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: 23 Apr 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]
Hi my ex has 3 children and has paid £50 per week even though he should have been paying alot more if I had gone through csa. He now only has 1 under 18 and has decided to radically reduce the amount he pays although hes on a good wage (self employed so can put down on his accounts what he likes). I dont think this is fair as he didnt pay enough to begin with can I get csa back payments for what I should have been entitled to for the last 9 years or am I too late because I was soft enough and stupid enough to just accept what he offered all those years ago.
Lkw - 23-Apr-17 @ 9:38 AM
Jay3 - Your Question:
My partner was paying csa for his son from a previous relationship for 6 years before it stopped in November as it was changing over to cms. Advice please! He has recieved no letted from cms or rang cms, but will he owe from when csa stopped in november or from when either parent makes a new claim? Advice would be really appreciated. Thanks

Our Response:
If arrears have built up whilst a case was with the CSA, and the paying parent chooses to use the Child Maintenance Service, the arrears will still stand and can be enforced. Child maintenance arrangements continue as usual until the date CSA would have informed your partner in a letter. The closure of CSA was not a green light to stop making payments, as by law your partner is responsible to continue to financially support his child. Please see gov.uk link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Apr-17 @ 9:55 AM
sam - Your Question:
My daughters is nearly 5 and her father has never paid a penny for her, he has no contact with her either. ive been to csa before but they couldn't help me as hes self-employed.he has his own business which is doing really well but hes put it in his partners name so I cant get nothing off him. hes got 4 other children that he doesnt see or pay for either and another on the way.how can I get maintenance and back pay in maintance??

Our Response:
You may wish to seek legal advice about taking the matter to court. A court would look into your ex's finances deeper to try to prove he is 'earning'. However, you would have to have a strong case. Otherwise, if you lose you would have to pay court costs etc.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Apr-17 @ 2:37 PM
Toddy - Your Question:
My dad has never given me a penny all my life. I am 51 & my father is 74 he has just been paid a redundancy amount of £250,000. I was wondering if l or my mother can claim the maintenance he avoided for 16yrs of my life ??

Our Response:
I'm afraid not. A parent cannot claim child maintenance retrospectively. Plus, the CSA didn't launch fully until 1993 - therefore your mother would have never made an original CSA claim.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Apr-17 @ 11:46 AM
my daughters is nearly 5 and her father has never paid a penny for her, he has no contact with her either. ive been to csa before but they couldn't help me as hes self-employed...he has his own business which is doing really well but hes put it in his partners name so i cant get nothing off him. hes got 4 other children that he doesnt see or pay for either and another on the way..how can i get maintenance and back pay in maintance??
sam - 20-Apr-17 @ 11:00 AM
My partner was paying csa for his son from a previous relationship for 6 years before it stopped in November as it was changing over to cms... Advice please! He has recieved no letted from cms or rang cms, but will he owe from when csa stopped in november or from when either parent makes a new claim? Advice would be really appreciated. Thanks
Jay3 - 20-Apr-17 @ 10:19 AM
My dad has never given me a penny all my life . I am 51 & my father is 74 he has just been paid a redundancy amount of £250,000 . I was wondering if l or my mother can claim the maintenance he avoided for 16yrs of my life ??
Toddy - 19-Apr-17 @ 5:52 PM
Lashes2508 - Your Question:
My partner of 10 years pays maintenance for his son who is now nearly 17 and works full time therefore we believe payments should now stop, he pays £400 per month. His ex says that because it was written in their original court order he must pay. He pays this collects his son every other weekend 80mile round trip , takes him on holiday ,pays phone etc whilst she sold the family home and has brought another with partner , she has no other dependants and claims she needs it for her car ! Yet she will never drop off or collect. I too pay maintenance for my son as he lives with dad but share everything. Does he have to pay ? Could he reduce the payment ?

