If you are the parent of a child, or children, and are raising them on your own you are entitled to claim child support payments from the non resident parent. This periodic maintenance payment may be agreed by private arrangement between both parents, but it may also be collected and handled by the Child Support Agency (CSA), in cases where there is a breakdown of communication between the adults.
Absent parents, who refuse to pay maintenance, can also be traced by the CSA and have an enforcement issued.
Are You Entitled To Claim?
Child support is a regular maintenance payment that is paid to parents who live with their children, by the parent who does not live in the same home. This periodic payment is made to assist the parent with care with the rising costs of raising a child. This payment can also be made to another family member or legal guardian if the child lives with them.
Child support is paid to a resident parent when a couple separate or divorce, or they have children but are not living together. The payment is made to provide financial support and to confirm responsibility for the welfare of the child. These payments also help to minimise the need for other forms of benefit.
How Is Maintenance Calculated?
The CSA work out the payable rate of maintenance by applying one of a number of rates to the absent parent’s income. Income means money earned from employment, tax credits or personal pension. Income tax and National Insurance is deducted, along with money that is paid into a pension plan. The remainder of the income is then evaluated and a basic, reduced, flat or nil rate is applied. The amount is adjusted according to how many children are involved in the maintenance application.
How Much Are You Entitled To?
Child support maintenance payments are calculated by the CSA, after assessing the income and living circumstances of the non resident parent. The amount of maintenance a parent with care will receive is calculated as being 15% of the non resident parent’s net income – for the first, or only child. The payable amount of maintenance increases to 20% of net income for two children, and to 25% for three. Children from subsequent families are treated in the same way.
If the child stays with the non resident parent for at least one night a week the amount of payable maintenance, given to the parent with care, is reduced accordingly. This situation is called Shared Care, and the amount of maintenance is reduced by one-seventh, for each night of the week that the child stays at the non resident parent’s home.
If care is divided equally between the parents the weekly amount of payable maintenance is halved in two, and reduced again by the required £7.
If your maintenance payments are set at a flat rate, due to the non resident parent being on benefits or receiving allowance, shared care will mean that the maintenance payable to the parent with care is almost nothing.
My ex is refusing to give me the agreed maintenance amount for the week he took our two children on holiday, this was never agreed beforehand or in our mediation agreement when contact & holiday & maintenance amount was agreed. I always thought maintenance was an agreed amount payed monthly? I didn't realise he can just reduce it when it suits him?
Hetty - 26-Jul-15 @ 4:53 PM
Hi I have a 3yr old with my ex partner he has 4 kids to previous marriage which he has paid child maintenance for from they parted! We always had mutual agreement were by he pays me maintenance for our child and has regular contact/overnites basically whenever he wants which has been gud until now? He still has all contact but mutual payments have stopped. I wish to go thru CSA but not sure of my rights or worth my hassle as he already pays for his other 4 kids to his ex wife? Please advise on my entitlements !
buddysmum - 26-Jul-15 @ 12:10 AM
Hi my Son is 14 and has behavioural problems. His dad does not hardly ever see him or pay for anything. Never has. I think it's disgusting he is signed off sick. Literally I can not manage financially and think even if it's a small contribution they should be liable for there children even if they do not bother to see them D
jenney - 23-Jul-15 @ 7:23 PM
My son is 15 and I have paid maintenance via private agreement to his mother since he was 3. He is attending college residentially in Sept (2 years 7 days a week) and I will be paying his accommodation fees. I will also be paying money into his account for food.
His mother is insisting that she is due maintenance even though he is not living there, that cannot be right surely?
Nick - 18-Jul-15 @ 3:39 PM
@Gemiez - a two week holiday would not be enough time when spread across the year to warrant a variation in payments through the CSA. However, if it is a family-based arrangement and he is caring and providing for the children on a day-to-day basis, as you do throughout the year, then it is up to you whether you give him the concession and relax the payments for the period.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Jul-15 @ 2:20 PM
hi there I'm now 28 my parents split when i was born. a court order of some kind was set up and he was ordered to pay maintenance, yet my mom said she never received a penny he said it was paid into an account in my birth name, as not long after they spliy my name was changed through depole. he is named on my birth certificate. he hasn't had contact since i was about 1 i no where he lives ect.
i just want to no how i can go about finding this mystery account and whether he did pay or not and if its sitting in an account waiting for me.
can anyone help?
kelcie - 12-Jul-15 @ 8:56 PM
If my child stays with the father for a week should I then give him money for my child as he says I shouldn't have the Csa for that week if he has my child
Gemiez - 11-Jul-15 @ 10:03 PM
Return from the U.S. After my relationship ended with child's father, we were not married. My son was 2 at the time. He is now 14 and just wanted to find out how I would obtain sole custody of him, his father has no contact with him as he is in the U.S. And makes no attempt to be, in his life, how do I get sole custody
Tt1976 - 9-Jul-15 @ 9:58 PM
@Hey Jude - I have included a CAB link here which will help you see whether you are eligible. It is unlikely that the courts would take your daughter from you and transfer residency to your ex, if he has had limited contact. The courts will always opt for what is in the childrens' interests and that means consistency and stability which you offer.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Jul-15 @ 12:11 PM
Ok, so need some advice on child custody (in Scotland). I broke up with my daughters (x2) father more than 8 years ago. We were never married and the children have always stayed with me permanently, with ocassional visits/ overnight stays with their father whenever he decided he was free. It has never really been amicable. Our daughters are 10 and 16.
