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: 23 Mar 2017 |
 
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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[Add a Comment]
Lilly - Your Question:
I made a claim for cm almost 9 years ago and was told that my daughters fathers did not have any source of income so I would not receive any payments. I tried again when my daughter was around 4 to be told the same thing, I have recently contacted cms again to be told that he is now earning and I will be receiving payments soon, I was advised that I can now also put in a claim for arreas for the last 9 years for the original claim when I didn't receive any payments, is this true that I can claim arreas?

Our Response:
If the claim has been active, yes you can claim retrospective payments. However, this would only be if he has been working during this time and had not informed CSA/CMS that he had been earning. If he was not working/earning during this time, then he would still be considered exempt.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Mar-17 @ 2:57 PM
I made a claim for cm almost 9 years ago and was told that my daughters fathers did not have any source of income so I would not receive any payments. I tried again when my daughter was around 4 to be told the same thing, I have recently contacted cms again to be told that he is now earning and I will be receiving payments soon, I was advised that I can now also put in a claim for arreas for the last 9 years for the original claim when I didn't receive any payments, is this true that I can claim arreas?
Lilly - 23-Mar-17 @ 12:02 PM
My partner and i have 2 children together, he has 1 child from a previous relationship who he has always paid CSA for despite contact ending between the two a few years ago.. He had a letter to say the CSA to say the case was closing and that a new claim needed to be made to the CMS, this was 5 months ago, and neither partys (paying parent and receiving parent) have put in a claim (as far as we know).. Question is will it be backdated from when the CSA stopped, or from when someone puts in the claim?.. Basically its been 5months since the last payment and hes had no letter yet to make any further payments.. (he has been putting money to side in an account what he would usually pay csa) as he refuses to pay rhe £20 fee to make a claim to his ex for a child he has been denied excess too.. Any help?
Jay3 - 22-Mar-17 @ 11:10 AM
Hope - Your Question:
I initially made a claim with CSA in 2006 after separation from my son's father. It was calculated that he pay £71 per week as he was also supporting children from a previous marrage. The child maintenance ended for his other children in 2009 but my ex didn't have my son's child maintenance adjusted. In fact for ten years from 2006 he only paid me £40 per week because he thought that is all I needed. I went along with this. Since him marrying a year ago, I insisted he pay me the full amount of £71. Last yeare my letters arrived explaining that CSA was ending and my case was closed. He is still payng just £71. He earns about £46,000 per year. Our son is disabled and costs a lot of money to support his needs. Is it too late to claim back dated maintenance from 2009 when his child support ended for his other children and when my son's maintenance should have been reviewed bearing in mind my account was closed last year. My son is 13.

Our Response:
You would have to make a request directly regarding this via the gov.uk link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Mar-17 @ 1:58 PM
ant - Your Question:
HiPlease can you advise if csa can be backdated to birth or can only be started when a clain is made.Thanks

Our Response:
Child maintenance cannot be backdated retrospectively. It can only run from the time when the claim was first made.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Mar-17 @ 11:41 AM
I initially made a claim with CSA in 2006 after separation from my son's father. It was calculated that he pay £71 per week as he was also supporting children from a previous marrage. The child maintenance ended for his other children in 2009 but my ex didn't have my son's child maintenance adjusted. In fact for ten years from 2006 he only paid me £40 per week because he thought that is all I needed. I went along with this. Since him marrying a year ago, I insisted he pay me the full amount of £71. Last yeare my letters arrived explaining that CSA was ending and my case was closed. He is still payng just £71. He earns about £46,000 per year. Our son is disabled and costs a lot of money to support his needs. Is it too late to claim back dated maintenance from 2009 when his child support ended for his other children and when my son's maintenance should have been reviewed bearing in mind my account was closed last year. My son is 13.
Hope - 20-Mar-17 @ 9:02 PM
Hib13 - Your Question:
Myself and my ex separated in 2014, around this time my ex told me that his other ex had contacted the CSA claiming that she had never received any payments from him for his other two children (He had always payed in cash) because he couldn't prove this, apparently the csa were taking £600 per month directly from his wages. Now he told me that that is the maximum the csa were allowed too take from his wages so he would pay me £300 per month for our two children if I didn't contact the CSA, claiming that I would get much less because his other ex would take priority over the £600 maximum they would take because of arrears. He doesn't see his other two children and makes no effort too, he has ours every other weekend overnight sat/sun. Is this true or is my empathy being taken advantage of?