Our Response:
Your partner can either take the matter back to court to have the order varied. Or take advice from Child Maintenance Services who may tell you that any parent is eligible to stop paying once the child no longer receives child benefit.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Apr-17 @ 3:02 PM
eddiew- Your Question:
I was paying child maintenance to my ex partner through CMS but she decided she no longer wanted the money. Can she suddenly change her mind and back date the payments for however long I haven't been paying (despite the stop in CMS payments being her request)

Our Response:
Yes. Therefore, you would need to speak to CMS directly regarding what is the correct procedure in cases such as this. You would definitely want it in writing.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Apr-17 @ 12:31 PM
I was paying child maintenance to my ex partner through CMS but she decided she no longer wanted the money. Can she suddenly change her mind and back date the payments for however long I haven't been paying (despite the stop in CMS payments being her request)
eddiew - 18-Apr-17 @ 11:28 PM
Moo - Your Question:
Hi my ex partner has never paid for my daughter in the past twelve years or so, my wonderful husband has bought her up as his own, she is seventeen years old she has recently had contact with him,am I able to claim maintenance as I never knew where he was before

Our Response:
I'm afraid, unless you previously put in an application for child maitenance, then you would not be able to claim retrospectively.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Apr-17 @ 2:51 PM
Tarnia - Your Question:
I had 3 children and a court order from Loughborough Magistrates Court for £60 per week payments and after a couple of months the father stopped paying he left the UK to live in Canada and made no further payments (I was not made aware of where he went and he did not tell the court). There was numerous attempts by the court to find him, but we did not know where he was. The children are now in their thirties, and I have discovered where he lives. I tried to contact the court regarding this and it looks like the records have moved to Leicester and probably archived. The debt must be over £ 40,000.00. My questions are twofold 1) can the claim be reopened and the debt recovered and if. not, can the debt be placed against any assets he has when he passes away? Thanks for any help.

Our Response:
You would have to seek legal advice regarding this as it is beyond our remit to advise.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Apr-17 @ 11:44 AM
I had 3 children and a court order from Loughborough Magistrates Court for £60 per week payments and after a couple of months the father stopped paying he left the UK to live in Canada and made no further payments (I was not made aware of where he went and he did not tell the court).There was numerous attempts by the court to find him, but we did not know where he was.The children are now in their thirties, and I have discovered where he lives.I tried to contact the court regarding this and it looks like the records have moved to Leicester and probably archived.The debt must be over £ 40,000.00.My questions are twofold 1) can the claim be reopened and the debt recovered and if. not, can the debt be placed against any assets he has when he passes away?Thanks for any help.
Tarnia - 17-Apr-17 @ 3:31 PM
Hi my ex partner has never paid for my daughter in the past twelve years or so, my wonderful husband has bought her up as his own, she is seventeen years old she has recently had contact with him,am I able to claim maintenance as I never knew where he was before
Moo - 16-Apr-17 @ 6:33 PM
My dad has never paid any maintenance for me while I was growing up, I'm now nearly 28. Would it be too late for my mum to open a case? My dad never had anything to do with me whilst I was growing up. I know my mum opened a case with csa and my dad completely denied knowing her or me, quit his job and moved house. He then told my mum that he will pay into my bank account £100 a month, which he did when I was 15 and he did it for 11 months before stopping payments, just before my 16th birthday. Would my mum be entitled to a back pay?
Dkbarber - 16-Apr-17 @ 3:40 PM
My partner of 10 years pays maintenance for his son who is now nearly 17 and works full time therefore we believepayments should now stop, he pays £400 per month. His ex says that because it was written in their original court order he must pay. He pays this collects his son every other weekend 80mile round trip , takes him on holiday ,pays phone etc whilst she sold the family home and has brought another with partner , she has no other dependants and claims she needs it for her car ! Yet she will never drop off or collect . I too pay maintenance for my son as he lives with dad but share everything . Does he have to pay ? Could he reduce the payment ?
Lashes2508 - 16-Apr-17 @ 10:26 AM
When i was divorced about 15 years ago the court ordered my husband to pay £100 per month child maintenance. Now he only paid about 2 or 3 months before stopping payment. Is there anything i can do to try and get the backdated money or have i left it too long?
Mandy - 14-Apr-17 @ 1:23 PM
My ex partner stopped having any over night contact with our child and reported this in july last year, today I have had to contact them as the payments were never changed. It is due to be backdated. My question is: My ex pays CM to 3 mothers including myself, should my backdated amount come from the overpayments made to the other parent? Because their awards should have changed in July when mine should have but CMS are saying it is only mine due to change and the others will remain the same. But he believes this would mean he has been paying higher than 25% as he has been overpaying the other two.
fifi - 12-Apr-17 @ 2:37 PM
Panda eyes - Your Question:
My daughter has 2 children aged 4 yrs & 2 years,their excuse for a father does not live with them. He sees them once a week with their Mummy but is now pushing for access on his own & for overnight stays with him. He has never paid anything towards their upkeep & does not pay for their meal if they all go out for lunch etc. He has a full time job & works part time ( unofficially) as a gardener for a local firm.My daughter has never applied for maintenance as she knows he will lie & say he is not working.He is very controlling & verbally abusive so she is afraid of his reaction if she applies - what does she do?

