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 Nov 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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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
K - Your Question:
My daughter is nearly 4. Her father moved to Australia when I was still pregnant and has never assisted me financially. I've asked for help but he declined and I'd like to start proceedings for child support. How do I even begin? I have all of his details (not his income, though.) please help!

Our Response:
Please see the REMO link here , which will advise further.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Nov-17 @ 3:46 PM
My daughter is nearly 4. Her father moved to Australia when I was still pregnant and has never assisted me financially. I've asked for help but he declined and I'd like to start proceedings for child support. How do I even begin? I have all of his details (not his income, though.) please help!
K - 11-Nov-17 @ 8:27 PM
Jac - Your Question:
My ex has paid £0.00 for 13yrs due 2 being on not benefits excuse after excuse

Our Response:
Non-resident parents who are in receipt of benefits come under the flat or nil rate assessment. If a person earns below £7 per week, they don’t pay any child maintenance. If they earn between £7 and £100 and are on benefits pay a flat rate of £7 per week.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Nov-17 @ 11:18 AM
My ex has paid £0.00 for 13yrs due 2 being on not benefits excuse after excuse
Jac - 8-Nov-17 @ 12:17 PM
Jane- Your Question:
Can I stop a new claim as I have made arrangements wiv the child's father as hes sayin he can afford wat cms r sayin he has to pay

Our Response:
You would have to speak to CMS directly about this matter.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Nov-17 @ 3:36 PM
Marcus - Your Question:
My ex partner went to the CSA.made a claim which went on forever without them sorting any figure out but we managed to sort an agreement between ourselves. That was fine until we got back together when I supported her because we lived as a couple again. We then split and I paid the agreed amount we agreed on again. she is now refusing to accept any money!?!?!?!?If I have tried to pay money, (and she has returned it ) which we agreed on without the CSA, can she claim back payments or does she have to make a fresh claim.

Our Response:
You would need to speak to CSA/CMS directly regarding this matter.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Nov-17 @ 11:19 AM
@Asil - you could get the three mums together to mutually take him to court! You'll be waiting forever if he's only paying himself a low wage, as figures go from his accounts presented to HMRC. Take him to court and they'll look at his accounts and lifestyle more carefully which is something CMS wont do. The only poss downside is that you'll have to prove he is earning this money as you may end up having to pay the court costs yourself.
DadD - 7-Nov-17 @ 11:08 AM
Is it allowed for a paying parent to claim a new spouses son as a dependant, thereby reducing his own children's maintenance payments. It is believed that this dependants natural father also pays maintenance for him. In essence this means that the household is receiving 2 lots of maintenance payments for a single dependant. I'd be grateful for clarification on this matter.
irco - 7-Nov-17 @ 10:55 AM
Hi my ex has made 3 payments through cms through deduction of earnings last one in June they still haven’t had a response from him they have right phone number and address but he chooses to evade them by changing jobs but this time has set up own business he has 5 children in total 3 different mums we all have cases so why is it taking so long?he is on around £3000-£4000 a month but probably will pay himself a low wage and live off expense account so while we all wait what action should I expect to be taken?
Asil - 6-Nov-17 @ 8:47 PM
My ex partner went to the CSA.....made a claim which went on forever without them sorting any figure out but we managed to sort an agreement between ourselves. That was fine until we got back together when I supported her because we lived as a couple again. We then split and I paid the agreed amount we agreed on again. she is now refusing to accept any money!?!?!?!? If I have tried to pay money, (and she has returned it ) which we agreed on without the CSA, can she claim back payments or does she have to make a fresh claim.
Marcus - 6-Nov-17 @ 8:33 PM
Sandra - Your Question:
My ex partner left when I was pregnant with my dauther who is now 20 years old, he has never paid regular maitenence for my daughter which has left me in debt which I am still struggling to pay. He is not on the birth certificate but has recognised my daughter as his own. Am I entitled to claim back any maitenence from him for my daughter?

