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: 28 August 2015 |
 
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. 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]
@Luke73 The CSA/CMS are right to say they can only claim retrospectively. The court are likely to have the same view, if she never made a claim, then unless she had a very good reason, it is unlikely her case would hold up in court.
Misha - 28-Aug-15 @ 11:13 AM
Hello. I am a non-resident parent & was wondering if the mother of my child can sue me retrospectively for child maintenance.? The CSA & CMS say she can only claim from the period from when she first made the claim not retrospectively under their rules. However can she still take me to court and make a claim for monies she says i owe her for back payment.?
Luke73 - 27-Aug-15 @ 11:07 AM
I have received a letter today including a years payment plan from the csa. I applied to csa in 2001and oviously this time they have caught up with him.I have never had any payments before. My son is now 17 and this plan is for the year ahead at 30 a week. It says I will receive another plan next year for the year after. My question is how long does he have to repay back as it is thousands?Especially at 30 a week.And what happens if my son decides to start work does the payments stop?
Sarah - 26-Aug-15 @ 10:45 PM
shaz - Your Question:
My daughters dad is a idiot he dosent wanna pay for is daughter he makes everything awkward thanks to CSA for helping me what's owed to NY daughter

Our Response:
I am glad you have had a good result and the father is now contributing to the welfare of his children.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Aug-15 @ 9:38 AM
My daughters dad is a idiot he dosent wanna pay for is daughter he makes everything awkward thanks to CSA for helping me what's owed to NY daughter
shaz - 25-Aug-15 @ 2:46 AM
MJR - Your Question:
I have been paying maintenance since the day we split up, generally £100 a month more than the calculator. I have recently come off shift working, so my income has dropped significantly. Using the calculator, I dropped accordingly. She has been in touch with CMA and filed a claim against me. He is 16 and we share custody 50/50. Can I apply to stop paying? We share all costs equally so I don't understand why I still have to pay. Thanks

Our Response:
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 1/7. For example if the weekly maintenance is £70 then 1/7 is £10. If the child spends two nights a week with the non resident parent then the total weekly maintenance is reduced by £20, leaving £50 maintenance to be paid. You should really broach this question directly to the CMA, esepcially if you have shared care of your son. In addition, 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, not higher than A-level equivalent, for at least 12 hours a week, then, if you are eligible to pay, your maintenance payments will continue until your child finishes or until they turn 20. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Aug-15 @ 12:02 PM
Hi, me and my ex we r separate from January this year. Me and my son we face domestic violence.I applied for child maintenance and he paid only 3 month.Since April he didn't paid and he put silly excuses.I call child support agency and they always said that they are waiting for my ex to show them some paperwork,after they didn't have even his real income from 2014-2015.They have only 2012 and my maintenance wasmade on base of that income from 2012. I feel very discriminate, low. I will like to know if me as parent i can make a complaint against my ex,if i can put him to the court, if i can request him to let go his parental rights.Thank you
Just a parent - 11-Aug-15 @ 9:02 PM
I have been paying maintenance since the day we split up, generally £100 a month more than the calculator. I have recently come off shift working, so my income has dropped significantly. Using the calculator, I dropped accordingly. She has been in touch with CMA and filed a claim against me. He is 16 and we share custody 50/50. Can I apply to stop paying? We share all costs equally so I don't understand why I still have to pay. Thanks
MJR - 11-Aug-15 @ 9:35 AM
EandD - Your Question:
My partner has recently received a letter saying he needs to start paying child maintenance per week, he then a day later was sent a letter saying he was in child maintenance arrears of nearly £2000. Now, he has never ever been allowed to see this child and was denied access to be on birth certificate which have immediate doubt of paternity. This was in 2012 so the child is around 3 years old. We have never received any letters to set up payments however now received one saying we are in arrears! She has denied any access to all family including my partner the 'assumed father' and no DNA test done. As you can imagine this seems extremely unfair and we are now worried we have to pay this expensive bill for a child who has not it a father on his birth certificate. Please some or any advice on this would be great!?

