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Can I Get Back Pay for Child Maintenance?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 3 Feb 2020 |
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 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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My child dad came back into her life after 11 years after not seeing her since she was 5 months old. I'm on benefits and disabled, he wants to give me 20 pound a month but never gave anything before that , until he met her and since given her about 200 pound. I don't know how much I'm entitled too and he doesn't pay regular. He thinks he can see her when and where he wants to, but she constantly wants me to be with her. That and some horrible messages and he doesn't do anything when he sees her I really don't know what to do
Tigger - 3-Feb-20 @ 9:56 PM
To reiterate what rob said, very unfair to assume that the children are always stay with the mother. I am a single parent to 5 kids and seeing this sort of sloppiness in article is annoying.
J03 - 6-Jan-20 @ 7:53 PM
Hi any advice would be greatly appreciated I have 4 children boy age 19 boy age 17 and twinsboy and girl 15 I seperated from my ex over ten years ago he was chased by CSA for the two eldest children and never everpaid a thing he has stayed jobless used a mental health issue and avoided all responsibilities completely I received a letter last year from CSA saying case was closed and I now find out his father has died probate is where for the last 6 months it’s been dealt with he also had no contact with his father whatsoever and an advert had to be placed in the local paper for relatives of the deceased to come forward I believe he is sole beneficiary being his only son could I claim anything for my children now from this or can I at least go back to CSA would they reopen my case after learning he has inherited??? Kind regards
Josie - 6-Jan-20 @ 10:02 AM
Hi my partner had 2 children with his ex over 26 yrs ago he was never chased for child support and has now received a letter saying he owes over 2000 pound. He is on benefits and we have 5 children of our own. His 2 children are all grown up. Does he need to pay this as he hasn't been chased for it before and quite frankly we have no spare money with 5 children of our own
fjhugh1 - 1-Jan-20 @ 10:41 AM
Hello, my son's dad got a nil award through CSA in 2013 as he damaged his hand at work. He started working a few months later, then moved to New Zealand for 14 month's later that year for work. When CSA changed to CMS I received a letter saying I was owed £200 in arrears. I went to CMS in 2017 as I had not received a penny from him since his nil assessment and assumed CSA would have been keeping track as to whether he was working or not. It took a year of CMS trying to get the money from my claim with them in 2017 and finally there is an order but what about the payments from 2013-2017? Is there nothing I can do to reclaim that, as there was a case open but they failed to keep tabs on him working after his nil assessment. Is there anything I can do? I am about to remortgage the house to buy him out and he is entitled to 50% of the equity even though he hasn't paid a penny since 2011. How is that fair yet he can get away with paying for our son for 4 years? Surely there must be something I can do? Thank you.
Jlea - 18-Dec-19 @ 1:52 PM
My son's father did a runner 26 years ago, I have only just found out where he is, can I claim back maintenance?
Frankie - 6-Dec-19 @ 2:56 PM
When csa disbanded in may 2017 me and my ex were on quite friendly terms so we planned to decide between us how much maintenance he would continue to pay. We both had quite a lot going on at the time (my mum had quiet recently died) so it was hard for us to decide on an amount. This dithering went on for months and i told him "lets not worry for now, we will sort it out later". Eventually we agreed on £30 per week and he satrted paying it in oct 2017. (After a gap of 5 months with no payments at all) so - periodically i have asked him for the missing amount and he has fobbed me off with excuses, being an easy going person, i have given him the benefit of the doubt and trusted him that he would pay when he could afford it. So today - our heating has broken down (our son lives with me, he is now 21 years old and due to be losing his job soon). Now would be a good time for the ex to pay what he owes - but he refuses to. He now says that he thought that delaying our plans to restart the maintenance back in the spring to summer of 2017 meant that i was letting him off with it! This is lies because everytime we spoke about it, he was telling me he would pay - when he could. Is there anything i can do???
Angrytoday - 5-Dec-19 @ 9:13 PM
Hi can i clame back pay as my ex stoped paying for my 3 children over 8years ago through the csa they are now 19 20 21
Megan - 2-Dec-19 @ 4:11 PM
I am.planning on applying for a variation order has the cms did not take into account my exes rental income and want to know if this can be back dated since my child was born. She is 18 and in full time education now.
