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Can I Get Back Pay for Child Maintenance?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 20 Nov 2020 |
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 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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It's a joke my ex babies father admitted in court he was self employed and runs a car, pays rent blah blah and he pays me £6.75 a week like how is that fair. He owes arrears and hasn't made no effort to pay back. I am going to ask for a back payment but know the response already. They don't have any power really. £6.75 can't even pay for school clothes. How can they live with themselves Mums or Dad's cheating the system. Should be ashamed. Should be able to shame them. Warning stickers for future victims having children and them causing financial abuse.
Danielle - 20-Nov-20 @ 4:55 AM
How do I get 6 year back child maintenance my wife disappeared with the boyfriend I managed to track her down and am now going for a divorce I am now getting child maintenance but am owed for the 6 years she was not around how can I get that money back as I had to take 5 years of work to look after the 2 children.
Steve - 20-Oct-20 @ 12:49 PM
I was awarded child maintenance for my 3 children in 2009 at total for the 3 was less than £9 per week. I was so disgusted that I never followed through taking it any further, even though it was on record that this is what I was awarded. I thought I would be able to get it backdated in the future if I wished to. My youngest son is now 18 but on a scholarship and still at home part time. I decided that it was time to put in a claim for my back payments of maintenance only to be told it was too late! The letter I have received from the Child Maintenance Service states that the payments should be until my youngest son is 20. Yet I am told I am too late to apply? I feel such a fool for not taking the money years ago but I honestly thought I could get it backdated. Is there anything I can do?
vick - 8-Oct-20 @ 5:22 PM
My 3boys are early 20s there dads have never seen em or never paid a penny one is living life of Riley and other commited suicide I justhurting still wot they ave lost in not seeing there sons scum or wot I wanna know if I can get out back dated
Jo - 4-Oct-20 @ 11:29 PM
I was awarded custody of 2 of my 3 sons in1985 I never recieved any maintenance from my ex as I never paid any for my youngest son but I had him every weekend and holidays in 1995 came to stay with me as well by this time I was remarried and hadanother 3 year old but again my claim with old dhss still never recieved any money from my ex 25 years later cms have sent me a bill saying I owe maintenance.They will not except I had my 3 sons and another child they say I have to give them evidence as why I should not pay but they will not except I had my 3 sons with me they want evidence Contacted old DHSS Child benifit agencybut they do not keep records that long. Awaiting fora reply from the courts but again even letter from my sons say they won't accept as evidence what can I do is this actually legal .
Bear - 28-Sep-20 @ 3:52 PM
I received a letter from csa February 2020 saying I’ve missed 4 months payment now I’ve had a new letter saying I haven’t payed since 2017 can she go bk tht far when I have payed up to November 2019
Lee - 24-Sep-20 @ 11:18 AM
Hi, My partners ex has contacted CSA for child maintenance payments even though they had an arrangement set between themselves of £50 a week every Friday for nearly the last two years. Today a letter came through off them stating she had contacted them etc. She has never had our address, I was just wondering whether CSA can find your address on her behalf?
Flika - 12-Sep-20 @ 7:58 PM
My dad owes my mum over £7k in unpaid child support. It’s been going on SINCE 1995. Complete waste of time CSA or now CMS are, they simply do not chase and my mum is living proof of it. I honestly wouldn’t waste your time,effort or money on phone calls/emails to them. You get a polite reply back eventually but zero work is being done behind the scenes.
Martin. - 8-Sep-20 @ 4:43 AM
Hi guys, My partner for the past 7 years has paid £100 a week for his 2 children. He is also blackmailed for more. He also pays all kids activities, clothes trainers, trips etc. We also have these children 4 nights a fortnight. His ex moved away and refuses to collect or drop them off so we do a 3 hour round trip to collect and return. Over 18 months alone she has took him for £10,500 he is now up to his eyes in debt. He brings home £1200 How we have survived we have no idea. My partner cut the money due too csa stating (when his ex contacted them weirdly thinking she could get more) too £36 too which he is paying. Now we are in court as she don’t want me or my partner over night access(but that’s another story) - is there a way my partner can get a back payment due to the over payment?
