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: 30 March 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.

You might also like...
Leave a Comment, Ask for Advice or Share Your Story...
[Add a Comment]
@Kazzlar - You can call the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders (REMO) Unit, via the link here which helps to register and enforce child maintenance orders internationally. If your ex is earning, you may be eligible for back pay from when you first submitted your claim. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 30-Mar-15 @ 2:27 PM
@Savage - this is the best yet! The CSA will basically take the money from the grandmother and give it back to you and take it from you to give back to the grandmother, if she puts in a retrospective claim. But here's the crunch, as the CSA don't deal in retrospective claims unless the grandmother made a claim originally. You either just need to let it go and agree that you have supported your child regardless whoever the money went to, or if you do not want to have to pay the money, then you need to get some proper legal advice on this one.
Aid - 30-Mar-15 @ 12:06 PM
I have a uk court order that my ex pay £maintenance he vanished off the face of the earth 5yrs ago and now appears to be living in Poland. He has no contact with the children, we have 3. How on earth can I get this order enforced so far it hasn't been worth the paper it's written on. I haven't received a penny from him and it's so unfair, as I have a low income I don't have spare money to spend on a lawyer I'm well and truly stuck! Thanks for any advice.
Kazzlar - 28-Mar-15 @ 4:33 AM
Hopefully someone can shed some light on a very confusing situation for me.I recently received a call from the CSA stating that they would have to close my case as from May 2009 (it's now March 2015) as the resident parent on the case was not actually the resident parent (Grandmother was).My ex did not inform the CSA that my son no longer lived with herbut she did change the banking details so her mother received the CSA payments. The CSA are telling me that they can repay the full amount I have paid that I shouldn't have paid, however, they will seek to recoup the money from the grandmother, then allow the grandmother to put a retrospective application in so that I would have to repay her since 2009.Confused?So am I.I was under the impression that the CSA could only backdate a case up to the date of an assessment and as no assessment was made in May 2009 how can this be the case?
Savage - 27-Mar-15 @ 3:42 PM
@Nannymcphee - there was a case recently about a man being awarded damages after he was deceived through IVF treatment and the wife used her ex's and not his, but he was having to pay child support. You may have a case through the courts, especially if she deliberately deceived you, but you would have to take legal advice first
Juno - 26-Mar-15 @ 3:04 PM
I've just received a letter from the csa asking for #3200 in maintenance out of the blue.yes i have 2 daughters 21 and 30 years of age.I seperated from there mums when they where toddlers.I have never received a letter or phone call from the csa in all the time(30 years).I recently applied for benefits ESA as i suffer from depression ,my question is how can the csa ask for maintenance now after so long when i have never had any dealing with the csa before,if any one could help please ,bob.
bobby - 25-Mar-15 @ 1:00 PM
My partner has just found out he is not the biological dad of his son Whom he has paid for for the last five years.The mother has put a stop to him seeing the child and has basically laughed in his face about the money he has shelled out over the years towards the upkeep of the child. With the DNA results in hand he contacted the CSA only to be told he will not be refunded any monies....... My question has anyone else suffered with a smiliar situation? Does anyone have any advice ? Is this actually not disgusting behaviour from the CSA they are quick to take the money..... My partner never question paternity as he was over the moon........ It was just a rumour that surfaced and the fact that the child started to look more like the other person that a DNA was carried out. Should he have been able to stay in his life CSA would never have been contacted however this isn't the case so why is it a man should have his life totally destroyed and not compensated back ? Please any advice and comments would help
Nannymcphee - 24-Mar-15 @ 1:48 PM
@Jasper01 - I think in this case you would be better advised to speak with Child Maintenance Options via the link here. There is also the Government leaflet, link here, that explains how maintenance is worked out. But whatever method you use to pay, do make sure you can prove that you pay, should anything go awry. In other words pay by direct debit rather than cash. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Mar-15 @ 11:27 AM
Hi all. I have recently split from my wife (my fault) and we have 3 children together. I want to pay maintenance for them and understand that I have a responsibility to do so. As the non resident parent I am finding it all confusing about how much to pay and if I need to backdate it to when we actually separated and she moved out. I have done the government online calculator and, as I say I am willing to pay, it seems harsh that they don't take into account my rent and bills and council tax etc etc. surely I need some money left per month to buy food and pay the energy bills etc? Also, I want to set up a standing order to pay my ex directly, is this advisable? In regards to if I need to back date it to the official date she moved out, what are the rules on that please? Thankyou in advance
Jasper01 - 19-Mar-15 @ 1:56 PM
@kim - I'm afraid, you cannot claim retrospectively via the CSA if you have never put in a previous claim. Dependent upon your circumstances, as specified in the article, you may be able to take civil legal action against your ex husband to try to recover the missed payments through the courts.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Mar-15 @ 11:47 AM
Dear momof2, Please share some details about how you managed to get a back payment through CSA or courts. I am in similar situation. Please.
Vicky - 18-Mar-15 @ 5:29 PM
@mumof2 - this is a tricky one. You don't say whether you are receiving benefits as it may affect these, but I am not quite sure, as this is an unusually large amount. You may want to call the CSA or Child Maintenance Options for advice.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Mar-15 @ 2:38 PM
I have never claimed child maintenance via the CSA or on a mutual basis from the father of y child, she is now 17 can it be back dated an a claim entered via courts??
kim - 16-Mar-15 @ 9:57 PM
If I received a large back payment of maintenance £35,000, do I have to declare it to anyone? This was for a child from birth to 18yrs. I have received various benefits over the years, some for short periods, other for long; who do I need to tell? And if I don't declare this money will I get into trouble?
mumof2 - 14-Mar-15 @ 10:08 PM
@Laaa - there really isn't much you can do, unless your mother decides to divorce your father and forces the sale of the house. Your mother should have claimed child support at the time as the CSA don't backdate claims.
