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: 10 Feb 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. 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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Jack- Your Question:
My partner paid for his daughter and step son via mutual agreement (proof by bank statement) since they separated, then his daughter came to live with us by request from the mother and want of his daughter, when this happened we never requested a penny from her mother! Then four and a half years later the daughter goes back to her mother due to been a teenager and not liking boundaries and now the mother wants child mantainence again. Even though the CSA have never been involved due to my partner been reasonable, can my partner be paid what he's owed for the time his daughter lived with us and for the step child that he really shouldn't of had to pay for?

Our Response:
Nounless you made an application at the time and it wasn't fulfilled, it cannot be back dated.
ChildSupportLaws - 11-Feb-16 @ 10:51 AM
Jack- Your Question:
My partner paid for his daughter and step son via mutual agreement (proof by bank statement) since they separated, then his daughter came to live with us by request from the mother and want of his daughter, when this happened we never requested a penny from her mother! Then four and a half years later the daughter goes back to her mother due to been a teenager and not liking boundaries and now the mother wants child mantainence again. Even though the CSA have never been involved due to my partner been reasonable, can my partner be paid what he's owed for the time his daughter lived with us and for the step child that he really shouldn't of had to pay for?

Our Response:
Unless your partner has previously made a claim to the CSA, then he cannot register a new claim for retrospective payments.
ChildSupportLaws - 11-Feb-16 @ 10:39 AM
My partner paid for his daughter and step son via mutual agreement (proof by bank statement) since they separated, then his daughter came to live with us by request from the mother and want of his daughter, when this happened we never requested a penny from her mother! Then four and a half years later the daughter goes back to her mother due to been a teenager and not liking boundaries and now the mother wants child mantainence again. Even though the CSA have never been involved due to my partner been reasonable, can my partner be paid what he's owed for the time his daughter lived with us and for the step child that he really shouldn't of had to pay for?
Jack - 10-Feb-16 @ 4:35 PM
I would like to know if the daughter live with the ex and she has a husband and I have a family also with the baby .What she can ask for my husband? She never wanted he checks the daughter,but she divorce now with the husband and she start touch me and my husband after 2 year... I can't belive,if we send for her the money she spend this to the daughter's food,clothes or some othere staff. When she hasn't a problem she blocked us everywhere where we can touch her but now she want's we pay for her a lot of money. She always call me and tell me she can make for us a troubles and she can kill me or do some bad things for my family. I really scare.May be is better if we just pay for her and she will be live is alone. I don't know...
mom1 - 5-Feb-16 @ 10:24 PM
MinimalShine - Your Question:
All the previous comments are in respect of fathers not paying maintenance, but women can be just as unreliable/unkind in the same scenario. My male partner has been the main parent for his two children for 4 years. Due to a recent slanderous attack on his parenting abilities (which I won't go into), the mother has now taken charge of the children. She has been quick to claim all the relevant benefits and child maintenance (conveniently, it has been a very financially lucrative move on her behalf). My partner wants to support his kids, of course, but he has never asked her for a penny in all the time he was the main caregiver. Can he now ask for maintenance to be backdated for the four years the mother offered absolutely no financial support? It seems so unfair that his kindness should be returned with such injustice.

Our Response:
Unless your partner has previously claimed child maintenance frmo the CSA/CMS, then he would not be allowed to claim retrospective payments. If his children have been living with him for four years, he would have the option to take the matter to court and apply for custody. While his ex may have ParentalResponsibility, he can also apply to have his children returned. While he may not necessarily be granted the order, the courts would assess what is in the children's best interests and consistency and stability rank high in importance.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Feb-16 @ 2:25 PM
All the previous comments are in respect of fathers not paying maintenance, but women can be just as unreliable/unkind in the same scenario. My male partner has been the main parent for his two children for 4 years. Due to a recent slanderous attack on his parenting abilities (which I won't go into), the mother has now taken charge of the children. She has been quick to claim all the relevant benefits and child maintenance (conveniently, it has been a very financially lucrative move on her behalf). My partner wants to support his kids, of course, but he has never asked her for a penny in all the time he was the main caregiver. Can he now ask for maintenance to be backdated for the four years the mother offered absolutely no financial support? It seems so unfair that his kindness should be returned with such injustice.
MinimalShine - 5-Feb-16 @ 1:44 AM
Mummysconfused - Your Question:
My ex partner has never paid child maintenance my son is almost 7, he does not work and will not claim benefit so he has no income. L he lives with his mother who supports him. He sees his dad once a week and his grandpa sees him once a week. I pay everything for my son and I am wondering if he has no income does that mean he doesn't have to pay a penny?

