Home > Ask Our Experts > Can I Get Back Pay for Child Maintenance?

Can I Get Back Pay for Child Maintenance?

Author: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 17 April 2014 |
Maintenance Child Support Arrears


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)


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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My daughter father is being investigated for fraudenly claiming jobseekers whilst receiving a large amount of inheritence for four years. He also paid £5 weekly for a number of years to his son. Will he and his working partner be liable to pay backdated full childmaintenance ? Will he go to prison? Will I now recieve full child maintenance? Will this effect my son monthly £80 child benifit?
Mum - 17-Apr-14 @ 3:50 PM
I am 37, my so called dad left my mum when she was expecting me. He never gave my mum any financial or emotional help throughout my life. He refused to sign my birth-certificate, and had denied me to most people, then in the other hand bragged he has seen me and my family ok( he is a joke).Is there any way i can claim back payments. Mum and I had nothing while he was driving a porche and running his own business why should he get off with not supporting us. My mum has been emotionally scared and i don't want to drag her through all this can i do this on my own.
Mcgoo - 16-Apr-14 @ 7:56 AM
Q- I am in a difficult situation here and it'd be great if anyone could advise me. My son is 19. when I became pregnant his father upped and left and moved out of the country. I made two attempts through the CSA to claim child support but both attempts failed as they were unable to trace him. I have since maried and moved to finland and my son lives here too. His biological father has never made any attempt to contact him his whole life until a couple of weeks ago when he unexpectedly sent him a message on facebook. My son agreed to meet him in the uk while he was there for christmas and it seems his father now wishes to be part of his life. My question is... as I had previously made a claim for child support when my son was a baby, is he liable to pay backdated child support? This may seem petty after all these years but without going into too much detail, his leaving basically changed tthe whole course of my life and I feel it's unfair he was able to just walk away scot free and get on with his life whereas I was left struggling alone with a child. I would be very grateful if anyone has any advice on this matter.
karingal - 30-Dec-13 @ 9:12 AM
My husband supported his ex wife when she wanted to emigrate to new zealand with them when the youngest was 6, the eldest then 10. He has been paying extortionate mtnce payments, initially £2k then £1300 after 4 years as he lost his job and he lost thousands when he took another job. We are now in financial hardship with 3 kids of our own, twins of 2 and a 5 year old. Can he now ask for child benefit after all these years? He stupidly never claimed and having sold our family home last year to move to rented and clear debt, hmrc are now after £27k from tax after redundancy which we dispute. Help!!
shirls - 14-Sep-13 @ 9:48 AM
Hi, My daughter is 2 years old. Her father has been paying £80 a month for her since she was around 1. I am happy that he is able to help a little but now that I have been back and forth from work, her childcare costs are alot. He owns his own business, a property maintenance company. I've had to stop working because I cant afford it but my sister has offered to help although I would prefer her father to but i don't want me applying to cause any drama. Am I entitled to more than £80 a month?
Kiza - 11-Sep-13 @ 12:31 PM
Hi I've been divorced for 11 years and after an initial claim for csa I was receiving payments of £24 a month for my two daughters aged then 3 and 5. These then stopped after a year due to the change in my ex circumstances. He now owns 2 houses and is a partner in a business but never pays child support. My question is can I claim back payments from 11 years ago and can I claim for my daughters now aged. 14 and 16.
Zarina - 14-Aug-13 @ 10:57 PM
Q - my ex husband has not paid a penny of periodical payments since our divorce 7 years ago. He has flouted court orders, & broken undertakings. He is claiming disability benefits for stress, but at the same time has managed to start up his own company as a director. His assets have been transferred to his family & also transferred assets overseas.During this time he has also managed to relieve himself from a considerable amount of debt through being a discharged bankrupt. The CSA are not involved because his earnings are achieved on a consultancy basis. What can I ask the courts to do in relation to disclosing his parents assets & details of bank accounts? He continues to pay for items of his choosing but only directly to his daughter.
