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

Can I Get Back Pay for Child Maintenance?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 17 Jan 2018 |
 
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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I have 3 children, one is a disabled person, they are all my ex- husbands children, I repeatedly tried to claim CSA for my then children ( they are now 30yrs, 24, and 23). He was self employed and never produced any books to the CSA , at one point when I was initially on benefits when we first parted, the CSA awarded me £16.00per MONTH, and he defaulted patents and was never asked to pay me back, I then started to work ( as a nurse), which was very difficult with a very demanding disabled child and 2 other children, bit I needed to survive. He then emwent bankrupt, and I tried after 3 years to apply for child support and never received a penny, do you think I would still be able to persue a claim? Thank you.
Bridget - 17-Jan-18 @ 9:02 PM
My son was born 22 years ago and I have never had one penny paid to me by his father in maintenance. The father, (my partner) went to work in the Channel Islands just before my son was born. Just after the birth he rang me to ask what sex the baby was. When I asked him to sign the birth certificate he refused and said he could not afford it. I reported him to the CSA but they could not find him, although I told them he had a daughter living quite close to me. Now after 22 years I have found him and his daughter on social media. I informed my son and he is now friends with them both. My sons father has never denied that he is his dad, so I would just like to know If I have a case for back pay. I do realise that there would have to be a DNA test and the father may refuse.
Fraggle Princess - 16-Jan-18 @ 3:15 PM
Can cms take my assets even if they are in the USA
Watty61 - 16-Jan-18 @ 2:57 PM
My Partner divorced from his wife more than 15 years ago.We have been together 11 years and have a daughter. When his X wife found out we were having a baby 5 years ago , she contacted the CSA and said he hadn't made payments for their son. He received a letter advising he owe over £20,000 in arrears .We have paid almost £16,000 to the CSA , not to his son who is now 24 years of age. My question is, how on earth have the CSA calculated this amount ?The divorce was messy his wife cheated on him and they lost their house and car.She denied access to the children and my partner lived with Mum and friends often out of work. Is there anything we can do to argue these payments.I wouldn't mind if they were going to his son who was under 19.They are not they are going straight to the CSA. I would be grateful for any information help and advice.
CalireyS - 12-Jan-18 @ 5:02 PM
Asiandove - Your Question:
I had an arrangement through csa previously and then changed this to a mutual agreement but I feel he earns more than what he is telling me and has been underpaying me for two years. Is my old claim with csa still valid and can I backdate my claim to collect the arrears for his additional earnings for my 2 children.

Our Response:
In this case, you may be better to speak with CMS directly regarding this matter.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Jan-18 @ 10:24 AM
I had an arrangement through csa previously and then changed this to a mutual agreement but I feel he earns more than what he is telling me and has been underpaying me for two years. Is my old claim with csa still valid and can I backdate my claim to collect the arrears for his additional earnings for my 2 children.
Asiandove - 11-Jan-18 @ 6:00 PM
Lynn - Your Question:
My sister's ex husband left when my niece was 2 she is now 23 he has never paid child maintenance claiming he was unemployed. Can she claim arrears or is it to late?