Navi - 2-Dec-19 @ 12:23 AM
Hi my ex was paying child support but decided he wasn’t giving me full amount coz he was going to buy clothes for our 2 children every month instead which was not needed every month as they both had plenty, so I contacted csm and he was told the amount he had to pay each month. Last month he left his job getting 12 weeks pay in full and paid me 1 months maintenance. He didn’t tell me he lost his job or anything about not paying for maintenance, (as his new girlfriend will not allow him to have any contact with me so he goes through our 14 yr old daughter instead) which I think is wrong! But he hasn’t paid his maintenance this month or said anything about it! Should he have paid more than 1 month with the 12 week pay out he got totally over £4000? Will I get the payment back dated? It’s coming up to Christmas and worried sick please can you help!
Leanne - 29-Nov-19 @ 10:58 PM
Hi i am currently paying £400 a month for my son. I have no issues paying for him what so ever. The problem i face is the CSA take my top line. I work in the oil industry and i cannot guarantee that i will make the same every month, this is leaving me in financial difficulty. Can they do this. I thought it would just be based on my salary.
shando96 - 28-Nov-19 @ 3:22 PM
Can you please change the text to remove the assumption that the child remains with their mother after divorce? Really unfair to lone dads battling their deadbeat exes.
Rob - 18-Nov-19 @ 7:45 PM
Hi. My daughters dad had been messing around with maintenance I didn’t have nothing off him for about 9months so I went to Csa told him I was going to and he quit his job so then a few months passed and still had not a Penney from him so went csa they told me the amount hehat to pay me and then he quithis job again so he didn’t have to pay...my question is is there any way of either fighting against this as he only done it so he don’t have to pay and would the money be back dated when he starts work again
Jemma:) - 12-Nov-19 @ 12:53 AM
Leevus...no you don’t have to pay legally but would you feel like you’re doing the right thing if you stop? I wonder if your ex will suddenly stop feeding your daughter and washing her clothes and providing somewhere to sleep? There’s a big difference between legal obligations and moral obligations. I’m not the best dad in the world but I struggle to understand this kind of mentality. Why is your daughter suddenly not your responsibility now she’s trying to better herself and study??
SupportiveD - 11-Oct-19 @ 8:48 PM
I have been paying child maintenance to my daughter for the last 4 years. My daughter has started a apprenticeship she works 4 days a week and 1 day a week doing the apprenticeship. Where she is working she is getting paid. Those four years i never missed a payment. My ex child benefit has stopped, legaly do i still have to pay child maintenance?
leevus - 10-Oct-19 @ 2:40 PM
My mother and father divorced in the 1970s .My father was supposed to pay child support to my mother for me and my brother. I now understand that my father failed to make any payments which led to mymother suffering a serious nervous break down . This lefther too I'll to pursue my father legally and she was thereafter forced to rely on the goodwill of her late father to assist her in bringing me and my brother up . I am insensed by my father actions especially as he subsequently went on to raise other women's children whilst we remained impoverished. Is there anything that can be done about this given the amount of time that has elapsed?
mappers - 30-Sep-19 @ 9:54 PM
My son is 5 years old on the 5th November , his dad has never paid any money . & denied being his dad . But now we’re faced with getting sibling dna . Would this make a case for maintaince money ??
Nicola Appleby - 27-Sep-19 @ 11:29 PM
My ex is trying to claim £5000 worth of maintenance off me even though my children (now In their late 20s)lived with me for half of the time me and their mum was split the time they wasn’t with me I paid a majority of my maintenance to her but was out of work for a while with a leg injury and was unable to pay? How is this possible? That they are now chasing me for such a large payment 12 years on?
