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: 18 Jan 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]
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
Superdad - Your Question:
Hi, My ex and I have been seperated since april we have one child together, I have paid my CMS and have no problem doing so, she has had another child last month and has no contact from the father and im just wondering can she use the CMS payments I pay for her new child?

Our Response:
Your ex does not have to specifically justify what the payments you make to her are used for. The payments you make are used to contribute towards the day-to-day upbringing of your child, so it may go into a general pot on unseen items such as gas bills, water, food etc which the other child will invariably benefit from, as will your own child.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Jan-17 @ 11:48 AM
Bindi - Your Question:
I split with my childrens father 8 years ago. He didnt pay child support at first but did continue to pay the mortgage on the family home for 6 months. he has since had a child with someone else.so have I.My 16 year old son has started an apprenticeship and earns £150 a week. he goes to college one day a week. We had a family based agreement to pay £34 a week per child.until our children together turned 18. My ex now says that he can't afford to do this any more. Can I claim through civil court.the back pay from before the agreement?

Our Response:
You cannot apply for back pay or enforce payment through a family-based child maintenance arrangement. By law, your ex no longer has to pay child maintenance for your son who is earning via his apprenticeship. However, if your other child by the father is younger and in full-time education, then he is required to continue to support this child. If he refuses to pay for a younger child, then you can apply via the CMS which will make the agreement official, then if he falls behind on his payments he will go into arrears.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Jan-17 @ 2:28 PM
Eve - Your Question:
Hi,I hope you can help.I divorced with my husband in 1997, our daughter was then aged two, he didn't contribute financially at first but after a year we agreed maintenance and this was paid for approx 5 years, he then stopped payment and cease contact with our daughter Adventually I went to the CSA, who made a number if mistakes for which I was given a small compensation, however, my ex was able to not pay for a long period of time, finally a liability order was placed by the CSA but by this time he had left the UK. Over the years I have attempted to find him, on occasion locating him but then he changes job, address or country , I have had legal support, attempting to use REMO, but it has taken time and resulted in him avoiding payment. My ex is a director of cyber security, so very able to hide his social media. I have now located him in Singapore and know his employer details. However, my daughter is now 21 and not in full time education, so I am told that nothing further can be done. I wish to persue my ex for outstanding payments over the last 13 years, do you know how I can do this?Any help you can give would be much appreciated.

Our Response:
The courts will pursue payment if you have a case to answer. However, please keep in mind there is no guarantee that you will get financial recompense and it will cost you to bring the matter to court. Therefore, you will need to seek legal advice to explore your options.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Jan-17 @ 2:14 PM
Hi, My ex and I have been seperated since april we have one child together, I have paid my CMS and have no problem doing so, she has had another child last month and has no contact from the father and im just wondering can she use the CMS payments i pay for her new child?
Superdad - 5-Jan-17 @ 1:59 PM
Beanbop - Your Question:
Hi I'm 26 and my dad never paid any money to help with mine or my sister's upbringing would my mum be able to claim back what's owed?

