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Can I Get Back Pay for Child Maintenance?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 28 Jul 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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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
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?
Victoria - 26-Jul-17 @ 2:47 PM
CF - Your Question:
My relationship broke down 6 years ago. My ex didn't pay maintenance at first even though he's a high earner. I actually paid him £1000 to leave his shed in the garden and he took the money. Sometime later he started paying just £100 per month, saying that paying more would prevent him from getting a bigger mortgage and a better home for our daughter. I have struggled on a low income and felt pressure not to expect more. A year or so later, we tried to reconcile, while remaining in our separate homes. My ex asked if this could mean non payment of maintenance, and stopped the payments. He hasn't paid anything to me since but he has bought clothes, paid for school lunches and trips. I still struggle on a low income to provide a nice home for my daughter. He is still a 40%tax earner. He has just inherited £150,000. He has just bought a new £60,000 Mercedes-Benz and met someone new, who he is spending money on. I will now be making a claim for child maintenance but am I able to claim retroactive child maintenance to cover the time he paid nothing to me? Thanks

Our Response:
You would not be able to make a claim for retrospective child maintenance payments unless you have a claim registered with the CSA/CMS and your ex avoided paying and has accrued arrears. You would not be able to make a claim on his inheritance either, but you can make a claim on his current earnings.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Jul-17 @ 2:40 PM
My relationship broke down 6 years ago. My ex didn't pay maintenance at first even though he's a high earner. I actually paid him £1000 to leave his shed in the garden and he took the money. Sometime later he started paying just £100 per month, saying that paying more would prevent him from getting a bigger mortgage and a better home for our daughter. I have struggled on a low income and felt pressure not to expect more. A year or so later, we tried to reconcile, while remaining in our separate homes. My ex asked if this could mean non payment of maintenance, and stopped the payments. He hasn't paid anything to me since but he has bought clothes, paid for school lunches and trips. I still struggle on a low income to provide a nice home for my daughter. He is still a 40%tax earner. He has just inherited £150,000. He has just bought a new £60,000 Mercedes-Benz and met someone new, who he is spending money on. I will now be making a claim for child maintenance but am I able to claim retroactive child maintenance to cover the time he paid nothing to me? Thanks
CF - 22-Jul-17 @ 7:52 PM
Regarding the question about gifts instead of maintenance payments. I contacted the CSA when we separated, I have evidence of this and they were unable to track him down. I did not make any arrangement/agreement about him paying for items for the children. He has not paid anything towards the mortgage for 16 years either and is now claiming half of the equity of our jointly owned home.
MaggieD - 22-Jul-17 @ 7:22 PM
JessL - Your Question:
Hello,I recently asked a question about non-payment of child maintenance for 16 years and my ex forcing the sale of our jointly owned house.His solicitor is saying that as he bought our children gifts and clothes (sometimes) and took them on holiday now and again, that this counts as child maintenance contributions. Is this correct? Would a judge agree with this?

Our Response:
Child maintenance is money paid from the non-resident/paying parent (your ex) to 'you' the resident/receiving parent. By law, your ex is responsible for contributing to your child's day-to-day needs by paying you money towards the likes of; food, clothing and bills and helping to keep a roof over your child's head. Child maintenance can take the form of an agreed family-based arrangement or an assessed arrangement through Child Maintenance Service. Unless you agreed the money your ex paid towards holidays and clothes or gifts should be part of your ex's child maintenance contribution, then these will not be classed as child maintenance payments. However, if you did not dispute this at the time and/or you did not follow it up by trying to reach a mutual family-based agreement and/or by approaching CSA/CMS at the time, then you would not be able to apply for retrospective payments. In addition, and for example, if you were living in the house and your ex was paying towards the mortgage and towards the bills, then this could be considered an agreed family-based arrangement in place of child maintenance. Therefore, much depends upon the circumstances surrounding any agreement.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Jul-17 @ 12:12 PM
Hello, I recently asked a question about non-payment of child maintenance for 16 years and my ex forcing the sale of our jointly owned house. His solicitor is saying that as he bought our children gifts and clothes (sometimes) and took them on holiday now and again, that this counts as child maintenance contributions. Is this correct? Would a judge agree with this?
JessL - 20-Jul-17 @ 5:47 PM
J R - Your Question:
I am 27 years old, my father paid £5 for me for 3 weeks (this was arranged through the courts and CSA) after those three payments he stopped. He is self employed so would claim he wasn't earning enough. My mother never received a penny after that she said as long as he saw me she didn't mind however he didn't see me and has mentally put me through hell. The rejection I have felt is hideous. He has 5 children with four different women and only pays for the two he lives with. My question is this, can I claim the money back for all those years of none payment? Not specifically for me but for my mum who has struggled with debt and never been able to buy a house due to the expense of me basically. Can we sue him for the money he rightly owes?

