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: 27 May 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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[Add a Comment]
hi,few months ago the court decided that my ex has to pay to my son maintenance,but he didnt do it,so i went to court again for an application,i send the letter with the court date to him ,but it came back today,so means i have to cancel the court and what to do at all,he doesnt show up to see his son and now i dont know does he lives in that address,i think he does it in purpose.i now his pps no ,is any way if i go to garda or what i should do ?thanks
mother - 27-May-16 @ 8:37 PM
Adey - Your Question:
My ex moved to Spain owing thousands of pounds can I get this money back. I had a claim against her through the CSA and she never paid. If I take her to court can she be forced to pay the money owed?

Our Response:
I suggest in this case you seek legal advice. Much depends on whether she has worked and is currently earning and has the money to pay. Please also see how you can recover debt from elsewhere in the EU via the gov.uk link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-May-16 @ 2:39 PM
My ex moved to Spain owing thousands of pounds can I get this money back. I had a claim against her through the CSA and she never paid. If I take her to court can she be forced to pay the money owed?
Adey - 26-May-16 @ 7:23 PM
Lj - Your Question:
Hi, I got in touch with my ex in 2011 as my 13 yr old daughter wanted to get to know her dad after losing her grandparents, after a year of regular contact he just cut her off. He never tried to contact me before this time and has never paid maintenance, I'm wondering where I stand regarding maintenance as she is now 17yrs old. He has made no contribution and when I've gauged the subject he gets nasty. Many thanks

Our Response:
If your ex is earning he will still be liable to pay child maintenance until your child finishes full-time education (not beyond A'Levels). If you have never previously made a claim with the CSA/CMS, then you cannot claim back pay. You can only claim from the time you first make the claim (if that makes sense).
ChildSupportLaws - 26-May-16 @ 12:39 PM
Hi, I got in touch with my ex in 2011 as my 13 yr old daughter wanted to get to know her dad after losing her grandparents, after a year of regular contact he just cut her off. He never tried to contact me before this time and has never paid maintenance, I'm wondering where I stand regarding maintenance as she is now 17yrs old. He has made no contribution and when I've gauged the subject he gets nasty. Many thanks
Lj - 25-May-16 @ 8:39 PM
Dawnb - Your Question:
Hi my mother received a letter from csa asking if a certain amount had been paid to her, upon calling csa office and informing that no money was EVER paid towards me the office said they would look into it. That was 3 years ago and I am now 28. Who do we contact? Thanks

Our Response:
You would have to go back to the CSA. Only if your mother made a claim would she be eligible for back pay.
ChildSupportLaws - 25-May-16 @ 2:01 PM
Hi my mother received a letter from csa asking if a certain amount had been paid to her, upon calling csa office and informing that no money was EVER paid towards me the office said they would look into it. That was 3 years ago and i am now 28. Who do we contact? Thanks
Dawnb - 25-May-16 @ 12:21 AM
Cm - Your Question:
Hi, my son is almost 4 and I havent ever had any form of child support from the father. Can I request the child support from the four years if I begin to claim now?

Our Response:
I'm afraid you are not entitled to claim retrospective payments for your child. As specified in the article you are only allowed to claim from the date you first make/made the claim.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-May-16 @ 2:36 PM
Hi, my son is almost 4 and I havent ever had any form of child support from the father. Can I request the child support from the four years if I begin to claim now?
Cm - 23-May-16 @ 10:21 PM
Simon - Your Question:
Hi just wondering if you can awnser a question please when I got devorced 15 years ago the devorce papers set my child maintanance payment. for my daughter at 150 per week as my ex stopped my contact with my daughter I stopped payment. 14 years later csa contacted me I now pay 50 pound every week.my ex wife is thretoning me with taking me to court to recover the maintinance ie 150 a week I haven't paid for 14 years.can she do this ?

Our Response:
Unfortunately, she can, as contact and child maintenance payments are not related to each other i.e every father is responsible for paying towards the upkeep of their child regardless of whether they see them or not. If a claim is made and the CSA/CMS have been unable to trace the father or take the money for any reason, then the account accumulates arrears - please see CAB link here for more information.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-May-16 @ 2:46 PM
Nicky - Your Question:
Hi I have two children aged 22and 24 from my previous marriage. When I divorced in 2001 I was told I'm not Intitled to anything as my ex was setting up a trust fund for the children. How do I stand as there is no trust fund for them. Are they Intitled to back payment.

