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Can I Get Back Pay for Child Maintenance?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 21 Sep 2016 |
 
Maintenance Child Support Arrears

Q.

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)

A.

This will depend on whether or not you have already contacted the Child Support Agency or Child Maintenance Service. 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/CMS and secondly as though you haven’t already put in a claim.

If You Have Made a Claim Through The CSA/CMS

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/CMS first contacted your ex-husband.

The CSA/CMS 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/CMS 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

If your husband has been very lax about paying voluntary child support, my advice to you would be to contact the CMS (which has now taken over from the CSA) as soon as possible. Unfortunately, CMS 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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In 2006 I was contacted by csa in ref to my 2 children aged 12 & 14 at the time, after explaining how we and had agreed to sort out our own arrangements I heard nothing more from them, Roll on 10 years later when my kids are now 24 & 22 and have children of their own, I have came home to a letter from the csa today regarding payment of an outstanding debt of over £4000 being transfered to the cma for collection. I have rang the csa who said they informed my ex that they were closing & tranferring to the new cma and they would be responsible for recovering any outstanding payments, the childrens mother who now lives with her husband & their child who is now over 18 has rang them today requesting they recover this money that they have alerted her to. My youngest child lived with me from the age of 14 as his mother couldn't cope with the teenage attitude but she still claimed his child benefit even though he was living with me. Why has she been allowed to agree to a mutual arrangement at the time then 10 years later be allowed to change her mind and say she wants this money that neither her nor myself knew about as we had a mutual agreement and arrangements about our kids. Is there anything I can do to contest this as I have not had any notification of this debt until this evening and I have never faltered from the agreed arrangements of our kids upbringing. How can she get away with doing this now ?
Anonamus - 21-Sep-16 @ 7:20 PM
Jay - Your Question:
I have been separated from.my wife for 2 years and we have two children, I've been child support for them both.I've just requested for DNA tests and my wife has declined and told the csa I am not the father.She has now closed the case against me.how do I claim the money back from her if she new I wasn't the father and allowed me to pay for the children? Can I claim.ot back from CSA?Or do I go to court get a suisse on signed by her at court? What's advice do you recommend.

Our Response:
You could go through the appeals/complaints process, please see link here . If you do not get the response you want directly from the CSA, you may have to seek legal advice with a view to taking the matter to court. You don't say whether you are on the birth certificate or not, but if you can prove your ex named you as the father knowing you were not, you may have a case to reclaim the money. The fact she closed the case on your request for a DNA test, points to the fact she was aware you were not the father, therefore this should help your case.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Sep-16 @ 1:49 PM
Ali - Your Question:
CSA have said since 2012 that ex was on benefits so no payment due. Recently found out he has been working all that time. CSA say I cannot backdate claim as its against the law. Claim was made in 2000 so think this is incorrect. CSA won't look into the matter as they say I need to prove benefit fraud. They surely can check his tax details at hmrc to see he has been working? How do I get this investigated?

Our Response:
It depends on whether he has been working legally or illegally. If he has been working legally then the HMRC will be able to prove this and you will be entitled to claim. If he has been working illegally (on the side, so to speak) then it is very difficult for the CSA to prove that your ex has been earning. Therefore, you would need to seek legal advice to see whether you would have a case to take the matter to court.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Sep-16 @ 10:36 AM
I have been separated from.my wife for 2 years and we have two children, I've been child support for them both... I've just requested for DNA tests and my wife has declined and told the csa I am not the father. She has now closed the case against me...how do I claim the money back from her if she new I wasn't the father and allowed me to pay for the children? Can I claim.ot back from CSA? Or do I go to court get a suisse on signed by her at court? What's advice do you recommend..
Jay - 20-Sep-16 @ 4:37 PM
CSA have said since 2012 that ex was on benefits so no payment due. Recently found out he has been working all that time. CSA say I cannot backdate claim as its against the law. Claim was made in 2000 so think this is incorrect. CSA won't look into the matter as they say I need to prove benefit fraud. They surely can check his tax details at hmrc to see he has been working? How do I get this investigated?
Ali - 20-Sep-16 @ 7:16 AM
Mizztree - Your Question:
My X who lives in Portugal and has a big business hasn't ever paid for his two daughters,I have told Remo (European child maitanance) Who gave up the search for him.Even though I've given them passport number,business emails,address as he ignored the law and now they have closed the case. My daughters are now 15 and 13.Any help please? Thank you