Our Response:
We can't specify whether this is true or not. You can either take his word for it, or speak to the CMS directly. See also link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Mar-17 @ 2:25 PM
Hi Please can you advise if csa can be backdated to birth or can only be started when a clain is made. Thanks
ant - 20-Mar-17 @ 1:47 PM
Myself and my ex separated in 2014, around this time my ex told me that his other ex had contacted the CSA claiming that she had never received any payments from him for his other two children (He had always payed in cash) because he couldn't prove this, apparently the csa were taking £600 per month directly from his wages. Now he told me that that is the maximum the csa were allowed too take from his wages so he would pay me £300 per month for our two children if I didn't contact the CSA, claiming that I would get much less because his other ex would take priority over the £600 maximum they would take because of arrears. He doesn't see his other two children and makes no effort too, he has ours every other weekend overnight sat/sun. Is this true or is my empathy being taken advantage of?
Hib13 - 20-Mar-17 @ 9:57 AM
Hi your last comment makes no sense i owe nothing. I am owed back dated child support I've been told by the CMS 8 months ago is owed directly to me not my ex partner as i myself had custody. My question is where is the child maintenance that the CMS has written an told me that i am owed.
Stel - 16-Mar-17 @ 7:29 PM
Stel - Your Question:
I've had full custody of my son for 14 years and made a claim straight after getting custody. At the time I gained custody I was paying CSA payments via a deduction from earnings order. However even though I contacted the CSA with proof of this for a further 12 months like clockwork they carried on taking money out of my wage and handed it over to my ex partner. I had to get ice involved to stop this but was never refunded my money which would of been spent on my child and for 12 months leaving us with penny's to live on whilst my ex lived it up at mine and my child's expense. In addition to this disgrace even though I submitted a claim for child support up to now I have received nothing what so ever. And then about 8 months ago I received a letter telling me I was owed a whopping £3000 in back dated child support from my ex partner I know 14 years of nothing an then I get a letter wow. Well I'm still waiting for my money CMS so where is it.

Our Response:
I'm afraid yours and your ex's cases are not comparable as each case is different and is dependent upon the paying parents earnings. If you feel you have been unfairly treated and feel that you don't owe the money, then you can complain. Please see link here,
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Mar-17 @ 12:31 PM
Justme99 - Your Question:
HiMy partner left in 2003. At the time my disabled son was 8 and my daughter was 13. He has never paid a penny in CSA. I didn't make a claim while they were children age. Now they are 21 and 26 respectively can I sue for the time he didn't pay and I took all financial burden?

Our Response:
I'm afraid that if you did not make a claim at the time, then you cannot claim retrospectively.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Mar-17 @ 11:31 AM
I pay a maintenance agreement for a 17 year old who is not in education or training in the UK. Recently after a legal issue his mother is chasing me for contributions to the fine and court costs. Am I liable to contribute to this?
harveypcm - 16-Mar-17 @ 8:29 AM
I've had full custody of my son for 14 years and made a claim straight after getting custody. At the time i gained custody i was paying CSA payments via a deduction from earnings order. However even though i contacted the CSA with proof of this for a further 12 months like clockwork they carried on taking money out of my wage and handed it over to my ex partner. I had to get ice involved to stop this but was never refunded my money which would of been spent on my child and for 12 months leaving us with penny's to live on whilst my ex lived it up at mine and my child's expense. In addition to this disgrace even though i submitted a claim for child support up to now i have received nothing what so ever. And then about 8 months ago I received a letter telling me i was owed a whopping £3000 in back dated child support from my ex partner i know 14 years of nothing an then i get a letter wow. Well I'm still waiting for my money CMS so where is it.
Stel - 15-Mar-17 @ 9:35 PM
Hi My partner left in 2003. At the time my disabled son was 8 and my daughter was 13. He has never paid a penny in CSA. I didn't make a claim while they were children age. Now they are 21 and 26 respectively can I sue for the time he didn't pay and I took all financial burden?
Justme99 - 15-Mar-17 @ 3:18 PM
stresseddad - Your Question:
I have a 8 year old son and basically his mother ran up loads of debt, I was left some inheritance money and used that to pay off her debts instead of paying maintenance and putting money into my sons isa. All the debts have been paid and I now pay my ex directly. A mutual friend told me she is going to the csm to get backdated payments. I have all the bank transfers from when payments were made. My question is will I have to pay back backdated payment if she makes a claim and she has been claiming benefits for the last 9 years, is my ex suppose to declare the money I pay her?