Our Response:
Has he never received anything prior to this letter? As arrears generally occur from the time the resident parent made a claim. It is advisable for him to begin paying the weekly/monthly amount requested asap, to stop him falling further into arrears. In the meantime, if he is in doubt about his paternity, he can request a DNA test. Please see link, 'DNA testing to solve parentage disagreements', here. However, he will be eligible to continue paying support until such time the test is verified. If the test is negative, he may be able to claim the money back, if it is positive then he will continue paying for the child, until school leaving age. If he is unhappy regarding the arrears and feels it is unfair, then he can appeal or complain to the CSA.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Aug-15 @ 2:20 PM
My partner has recently received a letter saying he needs to start paying child maintenance per week, he then a day later was sent a letter saying he was in child maintenance arrears of nearly £2000. Now, he has never ever been allowed to see this child and was denied access to be on birth certificate which have immediate doubt of paternity. This was in 2012 so the child is around 3 years old. We have never received any letters to set up payments however now received one saying we are in arrears! She has denied any access to all family including my partner the 'assumed father' and no DNA test done. As you can imagine this seems extremely unfair and we are now worried we have to pay this expensive bill for a child who has not it a father on his birth certificate. Please some or any advice on this would be great!?
EandD - 6-Aug-15 @ 11:22 AM
Hello, i haven't seen my father since i was 3 years old as he left me, my 3 siblings and my mother, he chose to have nothing to do with us because he started a new family, in doing so he moved away and lost all contact meaning we never got any child maintenance, i am now 26, am i eligible to still claim in arrears?
mart89 - 4-Aug-15 @ 6:46 PM
@Elena - I'm afraid you can't put in a backdated claim to the CSA, if you have never claimed previously. You don't say why you never claimed at the time. Given your son is now 21, then he is over the age of 16, which is the age limit that every parent has the basic responsibility to provide for their child. However, 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. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Aug-15 @ 10:39 AM
@dad - if you feel you have been treated unfairly by the CSA, then you can complain via the link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Aug-15 @ 12:24 PM
Hi my ex left when our son was 6months old, I have not asked him for a penny. Now I see that my son needs some financial help from his father, I want to claim back from him to help his son out. My son is now 21 how can I go about claiming if my son has never seen him through out his life. I now have a blended family and my husband wants me to get back pay for my son.
Elena - 1-Aug-15 @ 7:13 AM
I resently wrote not getting support for my 14 yr old daughter any aspect of suppert since I won custody when she was 2 yrs old she has been special ed since I got her the case I opened back then never gave me a direct reason or any reason to the fact why she is not orderd to contribute for her daughter.what can I do????
dad - 31-Jul-15 @ 6:38 PM
I got custody of my daughter at 2yrs old I opened a child support case and till this daymy daughter is 14yrs old now I cant seem to get a answer why I cant get help withmoneys child care my ex fails to pay anything and child support wont tell me why or whats going on on top of this my daughter is special ed. her mom has never contribute. nor given a birthday gift or a phone call on a birthday. what can I do?
dad - 31-Jul-15 @ 6:16 PM
My ex and I split just when my son turned 1 years old. I immediately put in a claim. His father takes him one day at the weekend. My son is now 8 years of age and still has weekend contact with his father. Despite being in and out of work (longest consistent job was 2 years, shortest just 2 weeks), endless phone calls and endless excuses (once I was actually told they had LOST my file!) and putting in 3 official complaints my case has never been resolved. I actually called the agency and provided details of a company website that showed the non-paying father working at the company! Smiling away with a little bio about how long he had worked there and how he was a valued member of staff!!!! They assured me that the company would receive a £1000 fine as would the father. NO action was ever taken except 1 letter to his home which was ignored and never followed up by the agency. In fact they contacted me recently to advise they were closing my case! And if I want it re-opening it would be subject to a fee (!!!!!) Which prompted another official complaint from myself. Since then I have had a small 'goodwill' payment from the agency (not from the father) and an apology letter saying they have failed me, he owes arrears and they will be collecting them. Then another letter last week saying actually he doesn't owe anything again. I am absolutely appalled by the whole thing. I have worked since my son turned 2 years old without a break, and yet his father has never contributed a thing and suffered no consequences. I'm not going to give up, but I feel incredibly let down by the CSA.