Our Response:
I'm afraid unless you can help REMO trace your ex, there is little we can do to help or advise upon. If your ex has a large business it shouldn't be too difficult to trace him. If you think you have been unfairly treated and REMO has closed the case too early, you should ask for its complaints procedure and put in a complaint.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Sep-16 @ 2:48 PM
My X who lives in Portugal and has a big business hasn't ever paid for his two daughters, I have told Remo (European child maitanance) Who gave up the search for him.. Even though I've given them passport number,business emails,address as he ignored the law and now they have closed the case... My daughters are now 15 and 13... Any help please? Thank you
Mizztree - 6-Sep-16 @ 10:12 PM
Hi. I am a man aged 36.I found out 6 months ago that I have a 16 year old boy which was a one night stand many years back.I have never seen the child and have only been contacted and informed 6 months ago. As you can imagine it is very stressful time for me and my family to be told that I have a son who I never knew about and is now aged 16.The DNA test shows that I am the father.His mother now wants money for him even though I have never seen him or knew anything about him until now.What duty do I owe to the child? Do I have to repay all the last 16 years? Please advise.
Adz - 2-Sep-16 @ 12:04 PM
Lungi - Your Question:
My fiancee stopped working and has not been able to pay maintanance for his children for 3 years. Now that he is working can he go and negotiate payment according to his affordability? Instead of the ex wife dictating how much?

Our Response:
He can find out how much he should be paying via the CMS calculator here. It is then up to your partner's ex whether she wishes to have a family-based arrangement, or a CMS organised one.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Sep-16 @ 2:00 PM
My fiancee stopped working and has not been able to pay maintanance for his children for 3 years. Now that he is working can he go and negotiate payment according to his affordability? Instead of the ex wife dictating how much?
Lungi - 28-Aug-16 @ 4:10 PM
### - Your Question:
I am 27 years old my mother split from my 'father' when I was around 6 months old he paid around 4-6 months of csa then my mother received nothing else off this man for my welfare would there be any entitlement after all this time

Our Response:
It is unlikely, as the CSA would have followed the case up and if your father was eligible to pay child maintenance (i.e if he was earning a wage), then the CSA would have ensured the order was enforced. Therefore, because your father has not paid, I can only conclude he was not eligible.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Aug-16 @ 1:52 PM
I am 27 years old my mother split from my 'father' when I was around 6 months old he paid around 4-6 months of csa then my mother received nothing else off this man for my welfare would there be any entitlement after all this time
### - 17-Aug-16 @ 4:09 AM
Kiwidad - Your Question:
Hi, I recently separated from my Wife to whom we have a 2-year-old daughter. She has returned to live in the UK and I have remained in New Zealand for the time being. I have applied and been registered here in New Zealand as a Liable Parent under our Child Support Act. I had to do this as both a legal obligation but also in the beginning my wife refused to receive any payments from me for child maintenance so to ensure that my daughter did not miss out I voluntarily submitted myself in order that my Wife would receive payments from the New Zealand Inland Revenue.She is now making noises about wanting to take me to the UK courts to get me to pay twice as she is wanting more money (double dip if you like). As I am already complying with the New Zealand Law and I am a New Zealand Resident, would the courts in the UK even entertain such a request for a court order and if successful could it even be enforced given that I am already making good on payments? How can I nip this in the bud before it goes too far?