Our Response:
A child cannot claim directly from a parent and it is highly unlikely a court would be able to extract money this late in the day that the CSA could not extract at the time.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Jul-17 @ 9:48 AM
I am 27 years old, my father paid £5 for me for 3 weeks (this was arranged through the courts and CSA) after those three payments he stopped. He is self employed so would claim he wasn't earning enough. My mother never received a penny after that she said as long as he saw me she didn't mind however he didn't see me and has mentally put me through hell. The rejection I have felt is hideous. He has 5 children with four different women and only pays for the two he lives with. My question is this, can I claim the money back for all those years of none payment? Not specifically for me but for my mum who has struggled with debt and never been able to buy a house due to the expense of me basically. Can we sue him for the money he rightly owes?
J R - 13-Jul-17 @ 6:48 AM
Martin - Your Question:
Hi I have been paying child support since the day me and my wife separated. The cms wrote to me saying I now have to pay my ex directly as my youngest is now 18. I told the Cms to forward my ex's bank details so I could pay it directly. They contacted her several times but as yet she has not replied. The Cms say there isn't anything else they can do. I am putting the money aside but my question is how long do I have to keep doing this for? Is there a time frame for her to claim it or do I have to keep it forever?

Our Response:
You would have to ask the CMS directly regardng this question as we have no knowledge of its administrative procedures.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Jul-17 @ 3:53 PM
jo - Your Question:
Hii am 50 years old and just retired on a montly income and a lump sumi had an affair and the girl decided to get pregnant and have a babywe went through the csa and had a personal agreement that I have paid montly for the last 4 years. this was less than csa but she was happy with the amount.i have just retired and re adjusted my new payment via the csa website and it works out a bit less. she is not happy. my question is can she come after money from my lump sum or can she increase the monthly amount because of the lump sum or only my monthly pension ?thanks

Our Response:
If your lump sum is not classed as earnings (taxable) then the mother of your child cannot make a claim. Child maintenance is based upon earnings. Deductions can be made from the following types of earnings: private pensions, occupational pensions; wages; overtime pay; bonuses; commission; or any payments that are made on top of a person’s wages. In addition, it is possible to deduct from an individual’s statutory sick pay. If your employer pays you ‘contractual’ maternity, paternity, redundancy or adoption pay, this is classed as ‘earnings’ and can be subjected to deductions for child maintenance.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Jul-17 @ 2:35 PM
Hii am 50 years old and just retired on a montly income and a lump sumi had an affair and the girl decided to get pregnant and have a babywe went through the csa and had a personal agreement that I have paid montly for the last 4 years. this was less than csa but she was happy with the amount.i have just retired and re adjusted my new payment via the csa website and it works out a bit less. she is not happy. my question is can she come after money from my lump sum or can she increase the monthly amount because of the lump sum or only my monthly pension ?thanks
jo - 8-Jul-17 @ 3:27 PM
My son's father has never paid any maintenance. I made a claim when he was a baby but my ex's sister phoned the CSA and told them she was me and closed the case. I only found out about this a long time afterwards and to be honest had given up on getting anything as they had not been able to get anything from him in 18m of trying. I have seen that child maintenance can't be backdated unless a claim was previously made. Would my original claim count or as this was closed would any application I make now only start from now?
Concerned - 7-Jul-17 @ 3:52 PM
Hi I have been paying child support since the day me and my wife separated. The cms wrote to me saying I now have to pay my ex directly as my youngest is now 18. I told the Cms to forward my ex's bank details so I could pay it directly.They contacted her several times but as yet she has not replied. The Cms say there isn't anything else they can do. I am putting the money aside but my question is how long do I have to keep doing this for? Is there a time frame for her to claim it or do I have to keep it forever?
Martin - 7-Jul-17 @ 1:34 PM
Lee - Your Question:
I have lived for 35yrs not knowing who my father was. Then at 35 l.met him for the first time. I'm in a financial situation but my father has just been paid £250,000 redundancy. I told him my situation & he said go to cab. I'm annoyed that he never paid a single penny of maintenance to my mother can she claim back from him ?