Our Response:
Unless your sister made an original claim via CSA, then she cannot make a claim for backdated payments. If her ex was unemployed, then he would have been made exempt from paying. So, no claim could be made now.
ChildSupportLaws - 11-Jan-18 @ 2:01 PM
To danh . why ??? i have supported my kids since they left home , helping one to get her masters at uni .,and one to travel who now works in disney . my ex moved in with the guy she was having an affair with ,who earned shed loads of money .yet i paid the mortgage .she moved house twice , and despite 4 court ordersin my favor ordering her to let me see my children i never did for 10 years . The children are all grown up , haven't lived with their mother for more than 10 years now , and have no contact with her . so why am i still liable ????
macsmog - 11-Jan-18 @ 2:10 AM
My sister's ex husband left when my niece was 2 she is now 23 he has never paid child maintenance claiming he was unemployed. Can she claim arrears or is it to late?
Lynn - 10-Jan-18 @ 5:35 AM
@macsmog - if thee is a bill outstanding, yes!
DanH - 9-Jan-18 @ 3:15 PM
My sister was divorced years ago. Due to weak solicitor and advice, husband only had to pay maintenance until youngest child was 11. Sister not working and pays for everything with the help of our father. Children now 17 and 19. Both in full time education (one at school, one Ay uni). Can we engage with CSA to get some maintenance as sister struggling and needs financial help (which I don't think should come from our father). All advice welcome! Thank you.
Fiona - 9-Jan-18 @ 10:55 AM
i have a question . i paid child support from 95 until my ex moved and wouldn't let me see the childrenin 98 . i stopped paying ,and moved abroad for work . now my children are 27 and 29 , both grown up and living their lives well away from their mother . my question is , if i come back to the UK will the csa hit me for arrears and force me to pay ???? Many thanks
macsmog - 9-Jan-18 @ 1:23 AM
Shell bell - Your Question:
I have been underpaid by my ex for 7 years he didn’t say he was earning more than I though and was only paying £100 a month when he should have paid £250 we wasn’t going through csa can I claim it back?

Our Response:
You cannot legally claim it back as this was agreed as a family-based child maintenance arrangement, whereby an amount is agreed between parents. Only if the claim was registered and assessed by CMS can you claim retrospective payments if and where a parent does not pay.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Jan-18 @ 11:07 AM
Jaell - Your Question:
My father wasn't in my life from the day I was born till I was about 14. He started paying a bit of money monthly once my mum had called the csa on him. I'm now 17 and still in full time education and he's only been paying when he feels like it and not the full amount that him and my mum agreed on, we've messaged him and asked him to put the full amount in many times but still doesn't do it. I was just wondering if I can get the money back dated from when I was born?

Our Response:
You cannot claim directly, only your mother can. She can only claim from when she originally made the claim via CSA/CMS. This means, unless she claimed when you were born, she can not apply to have child maintenance backdated from when you were born.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Jan-18 @ 10:55 AM
My father wasn't in my life from the day I was born till i was about 14. He started paying a bit of money monthly once my mum had called the csa on him. I'm now 17 and still in full time education and he's only been paying when he feels like it and not the full amount that him and my mum agreed on, we've messaged him and asked him to put the full amount in many times but still doesn't do it. I was just wondering if I can get the money back dated from when I was born?
Jaell - 7-Jan-18 @ 7:58 PM
I have been underpaid by my ex for 7 years he didn’t say he was earning more than I though and was only paying £100 a month when he should have paid £250 we wasn’t going through csa can I claim it back?
Shell bell - 7-Jan-18 @ 10:53 AM
I find it completely horrific and disturbing that we only ever seem to hear one side of the story. I am a father and i seperated from my partner 5 years ago after my marrage broke down. I have had continual contact with my child,no where near as much as i would like too because my ex partner does not allow me to have more access. I have asked for increased access nearly every month since we split. I have paid my ex partner a set amout of maintinance each month since i left the marital home and this was a figure we both agreed on.Now don't get me wrong, Money is absolutley no object when it comes to my child having what they need butIf we are going to be picky, this amount that we agree on would have meant i was over paying her before my change in circumstances. Low and behold, all of a sudden this amount is no longer good enough now she is aware that i have improved my quality of life through work promotion. She wants more from me and even stated that she needed more from me because she was on half pay due to being maternity leave and her partner, I assume does not earn alot. She came at me with some rediculous figure that she had be supposedly given by someone, so I have told her to make the claim through CMS to get the correct amount. I will pay the corrected amount they tell me to...not her. I would also like to add that she has been with another partner who sh now lives with and has a child with.....this also come at a time when she has been made aware that i now have a partner and she doesn't like it. So I have paid Maintinance for my child every month for 5 years and will continue to provide everything i can for them until they become an adult. I will always fight to spend more time with my child despite being told i can't and dispite my child telling his mother himself he want to see me more. So before we brandish all Fathers for being the same and trying to duck out of responsibility, lets realise that there are cases out there where the mother is only out for what she can get.
The voice of reason - 5-Jan-18 @ 5:36 PM
Mir - Your Question:
My ex husband has done all he can to avoid paying. The CMS caught up with him via my MP helping also. He is on DEO but has decided on a 2nd tribunal and he is saying he can't afford to pay. He has purposely exceeded his expenditure in hoping that they take it into account. New car, renting a bigger house, holiday to USA, football season ticket etc. Is there any chance he will get the arrears written off? He is on 42k a year. Will they investigate further or take his word for it? He doesn't like being told what to do and currently has 6k of arrears. I'm worried it will get wiped and my girls will miss out yet again.

