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Dealing With Maintenance Arrears

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 26 Apr 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
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A parent has the financial responsibility, and obligation, to provide maintenance for their child. This child maintenance is paid to the parent the child lives with, and the amount payable can be agreed through a family-based arrangement or calculated, collected by the Child Support Agency (CSA) or the Child Maintenance Service. In cases of failure to pay, maintenance payment, via a parent’s employer will be enforced via deduction from earnings order (DEO)

How Do You Pay Maintenance?

You are expected to pay maintenance if you are the parent of a child who lives with the other parent. There are however, a number of ways in which this payment can be made:

You may be paying an agreed sum directly to the parent with care. This is a family-based agreement. The amount that is paid will take both parent’s incomes and living circumstances into consideration, and may be adjusted accordingly when required. This form of arrangement only really works well between parents who have maintained an amicable relationship.

A payable sum that is agreed by the court is referred to as 'maintenance'. This is calculated by examining details of the incomes and living circumstances of both parents, and enforced by a court order.

If the relationship between parents is strained, if a non-resident parent fails to comply with maintenance payment requirements or there are other difficulties, monies can be calculated, collected and distributed by the CSA or CMS.

Failure To Pay

Falling into arrears or failing to pay maintenance can have serious consequences. A parent with care could take court action against you. An employer could be ordered to deduct money directly from your wages. A Liability Order can be issued against you, which will result in bailiffs taking away your belongings. A Charging Order could also be issued, which will lead to your home being sold in order to pay off arrears.

What Do To If You Experience Financial Problems

If you are experiencing financial difficulties, and fear you will have problems keeping up with maintenance and child support payments, it is important to notify the CSA/CMS as soon as possible. If your financial circumstances have changed – perhaps your income has been reduced or your living costs have increased considerably – you must contact the CMS/CMS and inform them of the changes. They will then be able to recalculate the amount of maintenance that is payable. Sending them a copy of how you budget for payments will be useful in this instance.

If you get into arrears you will be contacted by the CSA/CMS. It is their job to work with you in finding a suitable way to pay off the outstanding amount of maintenance. They will follow strict guidelines and will expect you to come to some form of agreement regarding paying off the arrears. Do not ignore any letters you may receive from the Child Support Agency or Child Maintenance Service, as the matter will simply grow in severity. It is in your, and your child’s best interests, to sort out the financial difficulties as soon as possible.

If you get into arrears, the CSA or CMS may sometimes negotiate a repayment schedule with you. They aim to collect all the arrears within two years and can ask you pay up to 40 per cent of your income, depending on your circumstances and other financial commitments. So, it is important to try to confront such issues early, if and where you cannot pay, rather than it come as a shock to you later on.

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[Add a Comment]
I need some advice pls. My Ex was asked by the social service to child maintainers 2013, ex made three payment and stopped. Social work followedup, ex has moved away from the house. Since then, ex did not contribute anything to the child care. Pls how can I claim for this.
RO - 26-Apr-18 @ 7:05 PM
Tra - Your Question:
I did put a claim in many years ago and my ex husband then left his job and I awarded 5p per year. I don’t know if I can claim anything now

Our Response:
If you were awarded a payment (because your husband was unemployed), there is little you can do as the calculation in place was based on his not working. This would still stand.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Apr-18 @ 12:27 PM
I did put a claim in many years ago and my ex husband then left his job and I awarded 5p per year. I don’t know if I can claim anything now
Tra - 23-Apr-18 @ 8:43 PM
Tra - Your Question:
Hi my daughter is now 31 but I have never had any payments for her and have been split up from her father for over 25 years, people are saying I can still claim for all the money he never paid, us this true?