S&s - 2-Sep-20 @ 1:37 PM
My ex partner of 2 years have been paying every month. When i moved in with my new partner he dropped the money by 100. Now im getting hassle from him every week and threatening messages. So ive decided to go to csa. He has said in the past if i did go through them he wouldn't see them again. His decision not mine. He aslo says if i did i would have to pay back all that he has paid me because im on benefits due to health. Is this true? Many thanks
Nico - 25-Aug-20 @ 11:53 AM
My 16 year has just went to live with his mum after living with me for the last ten years. His mum never paid me anythinguntil about a year ago where she start to put 30 pound a month into my account. Now she says thats not enough and that she will claim for what ever she can get off me . Where do I stand ?
Joe - 22-Aug-20 @ 3:38 PM
I’ve had custody for 13 years and never requested child support. Can I give her custody and not have to pay child support either?
Na - 14-Aug-20 @ 7:52 PM
I brought up my kids alone with no support from their father i never got child support as they said they couldnt find an address for him now both kids are adults my ex husband has a permanent address but still never mentioned anything about not paying child support for over 27 yrs now
Mum 73 - 7-Aug-20 @ 10:45 AM
I didnt receive child support for my two children for 6 years even though I applied in 2010. My ex left his job at the RAC and went self employed so he could hide his finances. I got a letter saying the csa had closed the case. Both the children, my son 19 and daughter nearly 17 now live with their father and he is claiming child maintenance from me. Is there anything I can do to claim that money back? He paid cs for my daughter for 3 years until she moved down to live with him and then put in a claim for both of them.
Ali - 1-Aug-20 @ 8:18 AM
My ex partner owes £3k to my girls that he never sees despite living less than half a mile away. He has just had a baby with ANOTHER woman, making 5 by 4 people. He leaves his job just as the maintenance award arrives, lives off his latest gf and then goes back when that breaks down. The CMS do so little is pathetic. They admit they haven't chased up any claims (even old ones that haven't been paid) since March! (He is working currently, and has been since february) If I owed the HMRC £3K they would find a way for me to pay it quick enough!
Stookie67 - 31-Jul-20 @ 7:30 AM
Hi my son is 19 & my daughter is 16 , I have never claimed maintenance from their father can I claim it all back dated they are both still in full time education . Thank you
Mum - 19-Jul-20 @ 1:10 AM
Hello I have two sons age 13 and 10 there dad hasn’t had any thing to do with them for 9 years, can I claim child support off him now... he’s never payed me a penny but the older there getting the dearer they get and the more I struggle? I don’t have any details for the dad apart from here he works? Thanks
Liz - 15-Jul-20 @ 1:22 AM
I havechild maintenanceservice assessment in place which ex hasnt paind since march 2020 can only get in touchwith cms by messages and they not doing anything when are they going to start chasingmissed payments up
Kaz - 10-Jul-20 @ 6:49 AM
I am not sure what to do?My ex makes regular child maintenance payments, which we agreed to in our divorce settlement.It was also agreed at the time that these payments would be increased, dependent on his salary/rate of inflation.I have previously independently, requested an increase but he has rejected my request.There is not a court order in place regarding the children’s care, we agreed that he would have the children 3 nights each week.Over the past 12 months, this has reduced to 1 night each week, children’s choice.Now, this has reduced to 0.He has chosen to life with his parents after purchasing a property, but deciding to rent it out instead.He cannot currently, provide a home for the kids to stay with him, this is not due to a lack of finance to do so. Our relationship has completely broken down and we no longer have any contact for me to reasonably raise this with him directly. Can I seek additional child maintenance payments? Can I do this via Child Support?
Enquirer - 31-May-20 @ 11:30 AM
Goes on here about fathers that dont pay I've paid voluntary for 21 years for 2 children never missed a payment when my daughter was 18 I even paid 1 extra year into my daughters account to help her out I have a son with another women hes 14 i have been paying on time every month i trusted my sons mother and she i wont go through csa ile just have what you pay me i would never do that to you so ok i carried on we have had a very messy break up so i thought ok ile look at self calculation on the the csa website and ho what does it come back with that I should have been paying £222 not £325 so what about refunds for fathers that have been led to believe it was the right thing to do dont get me wrong I would give my kids anything but she as a massive 5 bed house I lived with her for 5 years and still paid the maintenance I'm not on a high wage but I get by can any1 advise I've got bank proof and messages , I have told her that I'm dropping it to what it should be and she as turned very nasty our son is special needs and is under social services for neglect and she is telling them all sorts of lies and trying to stop me seeing him what can I do carry on paying the £325 because I want to see my son or lower the payment and risk losing contact altogether shes using a child as a pawn not right
Steve - 9-May-20 @ 5:45 PM
Hi I had a court order that was made in 1989 for child maintenance of which I received a few payments but then they stopped completely....can I go that far back to get money owed by him
Vee - 15-Apr-20 @ 11:24 PM
My child dad came back into her life after 11 years after not seeing her since she was 5 months old. I'm on benefits and disabled, he wants to give me 20 pound a month but never gave anything before that , until he met her and since given her about 200 pound. I don't know how much I'm entitled too and he doesn't pay regular. He thinks he can see her when and where he wants to, but she constantly wants me to be with her. That and some horrible messages and he doesn't do anything when he sees her I really don't know what to do
Tigger - 3-Feb-20 @ 9:56 PM
To reiterate what rob said, very unfair to assume that the children are always stay with the mother. I am a single parent to 5 kids and seeing this sort of sloppiness in article is annoying.
