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: 15 Sep 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]
Leo - Your Question:
Hi.i have been paying csa for many years now. Cms have taken over now.they asked my employer to see how much I was earning.apparently for the last 15 years I was paying to little as I had a pay rise but did not inform csa. I thought I was paying correct amount for last 15 years. Can they back date it. My new payment plan starts 1 october

Our Response:
There are some changes you must tell the child maintenance services about by law, please see link here , which means the CMS can attempt to claw money back from underpayments. However, you should have annual reviews?If you feel you have been treated unfairly regarding this, you can complain, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Sep-17 @ 4:11 PM
Hi.i have been paying csa for many years now . Cms have taken over now .they asked my employer to see how much i was earning .apparently for the last 15 years i was paying to little as i had a pay rise but did not inform csa . I thought i was paying correct amount for last 15 years . Can they back date it . My new payment plan starts 1 october
Leo - 15-Sep-17 @ 9:24 AM
Hadenough - Your Question:
Hi,Don't know if you could give me advice on this or suggest anything.I was with my ex for 6 years, we have a 8 year old son. His dad (my ex) hasn't paid anything towards our son, and when I ask for money to help with maintenance or medication, he keeps saying "tomorrow" or "in a bit" and never given me anything. I went through CSA back in 2010 maybe 11, they couldn't help at the time, because they couldn't find his NI number or place or employment. My case is still open with CSA, but I don't know what should I do now? And can I get it back paid to when my son was born?Ive had enough and it's killing not having money for my son's medication. Please help!

Our Response:
CSA has closed for new cases now. You would have to speak to Child Maintenance Options directly, please see link here who may be able to help. If your ex is paying tax via HMRC, then CMS should be able to help.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Sep-17 @ 3:35 PM
Fox - Your Question:
Hi, me and my ex split up over four years ago, I was paying maintenance direct to her bank for our son. In may 2016 she closed the account and would not provide myself or csa with alternative details. She has recently provided bank details and asked for money. Do I pay arrears back to where she closed the account or do I owe arrears just for the last 3 months. Many thanks.

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether the claim was lodged via the CSA. If the claim was lodged via CSA, then you should have been kept informed regarding what you owe and the CSA would have attempted to collect the arrears. If you and your ex agreed through a family-based arrangement, you are not liable for arreas and your ex cannot force you to repay.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Sep-17 @ 12:28 PM
Hi, me and my ex split up over four years ago, I was paying maintenance direct to her bank for our son. In may 2016 she closed the account and would not provide myself or csa with alternative details. She has recently provided bank details and asked for money. Do I pay arrears back to where she closed the account or do I owe arrears just for the last 3 months. Many thanks.
Fox - 13-Sep-17 @ 4:58 PM
Hi, Don't know if you could give me advice on this or suggest anything. I was with my ex for 6 years, we have a 8 year old son. His dad (my ex) hasn't paid anything towards our son, and when I ask for money to help with maintenance or medication, he keeps saying "tomorrow" or "in a bit" and never given me anything. I went through CSA back in 2010 maybe 11, they couldn't help at the time, because they couldn't find his NI number or place or employment. My case is still open with CSA, but I don't know what should I do now? And can I get it back paid to when my son was born? Ive had enough and it's killing not having money for my son's medication. Please help!
Hadenough - 12-Sep-17 @ 7:37 PM
Confused - Your Question:
I would very much appreciate your advice. The father of my daughter was claiming to earn a very small amount in 2013 and 2014. This increased slightly the following year and he is now paying a decent monthly amount. He has just been found guilty of tax evasion that I imagine dates back to the earlier years. I mentioned this to the CMA and they said there's nothing they can do- they are unable to see any historical updates to his income and would not be able to re-evaluate historical maintenance owed. This seems crazy to me- do you know if there's anything I can do to recoup the money owed for my daughter?

Our Response:
You may have to seek legal advice if the CMS cannot help directly and/or have the legal resources to follow this up. You may be able to enquire about taking the matter to court and make a claim against your ex directly. Your original child maintenance claim dates would have to correspond with the period where your ex was evading HMRC.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Sep-17 @ 12:19 PM
Ghy - Your Question:
Hi,I have been paying child maintenance for years never missing a payment by direct debit straight to my ex. With all of the changes my ex wants to pay the £20 fee to have the CMS check the amount I pay. I have been using the calculator online so believe the payments to be correct, but what happens if they decide it's not right? Can I be asked to back date payments?