Frustrated - 30-Jul-15 @ 2:34 PM
@Natty - if you have never made a claim then you will be unable to make a retrospective one for back payments. However, you should be able to make a new claim if you feel your daughter may need financial help in order to get her through her education. You may be advised in the first instance to talk to the CMS as ask what it advises. Please see link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Jul-15 @ 11:06 AM
Hi there, my ex moved out of the family home when our daughter was 4 years old, he came and saw her once and he's never paid a penny to help raise her, she's 19 years old now and going to university in September. I have never made a claim for maintenance, he has since gone on to have three more children over the years and pays for them fine, so why should I stand for absolutely no financial help before or now? Can I start a claim for back payments?? Nats
Natty - 24-Jul-15 @ 3:04 PM
Hi, my ex didn't pay any maintenance for around 10 years as CSA couldn't find him. They eventually caught up with him when my daughter was 14 they set up an amount but he said he would pack up work if i didnt accept £20 a week. I phoned CSA and said we have sorted out a payment plan. He owed alot of arrears as I had made the claim years before. My daughter is now 19 and just finished education so he's stopped paying. Can I claim back the arrears?
Razzy - 19-Jul-15 @ 10:33 PM
Hi. I'm now 29 years old. My dad has never been in my life. I met him when I was 14 and he basically told me after 2 weeks he didn't want anything to do with. He has 3 other kids with his recent wife and still claims he only has 3 children when he actually has 4. Someone mentioned that I maybe still be eligible for CSA. Is that true? If so how do I go about it?
Phaze - 19-Jul-15 @ 1:24 PM
I have two children and have never been paid a penny in child maintenance because my ex said that he was not working.I have been divorced for 18 years now and my children are 27 and 30.He is now a company director with his own. Company of which she has a 50% share with his partner. Could I sue for unpaid child support .
LP - 19-Jul-15 @ 12:55 PM
My daughters father and I split when she was 5 months old, he began maintenance payments. Whenever I have asked him to review the amount over the past 5 years he has refused. I have since (June 2015) made an application with child maintenance service and the maintenance amount has significantly increased by an additional £120 per month. I know his current managerial position within his company began 17 months ago. So therefore he has been unwilling to pay the correct amount of maintenance for his daughter. My question is, can I take this to court and have him pay the additional maintenance he should have been paying the past 17 plus months?
Talulah38 - 17-Jul-15 @ 2:46 PM
@KMike - it is not up to you to claim maintenance, it was up to your mother to claim when you were a child for your day-to-day needs. At 38, I think you need to put this one to bed and move on here!
Charlie - 15-Jul-15 @ 2:29 PM
my sons father went to live in Ireland when our son was a matter of months to get out paying maintenance. Our son is 17 now and he's never paid a penny. I've recently heard where abouts he lives but can I claim any arrears? I had asked the csa at the time and they went to his parents home within the UK but never caught him. He still lives in Ireland so can I do anything?
sarahsa - 13-Jul-15 @ 9:48 PM
Hi: I am 38 years old and my biological father left me shortly after my birth.My mother has an order for maintenance but no payments were ever made as he went to the US and has been working ever since.I now have his location and am wondering if there is any way I might be able to obtain any of the backpayments for my maintenance that was never made?Thanks for your response.
KMike - 13-Jul-15 @ 4:41 PM
@Kari - you can't begin a retrospective claim, if you have never put in a claim previously.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Jul-15 @ 12:07 PM
@Carol - you can either drop him an official line to say that he has to pay as per the court order, and if he does not, then you will take it to court in order to get the order enforced as he is in breach. If he has had the job for a while and has not paid, then you may want to seek legal advice to see whether you can take it to court in order to claim back pay. The fact that you were married has no bearing on his own contribution, he still is liable to support his own children. As specified in the article, 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.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Jul-15 @ 11:24 AM
Hi there I split from my sons Dad in the early 90's he only had contact with my son until age 5 then I lost contact with him, is it possible to pursue him for child maintainence after 20 years of nothing from him, I now know where he stays and know that he is in full employment
Kari - 6-Jul-15 @ 5:06 PM
Hi, My husband and I divorced in 2007/8, the divorce papers state that he should pay £400 per month for each child until my son (then17) left education orturned 21, and for my daughter, who is disabled turned 25 or got a job. In 2008 I met my husband who died in 2011, from the moment my late husband moved in until the present day my ex has paid £1 per month, is this legal? I have struggled and support my two children and continue to do so, is there any way to enforce what was agreed in my divorce? My ex has always said he didn't earn enough to pay, - £15,000 pa as he had given up his previously lucrative work, he has now however got a much better job and he told my daughter he would give her £150 per month, but he has now back tracked on this which has caused her yet more pain. My daughter is now 23.
Carol - 4-Jul-15 @ 11:23 AM
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