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: 27 April 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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My ex husband has never paid child support for my now 14 year old daughter.He declined any contact and when I claimed via the CSA they said he didn't have to pay as he wasn't working.Now after all these years he wants contact .Can I claim backdated child support? Thanks
CT - 27-Apr-15 @ 3:03 PM
Can you please help. I am being chased for maintenance arrears and the repayments will cause severe hardship to such an extent I will not be able to meet my mortgage repayments. I'm not exactly sure what period the arrears relate to but I am sure it is sometime between 2010 and 2013. My eldest daughter moved in with me at the age of 18 in June 2010, she remained in full-time education. For part of this period I was also unemployed but did not claim unemployment benefit. My youngest daughter moved in with me July 2013. Again she remained in full time education. Since the CSA refuse to provide dates of when the arrears relate or which daughter they relate to I have no way of challenging them. I have asked on numerous occasions for this information but I just get blanked. I have also been told that since I had my daughters one day each week and 2 days at the weekend every second week, my wife should not have been claiming maintenance for these days but she was.Can you advise what I can do to challenge the CSA. My daughters are still living with me.
LOLA69 - 27-Apr-15 @ 2:07 AM
@thorn - I'm afraid not. You would not have been entitled to the money anyway, your mother would have, and it would have been to help contribute to your daily welfare and care.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Apr-15 @ 2:48 PM
@Harry - I am very sorry to hear this. Firstly, tell the CSA or CMS if you are in hardship, ill health, or have any special circumstances. I also suggest you give the National Debtline a call via the link here where you can chat to an advisor online or over the phone to see what the best course of action is for you. The best way forward is not to ignore the issue, but do your best to get it sorted out. You can also complain to the CSA if you think you have been treated unfairly via the link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Apr-15 @ 12:47 PM
@Bob - I don't quite understand this, as determining child support has nothing to do with whether your ex has contact or not. Even though he doesn't have contact with one of his children, shouldn't mean he his exempt from paying child support. I can only suggest you either make a complaint, if you think you have been unfairly treated, or appeal. You can do so via the link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Apr-15 @ 10:08 AM
Hello. I am just interested to know if there is anything law or otherwise regarding my situation. My father left when I was 4 years old and I have not had any real contact with him for over 30 years. When it came to paying for us he declared himself bankrupt and therefore my mother had to support me and my brother. He has never financially contributed. I know that he later had two other children and obviously can afford to support his new life. Is there anything out there that makes a father who hasn't paid anything throughout their children's life pay when they are able to or has the time frame gone now? I realise I am not a child anymore but am just interested.
thorn - 22-Apr-15 @ 2:48 PM
I became mentally ill due to post traumatic stress and had to leave my daughters as I had a mental breakdown and attempted suicide. I am nowrecovered, paying maintenance & seeing my girls again. The CSA are now coming down hard on me for arrears which I cannot pay upfront as it is over £5000. They don't want to listen to offers of paying affordable instalments as I have no assets to sell off. After I rebuilt my life I feel like it is spiralling out of control again - If the CSA take everything from me then I don't know what i'll do
Harry - 22-Apr-15 @ 10:25 AM
@BEEPS - if you are expecting also, your payments should go down too once you have your child, so be sure to tell the CSA of your change in circumstances. I'm afraid we can't give advice on CSA operations as we have no knowledge of how it deals with cases logistically. I can only suggest you try and work out what you should be paying by the Child Maintenance Options calculator here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Apr-15 @ 10:12 AM
Hi, I have two children with my ex and he hasn't paid anything towards the children. I have just been told by the CSA that because he has contact with one of the children for a weekend every two weeks, that he isn't liable to pay anything even though he has no contact with the other child. The CSA have responded saying that thats the legislation, can this be right or fair? Is it possible to cancel the original application and re-apply for just one of the children leaving the one that he has contact with off the application?