Bee - 4-Mar-15 @ 10:14 AM
My mum and Dad split up 6 years ago verbal agreement was my dad would continue to pay the mortgage. sister is now 17 years old and in full time education. When my dad first left he was seeing her for about 6 months helping toward school uniform etc after 6 months he stopped all contact with her and paying for items to help her in education like trips and uniform. Only thing hes been paying is the mortgage to what isn't much anyway. She is 17 now and he wanting to put the house up for sale but she is still in education. My mums never made a CSA a claim she has been in touch with them regarding it at the start of him leaving but thought with him paying the mortgage that she wouldn't be entitled to CSA - IS she entitled and could this be backdated?
Sarah - 3-Mar-15 @ 3:02 PM
@emma110989 - CSA don't have a pot. If your dad was still paying then it would have gone straight to you/your mum.
Val - 2-Mar-15 @ 12:06 PM
I am 25 years old. My mother left my father when I was 6 as he was living off her and making her miserable. She paid his mortgage and bills for close to 10years. She never claimed child support as she didn't want to deal with him and she assumed I'd be at least left the house she put money into. He also rarely work and when he did it was often cash in hand. It has now come to light that it is possible that he will just drain the house and live off it as he is quite old now. I want to know if there's any way I can get back child support for 25years, since he never paid a penny towards me but rather took most of my mothers money?
Laaa - 1-Mar-15 @ 3:58 PM
@Jem24mas - has CSA closed the case? I know they have written off a lot of CSA cases as it was impossible to get money from the fathers. Given that you are now 25 almost, it is unlikely that your mother will get arrears. But if you want to make sure, you can ask her to contact the CSA direct.
BenJ - 27-Feb-15 @ 12:24 PM
My dad paid maintenance every week out of his wage from 1989 until 2006 when he passed away my mum only received a few payments as she had to be working for her to receive it. She stopped working and payments stopped but my dad still paid every week. Am I entitled to the money paid as I'm sure it would be in some kind of pot with the CSA.
emma110989 - 26-Feb-15 @ 8:43 PM
Hi there I'm 24 years old going away to be 25 my father walked out on my mum after her finding out at 5 months she was pregnant he said he wasn't ready! My mum tried for years through Csa to at least get some child Maintenance from him but they couldn't because he worked for a foreign company and was taxed outside the uk! Is there any way now that he can be charged for csa arrears?
Jem24mas - 25-Feb-15 @ 3:28 PM
@trace - the problem you would have is that if you can't get the money through the CSA because your ex is either hiding his income through various tax loopholes, it is unlikely the small claims court would be able to expose this as they would have the exact same information your ex has given to the CSA. It would presumably lead to the same conclusion through the judge that he is theoretically not earning enough money to pay.
Kel - 23-Feb-15 @ 11:23 AM
@sam - you probably can if your ex is not paying you anything. You should get payments from when the claim began.
Mitch - 23-Feb-15 @ 10:09 AM
i am owed over 5 thousand in child support the csa are trying to deal with it altho my ex is self employed and is not giving them the correct information can i take him to small claims court instead
trace - 20-Feb-15 @ 4:06 PM
My divorce went through on the 20th of january 2015 an da maintenance case is on the 21st of april. Can I claim for back pay.
sam - 20-Feb-15 @ 2:57 AM
@KayS - your mum would have to either contact him directly or through the CSA/CMS in order to apply for payment for the rest of your sister's studies (which is dependent upon whether it was government approved education). I don't mean to negative here, but is it worth the hassle just for the few months she has left of study and given there is no guarantee that he will have to pay? Your mum wouldn't be able to claim back pay, because back pay is only awarded when a claim has gone in previously and nothing has been paid, or that they came to some sort of arrangement and he ducked out if it. It might be easier to let things run as they are, especially as your mum went to the lengths she did in order to keep him away from her. I don't know if anyone else feels the same? SB.
Suze - 19-Feb-15 @ 1:48 PM
@Mrs H - if the CSA can't recover it then there is probably little you can do as they will assess his accounts etc and come up with a valid reason why. If you took it to court then he will have the CSA ruling in his defence as to why he can't pay. Unless you can prove otherwise, you may have to stick with what the CSA says.
Jem - 19-Feb-15 @ 12:00 PM
My younger sister's father left my mum when she was only 3 years old. I believe since then, he hasn't given my mum any child support. My sister is now 19years old and still in fulltime education. She hasnt seen her dad since she was 5. I have been telling my mum (who has been struggling) to get help for a very long time but she keeps worrying that he might suddenly take my sister away. He moved to Belgium for a few years. Now have 5 other kids. I believe he ia back in the UK now. Please advice.
KayS - 18-Feb-15 @ 2:43 AM
i have the CSA involved in my case with my ex who owes arrears of over £14,000 if they re unsuccessful in recovering this, is there anything legally i can do?
Mrs H - 17-Feb-15 @ 8:35 PM
@Tiredmum - you may be entitled to arrears if your ex has been misleading the CSA. Also, as specified in the article you may be able to take civil 'legal' action against your ex husband to try to recover the missed payments through the courts. However, once your son is 18 he should be entitled to benefits in his own name which would mean your ex could stop paying support, unless your son decided to try for university when your ex could be asked through the courts to pay until he finished the course. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Feb-15 @ 12:51 PM
Leave a Comment, Ask for Advice or Share Your Story...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Our Quick Links
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the ChildSupportLaws website. Please read our Disclaimer.