Home > Ask Our Experts > Can I Get Back Pay for Child Maintenance?

Can I Get Back Pay for Child Maintenance?

Author: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 1 August 2015 |
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. 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, and secondly as though you haven’t already put in a claim.

If You Have Made a Claim Through The CSA

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 first contacted your ex-husband.

The CSA 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 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 Through The CSA

If your husband has been very lax about paying voluntary child support, my advice to you would be to contact the CSA as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the CSA 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 my ex left when our son was 6months old, I have not asked him for a penny. Now I see that my son needs some financial help from his father, I want to claim back from him to help his son out. My son is now 21 how can I go about claiming if my son has never seen him through out his life. I now have a blended family and my husband wants me to get back pay for my son.
Elena - 1-Aug-15 @ 7:13 AM
I resently wrote not getting support for my 14 yr old daughter any aspect of suppert since I won custody when she was 2 yrs old she has been special ed since I got her the case I opened back then never gave me a direct reason or any reason to the fact why she is not orderd to contribute for her daughter.what can I do????
dad - 31-Jul-15 @ 6:38 PM
I got custody of my daughter at 2yrs old I opened a child support case and till this daymy daughter is 14yrs old now I cant seem to get a answer why I cant get help withmoneys child care my ex fails to pay anything and child support wont tell me why or whats going on on top of this my daughter is special ed. her mom has never contribute. nor given a birthday gift or a phone call on a birthday. what can I do?
dad - 31-Jul-15 @ 6:16 PM
My ex and I split just when my son turned 1 years old. I immediately put in a claim. His father takes him one day at the weekend. My son is now 8 years of age and still has weekend contact with his father. Despite being in and out of work (longest consistent job was 2 years, shortest just 2 weeks), endless phone calls and endless excuses (once I was actually told they had LOST my file!) and putting in 3 official complaints my case has never been resolved. I actually called the agency and provided details of a company website that showed the non-paying father working at the company! Smiling away with a little bio about how long he had worked there and how he was a valued member of staff!!!! They assured me that the company would receive a £1000 fine as would the father. NO action was ever taken except 1 letter to his home which was ignored and never followed up by the agency. In fact they contacted me recently to advise they were closing my case! And if I want it re-opening it would be subject to a fee (!!!!!) Which prompted another official complaint from myself. Since then I have had a small 'goodwill' payment from the agency (not from the father) and an apology letter saying they have failed me, he owes arrears and they will be collecting them. Then another letter last week saying actually he doesn't owe anything again. I am absolutely appalled by the whole thing. I have worked since my son turned 2 years old without a break, and yet his father has never contributed a thing and suffered no consequences. I'm not going to give up, but I feel incredibly let down by the CSA.
Frustrated - 30-Jul-15 @ 2:34 PM
@Natty - if you have never made a claim then you will be unable to make a retrospective one for back payments. However, you should be able to make a new claim if you feel your daughter may need financial help in order to get her through her education. You may be advised in the first instance to talk to the CMS as ask what it advises. Please see link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Jul-15 @ 11:06 AM
Hi there, my ex moved out of the family home when our daughter was 4 years old, he came and saw her once and he's never paid a penny to help raise her, she's 19 years old now and going to university in September. I have never made a claim for maintenance, he has since gone on to have three more children over the years and pays for them fine, so why should I stand for absolutely no financial help before or now? Can I start a claim for back payments?? Nats
Natty - 24-Jul-15 @ 3:04 PM
Hi, my ex didn't pay any maintenance for around 10 years as CSA couldn't find him. They eventually caught up with him when my daughter was 14 they set up an amount but he said he would pack up work if i didnt accept £20 a week. I phoned CSA and said we have sorted out a payment plan. He owed alot of arrears as I had made the claim years before. My daughter is now 19 and just finished education so he's stopped paying. Can I claim back the arrears?
Razzy - 19-Jul-15 @ 10:33 PM
Hi. I'm now 29 years old. My dad has never been in my life. I met him when I was 14 and he basically told me after 2 weeks he didn't want anything to do with. He has 3 other kids with his recent wife and still claims he only has 3 children when he actually has 4. Someone mentioned that I maybe still be eligible for CSA. Is that true? If so how do I go about it?
Phaze - 19-Jul-15 @ 1:24 PM
I have two children and have never been paid a penny in child maintenance because my ex said that he was not working.I have been divorced for 18 years now and my children are 27 and 30.He is now a company director with his own. Company of which she has a 50% share with his partner. Could I sue for unpaid child support .