Our Response:
When you say you were not entitled to 'anything', do you mean you were not entitled to child maintenance back payments that were owed to you? If so and this was agreed through the courts, then you would have to seek legal advice to see if your ex has breached the order in which case you could apply to have it enforced.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-May-16 @ 11:31 AM
Hi just wondering if you can awnser a question please when I got devorced15 years agothe devorce papers set my child maintanancepayment. for my daughterat 150 per week as my ex stoppedmy contact with my daughterI stoppedpayment. 14 years later csa contacted me I now pay 50 poundevery week .my ex wife is thretoning me with takingme to court to recover the maintinanceie 150 a week I haven'tpaid for 14 years .can she do this ?
Simon - 22-May-16 @ 11:49 PM
Hi I have two children aged 22and 24from my previous marriage. When I divorced in 2001I was told I'm not Intitledto anything as my ex was setting up a trust fund for the children. How do I stand as there is no trust fund for them. Are they Intitled to back payment.
Nicky - 22-May-16 @ 1:25 PM
Karen - Your Question:
I have been sent a letter from the Child Maintenance Service to inform me that I am legally entitled to over £14,000 in child maintenance payments from my ex husband. How do I go about claiming this. My children are now 18 and 15 and I started my CSA claim when my daughter was just over 2 years old. Can you offer any advice please. Thanks

Our Response:
Due to the amount owed it would be worthwhile you paying for some initial legal advice to see whether you have a case to take the matter to court. However, at the same time regardless of this figure being given to you, you would have to keep in mind why the CSA/CMS have been unable to collect this money over the years. If your ex can prove he has no money, then the matter will end up costing you if a court is unable to extract the money in the same way the CSA couldn't. Therefore, this is why it is in your best interests to make sure you stand a chance of being able to see the money, if you take it to court.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-May-16 @ 11:38 AM
Hi I'm new to this can anyone help me
Browny - 20-May-16 @ 4:43 AM
I have been sent a letter from the Child Maintenance Service to inform me that I am legally entitled to over £14,000 in child maintenance payments from my ex husband. How do I go about claiming this. My children are now 18 and 15 and I started my CSA claim when my daughter was just over 2 years old. Can you offer any advice please. Thanks
Karen - 19-May-16 @ 3:15 PM
Danny - Your Question:
Hello I'm 29 male and my dad left wen a was a baby. He has never paid anything towards me, and mum brought me and my 2 brother up alone. Can I claim to csa to this dead beat dad. As I have found him on fb and my siblings. Thanks

Our Response:
I'm afraid not. Only a parent can claim child maintenance, and neither can a parent claim retrospectively.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-May-16 @ 2:35 PM
Hello I'm 29 male and my dad left wen a was a baby. He has never paid anything towards me, and mum brought me and my 2 brother up alone. Can I claim to csa to this dead beat dad. As I have found him on fb and my siblings. Thanks
Danny - 18-May-16 @ 12:48 AM
Jue - Your Question:
Hi my daughters father has never paid a penny maintenance I gave details to Csa when my daughter was a baby as to her her father was and when I moved areas I did the same but nothing was ever done. My daughter is now 25 and I have seen her dad in Facebook. I think he has come into some money as he is always going on lavish holidays , doesn't my daughter deserve at least something from him can he not be made to pay back the maintenance he owes.

Our Response:
If your ex was unemployed and not earning an income when you applied then he would not have had to pay. If he obtained a job in that time, he would stil be eligible to pay. However, if your ex has come into money either through an inheritance etc, then unless counts as earnings he still would not have to pay. I can only suggest you contact the CSA directly for more information.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-May-16 @ 10:57 AM
Hi my daughters father has never paid a penny maintenance I gave details to Csa when my daughter was a baby as to her her father was and when I moved areas I did the same but nothing was ever done. My daughter is now 25 and I have seen her dad in Facebook. I think he has come into some money as he is always going on lavish holidays , doesn't my daughter deserve at least something from him can he not be made to pay back the maintenance he owes.
Jue - 15-May-16 @ 11:45 AM
Aae88 - Your Question:
Hi,I was looking for some advice for my brother. He and his ex partner share custody of his son now, although up until 2 years ago he had full cutosy and his ex partner had their son 2-3 night per week. Currently my nephew stays with my brother 3 nights per week and with his mother 4 nights per week. She has now sent a letter from the child maintenance agency asking for maintenance as she now has him 4 night per week. My brother never received any maintenance from his ex partner whist he was the main care giver. I was wondering if there was anyway that my brother could counter claim for the missed maintenance whilst he had his son? Thanks

Our Response:
Unfortnately, unless your brother put a claim in at the time he had his son for four days per week, then he cannot claim retrospectively.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-May-16 @ 12:38 PM
Hi, I was looking for some advice for my brother. He and his ex partner share custody of his son now, although up until 2 years ago he had full cutosy and his ex partner had their son 2-3 night per week. Currently my nephew stays with my brother 3 nights per week and with his mother 4 nights per week. She has now sent a letter from the child maintenance agency asking for maintenance as she now has him 4 night per week. My brother never received any maintenance from his ex partner whist he was the main care giver. I was wondering if there was anyway that my brother could counter claim for the missed maintenance whilst he had his son? Thanks
Aae88 - 11-May-16 @ 8:13 PM
Cb85 - Your Question:
Can I claim csa from my biological dad after seeing him for the first time in 30 years. My mother never received a penny from him.