Leelee - 11-Sep-19 @ 5:55 PM
I have a 29 year old daughter I don't no if she mine as her mother was sleeping with 3 different men at the same timeas she got pregnant bit she only told me 2 days ago that she could be mine
Slime ball - 25-Aug-19 @ 8:45 PM
I have a 29 old daughter who is now trying to calm cas which I'm not on the Bc what can I do I don't no if she is mine as her mother was sleeping with 3 different men at the same time
Terry - 25-Aug-19 @ 8:42 PM
I was wondering if I could back date child support, my ex husband paid £2.50 a week for a whole month. The csa said that was all he could afford at the time. I struggled to raise my three children until they were adults and left home. He now has his own business and is living the high life, while my children struggle to make ends meet. Why should he get away with this?
Kezzra - 18-Aug-19 @ 6:45 PM
Hi, this is a long shot I know! My daughter is 18 and has only just made contact with her dad (he has declined any interaction in the past), long story short I have raised my daughter single handedly and have never had any support of financial help from him.The question is, could I now make a claim for her?
Stormy01 - 17-Aug-19 @ 8:59 PM
My ex has paid child maintenance but lied and said he hasn’t been working and that I was not entitled to any income from his pension. It turns out he has been working and has a good income. The original court order said he should have been paying maintenance in accordance with csa guidelines but if he has not been declaring his wages then surely he hasn’t and he owes me back pay??
Lis - 4-Aug-19 @ 11:35 PM
hi tattipot did you have any success in your quest ..im in a very similar position
hodge - 30-Jul-19 @ 11:37 AM
tattipot did you get any positive responses ..im in a very similar position
hodge - 30-Jul-19 @ 11:35 AM
I have a six year old who has never had a pennine off her dad he was sent to prison then deported back to Cyprus we were in contact over phone when he was in Cyprus he never sent money never attmted to he now bk in UK he came bk 6 month ago and still hasn't sent a penny I do not have contact with him I stay in contact with his parants they have been in my daughter elife I need advise on how to claim child maintenance when I don't know where he is and his name might of changed it been 6 yeah and not a bday card or Xmas card
Lou - 20-Jul-19 @ 7:42 PM
We agreed in court a number of years ago child maintenance, which is much lower than the current legal amount that should be paid, can I claim back payments?
pr - 20-Jun-19 @ 11:46 AM
How can I claim back child maintenance for the 13 years he missed. Cm claimed and he is now paying from May this year now I have found him. Butwhat about the 13 years he has missed.
Freds - 20-Jun-19 @ 8:37 AM
My son is now 30 & doing his PHD his been in fulltime education all his life to get to this point. Even though his father arranged to pay via a court order because he said it would give him tax breaks, he has never paid child maintenance. My son could really do with the funds to pay off his student loans. Is there any chance he has a legal right to ask for the child maintenance he has never recieved, even though his is over the child maintenance age.
Ali - 10-Jun-19 @ 6:54 PM
Looking for advice?!? -I have 2 children, ages 20 and 24. There dad is named on both Birth certificates. We were married for many years. Eventually, following mental and physical abuse along with several affairs on his part, I was brave enough to stand strong and asked for a divorce following an evening of violence and him being arrested then being told he was not allowed back to the property. This result ended up in him moving back up to Cumbria from Lancashire... Now, due to myself being very very nervous and conscious of the reactions my husband/the children's fathers could be, i was very anxious regards any kind of requests to him... In conversations previously with him he had always said that if for any reason we had fallen out and i went to claim at Child Support Agency, he would leave any job he was doing just so he wouldn't have to pay a penny... At the time of our divorce I told my solicitor this.. George had allowed his sister to buy the odd school uniform for my daughter, the eldest. This was reported as him making a contribution. I was simply to scared to deny and argue that was the case as he was an aggressiveman. This had even been noted on his police file.. So as the years have gone by, my children have grown amazingly and im so so proud. My son is still in full time education. I am on sickness benefits for PTSD.. His dad has came all the years, cheated himself into a very high paying job £45k a year. Just bought a house and is still not helping. His son had asked for £15 for train fare to come home for a weekend and he said he couldn't afford it!!! After all these years of not paying a penny for his son or daughter I'm desperateto know if it is possible in anyway i can get these 2 children any justice buy seeking some kind of child support for the past few years? Please??
Tatti-pot - 10-May-19 @ 3:16 PM
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