Our Response:
I'm afraid your mother can no longer claim payments for child maintenance. She would have had to claim when you were under 18 and classed as a child.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Jul-17 @ 3:36 PM
@Lisa - they can if the person claiming child maintenance for eight years used another man's name knowing he wasn't the father. It's rare that this sort of case comes to court though.
Favvfe - 6-Jul-17 @ 2:57 PM
I have lived for 35yrs not knowing who my father was . Then at 35 l.met him for the first time . I'm in a financial situation but my father has just been paid £250,000 redundancy.I told him my situation & he said go to cab . I'm annoyed that he never paid a single penny of maintenance to my mother can she claim back from him ?
Lee - 5-Jul-17 @ 4:34 PM
If someone has claimed falsely that a child belongs to a person and has received weekly payments for 8 years for the child (not through CSA), however then a DNA test proves the person paying is not actually the father after all, do they have a claim?
Lisa - 5-Jul-17 @ 1:58 PM
suzy - Your Question:
My children are now 41 and 39 not had a penny help since they were 9 and 7 should I make a claim

Our Response:
You would not be able to make a retrospective child maintenance claim.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Jul-17 @ 3:08 PM
Lauralou78 - Your Question:
Hi,I have had almost 5 years of child maintenance through the CSA. During this time I have never been paid a penny more, even though he disputed the amount 5 years, suspecting his bonus wasn't included.My claim has now gone over to the new Maintenance service and their calculation has increased by almost £2000 a year. He told me that due to the economy he was earning less so it would be in my benefit to keep it the same 2 years ago. So I did,I've found out that in 2014 he had a big promotion. My question is can I get the past 5 years salary investigated, with any underpayment paid to me. He's affectively been fraudulent by not decclaring the change to his income. The new maintenance service said they are only concerned with last years HMRC records not any year prior. I've also just had a letter to say my old CSA case is closed. Can you please advise, as I feel cheated that he has had 5 years of no increaseAnd he's lied.Many thanks

Our Response:
If your ex has not declared a change in circumstances, please see link here, then you may be able to claim and/or complain via the link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Jun-17 @ 2:43 PM
JH - Your Question:
I have brought my son up for the last 9 years without a penny from my ex husband, as he is self employed and claims he earns barely anything (I have never made a claim, as I'd rather not give him the satisfaction for the little amount I may get) he does see him every other weekend. Recently my son has expressed an interest in living in with his father and I wondered where I would stand if he decided to take me to CMS. will the fact that he hasn't paid a penny go in my favour?