Bob - 21-Apr-15 @ 12:57 PM
@TMS - it is always a tricky situation if the paying parent is self-employed, as a good accountant and a bit of tactical planning and it can make them look as though they are not earning much at all. I'm afraid, you would have to be able to present specific evidence that he was earning more than he was presenting to the HMRC, in order to have a case.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Apr-15 @ 10:35 AM
hi my husband and I have residence of his two daughters, and receive £150 a month from his ex for them both, his son lives with his ex and she put in a claim with the CMS last year and we are expected to pay £209 a month for him. His son is now 16 and his daughters are 7 and 14 they are not benefiting from their mothers payments as it goes straight back to the CSA for their brother. We have since found out she is expecting again and have been told to expect her payments to go down even more. Is there anyway we can get the CSAto look at this from the point of view where neither child is benefiting us using the services!, their mother is refusing to co operate and ignores any correspondence and told us all she wants is my husband to suffer may I also add the csa had to do a deduction of earnings order on her as she refused to pay for her children!... as you can see the girls are being deprived of their support as not only do with give the maintenance we receive back to his ex but we also have to add to this. I am currently on maternity leave and our baby is only 14 weeks old and im facing having to cut my maternity short to ensure we can live. Not only this but we are also paying his ex's debts and mortgage arrears that she ran up on my husbands and hers property and she wont take any responsibility for these. We have tried speaking to the CSA/CMS but their words to us were they are not interested they WILL be taking the payments regardless if they are her children as well or not! ...any advice is greatly appreciated :)
BEEPS - 19-Apr-15 @ 11:29 PM
@Shelle - No, I'm afraid not. You can't claim for child support, only your mother could have claimed at the time.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Apr-15 @ 3:04 PM
My sons father owes me thousands of pounds but the CSA say that they cant get this from him. It has been passed to bailiffs but they were unsuccessful. The CSA say they are watching what goes through the tax office and also his bank account. He is a self employed taxi driver so can fiddle what he pays in tax as his job is essentially cash in hand and will obviously keep his bank account empty so that CSA cant take the money from there. Is there anything I can do to get this money off him as the CSA dont seem able to.
TMS - 17-Apr-15 @ 10:47 AM
@Iscasam- you can certainly try. If you have made previous claims and for some reason you have not received payment (you have not specified why) then the CSA can look into your case again.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Apr-15 @ 11:06 AM
Found this by accident was talking to a friend last week who said csa was shutting down so thought I'd take a look and after seeing these comments got me thinking of my biological father thought I'd would ask the Q Im now 37 and have four children of my own however I know my mum took my dad to court many many years ago for child maintainance as it where then he was ordered to pay but he never did if I know where he lives is there anything I can do in ways of claiming it now after all these years????? Just a thought
Shelle - 16-Apr-15 @ 10:37 AM
My daughters father walked out when she was 2, she is now 20 and I have never received a penny from him even though the CSA know where he's is and they have contacted me numerous times to tell me he owes the money. Now my daughter is over 18 can we still pursue him for monies not paid in the past ?
Iscasam - 15-Apr-15 @ 7:03 PM
@leon - I'm afraid the CSA do not accept claims from children, only parents. Your mother would have had to make a claim when you were younger in order to be entitled to money, which would have been paid directly to her in order to help you with your day-to-day needs.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Apr-15 @ 2:47 PM
@liam - I'm afraid the CSA do not accept claims from children, only parents. Your mother would have had to make a claim when you were younger in order to be entitled to money, which would have been paid directly to her in order to help you with your day-to-day needs.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Apr-15 @ 11:42 AM
Can some one tell me im 26 and found my dad a year ago after sending him photos of me and my partner and my daughter his granddaughter and a few phone calls all communications stoped now I would like to no can I get any monies as he never paid a single pennie towards my upbringing surley he should have to as he moraly hasnt found it in him he even made a joke sayin his freind replyed to him sayin ill want all my birthday presents now funny how he didnt contact me after that .