Our Response:
As specified in the article, unless your mother has previously made a claim to the CSA, then she would not be allowed to make a claim retrospectively. If your mother did make a claim, there may be reasons why your dad wasn't eligible to pay i.e unemployment etc. If your dad was earning a living and paying tax via the HMRC, and still avoided paying, then your mother would have to seek legal advice.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Jan-17 @ 12:48 PM
I split with my childrens father 8 years ago. He didnt pay child support at first but did continue to pay the mortgage on the family home for 6 months.. he has since had a child with someone else ..so have I. My 16 year old son has started an apprenticeship and earns £150 a week.. he goes to college one day a week.We had a family based agreement to pay £34 a week per child..until our children together turned 18.My ex now says that he can't afford to do this any more. Can I claim through civil court..the back pay from before the agreement?
Bindi - 4-Jan-17 @ 10:27 PM
Hi, I hope you can help. I divorced with my husband in 1997, our daughter was then aged two, he didn't contribute financially at first but after a year we agreed maintenance and this was paid for approx 5 years, he then stopped payment and cease contact with our daughter Adventually I went to the CSA, who made a number if mistakes for which I was given a small compensation,however, my ex was able to not pay for a long period of time, finally a liability order was placed by the CSA but by this time he had left the UK. Over the years I have attempted to find him, on occasion locating him but then he changes job, address or country , I have had legal support, attempting to use REMO, but it has taken time and resulted in him avoiding payment. My ex is a director of cyber security,so very able to hide his social media. I have now located him in Singapore and know his employer details. However, my daughter is now 21 and not in full time education,so I am told that nothing further can be done.I wish to persue my ex for outstanding payments over the last 13 years, do you know how I can do this? Any help you can give would be much appreciated.
Eve - 4-Jan-17 @ 8:43 PM
Hi I'm 26 and my dad never paid any money to help with mine or my sister's upbringing would my mum be able to claim back what's owed?
Beanbop - 4-Jan-17 @ 8:27 PM
Hi my daughter is 20 still lives with me . Me and her father split when she was 18months old and all I was entitled to was a penny a year . When I found out he was working in was entitled to190 a month when she was 9 years oldI only receivedthat for 3 Months then everything stopped . Am I entilted to back pay?
Kerrye - 28-Dec-16 @ 12:59 PM
My son is now 18 and in full time education at college. I have never claimed any money off his father (who left us when my son was 6) as I was too afraid of the consequences from him. Am I now able to put a claim in for backdated maintenance?
Ali - 24-Dec-16 @ 10:13 PM
Beeker - Your Question:
Hi,My wife was receiving CSA payments from her ex for her two children. When they were 4 and 7 years old the CSA caculated her ex should pay £130 a month.About 8 years ago my wife asked for a review because his lifestyle did not match what he initially told the CSA he was earning. The CSA messed up and reduced the payment. After issuing a formal complaint the CSA admitted they made calculations without obtaining wage slips and they had no idea why or how this happened. They requested payslips and the figure rose to £137 as he was claiming parental responsibility for his wife child and the child they had together. This still did not add up and was sure he had falsiefied this salary as this placed him on around £16k a year income.Years passed and when CMS took over an arrangement to pay the £137 continued but then he started missing payment. The eldest child turned 18 so he decided to only pay £50 a month. My wife contacted CMS who in turn contacted him but he still did not pay. So they made calculations based on the HMRC data and he now has to pay £270 a month for one child! He has no remarried and only has one child from his previous marriage living with him.CMS say they can not claim back payment which is fair enough for the time the voluntary arrangement commenced but my question is this.It has now become clear he lied about his income whilst the CSA was handling the case. He never informed the CSA of a change in circumstances either. Can my wife request a review of the claim whilst it was handled by the CSA and back date payments based on his proper salary and not one that was fabricated?Many thanks in advance.

Our Response:
You would have to ask this question via the gov.uk link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Dec-16 @ 11:10 AM
Hi, My wife was receiving CSA payments from her ex for her two children. When they were 4 and 7 years old the CSA caculated her ex should pay £130 a month. About 8 years ago my wife asked for a review because his lifestyle did not match what he initially told the CSA he was earning. The CSA messed up and reduced the payment. After issuing a formal complaint the CSA admitted they made calculations without obtaining wage slips and they had no idea why or how this happened. They requested payslips and the figure rose to £137 as he was claiming parental responsibility for his wife child and the child they had together. This still did not add up and was sure he had falsiefied this salary as this placed him on around £16k a year income. Years passed and when CMS took over an arrangement to pay the £137 continued but then he started missing payment. The eldest child turned 18 so he decided to only pay £50 a month. My wife contacted CMS who in turn contacted him but he still did not pay. So they made calculations based on the HMRC data and he now has to pay £270 a month for one child! He has no remarried and only has one child from his previous marriage living with him. CMS say they can not claim back payment which is fair enough for the time the voluntary arrangement commenced but my question is this. It has now become clear he lied about his income whilst the CSA was handling the case. He never informed the CSA of a change in circumstances either. Can my wife request a review of the claim whilst it was handled by the CSA and back date payments based on his proper salary and not one that was fabricated? Many thanks in advance.
Beeker - 16-Dec-16 @ 1:58 PM
claire - Your Question:
Hi my father left when I was 9 and has never paid any money towards mine and my sisters upbringing I am now 25 does this mean that I am not in titled to any money from the past years he has had no interest he is now remarried and has no children with his wife he owes his own business and is also into property as in he buys houses sells them or rents them out I'm not too sure iv never really been bothered in having anything off this man but now he has denied that he even has children

Our Response:
You are not entitled to any money personally, as the only person who can claim child maintenance is the person caring for you i.e your mother. If your mother never claimed, or claimed and i.e your father was unemployed at the time, then this may be perhaps why child maintenence was never paid. However, you personally would be unable to make a claim against your father regardless of how much he earns.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Dec-16 @ 12:04 PM
Hi my father left when I was 9 and has never paid any money towards mine and my sisters upbringing I am now 25 does this mean that I am not in titled to any money from the past years he has had no interest he is now remarried and has no children with his wife he owes his own business and is also into property as in he buys houses sells them or rents them out I'm not too sure iv never really been bothered in having anything off this man but now he has denied that he even has children
claire - 15-Dec-16 @ 8:40 PM
Mummyof2 - Your Question:
Hi my child is 15 and recently gone to live at her aunt's. Her father has over £4000 arreas owed to me through child maintenance service and is kicking off about what he owes. I claim nothing for my child anymore as this is now for the aunt to do. I am a single parent with another child to a different father. The child maintenance service have taken a few payments off his arreas but he's kicking off that he shouldn't have to pay me the arreas. He's poisoning my child against me as she believes him that he shouldn't pay me these arreas. I give her half of the arreas payments I get but she's demanding I give her the whole amount.