Our Response:
Regardless of the fact he hasn't paid a penny, it has no bearing on his application for child maintenance from you. If your son moves to live with his father, his father will be able to claim.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Jun-17 @ 11:37 AM
Hi, I have had almost 5 years of child maintenance through the CSA.During this time I have never been paid a penny more, even though he disputed the amount 5 years, suspecting his bonus wasn't included. My claim has now gone over to the new Maintenance service and their calculation has increased by almost £2000 a year. He told me that due to the economy he was earning less so it would be in my benefit to keep it the same 2 years ago. So I did, I've found out that in 2014 he had a big promotion. My question is can I get the past 5 years salary investigated, with any underpayment paid to me. He's affectively been fraudulent by not decclaring the change to his income. The new maintenance service said they are only concerned with last years HMRC records not any year prior. I've also just had a letter to say my old CSA case is closed. Can you please advise, as I feel cheated that he has had 5 years of no increase And he's lied. Many thanks
Lauralou78 - 26-Jun-17 @ 8:30 PM
I have brought my son up for the last 9 years without a penny from my ex husband, as he is self employed and claims he earns barely anything (I have never made a claim, as I'd rather not give him the satisfaction for the little amount I may get) he does see him every other weekend. Recently my son has expressed an interest in living in with his father and I wondered where I would stand if he decided to take me to CMS... will the fact that he hasn't paid a penny go in my favour?
JH - 26-Jun-17 @ 3:05 PM
Mag - Your Question:
Hello,My ex-partner (unmarried) has not paid any child maintenance since we separated in 2001. He is now claiming half of the equity of our jointly owned home (after paying nothing towards the mortgage, house maintenance, etc) for the 16 years.I made a claim with the CSA when we separated but they were unable to trace him because he was self-employed.My question is: am I able to make a claim for the 16 years of unpaid child maintenance?

Our Response:
I suggest you seek CSA/CMS/legal advice to see whether you may have a child maintenance claim against him still. As a rule, you cannot claim retrospective back pay if no claim has ever been originated. However, as you made an original claim, then it is likely you will have a good case to answer. Likewise, it is highly unlikely your ex would be able to claim half of the house if he has never paid towards the mortgage and/or child care. It sounds very much like you have the stronger hand here.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Jun-17 @ 2:09 PM
Hello, My ex-partner (unmarried) has not paid any child maintenance since we separated in 2001. He is now claiming half of the equity of our jointly owned home (after paying nothing towards the mortgage, house maintenance, etc) for the 16 years. I made a claim with the CSA when we separated but they were unable to trace him because he was self-employed. My question is: am I able to make a claim for the 16 years of unpaid child maintenance?
Mag - 25-Jun-17 @ 7:52 AM
JessL - Your Question:
My ex partner (we never married) doesn't support us and doesn't pay anything towards our child upbringing for 2,5 years. He has no contact with this child for 2 years now. Can I claim it back? My lawyer wrote to him to pay it back but we received no answer. He used to pay voluntary and we never set it through CSA. He bills about 3K per month but refuses to pay anything. I raise my child completely on my own and would be very helpful to us if I could claim the last 2 years child maintanance back. Thank you.

Our Response:
Unless the claim is registered through CMS, then you will not be able to claim child maintenance arrears. If your ex refuses to pay via a family-based arrangement, I advise you to claim through the CMS, then if he refuses to pay arrears will accrue.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Jun-17 @ 3:03 PM
Amour - Your Question:
Hello,I raised my child on my own for 10 years. I am struggling now with all the expenses, I recently made a CMS and was awarded an amount. I want to know how can I make my ex pay for the last 10 past years as he has a well pay job, a mortgage and others assets.Thank you

Our Response:
If the Child Support Agency (CSA) or the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) arranged maintenance under the 1993, 2003 or 2012 Child Maintenance Schemes, and the paying parent doesn't pay, the CMS can arrange to have money taken directly from their earnings to pay off the arrears. This is called a deduction from earnings order, please see link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Jun-17 @ 11:44 AM
Hello, I raised my child on my own for 10 years. I am struggling now with all the expenses, i recently made a CMS and was awarded an amount. I want to know how can i make my ex pay for the last 10 past years as he has a well pay job, a mortgage and others assets. Thank you
Amour - 22-Jun-17 @ 6:15 PM
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