Mum - 11-Aug-13 @ 8:40 AM
When do csa payments stop ? Will there be a notification letter to either / both parents??My husband has an almost 19 year old who is now working (after finishing a levels)and not planning on to go to uni for another year?
seahorse - 5-Aug-13 @ 7:38 PM
I have been paying maintenance for my children for 3 years under a court order, but have recently applied to the csa for a calculation based on my earnings as I can no longer afford the amount I've been paying. They told me the calculation they make will become effective two months and two days after my date of application, which means I still have to make two further payments on the first of the month, august and september, at the higher and unaffordable rate. ok I can accept that, and the new calculation will be in place before the first of the following month, so for october I will be paying the new lower amount. However, my ex wife was called by the csa and invited to make her own application , which she has, and now that claim apparently superceeds my claim. So now I am told that the calculation will be made just the same, but now takes effect from two months two days from the date of HER application. which means it will now come into effect on the 4th october. So does this mean I have to pay the original amount aug sept and now Oct too ?? As csa payments are made in arrears and that first payment will be collected on Nov 4th, is there a fair and reasonable pro-rata calculation for what I pay in October, or is this just bad luck? I genuinely do not have the money to continue for 3 months.
gooddad - 2-Aug-13 @ 8:06 PM
I adopted my wifes child after we got married. That was seven years ago. For all the time she claims child maintenace from her first husband and father of a child, Now we are during divorce proceedings and she already claimed child maintenace from me as well. So during last 4 month she gets that maintenance from two fathers of a child. When i received first call from CSA i told them she gets that money from childs father all the time , but they said is ok as i adopted that child, doCSA have a right to claim money from me if the other man still pays money and is through court order . not volountary ? when i spoke with police and benefit fraud line they both said is a fraud, what is a crime , but when i called CSA they still tell mr they do not care about other man paying for that child. Do the people have a right to charge me , even if they knew im second man paying ??
kolart - 16-Jul-13 @ 5:55 PM
I'm a single mother of 2 sons and my ex partner has not paid a penny since day 1 my kids are 2 & 4 and ive tryed 2 reason with him and he promises to pay money for his sons but is a let down I'm the one buyin there food clothes everythin on my own while running my home by myself so times R hard but he hasn't even bothered 2 try and help me all I get is name calling and abuse that im not getting nothing of him which I find a big joke as he made R kids with me so he has responsibility for kids aswell im at the end of my last nerve with him so can sumbody please help me in telling how I go about reporting him and getting wat my kids R owed by this pathetic so called father would make my life alot easier if csa will help me thanks.
JoJo - 30-Apr-13 @ 8:33 PM
My ex left me when I was 7 months pregnant. After him wanting this child so much even offering to pay for private gynocologist to investigate why I wasn't pregnant! Anyhow all was fine and I became pregnant. We were already engaged but decided to wait until baby was born. He left us. He had a few visits and paid maintenance. Now we get no money from him, no contact. He pops up with solicitor letters which really stresses me out. He took me to court for access which I have never ever stopped and court agreed with me but his visits stopped again. I had to represent myself as could not afford solicitor. He has more recently cancelled mediation. I am so heartbroken for my baby girl that dad doesn't want to see her but also really struggling financially as child care costs are £168 per week for her while I do a part time job. He used to pay £500 month but then reduced it to £350 and for last few months we've had nothing. He has 3 children from his previous marriage which I know he pays for . How can he decide not to pay for our daughter or even want to see her. He owns a business , 1 of 4 directors and I know he can hide the excess money he declares by bonus and putting to the company. He was earning approx £120,000 yr but I don't if be still does. I have not chased him for maintenance as I don't want him to think our daughter is a bargaining tool but I am really struggling financially and emotionally. I have had some help recently from family support worker as I also have a disabled son ( not his). I really can't afford a solicitor as struggling to keep my mortgage up. I was told CSA would not take into account anything he doesn't declare? Is there anything I can do to get maintenance without it looking like I'm pushing him to have access as I don't want our baby daughter pushed to someone who doesn't want her???