Our Response:
Unless you have previously made a claim through CSA/CMS, then you would not be able to claim retrospective child maintenance.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Nov-17 @ 2:18 PM
Kim - Your Question:
I had an agreement with the father of my daughter and he owes £600 I have now gone through Csm I have proof that he has not paid we’re do I stand thanks

Our Response:
If the agreement was for £600 in child maintenance as part of a family-based informal child maintenance agreement there is nothing you can do to reclaim this money. However, once you register with CMS, then if your ex falls into arrears again CMS should be able to claim the arrears on your behalf.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Nov-17 @ 1:46 PM
I had an agreement with the father of my daughter and he owes £600 I have now gone through Csm I have proof that he has not paid we’re do I stand thanks
Kim - 4-Nov-17 @ 10:33 PM
My ex partner left when I was pregnant with my dauther who is now 20 years old, he has never paid regular maitenence for my daughter which has left me in debt which I am still struggling to pay. He is not on the birth certificate but has recognised my daughter as his own. Am I entitled to claim back any maitenence from him for my daughter?
Sandra - 4-Nov-17 @ 12:11 PM
My ex husband of 10 years has paid on and off for a few years and I decided I'd had enough so lodged a claim beginning of the year with Csa. He has ignored all letters from them and calls as he's self employed it's difficult to find him. He is earning really good money goes on holiday 3/4 times a year and has a new girlfriend who he supports . They say as they can't find anything related to the address he is staying at with his name I probably won't be able to get any money . He is so good at avoiding all this and is a complete fraud . What can I do to get him to pay we have no communication and he hasn't seen his daughter in a few years just the odd phone call .please help
Daisy - 3-Nov-17 @ 8:25 PM
can i stop a new claim as i have made arrangements wiv the child's father as hes sayin he can afford wat cms r sayin he has to pay
Jane - 3-Nov-17 @ 7:50 PM
Kbt2017 - Your Question:
I have a 14yr old daughter and split from her father when she was just a couple of months old due to violence. I have not claimed off him in the past as I was so scared he would find me if I made a claim, I have overcome my fear of him over the years and am now ready to find out how I would go about claiming 14yrs worth of maintenance from him??

Our Response:
You would not be able to claim child maintenance back pay if you have never previously registered a claim. You would only be able to claim maintenance from the date you first register the claim. Therefore, if you register to claim now, you would be able to claim forward payments from this date.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Nov-17 @ 3:00 PM
I have a 14yr old daughter and split from her father when she was just a couple of months old due to violence. I have not claimed off him in the past as I was so scared he would find me if I made a claim, I have overcomemy fear of him over theyears and am now ready to find out how I would go about claiming 14yrs worth of maintenance from him??
Kbt2017 - 3-Nov-17 @ 9:47 AM
I divorced my husband a d went thru gas for maintenance due to lack of payments. Since making the claim he has no paid or not paid enough or not corresponded with them or not given proof if earnings etc and he's owing 4 thousand in back pzymrmts. Csa are saying that I can't really claim it back and they can I my get what they get. Can I claim a lump sum back?
Jules - 29-Oct-17 @ 9:56 AM
charley - Your Question:
My dad owes supposedly owes 6000 according to my mum, I'm not too sure what for possibly about 5-6 years of unpaid maintenance? but she hadn't made a claim before about July this year and says the CMS has calculated this not her. my step-mother says they have contacted the CMS themselves and say apparently they have reasons they don't owe this, how is this possible and which way is it likely that this will end?