He has now decided he wants to go to court for joint custody of our 10 yr old.
Initially he was paying money into my account, but this stopped. Then CSA found him and the money 'officially' resumed. About 4-5 months ago, the child support money stopped again, due to him losing his job, so I've been trying to manage on my own, despite only working 2 days a week.
Do you think I'd be legible for Legal Aid? Do you think he has a leg to stand on? This will be a huge upheavel for our youngest daughter, and undeniably it will cause distress.I'm extremely concerned about the whole situation and how this will affect our daughter.
Hey Jude - 6-Jul-15 @ 4:35 PM
@Archie222 - yes, dependent upon her circumstances and whether she is working etc, if your son comes to live with you and he is studying at not higher than A-level equivalent, for at least 12 hours a week, then his maintenance payments should continue until he finishes the course. Please see link for how child maintenance is worked out here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Jul-15 @ 12:29 PM
My only child (16 year old) is starting colledge.When this happens, he wants to move in with me his father. He lived at his mums after our separation for the last 10 years. I have paid maintenence throughout. His mother is remarried with younger son ( to the new husband)) she works part time. Can i claim maintenance from her now. She claims that as i will get child benefits for him im not entitled.
Archie222 - 3-Jul-15 @ 5:08 PM
@M477 - You cannot reduce your rate of child support, as every parent is liable to support their child regardless. However, you can ask the courts to trace your child in order that you can apply to regain contact/access. You will need a C4 court form, which is an application for an order for disclosure of a child's whereabouts. You would also need to apply for a contact order at the same time. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 11-Jun-15 @ 10:45 AM
My wife has ran off with my one year old daughter and wont tell anyone where she is. Shewont even let me see her (its been 2 and a half months now).
If she doesnt let me see my daughter do I still have to pay child maintenance, can I apply for a reduced rate ?
Why would it be that she can make it so I cannot see her, but still be made to pay these rates ?
I have a letter from social services detailing my contact with them wanting to see my daughter and that there is no reason for me not to see my daughter other than her not wanting me to see her!
M477 - 9-Jun-15 @ 12:09 PM
@a1 - I'm afraid you cannot claim. It would have been down to your mother to do this.
ChildSupportLaws - 29-May-15 @ 12:33 PM
Hello. I'm after a bit of advice... I'm 21 and just finishing off my degree in Business. My mother and father seperated when I was around 5/6. I rarely saw my father from around the age of 7/8 and saw him a couple of years ago after his fathers (my grandfather) passing after about 8 years. My father has never paid anything towards me - not even money in a card for birthday/christmas or child maintenance to my mother. I would like to know if I could go about claiming anything back from him for the years he hasn't supported me financially. As well as not supporting me financially, he has spoken to me a handful of times in the past ten years and at his fathers funeral basically ignored me. I want to know if I can get anything from my absent father.
a1 - 26-May-15 @ 10:26 PM
@Nina123 - You would really have to speak to the CSA. However, if she went to live with her dad, then you may have to pay the CSA directly to him and you would then obviously cease paying for her daily welfare and care, unless of course you still wanted to continue to pay for certain things. Alternatively, you could work out a family-based agreement between you and your ex, if that would work better.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-May-15 @ 10:02 AM
My youngest child (17) has decided she wants to live full time with her dad, I still get csa money as she is a full time student. I pay for her phone, bus pass, dinner money and the majority of her clothing. I can barely afford this with the money I get through her dad. How would it work, would I need to pay her dad or would he continue to pay me since I pay all her bills? She is still currently staying with me until everything is sorted.
Nina123 - 23-May-15 @ 3:27 AM
I am a dual citizen of the UK and Egypt. My wife is Austrian. Our 8 year old son has 3 passports; Austria, British, and Egyptian. Although the child was born is Vienna, we only actually moved to Vienna when he reached 15 months. Prior to that we had lived in Dubai and Cairo.
In the last 7 years there had been a strong of events taking place that reflect the mother's incompetence as a parent. I would add selfishness to that. I am the prime caretaker of the child and we still all live together (legally married) however she is seeing someone else. Being an interfaith marriage, we had agreed prior to marriage that the children would be raised as Muslims. I am a totally tolerant person and respect religious diversity. His mother however keeps telling him you can't tell your Austrian friends you're Muslim because they don't like Muslims over here. Note that she barely agreed to him taking up Islamic religions classes at School (in Austria). A few months ago the boy came up to me with his mother's mobile phone and told me blaaaaaa look at these disgusting photos. Basically these were a few photos of his naked mother masturbating and some random guy in a similar position. A couple of weeks ago my son told me that his mother took him on her lap and let him drive for a couple of minutes. I confronted her about both incidents and her response is that: what's wrong with that?!