Our Response:
You would not be allowed to claim child maintenance retrospectively if you never put in an initial claim.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Apr-18 @ 12:27 PM
Hi my daughter is now 31 but I have never had any payments for her and have been split up from her father for over 25 years, people are saying I can still claim for all the money he never paid, us this true?
Tra - 23-Apr-18 @ 7:35 AM
I have always paid for my child , then cms got involved. I paid the arrears off at beginning as thought I had too , now they are saying as we do direct pay this is nothing to do with them and I shouldn’t of paid it , there’s nothing they can do .
Tel - 22-Apr-18 @ 6:23 PM
I've only asked for child maintenance for my 16 yr old in the last 2 years. I went through the child maintenance service. So far there has been no payment. My ex is self employed, so they can get the amount he should pay but can't attach his earnings. From my contact with the service, they've told me they've sent the bailiffs to him...in January..but still nothing. Is he going to get away with not contributing to my son's upkeep? I understand taking his driving license is next, the step before prison. He has been in contact with the service as has tried to say he doesn't work or says my son isn't in education, which gets proved otherwise. He also moved bank account to avoid payment. I know he his financially secure as travels to Thailand for a month each year. Thanks
Helen - 19-Apr-18 @ 7:06 AM
Becks - Your Question:
I have 2 children of 17 and 12 with my ex partner and in the 18 months since we split up he has only paid about 2 months of maintenance for them. He didn't bother to pay directly to me even when given a chance so it had to be done by collect & pay which took months and months to set up then he left his job 2 months later and since then it's taken another 5 months to be set up again with his new job though I have still got to wait till end of next month to start getting payments. Now he has gone for another job interview so it looks like I won't be any payments in the near future yet again. He currently owes me thousands and I need to know what action to take now please as I've just had enough of waiting.

Our Response:
There is little you can do if your ex is between jobs, as CMS will not try to extract the money if your ex is out of work. You can see more via the CAB link here , which should explain more.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Apr-18 @ 3:21 PM
I have 2 children of 17 and 12 with my ex partner and in the 18 months since we split up he has only paid about 2 months of maintenance for them. He didn't bother to pay directly to me even when given a chance so it had to be done by collect & pay which took months and months to set up then he left his job 2 months later and since then it's taken another 5 months to be set up again with his new job though I have still got to wait till end of next month to start getting payments. Now he has gone for another job interview so it looks like I won't be any payments in the near future yet again. He currently owes me thousands and I need to know what action to take now please as I've just had enough of waiting.
Becks - 14-Apr-18 @ 11:08 PM
Steve - Your Question:
Hi I need some advice. I have two children with my ex partner. There ages now are 16 and 18. I’ve had custody of them now for the past 10-12 years and have never asked her for a penny. Now the child maintenance want me to pay arrears from when the children were young and with her. I’ve always supported my kids since birth.Ive brought kids up on my own for last 10-12 years. Is there anyway of resolving this without paying her.

Our Response:
These are two separate issues and should be looked at as such. Yes, you have to pay arrears, if you owe arrears from when the children were young. If you wish to claim child maintenance from the child's mother that is up to you and is a completely separate case.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Apr-18 @ 11:01 AM
Hi I need some advice. I have two children with my ex partner. There ages now are 16 and 18. I’ve had custody of them now for the past 10-12 years and have never asked her for a penny. Now the child maintenance want me to pay arrears from when the children were young and with her. I’ve always supported my kids since birth.Ive brought kids up on my own for last 10-12 years. Is there anyway of resolving this without paying her.
Steve - 5-Apr-18 @ 3:08 PM
Dig - Your Question:
My ex husband hasn't been in his children's life for the last five years and hasn't paid a penny either my partner would like to adopt the children but their father said no way does anyone know if I have the tight to change their surnames at least

Our Response:
You would also have to request consent from the children's father to change their surname. If he refuses, then you would have to apply to court, please see link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Mar-18 @ 10:38 AM
My ex husband hasn't been in his children's life for the last five years and hasn't paid a penny either my partner would like to adopt the children but their father said no way does anyone know if I have the tight to change their surnames at least
Dig - 21-Mar-18 @ 2:55 PM
Bonnie2018 - Your Question:
Hi, I hope somebody can help me with this. I live with my husband and two adult children who are aged 19 and 24 years. The house does not have a mortgage as we have paid it. I am considering getting divorced because there is a number of problems in the marriage. The two kids / adults would come with me if I purchased another property. If we sold our property that we currently lived in would the amount be split 50 / 50 by law. As it does not seem fair that I would have to provide for three people as compared with my husband buying himself a place for himself. I know the kids are over 18 years old and are adults but one is in full time education at Uni but lives at home. The other is in a full time job. Thanks for your help.