Our Response:
No, if you have had a family-based arrangement which has not been organised via CMS, then you would not be liable to pay back any hypothetical arrears.
ChildSupportLaws - 11-Sep-17 @ 2:59 PM
I would very much appreciate your advice. The father of my daughter was claiming to earn a very small amount in 2013 and 2014. This increased slightly the following year and he is now paying a decent monthly amount. He has just been found guilty of tax evasion that I imagine dates back to the earlier years. I mentioned this to the CMA and they said there's nothing they can do- they are unable to see any historical updates to his income and would not be able to re-evaluate historical maintenance owed. This seems crazy to me- do you know if there's anything I can do to recoup the money owed for my daughter?
Confused - 11-Sep-17 @ 11:49 AM
Hi, I have been paying child maintenance for years never missing a payment by direct debit straight to my ex. With all of the changes my ex wants to pay the £20 fee to have the CMS check the amount I pay. I have been using the calculator online so believe the payments to be correct, but what happens if they decide it's not right? Can I be asked to back date payments?
Ghy - 9-Sep-17 @ 8:34 AM
Diamond- Your Question:
Hi I split from my 11 year old daughters farther when she was 3 yr old. I have never asked him for matinance as he has always had her at the weekends. I have had to change my working hours due to been diagnosed with chronic fibromyalgia and Me. As you can imagine this has changed this drastically at home. Due to this I have asked her dad if he can help with matinance and he said no and that he had seen a brief because he had pre emptied me asking him. He said that the brief said csa will not make him give me any matinance due to me never asking for so long. Please can someone give me some advice.

Our Response:
Every non-resident parent is responsible for helping to support their children, so if your ex is earning and paying tax via HMRC he will be eligible. Please see link here. You can also call the advice line for free help and guidance.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Sep-17 @ 2:24 PM
Hi I split from my 11 year old daughters farther when she was 3 yr old . I have never asked him for matinance as he has always had her at the weekends . I have had to change my working hours due to been diagnosed withchronic fibromyalgia and Me.As you can imaginethis has changed this drastically at home . Due to this I have asked her dad if he can help with matinanceand he said no and that he had seen a brief because he had pre emptied me asking him . He said that the brief said csawill not make him give me any matinance due to me never asking for so long . Please can someone give me some advice .
Diamond - 8-Sep-17 @ 1:01 PM
Foxy - Your Question:
I made a claim with the CSA 15 years ago after gaining full custody of my son from my ex partner. In that time for the first year even though I owed no areas myself the CSA debuted 33% of my income and handed it over to my ex bear in mind I had full legal custody for that year. My son who is now 21 has had no contact what so ever with his mother in these past 15 years. In these 15 years I have received no child support payments from my ex I've had no contact with her my son has received nothing at all from the woman. However 14 months ago I received a letter telling me the cms is now handling the case and they are chasing my ex for several thousand pounds in unpaid child support. My question is when am I going to receive this payment 15 years is a long time will I be getting interest on this payment. Also how would I go about claiming compensation against the failure of the CSA to carry out its job.

Our Response:
Your only recourse would be to complain, if you feel you have been treated unfairly. Please see link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Sep-17 @ 2:24 PM
stressed - Your Question:
I've just been named as a parent. I will be completing a DNA test to confirm however if correct will I have to cove the 9years I am unaware of. I have money worries and this is adding to those

