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: 25 Apr 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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Sl - Your Question:
My husband has been paying through collect and pay for years but recently got a new job and had came to an agreed amount with his ex that she then changed her mind about and decided she wanted to do it through direct pay. But child maintenance has said that because of his new job and because he doesn't have to pay through collect and pay that the case is closed and need a to be re applied for and only his ex can do that. She is claiming that they told her it was just staying the same (she hasn't phoned them and it's impossible as they havnt even asked about his new job) my husband is getting worried that she is going to wait until a payment date is missed due to her not contacting cms to start a new claim and will say he's refusing to pay so he has to go through collect and pay again meaning fees on top of payments. We have tried to get her to contact them and have told her until she does he can't give her any money as she's also refusing to give her bank details for a transfer (another reason we believe she's going to try and say he's not willing to pay and make things more difficult). Can My husband just demand that they open the case so he can pay as when he asked them before about it they basically just said that they are always in favour of the receiving parent even tho he's the one trying to give her money.

Our Response:
Your husband should ring CMS directly to find this out, please see link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Apr-18 @ 11:02 AM
My husband has been paying through collect and pay for years but recently got a new job and had came to an agreed amount with his ex that she then changed her mind about and decided she wanted to do it through direct pay. But child maintenance has said that because of his new job and because he doesn't have to pay through collect and pay that the case is closed and need a to be re applied for and only his ex can do that. She is claiming that they told her it was just staying the same (she hasn't phoned them and it's impossible as they havnt even asked about his new job) my husband is getting worried that she is going to wait until a payment date is missed due to her not contacting cms to start a new claim and will say he's refusing to pay so he has to go through collect and pay again meaning fees on top of payments. We have tried to get her to contact them and have told her until she does he can't give her any money as she's also refusing to give her bank details for a transfer (another reason we believe she's going to try and say he's not willing to pay and make things more difficult). Can My husband just demand that they open the case so he can pay as when he asked them before about it they basically just said that they are always in favour of the receiving parent even tho he's the one trying to give her money.
Sl - 25-Apr-18 @ 10:11 AM
hi trying to make a long story short but ; my partner appealed against a cms decsion back in august regaurding his daughter that spends 95% of her time staying with him ( ex partner was saying different and cms took her word ) so he was paying full maintence he finally got his tribunal date 6 weeks ago infront of a judge and wonalso there was a cms representive and everything got backdated to the august from when he was awarded a tribunal hearing , also in the front of the judge he asked how his back payments were going to be paid the cms rep said it would come out of there fund as they had repeatedly told him on the phone thats how it would be paid if he won because they would not suspend his payments so he was told he still had topay full maintence untill the court date and the outcome of that after 8 weeks since going to court and the cms saying that it is a long process sorting out refundment of over paid maintence he recieved a phone call today saying because he paid by direct debitpayment and didnt have it taken from his wages that they could not refund any monies and they were closing the case ...regaurdless of what the cms rep had said in court ..how is that fair and what can he do now ? also he could not counter claim any maintence since augustbecause they said because it was going to tribunal the case was classed as still ongoing even tho he also won the child benefit claim weeks previous to the tribunal what can he do next ?
mandy - 24-Apr-18 @ 2:00 PM
Mum123 - Your Question:
I have a 13 year old daughter which I have never claimed child maintenance from her father, I opened a case when she was young but I soon closed it due to being independent. I have never spoke to him in all they years and only know his name and where about he now lives, would I be able to make a claim and would there be any backdated payments if successful? Thanks

Our Response:
Yes, you would be able to make a claim going forward. If you closed the case, then you would not be able to apply for retrospective payments.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Apr-18 @ 3:33 PM
I have a 13 year old daughter which I have never claimed child maintenance from her father, I opened a case when she was young but I soon closed it due to being independent. I have never spoke to him in all they years and only know his name and where about he now lives, would I be able to make a claim and would there be any backdated payments if successful? Thanks
Mum123 - 22-Apr-18 @ 11:11 PM
With regards to my previous question you answered. So even though the CSA have told me my payments should be lower and I’m happy to go with them as she is disputing and holding the claim up I will lose all this extra money I am paying. So it isn’t back dates to the date of the claim?
Just want to see my - 20-Apr-18 @ 3:09 PM
Just wanna pay and s - Your Question:
I am currently paying my ex an agreed amount of money for my children. 6 months ago she decided that the fact I have her the house and everything I owed wasn’t enough as she believed I was completing overtime. I wasn’t! I am still paying the agreed amount which is more than the CSA online calculation. Will this be taken into account when deciding the amount I am to pay, as my case has been ongoing for 6 months due to her disputing everything. When they calculate my yearly amount to be paid to her will what I’ve paid come off that calculation for the year. I am currently over paying by £100 which isn’t a lot I know however that £100 I could spend on activities with my children myself or buy them things whereas now I don’t have a spare penny to do anything.