I currently don't have a stable job in Austria and thus if I'm lucky with an unbiased judge, it would still be difficult for them to grant me custody under the circumstances. I can only guarantee accommodation and private schooling fees in Egypt via my family if I return there with my child. Please also note that I am the one looking after the child: waking up, dressing, breakfasts, lunch boxes, school drop off, hygiene, youname it! His mother works less than 18 hours a week and doesn't pay taxes - so it's not like she's a super busy career person. She skips at least a couple of nights every week and even when she is home she would rather take the kid to have a cookie or doughnut at McDonalds for breakfast so she can have her coffee, rather than making him (or buying him) a normal healthy nutritious meal.
I am so frustrated with this situation and I am not thinking about the well-being of a child still under development. I am also thinking about being in a place where I am more likely to be able to support myself and have family around me to support me with this journey. Lawyers have advised me that leaving the EU with the child would be the only solution to remove my child from this environment without legal intervention, which in the case of Austria tends to favour the citizen's side especially the mother. Any ideas?
taayka - 19-May-15 @ 4:01 PM
My partner has two children with his ex. She has on and off stopped contact and resumed again. His son now stays with us Monday to Saturday. (He goes home Saturday night). My partner pays csa for both children on the basis they stay one night a week. When he contacted csa to tell them his son was with us for 5 nights a week, they had to phone the mother, she denies he stays 5 nights and that he only stays one night! I don't understand how they can just take her word for it and now we have to pay to get a court order stating we have him 5 nights, which we really can't afford especially as we also have a baby on the way.
Welshgirl55 - 19-May-15 @ 8:39 AM
@JRock- I'm afraid you can only claim maintenance from him and his earnings, which has nothing to do with his new wife. If he is not registered as earning, it is unlikely that you will get any money from him if the CSA has ruled that you haven't a case. Obviously working cash in hand is illegal and whether you want to report this to the authorities is another matter. However, it still doesn't solve your own problems which is that as far as the CSA is concerned he is not earning and therefore is exempt from paying for his child.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-May-15 @ 10:38 AM
@Mishy63 - I'm afraid this is often the case with people who are self-employed. They can become pretty smart at hiding their earnings, especially if they employe a good accountant. The CSA does what it can to get the money, but the fault really all comes down to the person who is trying to avoid paying in the first place.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-May-15 @ 12:26 PM
My ex is refusing to pay for his daughter and has done since we split in 2008.
I have tried to claim through the CSA, & each time they come back with 'a nil income' therefore I am entitled to nothing from him. ( although he tells me he is working, cash in hand obvs..) :-/
He recently got married, and I was just wondering where I stand on claiming some maintenance from him under the new maintenance guidelines/laws?
JRock - 12-May-15 @ 9:50 AM
My partner and I separated in December 2000. At that time our son was 4 years old. He's almost 19 years old now and I have never ever received even 1p from him in child maintenance. I applied through the CSA and they have never been able to collect a penny from him. He has been caught twice by the benefits office for claiming whilst working, yet he still works as a self employed gardener, always has, and has always maintained that he is unemployed. He lives the life of luxury whilst we have struggled through all these years. I told the CSA years ago that he was working, and they told me I had to prove it. I've always worked to keep us , and I think it's a joke that an absent parent can get away without ever having to pay a bean towards raising their child. Well done CSA, I have absolutely nothing to thank you for ........
Mishy63 - 11-May-15 @ 4:14 PM
My ex boyfriend won't sign the birth certificatecause he thinks it means he won't actually be the dad so he won't have to pay anything, is this true or does he still have to pay he is the only person I slept with over the last 5 years so it obvious it his he saying it's not just to get out of paying anything, how does it all work, I don't know what to do and wether he has to pay and can I get a dnt test done with just finding out the baby's dnt or do I need my ex boyfriends aswell just to prove to him it's his
bunny2912 - 1-May-15 @ 11:24 PM
Up until recently, I was claiming maintenance through the CSA for my 2 children with my ex. One child has decided to live with my ex, whilst the other remains with myself. Can I claim maintenance for the child that lives with me?
Lolz - 23-Apr-15 @ 11:01 AM
@lea86 - you could approach the CMS and see what they advise - but you may have to take it to court to prove paternity.
Si - 8-Apr-15 @ 12:27 PM
@Olive - If the non-resident parent earns between £5 and £100 per week, they will pay a flat rate of £5 per week. This includes people who are on state benefits, Job Seeker's Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Bereavement Allowance, Income Support, State Pensions and certain other benefits. This rate will be the same regardless of how many children they have. In the case of state benefits, the child maintenance is usually deducted at source. The CMS do charge for their service of collecting payments. You can talk to its advice line via the link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Apr-15 @ 11:34 AM
Hi, can I claim off my childs biological father if he is not on the birth document and someone else is?
lea86 - 5-Apr-15 @ 5:00 PM
Can I claim CSM from the father of my 2 children if he has not paid for 8years and has not worked for that length of time .As my children are still growing and need clothes it is a struggle to buy new clothing whilst paying bills.