Our Response:
CMS do not take expenditure into consideration. Child maintenance is based purely on the calculation and assessment of income/earnings.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Dec-17 @ 11:23 AM
My ex husband has done all he can to avoid paying. The CMS caught up with him via my MP helping also. He is on DEO but has decided on a 2nd tribunal and he is saying he can't afford to pay. He has purposely exceeded his expenditure in hoping that they take it into account. New car, renting a bigger house, holiday to USA, football season ticket etc. Is there any chance he will get the arrears written off? He is on 42k a year. Will they investigate further or take his word for it? He doesn't like being told what to do and currently has 6k of arrears. I'm worried it will get wiped and my girls will miss out yet again.
Mir - 20-Dec-17 @ 1:53 PM
S - Your Question:
My child's father has never paid maintenance for her since she was 18 months old , I contacted the CSA and was told that I would have to pay £20 per correspondence to him , which he completely ignored , I gave up as I was not earning enough money to continue, she is now 16 years old , why are these men allowed to get away with being responsible for their children , my daughter asks me and I quote "if he didn't want to look after me why did he have me " so sad for a child to think like this , our child was planned , but he didn't like the responsibilities, so threw us out of our home , I had no rights as it was only his name on the mortgage , I had been completely taken in by him , is there anything I can do that's not going to cost me money , but will make him responsible for his daughter