Our Response:
I'm afraid so. Child Maintenance is based solely upon the non-resident parent's registered income/earnings, therefore if he is assessed as not paying tax to the HMRC, then unfortunately there is little you can do.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Feb-16 @ 1:52 PM
Lizscot- Your Question:
Please give me advise.I had 2 children here in Spain to a Spanish citizen.We seperated after 5 years.We were never married.Finally in 2003 I was awarded full custody and 1500e a month.My children were then 16 and 18.I never received anything when they were small and had to work so hard to bring my children up with no financial help from anywhere.My ex ignored the courts decision and then in 2005 he said he couldnt pay as he was unemployed.This was untrue as he had a restaurant and shares of a dental practice which I have proof of.In 2007 the police went to his home to arrest him and he had disapeared.I have now discovered he is living in the uk by another name to avoid being traced.Please advise what I can do now

Our Response:
You would have to inform your Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Order (REMO) Unit directly.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Feb-16 @ 12:59 PM
My ex partner has never paid child maintenance my son is almost 7, he does not work and will not claim benefit so he has no income. L he lives with his mother who supports him. He sees his dad once a week and his grandpa sees him once a week. I pay everything for my son and I am wondering if he has no income does that mean he doesn't have to pay a penny?
Mummysconfused - 3-Feb-16 @ 8:20 PM
Please give me advise.I had 2 children here in Spain to a Spanish citizen.We seperated after 5 years.We were never married.Finally in 2003 I was awarded full custody and 1500e a month.My children were then 16 and 18.I never received anything when they were smalland had to work so hard to bring my children up with no financial help from anywhere.My ex ignored the courts decision and then in 2005 he said he couldnt pay as he was unemployed.This was untrue as he had a restaurant and shares of a dental practice which I have proof of.In 2007 the police went to his home to arrest him and he had disapeared.I have now discovered he is living in the uk by another name to avoid being traced.Please advise what i can do now
Lizscot - 3-Feb-16 @ 6:42 PM
SMITHY - Your Question:
Hi ThereMy mother and father divorced in 1990 when I was 10. My mother was instructed by the courts to pay $16.50 monthly for my sister and myself until I was 18. I came across the court documents the other day in regards to the judgement. My father never received any payments from my mother in regards to this. Is it still possible that my mother would still be liable to pay this amount from when I was 10 to 18 and also for my sister? If so what would I need to doMany thanksRoy

Our Response:
If you were based in the UK, then your father would be able to claim arrears if your mother hadn't paid and avoided the debt, but had received an income. You would also have to check whether the debt hadn't been written off. However, I am assuming you are not based in the UK, and as we are a UK-based site, your country's child support laws may be different.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Feb-16 @ 10:39 AM
Hi There My mother and father divorced in 1990 when I was 10. My mother was instructed by the courts to pay $16.50 monthly for my sister and myself until I was 18. I came across the court documents the other day in regards to the judgement. My father never received any payments from my mother in regards to this. Is it still possible that my mother would still be liable to pay this amount from when I was 10 to 18 and also for my sister? If so what would I need to do Many thanks Roy
SMITHY - 2-Feb-16 @ 2:50 PM
busymum - Your Question:
I,m at my wits end ,,,,,, I got in touch with CSA in Jan 2012 when husband walked out.basically he hasn,t made effort with csa and has hardly paid for his boys.its got to point legal team for csa has stepped in..well today I got a call stating my ex has went through bankruptcy in scotland and csa said there closing the case as his arrears of almost 13,000 is taken into account in scotland...i,m fuming been let down from day one.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. However, in cases such as this there is little the CSA can do where the likes of bankruptcy is concerned.
ChildSupportLaws - 2-Feb-16 @ 12:22 PM
I,m at my wits end,,,,,, i got in touch with CSA in Jan 2012 when husband walked out.....basically he hasn,t made effort with csa and has hardly paid for his boys .......its got to point legal team for csa has stepped in............well today i got a call stating my ex has went through bankruptcy in scotland and csa said there closing the case as his arrears of almost 13,000 is taken into account in scotland ...................i,m fuming been let down from day one .......
busymum - 1-Feb-16 @ 8:33 PM
i have been paying csa for my son.he is now 19yrs old.and running his own fitness training business.csa told me he is claimed at being in college.should I still be paying.
Susan - 29-Jan-16 @ 3:06 PM
Please help I spilt up from my husband over 20 years ago . The house was valued and I raised additional money on the house and gave my husband half of the equity . i wanted to be fair despite the fact the reason for the split and later divorce was due to him having an affair . This agreement was reached because by giving him the lump sum he was able to go and put a deposit on another house . He promised and signed a letter in the solicitors to say he would pay £300 each month for our son . He paid three months and then stopped dead without telling me he was going to the upshot of which was I had to sell the family home and have been down sizingsince , from the age of five he paid nothing and we had no way if knowing where he was and he made no contact whatsoever until our son was 20 . I have had some very difficult financial times since then and when he did finally get in contact I did a few years later ask if he could help as I was desperate , he wanted to know how I had got in such difficulties ! He paid £500 into by account and then some time later £ 200 but nothing for years again . I have one letter he sent in lol the years apologising for not paying or being in touch with our dampen and said that if he ever was ever in a position to pay the money he owed he would do . I find out that he goes on cruises , holidays etc and still has never attempted to pay more despite my begging and saying I would get legal advice please help can I get anything back it would make a huge difference to my life Di
Dolly - 29-Jan-16 @ 2:56 PM
Zak 786 - Your Question:
I don't know my real father as he and my mom divorced when I was just 3months old and that was 26 years ago!He has never ever paid any form of maintanance,so my Q is can I or my mom claim any back child support/maintanance after all the years has gone by?