Our Response:
You are only liable to pay child maintenance from the time the claim was first registered. For example, if the claim was registered a month ago by the resident parent, then you would be liable to pay from that date if it is found you are the biological father of the child. If you are not currently paying, you are advised to at least put the required money away as you will be requested to pay arrears if the test is positive.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Sep-17 @ 9:59 AM
I've just been named as a parent.I will be completing a DNA test to confirm however if correct will I have to cove the 9years I am unaware of.I have money worries and this is adding to those
stressed - 6-Sep-17 @ 2:24 PM
I made a claim with the CSA 15 years ago after gaining full custody of my son from my ex partner. In that time for the first year even though I owed no areas myself the CSA debuted 33% of my income and handed it over to my ex bear in mind I had full legal custody for that year. My son who is now 21 has had no contact what so ever with his mother in these past 15 years. In these 15 years I have received no child support payments from my ex I've had no contact with her my son has received nothing at all from the woman. However 14 months ago I received a letter telling me the cms is now handling the case and they are chasing my ex for several thousand pounds in unpaid child support. My question is when am I going to receive this payment 15 years is a long time will I be getting interest on this payment. Also how would I go about claiming compensation against the failure of the CSA to carry out its job.
Foxy - 5-Sep-17 @ 10:48 PM
Worried - Your Question:
My husband had an affair with a married woman who claimed she could not have kids. When the child was born her husband acknowledged the child. Surprise, surprise she got pregnant. They split up. She did my claim support through the csa. She is now claiming support and saying that she wants back pay and claiming she can force us to sell our house to get it. Can she?

Our Response:
The mother of your husband's child can claim child maintenance from your husband if he is named as the father. However, unless she has put in a claim previously and your husband has ignored the claim, then she cannot apply for arrears. In other words, she cannot apply for back pay on a new claim, but she can claim for child maintenance going forward.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Sep-17 @ 3:03 PM
Mmm - Your Question:
Hi, my sister received a letter yesterday from CSA to say they are stopping her ex husband's payments, there children are 13 and 10. He is still in full time employment in the same managerial post he has had for the last 10 years. Why have they sent this to Her?

Our Response:
I can only assume that it is beacuse child maintenance arrangements made through the CSA are ending as the Child Maintenance Service takes over.Your sister can read more about what the CMS does, please see link here . If your sister and her ex cannot arrange a family-based arrangement, then your sister would have to reapply to CMS.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Sep-17 @ 2:56 PM
My husband had an affair with a married woman who claimed she could not have kids. When the child was born her husband acknowledged the child. Surprise, surprise she got pregnant. They split up. She did my claim support through the csa. She is now claiming support and saying that she wants back pay and claiming she can force us to sell our house to get it. Can she?
Worried - 2-Sep-17 @ 2:38 PM
Hi, my sister received a letter yesterday from CSA to say they are stopping her ex husband's payments, there children are 13 and 10. He is still in full time employment in the same managerial post he has had for the last 10 years. Why have they sent this to Her?
Mmm - 2-Sep-17 @ 8:48 AM
Hi, my ex partnerwas paying me £809 pcm maintenance (figure worked out from the CSA ) He stopped paying me in May . I contacted the CSA they said that he hadn't made contact with to tell them to say that he had left his job ( we don't speak so I don't know why he say stopped paying) The CSA have tried to contact him but he hasn't responded. the CSA said that he will keep clocking up debt from May of £809 pcm as he hasn't told them that he has left his job and that he is not working . She said that they will start an deductions of order and take the debt out of his wages if he doesn't respond . What I don't understand is how are they going to take out an order if he isn't working ? Will they wait until he starts a new job? Also if he can prove that he hasn't been working since May , will the back dated claim be cancelled . The CSA have told me two different things regarding this . Any advice would be great !
Patrick12 - 16-Aug-17 @ 6:00 PM
Hello, How would I go about making a claim against my ex partner who has not paid child maintenance in 16 years even though I have evidence of the claim I made? I spoke to the CSA and they said that I would need to make an appeal against them for not doing their job correctly - is this correct?
MaggieD - 15-Aug-17 @ 6:48 PM
My partner's daughter (who was 16 at the time) moved in with us a year ago as she wanted to live with her Mum. Her ex took my partner to court, in February, to ask that she returned, which they refused and allowed her daughter to live with us. At that stage, my partner put in a claim with the CMO, which they've suggested an amount, although my partner will be asking for a variation as he's self employed as there are additional income streams we are aware of which he's not being open with. The CMO are saying that they cannot request back payments for the period from when her daughter started to live with us to the date the claim was made. Is there any other form of redress my partner can take to request these missed payments and for any further payments her ex-partner should've been making once the variation has been agreed next year?
HenryD - 10-Aug-17 @ 11:52 AM
Orange - Your Question:
I left my ex husband and returned to Ireland when I was 6months pregnant. I have a court order from my divorce that my ex pay 50 a week which dates back to 2002. He paid it for one month and said he could only pay it I I set up an English bank account this was impossible as I was living in a little village. Since then he never paid mainteance. My daughter is now 17yrs old and hopefully going into university and wants the money owed to her and me paid back. I have contacted the dept of justice and equality and they are working on the case. My question is, because he hasn't paid the mainteance as part of the divorce settlement and has the means to pay it would I be entitled to back payment. He currently owns a house in England and I am renting off the council to keep a roof over my daughter's head.