Our Response:
You could look into taking your child's father to court and save on legal fees by representing yourself. However, you would have to have a good case to show your ex has been earning a living and paying tax via HMRC in order to be in with a chance of getting some financial recompense. I can only suggest you first take some legal advice from the likes of Citizens Advice Bureau, who may be able to help.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Dec-17 @ 3:44 PM
my child's father has never paid maintenance for her since she was 18 months old , I contacted the CSA and was told that I would have to pay £20 per correspondence to him , which he completely ignored , I gave up as I was not earning enough money to continue, she is now 16 years old , why are these men allowed to get away with being responsible for their children , my daughter asks me and I quote "if he didn't want to look after me why did he have me " so sad for a child to think like this , our child was planned , but he didn't like the responsibilities, so threw us out of our home , I had no rights as it was only his name on the mortgage , I had been completely taken in by him , is there anything I can do that's not going to cost me money , but will make him responsible for his daughter
S - 13-Dec-17 @ 7:03 PM
Hi, I have been in touch with CMS since 2013 following my ex being arrested and kept away from the house by court order for attacking me. Long story short, for some reason they didn't put him on dedeuvtabke earning although I tried several times he was self employed but paid himself dividends so they decided based on his "low wage" that he was due £39 for a week for 2 children.He began working for a company in 2015 and I let them know but they said they needed to wait for HMRC to verify it.Fast forward to Jan th8s year and I repeated that he was working for an employer and have them the employers details. 2 months later he phoned me complaining as HMRC taken money off his wage and thought it was for child maintenance. Turns out it was for tax due whilst self employed! So Anyway, I see it as a good sign so from April onwards phone CMS regularly to ask why only getting £39 a week still, but told no proof & I had to provide it even though I told him he bought a house and car and gave address.Still no joy. Then in September I phone up and told finally got latest tax details for 2016 - 17 in July and he's on way more than even I thought so due a lot more money and would be paid back till July.Told wait for annual update in October. Get annual update and still £39 a week?! So I phoned up and told latest tax put in then "someone" went in to computer after and input old tax details so computer took latest input not latest tax details.Anyway, I complained and supposedly case worker looked into it and disagreed with my information and so still supposed to get paid£39 a week as no evidence despite HMRC details?! Then I get MP involved as still no joy and suddenly I'm getting calls from them but still a month later and they never took the £39 a week off his October wage, despite being told I would get at least that, I asked about wage update to current wage and told still not on computer though still not given reason why it's taking so long, and they are now only backdating to November despite fact they knew from July? And ex phoned me to harass me to drop case as hes had money taken off his wage yet I phoned them and they sat there's no payment due to me from employers account.I'm worried sick as it's coming up for Xmas and I have bills to pay etc and still being messed about by CMS. Am I going to get money backdated past year (not had payments at all and details from HMRC were for 2016-17 and he has been in same job, same position whole time So it should be backdated till then as had no payments at all in that while time? And how do I get them to pay me money ex says taken off his wage this month if not got it from them? Where are they holding it and why? Is that legal? And why wheb I asked to make complaint numerous times and he pit through to complaints department I get told the was none and they will "send an email to my case worker to call me" when they never do? I've spent a fortune in calls chasing it and still no further for
Unhappy - 29-Nov-17 @ 2:54 PM
Hi, I have been in touch with CMS since 2013 following my ex being arrested and kept away from the house by court order for attacking me. Long story short, for some reason they didn't put him on dedeuvtabke earning although I tried several times he was self employed but paid himself dividends so they decided based on his "low wage" that he was due £39 for a week for 2 children.He began working for a company in 2015 and I let them know but they said they needed to wait for HMRC to verify it.Fast forward to Jan th8s year and I repeated that he was working for an employer and have them the employers details. 2 months later he phoned me complaining as HMRC taken money off his wage and thought it was for child maintenance. Turns out it was for tax due whilst self employed! So Anyway, I see it as a good sign so from April onwards phone CMS regularly to ask why only getting £39 a week still, but told no proof & I had to provide it even though I told him he bought a house and car and gave address.Still no joy. Then in September I phone up and told finally got latest tax details for 2016 - 17 in July and he's on way more than even I thought so due a lot more money and would be paid back till July.Told wait for annual update in October. Get annual update and still £39 a week?! So I phoned up and told latest tax put in then "someone" went in to computer after and input old tax details so computer took latest input not latest tax details.Anyway, I complained and supposedly case worker looked into it and disagreed with my information and so still supposed to get paid£39 a week as no evidence despite HMRC details?! Then I get MP involved as still no joy and suddenly I'm getting calls from them but still a month later and they never took the £39 a week off his October wage, despite being told I would get at least that, I asked about wage update to current wage and told still not on computer though still not given reason why it's