Our Response:
Firstly, child maintenance is paid to the mother not the child. It is paid to the primary carer by law from the non-resident parent to help financially support the child's day-to-day care and needs. Therefore, the arrears is the money owed to you from the time when your child was living with you and you were having to support her without the financial help from her father. If the father had paid when he should have, then the money would have been attributed to help your child with her day-to-day care at the time. What you do with the arrears, is entirely up to you. But it is owed to you (not your daughter) from the period of time your ex refused to pay.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Dec-16 @ 11:39 AM
Hi my child is 15 and recently gone to live at her aunt's.Her father has over £4000 arreas owed to me through child maintenance service and is kicking off about what he owes. I claim nothing for my child anymore as this is now for the aunt to do. I am a single parent with another child to a different father. The child maintenance service have taken a few payments off his arreas but he's kicking off that he shouldn't have to pay me the arreas. He's poisoning my child against me as she believes him that he shouldn't pay me these arreas. I give her half of the arreas payments I get but she's demanding I give her the whole amount.
Mummyof2 - 14-Dec-16 @ 11:14 PM
kwd897 - Your Question:
Just a question, Ex is trying to claim back two years csa have said I owe £1500I lived with my ex in the same house in the same bedroom but she denys thismy wages went into her account she controlled my money,I can provide non rude images, possibly statements from neightbour's Turns out shes in deny because not only is she trying to screw me over,She was illegally claiming as a single parent and claiming working and child tax credit at this time also!What do I do?

Our Response:
One of the points in question will be that you must have been aware you were paying child maintenance (through CMS correspondence) even though you were living together, so why was the CMS not informed? If, as you say, she was claiming child maintenance when you were living together and claiming benefits and child tax credits simultaneously, then this is obviously fraudulent. You could complain/appeal directly to the CSA/CMS via the link here. However, independent legal advice may be the best course of action here to ascertain your position and explore your options.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Dec-16 @ 1:58 PM
SouthWalesGirl - Your Question:
My EX partner has not paid me a penny in maintence since we split 5 years ago for our son. He has arrears nearing £5k but as he is "unemployed" the CMS have been unable to get any payments from him. I recently learned via a mutual friend he is running a fairly profitable pratreon page. Patreon payments are subject to tax deductions but obviously Iv no idea if he dexalted his earnings. I'm unsure if the CMS would be able to do anything to try and get payment for our son via this money?

Our Response:
You would have to inform the CMS of this as CMS collaborates with the HMRC with regards to earnings. Therefore, if your ex is declaring this as a taxable income the CMS should be aware of this.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Dec-16 @ 2:02 PM
JaneL - Your Question:
We have recently been contacted by a man claiming to be my fathers child from a affair. He is 27, his mother is deceased and he is asking for compensation and missed CSA payments. As far as we are aware my father was never contacted by the CSA for payments. My father is retired and on state pension. Can this person make a claim now?

Our Response:
No, this person has no right to claim back-dated child maintenance if no CSA claim was ever lodged. In addition, only the mother can claim CSA payments, not the child.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Dec-16 @ 12:21 PM
My EX partner has not paid me a penny in maintence since we split 5 years ago for our son.He has arrears nearing £5k but as he is "unemployed" the CMS have been unable to get any payments from him.I recently learned via a mutual friend he is running a fairly profitable pratreon page.Patreon payments are subject to tax deductions but obviously Iv no idea if he dexalted his earnings.I'm unsure if the CMS would be able to do anything to try and get payment for our son via this money?
SouthWalesGirl - 11-Dec-16 @ 10:00 PM
We have recently been contacted by a man claiming to be my fathers child from a affair.He is 27, his mother is deceased and he is asking for compensation and missed CSA payments.As far as we are aware my father was never contacted by the CSA for payments.My father is retired and on state pension.Can this person make a claim now?
JaneL - 11-Dec-16 @ 1:29 PM
Just a question, Ex is trying to claim back two years csa have said I owe £1500 I lived with my ex in the same house in the same bedroom but she denys this my wages went into her account she controlled my money, I can provide non rude images, possibly statements from neightbour's Turns out shes in deny because not only is she trying to screw me over, She was illegally claiming as a single parent and claiming working and child tax credit at this time also! What do I do?
kwd897 - 10-Dec-16 @ 12:20 AM
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