Our Response:
You may be entitled to a back payment of arrears. However, we cannot anticipate what the result may be as it depends upon many variables.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Aug-17 @ 12:15 PM
I left my ex husband and returned to Irelandwhen I was 6months pregnant. I have a court order from my divorce that my ex pay 50 a week which dates back to 2002. He paid it for one month and said he could only pay it I I set up an English bank account this was impossible as I was living in a little village.. Since then he never paid mainteance. My daughter is now 17yrs old and hopefully going into university and wants the money owed to her and me paid back. I have contacted the dept of justice and equality and they are working on the case. My question is, because he hasn't paid the mainteance as part of the divorce settlement and has the means to pay it would I be entitled to back payment. He currently owns a house in England and I am renting off the council to keep a roof over my daughter's head.
Orange - 7-Aug-17 @ 10:03 AM
lynn - Your Question:
Hi,ive recentley found out who my 21 yrs old daughters dad is,had dna to confirm it,there now playing happy families am I entitled to claim back dated csa for the 16 yrs of her life he never supported her thanks

Our Response:
Unless you made an original claim anywhere in the past for child maintenance from your daughter's father, then you would not be entitled to claim.
ChildSupportLaws - 31-Jul-17 @ 11:46 AM
Carole - Your Question:
My daughter has just turned 18 and my ex written to me stopping child maintenance ( £70pw which is a fraction of what it has cost to support her)She suffers from anxiety has not applied to university ( as yet) and is unsure of what she will doSo in effect I am completely supporting her ( and about to turn 60)Is there anything I can do like ask him to give her money directly, or shd she just get a job ?,Carole

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether your daughter is still in full-time education. If she has finished full-time education to A-Level standard, then child maintenance should stop at the same time as child benefit (at the end of the official school term Aug 31). However, in certain circumstances a court does retain the power to extend child maintenance to the end of the child’s university degree or vocational training course, if it deems the child needs financial help. A court will consider each case individually and place particular focus on the child’s financial needs, the parents’ ability to pay and the manner in which the child is expected to be educated or trained. Neither do student loans count here. If the court deems the child has a genuine need for financial assistance and the non-resident parent has the means to pay, the court may order an extension to child maintenance. If your daughter decides to attend university, you can either suggest mediation to your ex in order to come to an arrangement and if he refuses apply to court. If your daughter does not decide to go to university, then you will have no recourse to request your ex pays child maintenance as your daughter is classed as an independent adult, unless of course, he agrees to pay your daughter voluntarily.
ChildSupportLaws - 31-Jul-17 @ 11:37 AM
hi,ive recentley found out who my 21 yrs old daughters dad is,had dna to confirm it,there now playing happy families am i entitled to claim back dated csa for the 16 yrs of her life he never supported her thanks
lynn - 28-Jul-17 @ 4:08 PM
My daughter has just turned 18 and my ex written to me stopping child maintenance ( £70pwwhich is a fraction of what it has cost to support her) Shesuffers from anxiety has not applied to university ( as yet) and is unsure of what she will do So in effect I am completely supporting her ( and about to turn 60) Is there anything I can do like ask him to give her money directly,or shd she just get a job ?.., Carole
Carole - 28-Jul-17 @ 3:25 PM
Victoria- Your Question:
Hi I'm 18 and I need your help. I recently moved in with my dad and he's trying to get the child benefit payments off my mum. My dad fraudently lied about his income for years when I lived with her following their divorce and is only trying to get the payments due to his selfish and greedy partner. My Mam had supported me all on her own and even now still provides me with pocket money, essentials, food and new clothes/books. Is there any way I can make sure my Mam keeps getting the money instead of my father even though I no longer live with her?

Our Response:
The gov.uk link here will help answer your question.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Jul-17 @ 3:38 PM
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