LP - 19-Jul-15 @ 12:55 PM
My daughters father and I split when she was 5 months old, he began maintenance payments. Whenever I have asked him to review the amount over the past 5 years he has refused. I have since (June 2015) made an application with child maintenance service and the maintenance amount has significantly increased by an additional £120 per month. I know his current managerial position within his company began 17 months ago. So therefore he has been unwilling to pay the correct amount of maintenance for his daughter. My question is, can I take this to court and have him pay the additional maintenance he should have been paying the past 17 plus months?
Talulah38 - 17-Jul-15 @ 2:46 PM
@KMike - it is not up to you to claim maintenance, it was up to your mother to claim when you were a child for your day-to-day needs. At 38, I think you need to put this one to bed and move on here!
Charlie - 15-Jul-15 @ 2:29 PM
my sons father went to live in Ireland when our son was a matter of months to get out paying maintenance. Our son is 17 now and he's never paid a penny. I've recently heard where abouts he lives but can I claim any arrears? I had asked the csa at the time and they went to his parents home within the UK but never caught him. He still lives in Ireland so can I do anything?
sarahsa - 13-Jul-15 @ 9:48 PM
Hi: I am 38 years old and my biological father left me shortly after my birth.My mother has an order for maintenance but no payments were ever made as he went to the US and has been working ever since.I now have his location and am wondering if there is any way I might be able to obtain any of the backpayments for my maintenance that was never made?Thanks for your response.
KMike - 13-Jul-15 @ 4:41 PM
@Kari - you can't begin a retrospective claim, if you have never put in a claim previously.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Jul-15 @ 12:07 PM
@Carol - you can either drop him an official line to say that he has to pay as per the court order, and if he does not, then you will take it to court in order to get the order enforced as he is in breach. If he has had the job for a while and has not paid, then you may want to seek legal advice to see whether you can take it to court in order to claim back pay. The fact that you were married has no bearing on his own contribution, he still is liable to support his own children. As specified in the article, 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.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Jul-15 @ 11:24 AM
Hi there I split from my sons Dad in the early 90's he only had contact with my son until age 5 then I lost contact with him, is it possible to pursue him for child maintainence after 20 years of nothing from him, I now know where he stays and know that he is in full employment
Kari - 6-Jul-15 @ 5:06 PM
Hi, My husband and I divorced in 2007/8, the divorce papers state that he should pay £400 per month for each child until my son (then17) left education orturned 21, and for my daughter, who is disabled turned 25 or got a job. In 2008 I met my husband who died in 2011, from the moment my late husband moved in until the present day my ex has paid £1 per month, is this legal? I have struggled and support my two children and continue to do so, is there any way to enforce what was agreed in my divorce? My ex has always said he didn't earn enough to pay, - £15,000 pa as he had given up his previously lucrative work, he has now however got a much better job and he told my daughter he would give her £150 per month, but he has now back tracked on this which has caused her yet more pain. My daughter is now 23.
Carol - 4-Jul-15 @ 11:23 AM
Hello, I have been divorced from my ex for over 8 years.We have twin boys aged 14.My ex has paid maintenance of £250 per month from a court order at the time of our divorce.A couple of years ago he stopped paying for 9 months as he was off work.He has remarried and has adopted his new wife's daughter. Can I claim for the missed payments?He did go abroad on holiday during his time off ill and did cash jobs.He however refused to pay me even though it made a big impact on our lives. Thank you in advance.
Rae21 - 27-Jun-15 @ 12:53 PM
Hi can anyone help? My son is 17 and just finished college with no entitlement to any monies due to my income. However his dad paid me 20 pounds weekly to help with supporting his son and has now stopped this since last month despite my son having no income or entitlement to any benefits. I feel I have been short changed throughout the years as I know my ex has a good salary . Can I claim child maintenance still ? And can anything be back dated to the correct entitlement? Any advice would be appreciated thanks
Deb43 - 25-Jun-15 @ 5:56 PM
i'm very disappointed with the csa,my ex partner and i split when my daughter was 13 months old in 1993, she is now 23,i contacted them to confirm he was a taxi driver,they had his badge number,plate number and the firm he worked for they confirmed it with the council,it was true but he still managed to produce a dole document.and got away with it.so i had to struggle and he though it was great can i sue the csa for not acting on this
lisa lemmy - 24-Jun-15 @ 10:49 PM
@heli- if he is not working, then he is not liable to pay child support and if he is not earning then it is not possible to claim back-pay. It is also unlikely that his PR would be taken from him, as this is something the courts will consider only in extreme circumstances.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Jun-15 @ 2:35 PM