Our Response:
The amount you pay currently is through a family-based arrangement agreed by you both and therefore it is not taken into consideration by CMS when calculating, or assessing future child maintenance. Child maintenance is based on your earnings and the tax you have paid the previous year. This is carried forward and will make the basis for your future payments via CMS.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Apr-18 @ 10:50 AM
prejudice - Your Question:
Why in writing of the advice is everything to do with an ex husband this is absolutely sexist as women or ex wife’s can and should pay if they are not the full time parent of a child !

Our Response:
If you read the question it is directly from the mother, asking about back-pay from her ex-husband.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Apr-18 @ 10:21 AM
I am currently paying my ex an agreed amount of money for my children. 6 months ago she decided that the fact I have her the house and everything I owed wasn’t enough as she believed I was completing overtime. I wasn’t! I am still paying the agreed amount which is more than the CSA online calculation. Will this be taken into account when deciding the amount I am to pay, as my case has been ongoing for 6 months due to her disputing everything. When they calculate my yearly amount to be paid to her will what I’ve paid come off that calculation for the year. I am currently over paying by £100 which isn’t a lot I know however that £100 I could spend on activities with my children myself or buy them things whereas now I don’t have a spare penny to do anything.
Just wanna pay and s - 19-Apr-18 @ 8:49 PM
Why in writing of the advice is everything to do with an ex husband this is absolutely sexist as women or ex wife’s can and should pay if they are not the full time parent of a child !
prejudice - 19-Apr-18 @ 6:18 PM
MD - Your Question:
My Husbands ex partner has recently put in a new claim for maintenance for their son (age17). Not given any reasons why but my guess is to possible help with future Uni fees (this is a total guess).Can she do this ? He is already paying £500 pm (due to arrears on closed case I believe) Now she is after another £500 pm. This is an impossible amount pay.

Our Response:
If your husband is paying arrears to his child, this is discounted as being part of any current or future payment (as it is considered arrears). As a rule, every parent has the basic responsibility to provide for their child up until the age of 16, when they are legally allowed to leave school and get a job. After this age, it depends what the child chooses to do. If they continue in full-time non-advanced education not higher than A-level equivalent, for at least 12 hours a week, then the maintenance payments will continue until your child finishes the course (or turns 20). Your husband's ex has every right to apply for the father of the child to support the child financially. So, if the CSA case was closed, or the child has returned to further education then she can apply. CMS will assess the your husband's income accordingly.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Apr-18 @ 12:23 PM
My Husbands ex partner has recently put in a new claim for maintenance for their son (age17).Not given any reasons why but my guess is to possible help with future Uni fees (this is a total guess). Can she do this ?He is already paying £500 pm (due to arrears on closed case I believe) Now she is after another £500 pm. This is an impossible amount pay.
MD - 12-Apr-18 @ 4:05 PM
KM - Your Question:
Helloi have had to go to CMS as my ex has stopped giving £20 a week. as he wont talk to CMS I have been told that they go off hie tax returns say he is on £180. I know he is now on £1000 plus a week for the last 18 plus months. I know who he works for and dates etc. I have know hard profwas told to call HMRC to get them to look at it and update their records. this could be months.as he would only be £7 a week till thats done, can it be backdated to the date of my clam?or would I be better going to court myself?

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether he is employed, self-employed and/or not declaring earnings via income tax. You may need to seek legal advice to see whether you have a strong case to answer. There is little a court can do if your ex is not delaring certain earnings to HMRC, apart from report him.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Apr-18 @ 12:22 PM
hello i have had to go to CMS as my ex has stopped giving £20 a week. as he wont talk to CMS i have been told that they go off hie tax returns say he is on £180. i know he is now on £1000 plus a week for the last 18 plus months. i know who he works for and dates etc... i have know hard prof was told to call HMRC to get them to look at it and update their records. this could be months. as he would only be £7 a week till thats done, can it be backdated to the date of my clam? or would i be better going to court myself?
KM - 7-Apr-18 @ 9:50 PM
Debs - Your Question:
Hi I was awarded back dated money by the courts back in June 2016 of 2,000 pound my ex partner had to pay 100 a month till it was payed I had only 1 payment then it stoped and I was told by the Csa I had to wait any thing from 3 months to a year for them to change over the year was up August 2017 and every time I ring them they just tell me I have to wait is there any thing I can do please