J03 - 6-Jan-20 @ 7:53 PM
Hi any advice would be greatly appreciated I have 4 children boy age 19 boy age 17 and twinsboy and girl 15 I seperated from my ex over ten years ago he was chased by CSA for the two eldest children and never everpaid a thing he has stayed jobless used a mental health issue and avoided all responsibilities completely I received a letter last year from CSA saying case was closed and I now find out his father has died probate is where for the last 6 months it’s been dealt with he also had no contact with his father whatsoever and an advert had to be placed in the local paper for relatives of the deceased to come forward I believe he is sole beneficiary being his only son could I claim anything for my children now from this or can I at least go back to CSA would they reopen my case after learning he has inherited??? Kind regards
Josie - 6-Jan-20 @ 10:02 AM
Hi my partner had 2 children with his ex over 26 yrs ago he was never chased for child support and has now received a letter saying he owes over 2000 pound. He is on benefits and we have 5 children of our own. His 2 children are all grown up. Does he need to pay this as he hasn't been chased for it before and quite frankly we have no spare money with 5 children of our own
fjhugh1 - 1-Jan-20 @ 10:41 AM
Hello, my son's dad got a nil award through CSA in 2013 as he damaged his hand at work. He started working a few months later, then moved to New Zealand for 14 month's later that year for work. When CSA changed to CMS I received a letter saying I was owed £200 in arrears. I went to CMS in 2017 as I had not received a penny from him since his nil assessment and assumed CSA would have been keeping track as to whether he was working or not. It took a year of CMS trying to get the money from my claim with them in 2017 and finally there is an order but what about the payments from 2013-2017? Is there nothing I can do to reclaim that, as there was a case open but they failed to keep tabs on him working after his nil assessment. Is there anything I can do? I am about to remortgage the house to buy him out and he is entitled to 50% of the equity even though he hasn't paid a penny since 2011. How is that fair yet he can get away with paying for our son for 4 years? Surely there must be something I can do? Thank you.
Jlea - 18-Dec-19 @ 1:52 PM
My son's father did a runner 26 years ago, I have only just found out where he is, can I claim back maintenance?
Frankie - 6-Dec-19 @ 2:56 PM
When csa disbanded in may 2017 me and my ex were on quite friendly terms so we planned to decide between us how much maintenance he would continue to pay. We both had quite a lot going on at the time (my mum had quiet recently died) so it was hard for us to decide on an amount. This dithering went on for months and i told him "lets not worry for now, we will sort it out later". Eventually we agreed on £30 per week and he satrted paying it in oct 2017. (After a gap of 5 months with no payments at all) so - periodically i have asked him for the missing amount and he has fobbed me off with excuses, being an easy going person, i have given him the benefit of the doubt and trusted him that he would pay when he could afford it. So today - our heating has broken down (our son lives with me, he is now 21 years old and due to be losing his job soon). Now would be a good time for the ex to pay what he owes - but he refuses to. He now says that he thought that delaying our plans to restart the maintenance back in the spring to summer of 2017 meant that i was letting him off with it! This is lies because everytime we spoke about it, he was telling me he would pay - when he could. Is there anything i can do???
Angrytoday - 5-Dec-19 @ 9:13 PM
Hi can i clame back pay as my ex stoped paying for my 3 children over 8years ago through the csa they are now 19 20 21
Megan - 2-Dec-19 @ 4:11 PM
I am.planning on applying for a variation order has the cms did not take into account my exes rental income and want to know if this can be back dated since my child was born. She is 18 and in full time education now.
Navi - 2-Dec-19 @ 12:23 AM
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