Our Response:
If your ex makes a claim for child maintenance through the CMS, she cannot claim for backdated payments if this is the first time she has made a claim. The claim will begin from when she first registers it, not before.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Mar-17 @ 2:57 PM
I have a 8 year old son and basically his mother ran up loads of debt, I was left some inheritance money and used that to pay off her debts instead of paying maintenance and putting money into my sons isa. All the debts have been paid and I now pay my ex directly. A mutual friend told me she is going to the csm to get backdated payments. I have all the bank transfers from when payments were made. My question iswill I have to pay back backdated payment if she makes a claim and she has been claiming benefits for the last 9 years, is my ex suppose to declare the money I pay her?
stresseddad - 15-Mar-17 @ 6:48 AM
Blanksy68 - Your Question:
My cousin has just found out via a dna test that his son (now 15).is not his. He has been parted from the mother for most of this time but has always paid child maintenance for this boy. The real father apparently has always known this boy was his son but has simply let my cousin carry on thinking he was his???the mum also knew this was the case but said nothing. Has my cousin got any case against the real father for child maintenance he has already paid?? the child is now in foster care and the real father wants nothing to do with him??

Our Response:
Your cousin would have to seek legal advice regarding this. It is a very tricky and complex subject and only a solicitor will be able to assess whether your cousin has a case. However, it was the mother who named your cousin as the father, therefore she is predominantly at fault. Despite your cousin's knowledge of the wrong paternity claim, proving that she deliberately gave the wrong name may be tricky to prove.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Mar-17 @ 10:49 AM
My cousin has just found out via a dna test that his son (now 15)..is not his. He has been parted from the mother for most of this time but has always paid child maintenance for this boy. The real father apparently has always known this boy was his son but has simply let my cousin carry on thinking he was his???...the mum also knew this was the case but said nothing.Has my cousin got any case against the real father for child maintenance he has already paid??.. the child is now in foster care and the real father wants nothing to do with him??
Blanksy68 - 13-Mar-17 @ 11:08 AM
Hi my ex lives abroad. He's not paid maintenance for 7 years. I have since tracked him down. He offered me 10 percent after tax then increased and agreed to pay £150 which would have been just under 15 percent and then recinded that offer as he said in Australia they take a mother earnings and benefit into account so he can pay less. What are my options? Should I just get a court order? Remo will used the same process. He wants his cake and to eat it too while his child misses out.
Morgan - 6-Mar-17 @ 6:19 AM
I have a 4 year old son and my son's father has never been in his life or made any payments. If I made a claim now would it be back dated at all?
Jen - 4-Mar-17 @ 12:02 PM
some advice please, i had been paying money to the CSA as a non resident parent untill the case closed due to the changeover to CMS at the time the case closed i was assessed at £0 due to being out of work (as it seasonal) i tried really hard to sort a amicable agreement with a monthly D/D(as advised by the CSA) but got no where with the mother, i am concerned if she goes to the CMS it would be back dated to the end of the CSA case (now over twelve months). thanks roger
roger - 3-Mar-17 @ 8:56 PM
sam - Your Question:
Have a 14 year old. No contact with biological father for over 4 to 5 years as he was violant aggressive drug taking alcoholic and had to move to get away from him. I was claiming CSA before then and had it going to bank account which then closed in 2013. Haven't contacted CSA since as I was afraid he would find us somehow. Bank say cheques would have been sent back to CSA. As far as I'm aware his payments to CSA have continued as he is on jsa. Will CSA still pay me the backdated payments without giving him my location where abouts or contact with my child?