Single mum - 23-Jan-13 @ 8:00 AM
A court oder is not worth the paper it is written on. Partner can vary his circumstances and chose not to pay. The court has no power over somebody who believes he is above the law, Its easy to overpower the court . The payer simply proves he cant pay by hiding bank accounts, decreasing his salary, taking on debt, (even to his own company or relative), hides his money in a relatives name.Never trust a court order as security,
Ellie - 23-Nov-12 @ 2:15 PM
my child's father lives inEngland while I am from the caribbean. He never supported his child and brags about it . is there some way I can make him pay for maintenance as well as get back pay for those years which he blatantly refused to step up to his responsibilities?
peaches - 27-Sep-12 @ 2:05 PM
Answer to Tess ........ You can get a court order and take your ex to court and make him pay child maintence to yourself this way. You go see a lawyer of your choice and tell him you want to take him to court as lonmg as you have his address i'm sure they can get him into court. If he is from the UK and working he will probally need to get himself a lawyer as well . Gd Luck
Donza - 25-Sep-12 @ 1:12 PM
My daughter lives in the UK with my 3 yr old grandson. The father and her never married and they are not together anymore. He is from Grenada and already has 4 children over there and unfortunately his name is on the birth certificate. He works as a plumber and is in the process of extending his immigration papers but has been out of work for several months. He hasn't paid her anything for months and she was told that she is not entitled to child support because he is not European. I am just trying to find out what the situation is. Can she report him and will he be asked to pay and if so, will she get payment backdated?
Fiffimex - 17-Sep-12 @ 4:51 AM
Hi can any one tell me if my ex husband leaves the uk can I still force him to pay child support he has gone over to the philliphines and think that he is staying there my children r young and think it is disgusting that he can leave tha country for good whilst he has dependents to provide for
Tess - 12-Sep-12 @ 11:24 PM
Hi, I contacted the csa about 5 years ago, i gave them the fathers details of where he lived etc and few weeks later he called to say he received a letter from csa but he was going to refuse to pay and thats the last i heard from them, i completely forgot about the claim as i was coping with everything then i had to reduce my hours in work so money got tighter do you think the will still have it on record and it will get back dated?
kimbo - 4-Sep-12 @ 6:19 PM
My daughter is 19 in a week. Her father has never paid any maintenance whatsoever, he managed to slip through the net because of the child support agency failure, they just gave up. He has now turned up because she is of age and dosen't have to pay. I have been a lone parent all of this time trying to provide for my daughter and make up for not having a father and this has left me in an incredible amount of debt despite working 45hrs a week. Is there any way he can be made to pay backpay?
don - 29-Aug-12 @ 3:46 PM
@rub09, child maintenance payments will only be back dated to the day that you first made the claim.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Aug-12 @ 2:40 PM
i have daughter of 3 and the farther has neaver payd a penny towards the child would it get back dated
rub09 - 19-Aug-12 @ 8:44 AM
i am a un married father and the partner who my ex is with now is saying he will put his name on the birth certificate,but i am the biological father so isnt that fraud if he signs the birth certificate??
dave - 12-Aug-12 @ 6:51 PM
I left my partner in july 2011, applied to CSA in August 2011, he has already 2 open cases with the CSA so i was told it would be a straight forward case, first of all they lost my application, so i had to re-apply, My ex partner only see's our 18 month old daughter once a month for around 6 hours, he does not help out in any way finacially, months came and gone and i rang them thoughout, My case finalist in April 2012 after I made a official complaint, only to be told that because he already had open cases he will not have to pay the back pay, so my ex hasn't paid for his daughter for 8 months which amounts to £1300 owed to me, I just can not get my head around this i was told it was a new legisation, that if the parent without care has other open cases they do not have to pay for the new case until it has been finalist with the CSA, I was under the empression that the non-resident parent has a finacial responsabilty to thier child, Is there any way i can get this money back which i feel is owed to me? please help.