Our Response:
You can see more via the CAB link here, which should answer your question.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Mar-18 @ 12:42 PM
Jam - Your Question:
Me and my ex split up years ago and I've been paying her weekly by mutual agreement, now my child is 20 and the csm ar3 closing the account that neither of us has used for over 15 years, now the csm says I owe nearly £2000 but the ex says it's unfair because I've paid, can she ask them to cancel it and just close the case, I'm sat here with her and writing on her behalf

Our Response:
You would have to take the complain/appeal route via the link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Mar-18 @ 12:10 PM
Me and my ex split up years ago and I've been paying her weekly by mutual agreement, now my child is 20 and the csm ar3 closing the account that neither of us has used for over 15 years, now the csm says I owe nearly£2000 but the ex says it's unfair because I've paid, can she ask them to cancel it and just close the case, I'm sat here with her and writing on her behalf
Jam - 17-Mar-18 @ 12:38 PM
Hi I was awarded back dated money by the courts back in June 2016 of 2,000 pound my ex partner had to pay 100 a month till it was payed I had only 1 payment then it stoped and I was told by the Csa I had to wait any thing from 3 months to a year for them to change over the year was up August 2017 and every time I ring them they just tell me I have to wait is there any thing I can do please
Debs - 16-Mar-18 @ 7:02 PM
Llovec0 - Your Question:
Hi my partner had 2 children from a previous relationship one is now 20 and the other is 18 in august 2018 he is not on the birth certificate and has never been involved in the children's life never seen them since they were born, she has been chasing him with the CSA for years but he still has never paid a penny, we have now received a letter saying he owns just short of 30 thousand in arrears and are taking it directly from his bank account. were does he stand with this does he still have to pay although the children are over 18 and never paid for them. what will the next step be if he closes his bank account down will she have to take him to court and pay for this her self?

Our Response:
Every non-resident parent is deemed by law to have the responsibility to pay towards the financial day-to-day upbringing of their children. This is regardless of whether they see their children or not. You can see more via the CAB link here. You husband will have been informed that he could make repayments in order to avoid court action. Therefore, CMS can take arrears at any time, regardless of the ages of the children.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Mar-18 @ 12:00 PM
Twins2014 - Your Question:
HiPlease advise? I have four year old twins and their father my ex has refused to work for 2.5 years and paid me the bare minimum as that is what csa advised him to pay me. He then got a job 5 months ago and started paying £200 a month for both which I was happy with as it helped me provide for our children. He now has had a hand injury at work and now told me he can't pay me anything for about 6 months for our children as he is only getting statutory sick pay and told me he will claim for compensation but he won't be giving me any! Is he allowed to do this? Or can I claim for the maintenance he owed whilst he is waiting for compensation? As it is not fair he can pick and choose when he can financially support ou children and I am struggling to do it on my own.

Our Response:
In this case, you may wish to speak to CMS directly regarding this matter.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Mar-18 @ 11:36 AM
Hi Please advise? I have four year old twins and their father my ex has refused to work for 2.5 years and paid me the bare minimum as that is what csa advised him to pay me. He then got a job 5 months ago and started paying £200 a month for both which I was happy with as it helped me provide for our children. He now has had a hand injury at work and now told me he can't pay me anything for about 6 months for our children as he is only getting statutory sick pay and told me he will claim for compensation but he won't be giving me any! Is he allowed to do this? Or can I claim for the maintenance he owed whilst he is waiting for compensation? As it is not fair he can pick and choose when he can financially support ou children and I am struggling to do it on my own.
Twins2014 - 12-Mar-18 @ 1:36 PM
Hi my partner had 2 children from a previous relationship one is now 20 and the other is 18 in august 2018 he is not on the birth certificate and has never been involved in the children's life never seen them since they were born, she has been chasing him with the CSA for years but he still has never paid a penny, we have now received a letter saying he owns just short of 30 thousand in arrears and are taking it directly from his bank account. were does he stand with this does he still have to pay although the children are over 18 and never paid for them. what will the next step be if he closes his bank account down will she have to take him to court and pay for this her self?
Llovec0 - 12-Mar-18 @ 1:31 PM
Ronaldo - Your Question:
I appreciate each case is different and have their own nuances. Please could you consider this. My partner divorced from her husband and accepted a payment on a simple agreement between the two (non court ratified) which was meant to cover capital and maintenance. There wasn’t a full disclosure of assets. I believe the agreement isn’t enforceable. After 5 years she has gone to the CSA who will now pursue claim under the current rules including dating the claim from the day of application. My question is can she pursue through the courts for the first five years when an unfair, unenforceable agreement was in place. Thank you for your time.