Our Response:
If your daughter's ex is working, then she has every right to apply for child maintenance as by law he is responsible for paying towards the day-to-day care of his child. In addition, Child Maintenance Services base an assessment upon the tax the father pays via the HMRC, he will be assessed on this and therefore cannot lie. Child maintenance and child access have no bearing on each other, meaning by law your daughter's ex has to help support his children financially. However, regardless of whether he pays or not, he still (as their father) has the right to apply for child access through the courts should he wish and if your daughter refuses to grant unsupervised access to his children.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Apr-17 @ 11:39 AM
My daughter has 2 children aged 4 yrs & 2 years,their excuse for a father does not live with them. He sees them once a week with their Mummy but is now pushing for access on his own & for overnight stays with him. He has never paid anything towards their upkeep & does not pay for their meal if they all go out for lunch etc. He has a full time job & works part time ( unofficially) as a gardener for a local firm. My daughter has never applied for maintenance as she knows he will lie & say he is not working. He is very controlling & verbally abusive so she is afraid of his reaction if she applies - what does she do?
Panda eyes - 9-Apr-17 @ 1:51 PM
Mrs Smith- Your Question:
My Husband and his ex divorced in 2007 they made a court order which included child maintenance of 500 per month. My Husband was unable to continue 500 per month and dropped the payment to 250 per month in 2009. He did not apply to the court for a variance as at the time the ex agreed. They have argued over increases for years, and my partner sign posted her to the CSA/CMA/family mediation but neither of them acted and used the CSA/CMA to resolve the differences.She has placed an arrears order to 2010 ( which is approx. 7 years arrears = 21,000.00) We simply can not afford to pay this. Can she claim the full 7 years back?

Our Response:
I'm afraid she can. Your husband would have to be able to prove she agreed to the variation. He may be able to do this on the basis that any change made to a court order must be agreed by both parties. One party cannot unilaterally decide to change the order or apply additional terms. The fact his ex allowed the reduction in payments (if it can be proved via bank statements), is evidence that she consented to this agreement. However, as the court order was breached your husband should have made a written agreement with his ex as this would have gone some way to protecting him from this sort of retrospective claim. I suggest he seeks legal advice.
ChildSupportLaws - 31-Mar-17 @ 2:53 PM
My Husband and his ex divorced in 2007 they made a court order which included child maintenance of 500 per month. My Husband was unable to continue 500 per month and dropped the payment to 250 per month in 2009. He did not apply to the court for a variance as at the time the ex agreed. They have argued over increases for years, and my partner sign posted her to the CSA/CMA/family mediation but neither of them acted and used the CSA/CMA to resolve the differences. She has placed an arrears order to 2010 ( which is approx. 7 years arrears = 21,000.00) We simply can not afford to pay this. Can she claim the full 7 years back?
Mrs Smith - 31-Mar-17 @ 12:03 PM
I brought my 2 children up for about 5years.However, they have now gone to live with their father.Whilst i had the children I never claimed any kind of maintenance from him as he had overnight contact every weekend and took them on holiday, also if i ever needed anything for the children he would help out.Now that the children have gone to live with him, he has decided to make a claim to csm.Can i make a claim for the past years that he paid nothing? The children are still at school.
Gary - 29-Mar-17 @ 10:16 PM
Kimz - Your Question:
I was granted CMA through court which is a duduction of earnings. This was granted last year. However, I'm not receiving the full payment. In fact it's not even 30% of the payment. When I called the CMS they have said they are giving another child the payment. However, this child is 19 in full time employment and he was NOT part of our claim or case in court. The court only granted it to me as it was only my child involved. Can they do this? Go against a court order and not give me my full payments?

