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: 21 Feb 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]
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
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.
Rob - 21-Feb-17 @ 11:12 AM
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?
Rob - 21-Feb-17 @ 11:09 AM
Am97 - Your Question:
I had my daughter almost a year ago, her dad has never been around and wants nothing to do with her, and I now have no contact with him. I never had the courage to start with but I now think it's only fair my daughter gets the payments she deserves from him so want to get child maintenance. where do I start if he's trying to deny shes his. How do I go about this? I need advice, and I need to know where to start. He's never met her let alone paid a penny.

Our Response:
You can start via the CMS, please see link here. Regardless of whether your ex denies paternity, if you name him as the father, he is still deemed responsible for paying towards your child's day-to-day care. If your daughter's father still denies he is the father, it is up to him to request a DNA test either from you directly, or if you refuse via the courts. If he is not proved to be the father, then payments will stop, if he is they will continue. However, given you are on the page for back-pay, you would not be able to claim for this. Your claim will start from when you first register with CMS. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Feb-17 @ 10:24 AM
Just found out where my daughters dad is living after 12 years can I still put a claim in for maintaince?
Heybaby2002 - 21-Feb-17 @ 12:58 AM
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 ?
Orchid - 20-Feb-17 @ 9:32 PM
I had my daughter almost a year ago, her dad has never been around and wants nothing to do with her, and I now have no contact with him. I never had the courage to start with but I now think it's only fair my daughter gets the payments she deserves from him so want to get child maintenance.. where do I start if he's trying to deny shes his. How do I go about this? I need advice, and I need to know where to start. He's never met her let alone paid a penny.
Am97 - 20-Feb-17 @ 3:15 AM
My Father owes my mother 24k in a csa claim for myself and 3 siblings back from 2000, He never paid a penny, at the time he had a court order but vanished and wasnt traceable, the baliffs even went to his house but the girlfriend who is now his wife lied and denied he was living there. My sibling died in 2015, now our father has come forward as an interested party for the inquest. (He could get compensation for the death as he is our father). He is living in the same house as the one the baliffs went too, has a job, wife. As an adult can myself and remanding siblings claim the backdated claim now we is registered at the address
Gita - 16-Feb-17 @ 10:27 PM
My ex who I have a son with had been contacted by CSA to start making payments of £7.00 a week, this was April 2016. I have never had any payments and he told them he is on jobseekers, which he probably is but I bet he didn't tell them he also works on a desk at a local gym. Our son is Autistic and he isn't supporting him enough and not to mention this is a legal requirement for him to pay for his son. If an email could be sent to me with more information which I could respond to, it would be much appreciated
Nat - 12-Feb-17 @ 10:09 PM
Jack - Your Question:
My ex has never paid a penny in child maintenance. My daughters are now 23 and 26. I have found out that he owns a car dealership. Can I get back dated payments for all the years he paid nothing to me?

Our Response:
Unless you made a previous claim through the CSA, and your ex was working at the time, then you would not be able to claim. While a child maintenance claim is based upon the non-resident parent's earnings, you cannot claim retrospectively where no previous claim has been made.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Feb-17 @ 2:09 PM
My ex has never paid a penny in child maintenance.My daughters are now 23 and 26.I have found out that he owns acar dealership.Can I get back dated payments for all the years he paid nothing to me?
Jack - 6-Feb-17 @ 1:04 PM
I have being paying throughcsa for few years now but had no contact with my son for the past 4 years..the other day my ex wife asked permission to change my sons name to her new married name by deed poll as her husband wants to adopt him. She said that she has informed csa she no longer wants anything from me and case is closed. Is it as clear cut as that. I have agreed to the name change and adoption.
Lee - 28-Jan-17 @ 4:39 PM
Hi there, long story short my fiancé became a dad in December to a child from his ex girlfriend. He is not on the birth certificate and the ex has told him she doesn't want payment from him and only said if he could buy milk and nappies when she needs. She doesn't want him to pay as apparently it effects her benefits. If she made a claim to the cms would they back date the payment from him? He has kept all the receipts for milk, nappies and other things he bought before the baby was born. Could he also turn round in court and say she didn't want payment from him? Help.
Sally - 27-Jan-17 @ 8:36 PM
April - Your Question:
My ex husband is self employed and declaring his income to HMRC much lower , less than £250 a week , than he actually earns. He has 3 properties he rents , and his , home, mortgage and lifestyle , far exceeds is so called income ! What can I do about this ? I opened up a claim with CMS when CSA claim ended.

Our Response:
In this case I recommend seeking legal advice regarding taking the matter to court. A judge would look at your ex-husband's lifestyle in depth to see whether was in accordance with his declared earnings. However, as taking the matter to court can be costly, you would need to be assured you have a strong case to answer.
ChildSupportLaws - 25-Jan-17 @ 12:54 PM
My ex husband is self employed and declaring his income to HMRC much lower , less than £250 a week , than he actually earns . He has 3 properties he rents , and his , home, mortgage and lifestyle , far exceeds is so called income ! What can I do about this ? I opened up a claim with CMS when CSA claim ended .
April - 24-Jan-17 @ 11:18 PM
Mumof2 - Your Question:
My ex husband has been paying child maintenance to me via the CSA.Post move to CMS, I received a letter stating the amount I will now be receiving from him.There's a 64% increase.I appreciate that child maintenance is calculated differently now, however, even taken this into account, I suspect the disparity is largely due to an undeclared pay increase he did not declare to the CSA.The CMS have told me that they will not investigate anything other than existing cases transferred to them from the CSA.The CSA have told me to contact CMS.Am I entitled to claim retrospective maintenance for undeclared pay rise from my ex?If yes, how would I go about doing this?Thanks

