has been paying me child maintenance direct to me arranged by the csa but he is not declaring his real wages and has sent me an email saying that if i persue the csa i will get less as he earns much less on paper. I have had no luck in finding out what he is doing with his money and the csa say i can't back claim. Is this true if so i feel it unfair!
weza - 2-Sep-14 @ 5:17 PM
I've been paying child support for 2 kids for my ex. wife . and i have three more kids with my new fiance. my questions is can they reduce my child support bc i have three more kids?
hank - 29-Aug-14 @ 3:07 PM
Can my ex husband be forced to sell his home if he is in arrears and now csa say as hes not claiming any benefits I get no money whatsoever. How do I get whats owed even if its just the arrears? Someone must know out there please . He has a wife whos working.
ladybird - 15-Aug-14 @ 3:17 PM
Hi,wonder if anyone can assist Me (dad) and my ex split up 8 years ago and at the time agreed I would keep still claim the child benefit but give her half, plus half of his school dinner. This is sent by bacs every month, on pay day. He is at mine 3 nights week minimum, plus any extra's as needed. Problem started when me and my new wife's baby was born. I found out we may be entitled to some child tax credit, an extra £40 per week if we claim for both children. Wife was made redundant too just before we found she was pregnant to make things very tight indeed!! Well, I approached my ex to let her her know what we wanted to do and it turns out she has claimed Tax Credits for him for all these years, without so much as a hint of splitting it 50/50. She now says she's going to approach the HMRC to change the child benefit claim to her, and "reminded" me that for all these years she could have claimed CSA. Pretty peeved that she can do this even though I'm a great dad who does loads for my son, and always contributes half to everything he needs. So as you can see pretty stuck right now: 1) can she "Switch" the child benefit claim to her as easy as that? 2) Done the CSA calculater which say's I should be expected to pay £15PW. would his "school dinner money" above (£10PW) count towards a CSA payment. 3) Can a CSA claim be backdated (£6240 ouch!!) 3) Should I even split the Child Benefit if she doesn't split her Tax Credits IN an effort to keep the peace I offered to keep the £80 child benefit and not claim for my son, much less than the extra I would get in the form of a Tax Credits claim. To rub salt in the wounds then there's also the fact she gets full child benefit for her 2nd child, and part benefit for her 3rd, whereas we can only claim part child benefit for my new baby cause I already claim for my son!!
orlfcchris - 17-Jun-14 @ 4:03 PM
Hi I have 5 children 3 from my 1st partner n 2 from my ex,the dad to my 3,as ever only really had contact with the eldest boy,we split when the babys were 6 mths old n he never asked to have or see them,he always came for my son on a weekend sometimes he would let him down,my son would take it out on me so when I met my ex he took on my two youngest from my 1st relationship n then we went on to have 2 children he worked and supported us all, I never stopped my son going to his dads he has never payed me a penny towards him my son is ten and my daughters are 7,i am now a single mom of five,my eldest son told my daughters that his dad was their dad so they went to see him slept a few times but dont like it there thier dads on the dole and lives with his new gf who as two children he has never supported my three children he walks round like hes got no responsibilities,he never gave my daughters bday presents or xmas presents he sends it my boy its just really spiteful,ther nan and grandad send my boy clothes and trainers n they used to help with his uniform,and theyve sent my daughters clothes and toys but they think because they do that now and again their son aint got to pay any money for his three children,i have stopped all contact with them now and stopped the grandparents buying for them because they always make excuses up for their son,ive old them im going to csa because he dont pay for his kids who iv brought up,he supports his new family and why im struggling and tryin to get a part time job to support my kids better,i was only sixteen when I had my boy and all his family told me to tell job centre/csa I didn't know who the dad was and same when I had my daughters,and now I see why they said that so he wasnt seen as a dad so he wouldn't have to pay,i want to know what will happen and would he have to back date me for my three children.even though iv stopped contact with all his family please get back to me asap.
sky - 3-Jun-14 @ 10:18 AM
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