Our Response:
This will be referred to the complaints resolution team, who will try to sort this out the complaint within 15 working days. If they think it may take longer than this, they’ll keep your mother updated. It is impossible to predict what the outcome will be.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Oct-17 @ 3:13 PM
My dad owes supposedly owes 6000 according to my mum, I'm not too sure what for possibly about 5-6 years of unpaid maintenance? but she hadn't made a claim before about July this year and says the CMS has calculated this not her. my step-mother says they have contacted the CMS themselves and say apparently they have reasons they don't owe this, how is this possible and which way is it likely that this will end?
charley - 18-Oct-17 @ 9:45 PM
Hi, I claimed child maintenance through CSA in 2004 for 2 children, but started to receive payments only in 2007. I was receiving income support at that time and CSA agent told me I am not receiving because of that. Is there any chance I can get back payments for those 3 years now? And if they were collecting maintenance from my ex-husband since 2004 where that money gone?
Plum - 18-Oct-17 @ 5:20 PM
Lucky - Your Question:
I have a 14 year old son I split from his father 11years ago. We have no court orders or child agencies involved. For the first 5years he paid me 300 a month then reduced it to 220. From then till now. Saying he paid too much. He now has a 14 month old child and went to court to sort everything out with his other ex partner. Its only now realize he should of been payng me 420 a month since he left and his new child was born approximately 9.5 years can I claim this back by agreeing together /courts/civil. I need and needed this over the years thanks

Our Response:
You cannot claim this back retrospectively if you have a family-based child maintenance arrangement. Only if the CMS deals with your case, can you claim if your ex falls into arrears.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Oct-17 @ 2:44 PM
Chris - Your Question:
My partner has a 25yo daughter from a previous relationship. The father never made payments, has been located by the CSA, and has had his liability calculated at £46000 but still ignores all correspondence from them. The CSA is now trying to persuade my partner to write off the debt so they can decomission their IT systems. She is refusing but we cannot risk the costs of pursuing the arrears ourselves. Is there a way forward?

Our Response:
I can only suggest your partner complains that she should not be forced to write off the debt to fit in line with a CSA practical issue, please see link here. Alternatively, your partner could self-litigate if she thinks she has a possibility of obtaining the money through court. This would bring the cost of legal representation down. However, she would have to be sure she had a strong case to win. She may wish to seek legal advice regarding this. The Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to offer some free legal advice.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Oct-17 @ 1:41 PM
I have a 14 year old son i split from his father 11years ago. We have no court orders or child agencies involved. For the first 5years he paid me 300 a month then reduced it to 220. From then till now. Saying he paid too much. He now has a 14 month old child and went to court to sort everything out with his other ex partner. Its only now realize he should of been payng me 420 a month since he left and his new child was born approximately 9.5 years can i claim this back by agreeing together /courts/civil. I need and needed this over the years thanks
Lucky - 9-Oct-17 @ 9:01 PM
My partner has a 25yo daughter from a previous relationship. The father never made payments, has been located by the CSA, and has had his liability calculated at £46000 but still ignores all correspondence from them. The CSA is now tryingto persuade my partner to write off the debt so they can decomission their IT systems. She is refusing but we cannot risk the costs of pursuing the arrears ourselves. Is there a way forward?
Chris - 9-Oct-17 @ 6:37 PM
tata - Your Question:
My mum has never made a claim for child maintenance against my father. And he didn't want any contact with me (he is on the birth certificate). Since I will be turning 18 in a few weeks, I want to know if I can personally make a claim. Is there anything I can do to get back payment.

Our Response:
You personally cannot make a claim against your father, only your mother can do this.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Oct-17 @ 12:20 PM
Col - Your Question:
Hi. I have a fifteen year old son to my first husband who I divorced in 2004. My ex does not see my son as he is not allowed to legally. For many years I could not find out where he lived or worked, I believe he did not work for most of the time. I have now found out where he is working. Am I too late to put in a claim for maintenence and back pay?

Our Response:
You can certainly make a child maintenance claim from now. However, unless you have previously put in a child maintenance claim then you would not be able to claim back pay.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Oct-17 @ 12:18 PM
@Scotty - Only a parent can claim child maintenance - not a child.
Jules^ - 6-Oct-17 @ 10:49 AM
My mum has never made a claim for child maintenance against my father. And he didn't want any contact with me (he is on the birth certificate).Since I will be turning 18 in a few weeks, I want to know if I can personally make a claim.Is there anything I can do to get back payment.
tata - 5-Oct-17 @ 6:05 PM
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