Our Response:
I can only advise on UK child support law, if you are from the US we do not have the knowledge. In the UK, your mother can claim only if she has made a previous claim to the CSA.
ChildSupportLaws - 29-Jan-16 @ 2:24 PM
I don't know my real father as he and my mom divorced when I was just 3months old and that was 26 years ago!He has never ever paid any form of maintanance,so my Q is can I or my mom claim any back child support/maintanance after all the years has gone by?
Zak 786 - 29-Jan-16 @ 11:11 AM
deanyboy - Your Question:
Hi, My partner has 2 boys which their father has re-married and his now wife has her own business which is where he was working. he has always struggled or never paid child support (owes around £20k) claiming he was on minimum wage. His wife has now sold the business and they have told the boys that they are going in to property development, The problem is he has now filed a change of circumstances saying he is now not earning any money (due to her selling the business) from which we received a letter saying he now owes nothing and won't be paying any more. What is the most frustrating about this is that he must be getting money from somewhere? either from his now wife, benefit or illegal work and my partner cannot do anything about getting the money she is rightfully owed. she hasn't got a leg to stand on.

Our Response:
The difficulty in circumstances such as this is the CSA/CMS have to have prove her ex is earning, which is not always easy or straightforward. If, as you say, he is getting money from his wife, benefits or illegal work, non of this can be classed as 'earnings' (apart from benefits and then he would be eligible to pay flat rate). Therefore, if he is not earning and paying tax through the HMRC, then he is considered exempt. Unfair, yes, but if the CSA/CMS or his ex can't verify his earnings, they are powerless to act.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Jan-16 @ 9:57 AM
Hi, My partner has 2 boys which their father has re-married and his now wife has her own business which is where he was working. he has always struggled or never paid child support (owes around £20k) claiming he was on minimum wage. His wife has now sold the business and they have told the boys that they are going in to property development, The problem is he has now filed a change of circumstances saying he is now not earning any money (due to her selling the business) from which we received a letter saying he now owes nothing and won't be paying any more. What is the most frustrating about this is that he must be getting money from somewhere? either from his now wife, benefit or illegal work and my partner cannot do anything about getting the money she is rightfully owed. she hasn't got a leg to stand on.
deanyboy - 26-Jan-16 @ 1:10 PM
Anna - Your Question:
Hi, I made a claim to the CSA in summer 2011, they wrote and said my ex should pay £48 a week. I never got anything. He kept moving house and changing jobs etc. I now know where he lives and he owns the house so won't move again I expect. Can the CSA claim the back pay since my original claim? Many thanks Anna