Our Response:
Much of the claims have now been passed to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), please see link here. But you can still contact your local CSA office if you have a query about an existing case opened in March 2003 or later, please see link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Feb-17 @ 1:46 PM
Have a 14 year old. No contact with biological father for over 4 to 5 years as he was violant aggressive drug taking alcoholic and had to move to get away from him. I was claiming CSA before then and had it going to bank account which then closed in 2013. Haven't contacted CSA since as I was afraid he would find us somehow. Bank say cheques would have been sent back to CSA. As far as I'm aware his payments to CSA have continued as he is on jsa. Will CSA still pay me the backdated payments without giving him my location where abouts or contact with my child?
sam - 26-Feb-17 @ 9:40 PM
I had a verbal agreement with my ex to pay her money towards our children. Recently I have fallen on hard tines financially so stopped paying. She now says i owe her £1500 because i stopped. However we never actually had a written agreement. And I have had no contact from cms or csa until today when they phoned and said they were taking it out of my wages. How can they do this when it was a verbal agreement to start with?
Socksnshoes - 24-Feb-17 @ 4:45 PM
Am limo I have a 3year old child..we have dated with the dad for 4 years now but recently he stopped paying fee for the child and he doesn't reply to massages..how can I get him to support his child bearing in mind he lives in the UK while I live abraod.
Limo - 23-Feb-17 @ 5:10 PM
Rob - Your Question:
My partner and 14, I have supported him well with all that he needs. He is 18 in July and now my partner wants to take me to court to claim more money from me. Is this possible.

Our Response:
This is a difficult question to answer as you haven't outlined the reasons why your ex is unhappy with the arrangement and her reasons for taking you to court. If you have a family-based arrangement, then she cannot claim back pay, if she feels you have not contributed enough. If you have an original court order that outlined what you should pay in child maintenance, she can take this back to court if she feels your contribution is outdated. Sometimes, maintenance payments are made as part of a divorce settlement and if it was made when your son was a baby, then it stands to reason that after a decade or so, child maintenance payments should be kept in line with inflation. However, without knowing the full details of why she is taking this action, it is difficult to advise.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Feb-17 @ 10:10 AM
Rob - Your Question:
My partner and I parted 4 years ago when my son was 14. She did not want to make maintenance official so I have always supported my son well and provided my partner with a car I keep on the road for her and pay her mobile. My son will be 18 in July and suddenly my partner has met someone else and wants to take me to court to claim a vast amount of money from me. Can she do this?

Our Response:
No. If you have what is classed as a family-based arrangement outside the CSA/CMS your ex cannot attempt to claim back pay. Please see CMS link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Feb-17 @ 2:33 PM
Heybaby2002 - Your Question:
Just found out where my daughters dad is living after 12 years can I still put a claim in for maintaince?

Our Response:
As explained in the article, you can only put a claim in for back pay if you have previously registered a claim with the CSA/CMS. However, you can put in a new claim if your child is under 18 and in full-time government approved education. Please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Feb-17 @ 2:03 PM
Orchid - Your Question:
My ex has never paid a penny for his daughter. He claimed he would save up until she reached 21. Once she turns 21 he would pay what he'd saved.If he doesn't do this can I claim for all those years ?

Our Response:
I'm afraid not. Your ex obliged to keep to his promise and neither would you be able to claim back pay on the back of it. The only way you can guarantee your ex pays child maintenance is to apply via the CMS, please see link here. Or agree through a family-based arrangement that he pays now, directly to you, not when your daughter is 21.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Feb-17 @ 1:47 PM
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