Our Response:
The best way to come to a financial separation is to agree one between you. You have three alternatives; agree amicably, agree through mediation, or continue to disagree and let the court decide. One and two mean little costs are involved and allow both you and your husband to come to a mutual decision. The third option will cost. Therefore, discussion with your husband regarding what you both think is fair is the best way forward. However, only one of your children is entitled to child maintenance payments. Again, you can come to a decision regarding this matter, based upon the child maintenance calculator here .
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Feb-18 @ 3:39 PM
Hi,I hope somebody can help me with this.I live with my husband and two adult children who are aged 19 and 24 years.The house does not have a mortgage as we have paid it.I am considering getting divorced because there is a number of problems in the marriage.The two kids / adults would come with me if I purchased another property.If we sold our property that we currently lived in would the amount be split 50 / 50 by law.As it does not seem fair that I would have to provide for three people as compared with my husband buying himself a place for himself.I know the kidsare over 18 years old and are adults but one is in full time education at Uni but lives at home.The other is in a full time job.Thanks for your help.
Bonnie2018 - 6-Feb-18 @ 12:16 PM
Am struggling to keep up to date with this one month payment to child support am very good at paying it and haven’t missed a payment and Christmas is the only time I struggle financially will they be able to work with me to set up a repayment plan
Kieran - 24-Dec-17 @ 10:36 AM
Kathy A never L - Your Question:
My ex husband has not paid for the past 2 years, he has left his job to avoid attachment of earnings, he flits back and forth to Spain to delay things, he is not on HMRC radar, he owes me £8k and is now having the cheek to contest the income and arrears!! So now he’s been given 3 weeks (extended because of Christmas) to send in payslips. yet I am still financially down and he has more time to disappear again for another few months, can I go privately via my solicitor to court and have him dealt with? he refuses to give me an address of where my children go to when he has them at very random occasions, I will not allow them to stay overnight until I have a residential address for where they will stay.

Our Response:
Unless you are convinced your ex has significant earnings and is living a lifestyle beyond what his specified income suggests, then taking the matter to court can backfire. The court can look at his accounts in depth and will do so more than CMS can. However, if his bank account is empty and he is not paying tax through HMRC or anywhere else, then there is little the courts can do. If you are convinced he has a healthy bank account derived from earnings, then you may have a case and therefore legal advice is recommended.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Dec-17 @ 11:09 AM
My ex husband has not paid for the past 2 years, he has left his job to avoid attachment of earnings, he flits back and forth to Spain to delay things, he is not on HMRC radar, he owes me £8k and is now having the cheek to contest the income and arrears!! So now he’s been given 3 weeks (extended because of Christmas) to send in payslips... yet I am still financially down and he has more time to disappear again for another few months, can Igo privately via my solicitor to court and have him dealt with? he refuses to give me an address of where my children go to when he has them at very random occasions, I will not allow them to stay overnight until I have a residential address for where they will stay.
Kathy A never L - 21-Dec-17 @ 7:58 PM
Sally - Your Question:
If the child has turned 21 can I still claim for 10 unpaid years of maintenance