Our Response:
Yes, if you have made a claim previously and your ex has deliberately avoided the CSA, then you may be able to claim back pay.
ChildSupportLaws - 25-Jan-16 @ 1:45 PM
Hi,I made a claim to the CSA in summer 2011, they wrote and said my ex should pay £48 a week.I never got anything.He kept moving house and changing jobs etc.I now know where he lives and he owns the house so won't move again I expect.Can the CSA claim the back pay since my original claim?Many thanks Anna
Anna - 24-Jan-16 @ 6:28 PM
The father of my 3 children has been paying only £48 per month for over 3 years as he wasn't working and CSA said he was claiming benefit. I discovered recently that he has been in work for18 months but still paying me the same £48. I updated the csa on his status but they say I won't be getting any back payments. The new amount only counts from when I called them to let them know he is working . Why is this? How is this fair?
Kim - 22-Jan-16 @ 2:24 PM
Hi my ex has never paid his child support and they are currently doing HMRC check to find out who he is working for. Firstly how long does these checks take? Secondly they say if he stopped working say September 2015 they inform me that all the debt he has he has accumulated will be wiped off despite the fact he has never returned any calls and does not respond to letters!! How is this fair and their response was that this is against the law! Why is it not against the law to not pay child maintenance for your own children!! This has been an ongoing battle for over ten years! Any advice of what I can do? He told the kids he is now going to university despite not having any qualifications, but he can still pay his mortgage, sky and run his car etc!!
Freddy - 21-Jan-16 @ 7:32 AM
I am 19 years old, i will be in college until the age of 22. My dad was always on and off with keeping up with child maintenance payments in the past. He was then keeping payments up to date. The last time he made a payment was april 2010 and has not had any contact with me since then or made any more payments out of no where. I am not in contact with my mother and she already said she does not want anymore contact with him, but i would like to back date the monthly payments he owes me since 2010, and to possibly have him to continue paying child maintenance, until i finnish college, into my bank account. The reason for this is my mum has always been chasing him for payments since i was in primary school and was in regular contact with the CSA about him. I do know it would be up to my mum to contact the CSA about him, but she does not want to go though the stress again. Is there any way i could go about this. Is there any chance i would be able to contact the CSA myself? Thanks for any info
Shannon - 15-Jan-16 @ 11:19 PM
Hi. I split from my partner/wife way back in 1999, after a terrible divorce she contacted the CSA and being on benefits made a claim for payments for our then 2yr old daughter. The payments were made religiously via payment book on a monthly basis for the next 8 yrs, never missing a payment and always on time. It was around this time, I had found and was sharing my life with a new partner, who had fallen and given birth to twin girls. Being the only working parent, with my partner full time looking after the twins, I informed the CSA of my new dependants and circumstances surrounding me, as I now lived with all three permanently. Being only on factory wages, my income was low, and after a phone call to Belfast (CSA headquarters at the time) the CSA representative informed me that I would not be required to continue to make payments for my first daughter due to my new circumstances. I obviously requested this in writing, which was sent to me 10 yrs ago! I have continued to see my first daughter regularly, and care for and help her out (any parent should know the meaning of this) to this day, and she is now 19 and will be 20 in March. Imagine my surprise, when today in January 2016, I was phoned by a gentleman purportedly being from the CSA, I immediately thought this was a scam, and it was someone trying to obtain details by deceit and deception, it wasn't until I did a check on the incoming number, I realised the call may have been genuine. I understand that payments can stop for many reasons, whether it is bad payment or genuine hardship, what does the law say in such cases, regarding the back payment of maintenance, when the reason was compliance to the CSA's wishes themselves.
Tomsk - 15-Jan-16 @ 9:08 PM
Hello, could anybody advise me on something, my son is now 17 and always seen his dad but I've never received a penny from his father. Now he is going to be staying at his dad's for a few months as I've had to move into my mums to look after her. But now his dad wants money from me!! Can I claim back pay for the years he never give me anything, I've never gone through the csa
Kristysxx - 15-Jan-16 @ 5:57 PM
S197 - Your Question:
After my parents divorced, my dad constantly dodged having to pay child support, claiming to be unemployed. This was over a period of about 14 years. His address is known to us, and recently he has made it public ally known that he is in ownership of a property and is planning on spending half a million pounds on renovating it into retail space. Throughout the 14years of him not paying child support he was also actually employed. Is there the option to claim back years of maintenance even though I am over 18, seen as there is obvious proof he is financially stable?

Our Response:
Child support is not dependent upon assets, which your father may have acquired by other means i.e inheritance etc, but on income. If your mother has previously lodged a claim with the CSA, and she can prove your father was employed, then she can approch the CSA again with this new information. However, if she had never previously made a claim, then she will not be entitled to back pay. Your mother can also make a current claim for child maintenance if you are 18 and in full-time, government approved education.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Jan-16 @ 10:38 AM
After my parents divorced, my dad constantly dodged having to pay child support, claiming to be unemployed. This was over a period of about 14 years. His address is known to us, and recently he has made it public ally known that he is in ownership of a property and is planning on spending half a million pounds on renovating it into retail space. Throughout the 14years of him not paying child support he was also actually employed. Is there the option to claim back years of maintenance even though I am over 18, seen as there is obvious proof he is financially stable?
S197 - 13-Jan-16 @ 2:42 PM
ash - Your Question:
Hi my dad has never paid child support since I was born. I am 22 now will it still be possible to put a claim against him to receive child support.

Our Response:
If you are studying at university, your mother may be able to apply through the courts for financial help with your education. However, if you are thinking along the lines of applying yourself for back-dated child support, then you would not be able to do this, only your mother can. If she made a previous claim through the CSA and it has never been resolved, and your father was earning through this time, then your mother may be able to claim the arrears. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Jan-16 @ 10:40 AM
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