Our Response:
I'm afraid not. children cannot claim child maintenance, only the primary carer which would have been your mother. If your mother didn't put in a claim when you were a child then there is nothing you can do and now you are 30+, there is little you can do either about any retrospective claim.
ChildSupportLaws - 11-May-16 @ 12:41 PM
Can I claim csa from my biological dad after seeing him for the first time in 30 years. My mother never received a penny from him.
Cb85 - 10-May-16 @ 12:10 PM
Me and my ex have joint custody of our son due to this he believes that he doesn't have to give me ANY child support towards our son of whom is with me majority of the time he also thinks that what our son does with him is his business and vice versa. I'm the mum I receive the child benefit for our son and also our son only spends 2 nights a week by his father. Am I entitled to child support from the father and if so can it be backdated? Our son is 3 years old and he has never given me a penny towards nursery and general upkeep for our child!!
Diamond - 30-Apr-16 @ 9:34 AM
alex - Your Question:
I have been unemployed for a number of years and have been deducted an amount every fortnight from my benefit entitlement. I may potentially of secured a full time job. Do I have to pay extra for the years I've been unemployed???

Our Response:
You will have to inform the CSA/CMS of any changes, please see link here. It's if you do not inform them when you can find yourself in hot water and subject to arrears. You will not have to pay extra for the years you have been unemployed, but you may have to pay extra once you start your job.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Apr-16 @ 11:18 AM
I have been unemployed for a number of years and have been deducted an amount every fortnight from my benefit entitlement. I may potentially of secured a full time job. Do I have to pay extra for the years I've been unemployed???
alex - 27-Apr-16 @ 10:30 AM
Hi, My partner and ex have seperated and had a verbal agreement for 1 year, after the ex not paying a CMS claim was opened, however after continual harassment the claim was closed without a payment being made and an agreement was drafted in an agreement through a solicitor (but not through court or in an arrangement order) there is another missed payment and now it is to go to CMS. Can a small claim be put in for the missed payments as there was a verbal agreement, or is it something the court is unlikely to award? Thanks in advance,
mrn - 19-Apr-16 @ 7:38 PM
Connie - Your Question:
Hi, my daughter's father I were never married. I am a US citizen; he is a New Zealand citizen who is married to a UK citizen since 1999. He lives and works in the UK and I believe he now has UK citizenship as well. I checked with several US lawyers shortly after my daughter was born but it was too expensive for me to hire anyone to establish paternity and child support. My state's attorney's office said they couldn't handle international child support petitions. In 2014, I learned that the UK and the US have a reciprocity agreement that makes obtaining child support much easier now. I immediately filed an application for paternity and CS through my state (Illinois) in October 2014. I am still waiting. My question is this. will I be able to obtain retroactive child support? My daughter is now 17 but a junior in high school with plans to go to college after high school. My daughter's father has known about and acknowledged her existence since she was born in 1998. He has visited her 2x in the US, but refuses to pay child support. He owns a very successful tattoo salon in England now.

Our Response:
As a rule you are entitled to retrospective child maintenance payments from the date you first claim. However, if the agency responsible for the claim is finding it difficult to extract money from your ex,i.e if he is only declaring a minimum income via the HMRC, or managing to find some tax loophole that says he is not earning money, then you will still find this difficult. You don't say why or what tactics he has managed to avoid paying, but unfortunately it is hard for money to be extracted where money is not declared. Your only option then would be to seek legal advice about taking the matter to court, which will cost.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Apr-16 @ 2:37 PM
Hi, my daughter's father I were never married.I am a US citizen; he is a New Zealand citizen who is married to a UK citizen since 1999.He lives and works in the UK and I believe he now has UK citizenship as well.I checked with several US lawyers shortly after my daughter was born but it was too expensive for me to hire anyone to establish paternity and childsupport.My state's attorney's office said they couldn't handle international child support petitions.In 2014, I learned that the UK and the US have a reciprocity agreement that makes obtaining child support much easier now.I immediately filed an application for paternity and CS through my state (Illinois) in October 2014.I am still waiting.My question is this... will I be able to obtain retroactive child support?My daughter is now 17 but a junior in high school with plans to go to college after high school.My daughter's father has known about and acknowledged her existence since she was born in 1998.He has visited her 2x in the US, but refuses to pay child support.He owns a very successful tattoo salon in England now.
Connie - 18-Apr-16 @ 2:12 AM
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