lost - 13-Apr-15 @ 2:46 PM
@jamesg - did you inform the CSA of your changes in employment at the time? If not, this may be a sticking point for you. If you were registered with the CSA as self-employed and you changed to being employed, you would have needed to tell the service if there was an increase or decrease of 25% or more in your gross weekly income, see link here. If you haven't, and you were earning more, it might unfortunately mean you'll be hit with a bill of arrears.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Apr-15 @ 12:27 PM
hi i was wondering i am now 27 and never knew my dad or his family as when my mam got pregnant they wanted nothing to do with me i recently found out who he is and he still has not bothered so i was wondering if i was entitled to anything from him i know this most probably sounds scabby but it wernt my choice and why should i have gone without thank you
liam - 12-Apr-15 @ 5:45 PM
@woody22 - you don't say why you haven't received any money. If he was earning then you would have been eligible for child maintenance. However, you would only be eligible for a retrospective payment if you had made a claim with the CSA years ago and he had never paid. It will be a lot tougher trying to get money from him now, if you never made a claim at the time. There is a possibility you could make an attempt through the courts, but you would have to have a justifiable reason why you made no claim when your son was younger. However, if your son is currently in full-time education (no higher than A'levels) and is living with you, then you should be able to claim for him while he is studying.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Apr-15 @ 10:55 AM
Hi, I have been paying csa for a number of years for my children. Two years ago my ex-wife decided she wanted paying direct, which I have been doing with the agreement of the csa. My middle son is nearly 19 and not in further education, so I have stopped payment for him. I have informed the csa of this fact. My ex-wife has got the arse over it. The csa now want to know if there any changes in my employment etc. I am no self employed but in full time employment for the last two years. They have asked for my last two payslips which I have sent. Can they back date any payment to herwhen I started my job or does it start from the date she contacted them last month. Also looking on their website I see that I should not have been paying for my middle son after the age of 16 as he was born before 1/9/1997. Hope you can help
jamesg - 9-Apr-15 @ 5:56 PM
Hi there, my partner is 55 and his daughter is 26. He has just rec, d an arrears order from the CSA. Is this possible, he had a private agrrement and paid until she was 18, now they want £7000 and have threatened DEO. Can someone help please
Claire - 9-Apr-15 @ 4:54 PM
@cici - you need to get back on to the CSA/CMS, if he is paying for his other children then he should be supporting your daughter too. Surely the CSA/CMS should have re-assessed his payments in order to account for your child. If you feel you have been unfairly treated by the CSA/CMS then you can complain via the link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Apr-15 @ 1:40 PM
My son is 18,i split from his father 12 years ago,at first we had a private agreement of maintenance,then my son went to live with him for a year,then at age 12 he came back to live with me.since then i havent received a penny and i'm wondering if i can try to claim it back,but dont know where to start,can anyone help me?
woody22 - 8-Apr-15 @ 9:10 AM
Hi Im hoping someone can help me. Im a single mum of a 19 mnths old girl. I have tried to reason with her biological father regarding visitation and maintenance. I have given him every opportunity to see her and taken her to see him when he states he cant. He has never paid a penny for her and niw does not see her. I have gone through the csa twiceand had no luck. However he is paying for his sons from a previous relationship through them. Why am I having no luck yet he is already on the system and paying for his other children
cici - 6-Apr-15 @ 2:35 AM
@Kazzlar - You can call the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders (REMO) Unit, via the link here which helps to register and enforce child maintenance orders internationally. If your ex is earning, you may be eligible for back pay from when you first submitted your claim. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 30-Mar-15 @ 2:27 PM
@Savage - this is the best yet! The CSA will basically take the money from the grandmother and give it back to you and take it from you to give back to the grandmother, if she puts in a retrospective claim. But here's the crunch, as the CSA don't deal in retrospective claims unless the grandmother made a claim originally. You either just need to let it go and agree that you have supported your child regardless whoever the money went to, or if you do not want to have to pay the money, then you need to get some proper legal advice on this one.
Aid - 30-Mar-15 @ 12:06 PM
I have a uk court order that my ex pay £maintenance he vanished off the face of the earth 5yrs ago and now appears to be living in Poland. He has no contact with the children, we have 3. How on earth can I get this order enforced so far it hasn't been worth the paper it's written on. I haven't received a penny from him and it's so unfair, as I have a low income I don't have spare money to spend on a lawyer I'm well and truly stuck! Thanks for any advice.
Kazzlar - 28-Mar-15 @ 4:33 AM
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