Our Response:
You would not have to pay twice as many countries have reciprocal enforcement maintenance orders (REMOs), please see gov.uk link here. You may wish to get a NZ solicitor to outline the bi-country child maintenance regulations to your ex in a letter.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Aug-16 @ 2:39 PM
Hi, I recently separated from my Wife to whom we have a 2-year-old daughter. She has returned to live in the UK and I have remained in New Zealand for the time being. I have applied and been registered here in New Zealand as a Liable Parent under our Child Support Act. I had to do this as both a legal obligation but also in the beginning my wife refused to receive any payments from me for child maintenance so to ensure that my daughter did not miss out I voluntarily submitted myself in order that my Wife would receive payments from the New Zealand Inland Revenue. She is now making noises about wanting to take me to the UK courts to get me to pay twice as she is wanting more money (double dip if you like). As I am already complying with the New Zealand Law and I am a New Zealand Resident, would the courts in the UK even entertain such a request for a court order and if successful could it even be enforced given that I am already making good on payments? How can I nip this in the bud before it goes too far?
Kiwidad - 16-Aug-16 @ 5:12 AM
I split with my ex 7 years ago in the isle of man i moved to birmingham with my 2 youngest 2 half years ago my 12 yr old remained with her dad as she was all him and i put her happiness first the fact she was startin secondary school when i moved.When i lived in the isle of man my ex never bothered with the 2 youngest and in the 7 years we have been separted he hasnt paid any maintence for the 2 yougest when he has his own bizzness.i moved back to england to be closer to my family start a fresh cause i had no family over in the isle of man and i was unhappy and my 2 youngest couldnt understand why their dad never had them at weekends but he had their big sister i want to know can i calim for back pay of child maintence in the 7 years we have been separted why should he not pay for the 2 youngest
Emzy - 12-Aug-16 @ 7:49 PM
Emz - Your Question:
I have never claimed csa since my daughter was born.my ex-partner is taking me to court to get access to see my daughter. As he's not aloud to be near us both.so am wanting to no if I put in for csa do I get ever penny paid back to me from when she was born she is nearly 3 now???

Our Response:
No, as specified in the article, unless you have made a claim previously, you cannot apply for back pay. You can only claim from the time you first make the claim.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Aug-16 @ 10:58 AM
I have never claimed csa since my daughter was born.my ex-partner is taking me to court to get access to see my daughter. As he's not aloud to be near us both.so am wanting to no if I put in for csa do I get ever penny paid back to me from when she was born she is nearly 3 now???
Emz - 9-Aug-16 @ 11:22 AM
shelley1989 - Your Question:
Hello im just wanting some advise my mother made a claim for csa when I was born and through a court order my biological father was ordered to pay £12.00 a week which he never paid. im just wondering because this was ordered to pay through a court order would I be able to do something about this I know that im no longer a child and that amount would have stopped when I reached 18 years but that doesnt mean he doesnt owe the money still is there a way I can now reclaim the maintance that was supposed to be payed as a adult.

Our Response:
Only your mother can try to recoup the money owed to her via a court order and if father refused to pay. However, regardless if there was a court order, if you father was out of work and/or his circumstances meant he couldn't pay as he was not earning the required amount then your mother would not be able to claim back pay. Likewise, if your father had deliberately stopped paying, your mother would have had the option to take the matter back to court to have the order enforced at the time.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Aug-16 @ 2:49 PM
My daughter is now 19, her father a dental surgeon, claimed he was earning £532 a week (!), the CSA said he had to pay £89 maintenance.This was an estimate for his earnings by his accountant.He now of course no longer has to pay, even though she is at university.Can I ask the CSA to look at his actual figures from HMRC, and make a retrospective claim on what he was really earning, or is it too late?
apple - 7-Aug-16 @ 4:20 PM
hello im just wanting some advise my mother made a claim for csa when i was born and through a court order my biological father was ordered to pay £12.00 a week which he never paid. im just wondering because this was ordered to pay through a court order would i be able to do something about this i know that im no longer a child and that amount would have stopped when i reached 18 years but that doesnt mean he doesnt owe the money still is there a way i can now reclaim the maintance that was supposed to be payed as a adult.
shelley1989 - 5-Aug-16 @ 2:19 PM
My ex paid nothing for 4 years then last 8 years 320 a month for 2 children....he has paid 160 for last 2 years as our son is now 18...i asked for a bit more...he refused and i went to csa..he now has to give me 440 a month for one child...!!!!
Debbie - 5-Aug-16 @ 7:49 AM
Char - Your Question:
I am writing on behalf of my father. I have a half sister who he pays for. Child maintenance got his earnings wrong and was paying double adding up to £8000. He kept complaining that they had got his earnings wrong but refused to change it until recently a year later. Now they won't answer his letters about trying to get a refund on the money he's lost. What can we do about this?