I am in the same situation as everyone else. 2 years and 3 monthsi haven't had any maintenance. I got in contact with Csa in March 2015 . An still I haven't had no money . It's not my money at the end of the day it's my child's . The father got parental responsibility through the courts how I don't no ? Because he don't do nothing for him , not even do him food . I find him a disgrace , lazy good for nothing who should have a job like normal people an paying for there child . Not playing computer games an drinking alcohol. I was nt in a relationship with this bloke he was a one night stand . What I want to know is can I claim that money back through courts and can I have the PR taken away from him , as it's my son's best intentions. I haven't got legal aid , I been stuck in court for two years , doing everything myself, an I'm not getting anywhere. I really need advice .
heli - 16-Jun-15 @ 3:16 PM
@swanseajack1971 - your question is a little confusing, but I shall try to answer it as best I can. You would have to speak to CSA/CMS if your payments are arranged through an agency, as you should by rights have mentioned your change of circumstances when your daughter came to live with you. However, if you had a family-based arrangement, then the payments would have been arranged between you both, therefore your ex would not be able to file a claim through a regulated agency now, in order to have any payment backdated. I hope this makes sense.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Jun-15 @ 10:34 AM
@info - I'm afraid you would have to get in touch with the CSA directly, regarding this matter.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Jun-15 @ 12:37 PM
Hi my husband has just been asked to provide a dna(voluntary)for a 15 year old boy that is from a previous partner. She has had several dna tests to try and prove who the father of her child is, she is know threatening court action and has told my husband that he will have to back pay for all of the years he has missed paying!, The child in question has a named man on the birth certificate which is not my husband,
Lill - 15-Jun-15 @ 10:00 AM
can anyone tell me if I have to pay backdated child maintenance to my ex girlfriend for our daughter she is 13 and we split up 3 yrs ago I was paying her money arranged between ourselves over the past three years and my daughter is now living with me and I want to know if the child benefit is put in my name will they ask that I pay for the years that we were living together
swanseajack1971 - 13-Jun-15 @ 10:53 AM
Hi I made a claim years ago against my exand after a long it was sorted and then he moved to Jersey so csa told me that I would just have to contact them wen he his back in the country well he came back a few years ago now and we fought through court for custody of our child and he got a residential order but csa told me he would have to pay the back pay, is this still correct?
info - 12-Jun-15 @ 1:04 PM
hi I have 2 children have never had child maintenance from there dad and he only paid two years after I went for help could I claim the money back from all them years as he now adopted two children and this is not fair on my children who have had to miss out on things because he hasn't paid
lew123 - 11-Jun-15 @ 8:58 PM
Hi I am desperate for some help and advice. I ahd a ahugely expensive divorce and am so scared of running up anymore high legal bills so dont really know if it would be worth me pursuing my exhusabnd for not sticking to a court order. He has never paid me a penny of the monthly amount stated in the order as child maintainance. We are now 3 years post divorce. His circumstances changed almost straight away, Just as he threatened... he sold his buisness and hasnt worked since. Stating poverty as a reason for not paying me. I did the opposite and had to increase my hours and I have since gained promotion. I keep asking for contributions for my child who lives 90% of the time with me. But he tells me that I will end up having to pay him now because of our discrepancy of earnings and his change of income. But I know he has money from his buisness sale. I am frightened to take any action as he would be mercyless in upping the legal anti in order to get me into debt with hugefees as happened during our divorce. It seems so pointless now as he has managed to avoid all responsibilty for his child.
debb4000 - 11-Jun-15 @ 2:00 PM
@scary - we can't guarantee answers to every question, but try to get to as many as we can. The fact that you put a claim in years ago means that you can get back on to the CSA and ask it to follow up why he never paid when he was working. Also, the fact that your youngest is 18, you may be able to claim if he is in full-time education, as every parent has the basic responsibility to provide for their child up until the age of 16, when they are legally allowed to leave school and get a job. After this age, it depends what your child chooses to do. If they continue in full-time non-advanced education, not higher than A-level equivalent, for at least 12 hours a week, then your maintenance payments will continue until your child finishes or until they turn 20. If you have evidence that your ex worked and never contacted the CSA to register his change in circumstances at the time, means you may have a case to answer. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 11-Jun-15 @ 9:56 AM
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