lealea - 31-Jul-12 @ 11:13 AM
question..my 2 children have lived with their father since 2000' at the time i was unemployed and always tried to give them what i could my ex never asked for any maintenance at all. in 2009 i found employment, my ex did not contact the csa as we just had a voluntery agreement that i would get the children things they neededclothes,holidays,school things ect. Then out of the blue he contacted the csa in febuary 2012,now the csa are saying i owe over £6000 in back payment from when i started working.is this correct?any help pleeeease.
deb - 27-Jun-12 @ 12:25 PM
@desertboy - it sounds generous but not excessive. One thing to consider is that if you can afford it and you ex is happy it's probably a win-win. I guess you've ended up paying about 30% in total. It's probably about what your ex would get on court. Well done on making an agreement that kind of works for all. One thing you might do is consider reducing the payments - or the spousal maintenance element over time.
Stepdad - 24-Jun-12 @ 7:08 AM
QUESTION: I work in the Middle East but originally from UK. I am separated and almost Divorced and have a relatively high salary i.e. 7100 pounds per month. I have 2 daughters ages 4 and 6 who have now gone back to the UK to stay with my Ex Wife in our house. I have paid very propmtly everymonth 20% of my earnings plus have been paying 550 pounds a month for the full amount of the mortgage. Totalling 1977 pounds a month. 1. Does my wife have to pay income tax on the payment? 2. Am I being too generous? (Not sure I should pay the mortgage also)
Desert Boy - 21-Jun-12 @ 12:05 PM
My sister left her husband a few years ago and has two children by him now aged 13 and 15 - he is not paying her child support at all saying that she would spend it on herself.She is having to buy all their clothes, and since her son is constantly growing this is making a big dent in her own funds.She is barely making ends meet and could really use any extra money to support her children. He is self employed (a video/dvd shop) and keeps saying he hasn't enough money but he buys top of the range electronic equipment/phones etc for his children on their birthday's/Christmas.My sister can't afford that. What can she do - she's just about given up I think
Fred - 18-Jun-12 @ 8:09 AM
I wonder whether you could give me some advice on a child maintenance issue. I was divorced in April 2011 after 23 years of marriage, two children now 15 and 18 who reside with me. My wife left the FMH in March 2010 to cohabit with her now fiance. I have a clause in the CO that provides nominal maintenance of £1 per annum until the youngest child reaches the age of 20. As the children live with me I believe that this is primarily to support another clause which states "in the event that the husband obtains an assessment for child support through the CSA the wife's entitlement to periodic payments shall increase pound for pound from the date any such assessment in the amount of the said assessment." Basically my ex claimed to be seriously ill (severe depression) and unable to work and then got a job two weeks after the FH, and has been working ever since. I would like to discharge this, not least to achieve a "Clean Break". Hopefully it would also make my ex understand her responsibilities and encourage her to have some structured relationship with our 15 year old daughter (18 year old son now working) and have her overnight, say once or twice a week. This being on the basis that CM reduces by 1/7 for every night a week the child spends with the NRP. I have asked my ex for a private arrangement for CM but she has declined. Furthermore, reading the responsibilities of a parent in the Children Act it would appear to me that this clause is just a way of avoiding child maintenance and hence could be deemed illegal. Grateful for your views. Would an application to discharge this have to be a long drawn out process. Regards
Dad as the PWC - 10-Jun-12 @ 5:07 PM
QUESTION my partner has a 3 year old daughter, we have her 1 to 2 nights a week and have taken her on holiday in the past for a week, we are going away again this year but for 2 weeks, should he be paying the full months maintenance as she'll be with us for half the month? It wouldn't be an issue but my partner has paid for extra things for his daughter outside of the maintenance he pays and she doesn't always have suitable clothes and shoes that are decent or that fit. We have separate clothes/shoes here for her and have to be vigilant that they don't stay at her mothers as they get ruined or 'lost'. My partner and I have a one year old daughter together and I'm 30 weeks pregnant with our second child (just a bit of background info!)
Curious - 7-Jun-12 @ 5:19 PM
My ex was paying child support but has since lost his job his wife works and they claim child tax and working tax am I entitled to any of these? Or will my payments just stop as he is no longer earning any income?
Clb3 - 6-Jun-12 @ 4:12 PM
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