Our Response:
Please see gov.uk link here which should answer your question.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Aug-16 @ 1:49 PM
I am writing on behalf of my father.I have a half sister who he pays for.Child maintenance got his earnings wrong and was paying doubleadding up to £8000.He kept complaining that they had got his earnings wrong but refused to change it until recently a year later. Now they won't answer his letters about trying to get arefund on the money he's lost . What can we do about this?
Char - 2-Aug-16 @ 11:48 PM
Hey, I am the child(I am 17 now) and my dad left me and my mum when I was very young and has not paid a penny since. He then moved to Jersey - has he knows the law cannot touch him there. We have been in contact with CSA however they cannot do anything. I was just wondering if I or my mum will ever be able to get any money back from him which he very much owes? Thank you
mini - 22-Jul-16 @ 11:19 PM
KDS - Your Question:
I have just been notified by the CSA that my child maintenance ended Sept 2015 and I have paid up until today (July 2016) my monthly amount!! so I have overpaid by 10/11 months!! now ths csa are trying to say I wont get my money back!! 2 years ago I fell out of work for 6 months and was homeless. I got myself back on my feet and started a new job, funny how quick the csa was to tack my money off me, straight away and make me pay for the 6 months I was out of work too!! I am really not happy about this and would like some advice on both matters please.

Our Response:
You haven't said why you were overcharged. If you feel you have been treated unfairly and the CSA is at fault from taking the money or not alerting you to this fact, then you can complain, please see gov.uk link here. See also, What Happens When the CSA Get it Wrong? here. If you were out of work and the CSA was taking money from you, then you should also complain about this issue as you are only eligible to pay child maintenance on 'earnings'. If the overpayment was due to the mother of your child being deceptive, then you may be able to take legal action against her directly, in which case I suggest you take legal advice.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Jul-16 @ 3:06 PM
I have just been notified by the CSA that my child maintenance ended Sept 2015 and I have paid up until today (July 2016) my monthly amount!! so I have overpaid by 10/11 months!! now ths csa are trying to say I wont get my money back!! 2 years ago I fell out of work for 6 months and was homeless. I got myself back on my feet and started a new job, funny how quick the csa was to tack my money off me, straight away and make me pay for the 6 months I was out of work too!! I am really not happy about this and would like some advice on both matters please.
KDS - 18-Jul-16 @ 9:12 AM
My husband forged my signature on an Affit David about five years ago claiming we had no children or mutual assets and denied the existence of my child. That being in the past he did me a massive favour since then he has been caught by CSA and has had to pay up. Initially he got his employers to give false information main which was rectified increasing my daughters csa payments from 620 to 1000month. I have recently had contact and know that he has failed to contact csa about bonuses on every occasion.He as also been promoted and failed to tell them about that. Some of these issueshave been rectified but not all at the moment. In adition to this he has recently sold one of our houses which wasn't in my name as I was a student when we bought it but I contributed towards it. He has taken the money from that and put it into another house. As it was a financial earning since the house was paid off before our seperate on then woukd my daughter be able to claim 25% of the 100,000 he made in profit? I'd like to add that I work hard and every penny paid to me is spent on my daughter. I am not money grabbing at all bit if she is entitled to it then it could be a deposit for a house for her so she never has to go through what I have been through with my ex.
ZB's mum - 11-Jul-16 @ 9:36 PM
My husband forged my signature on an Affit David about five years ago claiming we had no children or mutual assets and denied the existence of my child. That being in the past he did me a massive favour since then he has been caught by CSA and has had to pay up. Initially he got his employers to give false information main which was rectified increasing my daughters csa payments from 620 to 1000month. I have recently had contact and know that he has failed to contact csa about bonuses on every occasion.He as also been promoted and failed to tell them about that. Some of these issueshave been rectified but not all at the moment. In adition to this he has recently sold one of our houses which wasn't in my name as I was a student when we bought it but I contributed towards it. He has taken the money from that and put it into another house. As it was a financial earning since the house was paid off before our seperate on then woukd my daughter be able to claim 25% of the 100,000 he made in profit? I'd like to add that I work hard and every penny paid to me is spent on my daughter. I am not money grabbing at all bit if she is entitled to it then it could be a deposit for a house for her so she never has to go through what I have been through with my ex.
ZB's mum - 11-Jul-16 @ 9:35 PM
My case has currently been taken over by the Child Maintenance Service who are using my P60 from 2015 tax year. Since my earnings are now lower how do I get them to use my current P60 for 2016 I have spoken to them today and their staff are both unhelpful andvery 'matter of fact' in their response to me Any help would be greatly appreciated
efcnick - 11-Jul-16 @ 4:52 PM
Hi my x partner was paying 150 a month for two children an now he is moaning aboutpaying that so went to csa will they back date the money as he earns over 2000 pound a month
Kelz - 1-Jul-16 @ 8:57 PM
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