Our Response:
You can appeal and complain via the link here. If your ex has not reported any changes as laid out via the gov.uk link here , then you may have a case.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Jan-17 @ 12:01 PM
My ex husband has been paying child maintenance to me via the CSA. Post move to CMS, I received a letter stating the amount I will now be receiving from him. There's a 64% increase. I appreciate that child maintenance is calculated differently now, however, even taken this into account, I suspect the disparity is largely due to an undeclared pay increase he did not declare to the CSA. The CMS have told me that they will not investigate anything other than existing cases transferred to them from the CSA. The CSA have told me to contact CMS. Am I entitled to claim retrospective maintenance for undeclared pay rise from my ex? If yes, how would I go about doing this? Thanks
Mumof2 - 22-Jan-17 @ 11:44 AM
clgflg - Your Question:
Hi my daughter is now 11 Ive never recived money of her dad if I call cms and make a claim would they back date the payments

Our Response:
No, claims can only be backdated from the time the original claim was/is made.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Jan-17 @ 2:34 PM
hi my daughter is now 11 Ive never recived money of her dad if i call cms and make a claim would they back date the payments
clgflg - 20-Jan-17 @ 1:50 AM
Jen - Your Question:
I have an enforcement in place through Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Order (REMO) against a UK resident parent,but I haven't received any payments in over 2 years.How is this enforced?the responses through the courts are painfully slow,with about 1 reply only every 18 months.he keeps changing his address to.

Our Response:
I'm afraid you would have to ask the REMO unit directly, as this is beyond our remit if the matter is already going throught the court process.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Jan-17 @ 1:38 PM
I have an enforcement in place through Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Order (REMO) against a UK resident parent,but I haven't received any payments in over 2 years.How is this enforced?the responses through the courts are painfully slow,with about 1 reply only every 18 months.he keeps changing his address to.
Jen - 18-Jan-17 @ 6:35 AM
Lou - Your Question:
I seperared from my partner Fiancé way back in 1994 and had two sons aged at the time 2 and 10 months, he has never paid me a penny for my boys in all of these years.He threatened me never to contact CMS as he would make me regret it.To cut a long story short I have been single for the last 13 years and still have never had money from him for the boys.I am now not afraid but feel he owes me and my boys, we have had a very hard time with living below the bread line at times even tho I worked.I am now disabled with arthritis and my boys still I've with me aged 23 and 25.They are well grounded and are hard working I am proud of them.Their father wanted nothing to do with them all these years but did take me to court because he wanted to control our lives with the freedom to come round when it suitedWe are all older and he has a very lovely life style and we are on speaking terms.However I feel my boys are owed as he pushes money onto his girlfriends children grown up too and never treats his own.Can I claim for historical maitanence? I look forward to your response.

Our Response:
Unless you previously made a claim to the CSA, then you cannot claim retrospective child maintenenance.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Jan-17 @ 10:04 AM
I seperared from my partner Fiancé way back in 1994 and had two sons aged at the time 2 and 10 months, he has never paid me a penny for my boys in all of these years.. He threatened me never to contact CMS as he would make me regret it.. To cut a long story short I have been single for the last 13 years and still have never had money from him for the boys... I am now not afraid but feel he owes me and my boys, we have had a very hard time with living below the bread line at times even tho I worked.. I am now disabled with arthritis and my boys still I've with me aged 23 and 25... They are well grounded and are hard working I am proud of them. Their father wanted nothing to do with them all these years but did take me to court because he wanted to control our lives with the freedom to come round when it suited We are all older and he has a very lovely life style and we are on speaking terms. However I feel my boys are owed as he pushes money onto his girlfriends children grown up too and never treats his own... Can I claim for historical maitanence? I look forward to your response...
Lou - 12-Jan-17 @ 1:59 AM
My ex for last 5 years has been paying maintenance through csa. And now it's changed to CMS and starting a new claim. He's now turned round and told them he's not the father (he's not on birth certificate)surely he can't do this. I've told them go ahead for DNA
Vicduk - 11-Jan-17 @ 6:15 PM
Is it a must to travel to uk with a baby to file child maintanace case against a parent?what if ther is no travelling consent from the father?
Santy - 11-Jan-17 @ 9:47 AM
Jamjam - Your Question:
Hi, me and my baby dady are not in good terms and he is complaining about paying child maintanace (our baby is 4 years old) Although he pays he complains a lot rhat sometimes he delays paying and also reduce amount and wants me to contribute but I have no job and I stay in a country where I dont have work permit due to my visa type.He is british and I am kenyan. I am tired of arguing about him contributing the child maintance but I am told I cant file a case to have him ordered to pay constantly without problems because I will be in the uk with a tourist visa and without a baby. If I want to sue him I am told I should come with the baby to UK. However I dont have money to travel with the baby and his consent as a parent for me to travell with the baby will be missing. What can I do to make uk law order him to pay?

Our Response:
The Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Order (REMO) Unit helps to register and enforce child maintenance orders internationally. Please see gov.uk link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Jan-17 @ 2:46 PM
Hi, me and my baby dady are not in good terms and he is complaining about paying child maintanace (our baby is 4 years old) Although he pays he complains a lot rhat sometimes he delays paying and also reduce amount and wants me to contribute but i have no job and i stay in a country where i dont have work permit due to my visa type.He is british and i am kenyan. I am tired of arguing about him contributing the child maintance but i am told i cant file a case to have him ordered to pay constantly without problems because i will be in the uk with a tourist visa and without a baby. If i want to sue him i am told i should come with the baby to UK. However i dont have money to travel with the baby and his consent as a parent for me to travell with the baby will be missing. What can i do to make uk law order him to pay?
Jamjam - 10-Jan-17 @ 9:47 AM
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