taking so long, and they are now only backdating to November despite fact they knew from July? And ex phoned me to harass me to drop case as hes had money taken off his wage yet I phoned them and they sat there's no payment due to me from employers account.I'm worried sick as it's coming up for Xmas and I have bills to pay etc and still being messed about by CMS. Am I going to get money backdated past year (not had payments at all and details from HMRC were for 2016-17 and he has been in same job, same position whole time So it should be backdated till then as had no payments at all in that while time? And how do I get them to pay me money ex says taken off his wage this month if not got it from them? Where are they holding it and why? Is that legal? And why wheb I asked to make complaint numerous times and he pit through to complaints department I get told the was none and they will "send an email to my case worker to call me" when they never do? I've spent a fortune in calls chasing it and still no further for
Unhappy - 28-Nov-17 @ 3:17 PM
Hi, I have been in touch with CMS since 2013 following my ex being arrested and kept away from the house by court order for attacking me. Long story short, for some reason they didn't put him on dedeuvtabke earning although I tried several times he was self employed but paid himself dividends so they decided based on his "low wage" that he was due £39 for a week for 2 children.He began working for a company in 2015 and I let them know but they said they needed to wait for HMRC to verify it.Fast forward to Jan th8s year and I repeated that he was working for an employer and have them the employers details. 2 months later he phoned me complaining as HMRC taken money off his wage and thought it was for child maintenance. Turns out it was for tax due whilst self employed! So Anyway, I see it as a good sign so from April onwards phone CMS regularly to ask why only getting £39 a week still, but told no proof & I had to provide it even though I told him he bought a house and car and gave address.Still no joy. Then in September I phone up and told finally got latest tax details for 2016 - 17 in July and he's on way more than even I thought so due a lot more money and would be paid back till July.Told wait for annual update in October. Get annual update and still £39 a week?! So I phoned up and told latest tax put in then "someone" went in to computer after and input old tax details so computer took latest input not latest tax details.Anyway, I complained and supposedly case worker looked into it and disagreed with my information and so still supposed to get paid£39 a week as no evidence despite HMRC details?! Then I get MP involved as still no joy and suddenly I'm getting calls from them but still a month later and they never took the £39 a week off his October wage, despite being told I would get at least that, I asked about wage update to current wage and told still not on computer though still not given reason why it's taking so long, and they are now only backdating to November despite fact they knew from July? And ex phoned me to harass me to drop case as hes had money taken off his wage yet I phoned them and they sat there's no payment due to me from employers account.I'm worried sick as it's coming up for Xmas and I have bills to pay etc and still being messed about by CMS. Am I going to get money backdated past year (not had payments at all and details from HMRC were for 2016-17 and he has been in same job, same position whole time So it should be backdated till then as had no payments at all in that while time? And how do I get them to pay me money ex says taken off his wage this month if not got it from them? Where are they holding it and why? Is that legal? And why wheb I asked to make complaint numerous times and he pit through to complaints department I get told the was none and they will "send an email to my case worker to call me" when they never do? I've spent a fortune in calls chasing it and still no further for
Unhappy - 27-Nov-17 @ 8:42 PM
Hi, My dad has recently got in touch via Facebook private messaging. I’m 28 and my sister is 29. He left before we where 2 years old. He has only ever contacted us 2 times when we where babies and has never paid a penny. He never left addresses or contact number so the child support wouldn’t be able to find him. My mum and him where never married either but he’s on our birth certificates. He’s “back from working abroad” and would like to be involved now. Could we claim money after all these years?
Rach98 - 23-Nov-17 @ 12:57 AM
K - Your Question:
My daughter is nearly 4. Her father moved to Australia when I was still pregnant and has never assisted me financially. I've asked for help but he declined and I'd like to start proceedings for child support. How do I even begin? I have all of his details (not his income, though.) please help!

Our Response:
Please see the REMO link here , which will advise further.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Nov-17 @ 3:46 PM
My daughter is nearly 4. Her father moved to Australia when I was still pregnant and has never assisted me financially. I've asked for help but he declined and I'd like to start proceedings for child support. How do I even begin? I have all of his details (not his income, though.) please help!
K - 11-Nov-17 @ 8:27 PM
Jac - Your Question:
My ex has paid £0.00 for 13yrs due 2 being on not benefits excuse after excuse

Our Response:
Non-resident parents who are in receipt of benefits come under the flat or nil rate assessment. If a person earns below £7 per week, they don’t pay any child maintenance. If they earn between £7 and £100 and are on benefits pay a flat rate of £7 per week.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Nov-17 @ 11:18 AM
My ex has paid £0.00 for 13yrs due 2 being on not benefits excuse after excuse
Jac - 8-Nov-17 @ 12:17 PM
Jane- Your Question:
Can I stop a new claim as I have made arrangements wiv the child's father as hes sayin he can afford wat cms r sayin he has to pay

Our Response:
You would have to speak to CMS directly about this matter.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Nov-17 @ 3:36 PM
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