Our Response:
If there was a non-disclosure of assets dating back to that time, then yes, your partner may be able to make a claim for back-dated pay relating to this. The courts take non-disclosure of assets very seriously as it equates to fraud.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Mar-18 @ 12:50 PM
Metalmickey - Your Question:
Hi my partner has been the primary carer for his son pretty much since birth (8years) due to his ex’s alcoholism and all the troubles that came with it, putting his son on the vulnerable child register. In October 2017 during an arranged visit the mother refused to return her son and took him out of school. She was allowed to do this as my partner could not afford the cost of a legal residency order. During the 8 years the mother never paid a penny in maintenance and she and my partner are now going through the courts to decide their son’s future. Unfortunately, my partner has never contacted CMS to arrange maintenance and we are pretty sure if his ex gets her way she will hit him hard for future payments, which after recent legal cost he cannot afford. Is there anyway the CMS will take their history into account when making their decisions if the mother wins residency?

Our Response:
Unfortunately, not. Whether each parent chooses to claim child maintenance or not, is at the discretion of each non-resident parent. Likewise, their individual ability to pay (i.e if they are earning and paying tax via HMRC) is assessed individually. There is no crossover. Neither can an NRP claim retrospective child maintenance payments where no previous claim has been made.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Mar-18 @ 10:42 AM
Hi my partner has been the primary carer for his son pretty much since birth (8years) due to his ex’s alcoholism and all the troubles that came with it, putting his son on the vulnerable child register.In October 2017 during an arranged visit the mother refused to return her son and took him out of school. She was allowed to do this as my partner could not afford the cost of a legal residency order.During the 8 years the mother never paid a penny in maintenance and she and my partner are now going through the courts to decide their son’s future.Unfortunately, my partner has never contacted CMS to arrange maintenance and we are pretty sure if his ex gets her way she will hit him hard for future payments, which after recent legal cost he cannot afford. Is there anyway the CMS will take their history into account when making their decisions if the mother wins residency?
Metalmickey - 11-Mar-18 @ 10:28 AM
I appreciate each case is different and have their own nuances. Please could you consider this. My partner divorced from her husband and accepted a payment on a simple agreement between the two (non court ratified) which was meant to cover capital and maintenance. There wasn’t a full disclosure of assets. I believe the agreement isn’t enforceable.After 5 years she has gone to the CSA who will now pursue claim under the current rules including dating the claim from the day of application. My question is can she pursue through the courts for the first five years when an unfair, unenforceable agreement was in place. Thank you for your time.
Ronaldo - 10-Mar-18 @ 8:36 AM
Jc - Your Question:
Hi I just wanted to know if I'm entitled to backdated money for when my two sons were younger as I never got a penny maintenance from their father

Our Response:
This is a difficult question to answer without any additional information such as; whether you made a previous claim and if you did why your ex did not pay, and/or why the agency couldn't extract the money. If you have never made a claim via CSA/CMS, then you cannot apply now to get backdated pay.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Mar-18 @ 2:33 PM
Hi I just wanted to know if I'm entitled to backdated money for when my two sons were younger as I never got a penny maintenance from their father
Jc - 8-Mar-18 @ 12:44 AM
Kebab- Your Question:
I have been a single mother for 21 years on benefits and I split up with my son father when he was a young baby but he never paid any contributions to his son upbringing Is my son now entitled to any back payments/money he was present and signed my son birth certificate which I still have I have recently found out that he owns his own property and rents out a number of houses he owns and also has his own business What are our rights please could you advise

Our Response:
As outlined in the article, only if you previously made a claim via CSA could there be a possibility of you having a previous claim enforced. It is difficult to advise as you have not said whether you have made a previous claim, or why your son's father has not previously paid child maintenance. If you have never made a claim, then you would not be able to make a fresh one now your son is aged 21 and an adult.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Mar-18 @ 10:10 AM
I have been a single mother for 21 years on benefitsand I split up with my son father when he was a young baby but he never paid any contributions to his son upbringing Is my son now entitled to any back payments/money he was present and signed my son birth certificate which I still have I have recently found out that he owns his own property and rents out a number of houses he owns and also has his own business What are our rights please could you advise
Kebab - 5-Mar-18 @ 2:44 PM
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