Our Response:
If a father has another child to support, then this is taken into consideration by CMS. If you wish to challenge this you would have to seek legal advice about taking the matter back to court to have to order enforced. However, if there has been a variation in your ex's circumstances i.e his other child went back into full-time education, then this would be taken into consideration.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Mar-17 @ 1:59 PM
I was granted CMA through court which is a duduction of earnings. This was granted last year. However, I'm not receiving the full payment. In fact it's not even 30% of the payment. When I called the CMS they have said they are giving another child the payment. However, this child is 19 in full time employment and he was NOT part of our claim or case in court. The court only granted it to me as it was only my child involved. Can they do this? Go against a court order and not give me my full payments?
Kimz - 26-Mar-17 @ 10:29 PM
Lilly - Your Question:
I made a claim for cm almost 9 years ago and was told that my daughters fathers did not have any source of income so I would not receive any payments. I tried again when my daughter was around 4 to be told the same thing, I have recently contacted cms again to be told that he is now earning and I will be receiving payments soon, I was advised that I can now also put in a claim for arreas for the last 9 years for the original claim when I didn't receive any payments, is this true that I can claim arreas?

Our Response:
If the claim has been active, yes you can claim retrospective payments. However, this would only be if he has been working during this time and had not informed CSA/CMS that he had been earning. If he was not working/earning during this time, then he would still be considered exempt.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Mar-17 @ 2:57 PM
I made a claim for cm almost 9 years ago and was told that my daughters fathers did not have any source of income so I would not receive any payments. I tried again when my daughter was around 4 to be told the same thing, I have recently contacted cms again to be told that he is now earning and I will be receiving payments soon, I was advised that I can now also put in a claim for arreas for the last 9 years for the original claim when I didn't receive any payments, is this true that I can claim arreas?
Lilly - 23-Mar-17 @ 12:02 PM
My partner and i have 2 children together, he has 1 child from a previous relationship who he has always paid CSA for despite contact ending between the two a few years ago.. He had a letter to say the CSA to say the case was closing and that a new claim needed to be made to the CMS, this was 5 months ago, and neither partys (paying parent and receiving parent) have put in a claim (as far as we know).. Question is will it be backdated from when the CSA stopped, or from when someone puts in the claim?.. Basically its been 5months since the last payment and hes had no letter yet to make any further payments.. (he has been putting money to side in an account what he would usually pay csa) as he refuses to pay rhe £20 fee to make a claim to his ex for a child he has been denied excess too.. Any help?
Jay3 - 22-Mar-17 @ 11:10 AM
Hope - Your Question:
I initially made a claim with CSA in 2006 after separation from my son's father. It was calculated that he pay £71 per week as he was also supporting children from a previous marrage. The child maintenance ended for his other children in 2009 but my ex didn't have my son's child maintenance adjusted. In fact for ten years from 2006 he only paid me £40 per week because he thought that is all I needed. I went along with this. Since him marrying a year ago, I insisted he pay me the full amount of £71. Last yeare my letters arrived explaining that CSA was ending and my case was closed. He is still payng just £71. He earns about £46,000 per year. Our son is disabled and costs a lot of money to support his needs. Is it too late to claim back dated maintenance from 2009 when his child support ended for his other children and when my son's maintenance should have been reviewed bearing in mind my account was closed last year. My son is 13.

Our Response:
You would have to make a request directly regarding this via the gov.uk link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Mar-17 @ 1:58 PM
ant - Your Question:
HiPlease can you advise if csa can be backdated to birth or can only be started when a clain is made.Thanks

Our Response:
Child maintenance cannot be backdated retrospectively. It can only run from the time when the claim was first made.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Mar-17 @ 11:41 AM
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