Our Response:
You can claim child maintenance retrospectively, only if you have an existing child maintenance claim in already. If you have never claimed before, then you cannot claim back pay.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Dec-17 @ 3:16 PM
If the child has turned 21 can i still claim for 10 unpaid years of maintenance
Sally - 12-Dec-17 @ 1:48 PM
My partner has two ex’s in which he’s been paying both child support but not gone through csa, one ex has now made a new claim which then brought up his old claim from his other ex and because they both wanted more money the both decided to go through csa and get a schedule of payments put in place it’s now taken then 8 weeks to sort this claim out, because he didn’t change curcumstances and employment details they are now saying he’s in £2000 arrears but was never told these the case was still up and running until he got a review letter and the other ex decided to go through them again! He’s now been told to pay one ex £75 a month and the other £300 which financially on our side isn’t possible as I also have two children of my own the our household! He’s been told to prove that he’s been paying every month for the last 3 years and they have said it may turn out he’s been paying them too much so they may end up oweing him! Should we still pay the maintenance and arrears their asking or can that wait until they have received his bank statements and they can recalculate it?
Em - 23-Nov-17 @ 4:28 PM
I am looking to return to work after long term sick however I am paying arrears for child support and other debts, bills etc. My concern is I will return to work and the CSA will do an attachment of earnings which will then leave me in a worse position than I am on benefits financially. How can this be avoided?
WantTowork - 26-Oct-17 @ 2:21 PM
Can someone please give us advice I have always been paying my ex maintenance since she got the full costing of my little girl but last year child maintenance have done a massive mess up and haven’t renew my payment and apparently my payment should of gone up which I wasn’t aware of it now my payment has been sorted but I am now on £998 arrears I have offers my ex £200 a month to pay as my maintenance is now £170 and £30 on top to pay off the arrears but she won’t have any of it and wants the full payment and she said if I don’t pay it this month she will switch the payment to click and collect which then I have to pay more for the service I haven’t missed any payment at all but she won’t come to any agreement is there anything I can do I can only afford £30 extra on top of the maintenance
Leon - 5-Oct-17 @ 8:37 PM
My ex husband currently owes over £5000 in arrears. Cms take payments via deduction of earnings yet still payments are few and far between. My son is 14 and so far they are not taking any extra to start paying off arrears as he tends to then leave his job to avoid it. But what happens when he no longer has to pay regular amounts as my son is 18, will the arrears still be collected or just forgotten about
Claireloliver - 24-Sep-17 @ 9:13 PM
Hi, Wondering if anyone knows the answer to my query. My child maintenance agreement with the CMS is due to come to an end in August this year with my twins having turned 18 and exiting further education. A small amount of arrears are in place (£1000) as a result of delays in calculations when my case was with the CSA not as a result of any payments that I have missed. My questions re my situation are as follows: 1. Do the CMS have any jurisdiction over me once the children no longer qualify for maintenance? 2. Can I choose to pay the children directly? 3. Am I in a position to dictate the monthly amount the I pay towards the arrears. Thanks for any help in advance.
STOC - 22-Jul-17 @ 12:13 PM
othersideofthepictur - Your Question:
As a non resident parent I pay my maintenance each month directly to the parent with carry, due to errors made by the csa I accrued arrears ( they never changed my calculation when I was made redundant and was unemployed for 9 months even though they had a copy of the redundancy letter) but managed to get this resolved which took about 3 years and endless phone calls. since my case has moved over to the supposedly better maintenance service ( they still took 26weeks to do a calculation when my wages changed) they have now decided my arrears are back to amount before it was resolved and are refusing to look into it. in my eyes they are as bad as the initial incarnation of the csa and will most likely resort to the same under handed tactics that cause unnecessary tension between separated parents.

Our Response:
If you feel you have been treated unfairly, your only recourse is to complain, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Jun-17 @ 3:48 PM
as a non resident parent I pay my maintenance each month directly to the parent with carry, due to errors made by thecsa I accrued arrears ( they never changed my calculation when I was made redundant and was unemployed for 9 months even though they had a copy of the redundancy letter) but managed to get this resolved which took about 3 years and endless phone calls . since my case has moved over to the supposedly better maintenanceservice ( they still took 26weeks to do a calculation when my wages changed) they have now decided my arrears are back to amount before it was resolved and are refusing to look into it. in my eyes they are as bad as the initial incarnation of the csa and will most likely resort to the same under handed tactics that cause unnecessary tension between separated parents.
othersideofthepictur - 6-Jun-17 @ 8:23 PM
My ex-husband has avoided paying full maintenance for his only (disabled) son sine we divorced 11 years ago.He even lied to the judge about how many properties he owns. The CSA finally acceoted my variation while doing their final accounts. They picked a random date to backdate to. How far can I get the maintenance back dated and will I be able to add interest?
Jenny - 5-Jun-17 @ 3:11 PM
Jane- Your Question:
Hi I am owed over £7000 from two NRP and have been for 4 years now! One of my cases was with the child support agency and they were getting regular maintenance every month for me via deductions of earnings, they were also quite good at getting some of the arrears for me,now that case has gone over to the CMS and the NRP is refusing to pay the £2800 he owes in arrears, he has an income of over £55000 a year but doesn't own anything i.e.: house, car that's worth anything, my other NRP owes £4800 and is also refusing to pay! I have been to my MP the citizens advice and also rang bailiff companies up today to get some help from somewhere! Nobody can help collect the arrears for me! I'm owed over £7000 how am I going to get my money?? Please help! I'm getting really stressed with it all

Our Response:
If you think you are being treated unfairly, your only recourse is to complain, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-May-17 @ 12:42 PM
Hi I am owed over £7000 from two NRP and have been for 4 years now! One of my cases was with the child support agency and they were getting regular maintenance every month for me via deductions of earnings, they were also quite good at getting some of the arrears for me,now that case has gone over to the CMS and the NRP is refusing to pay the £2800 he owes in arrears, he has an income of over £55000 a year but doesn't own anything i.e.: house, car that's worth anything, my other NRP owes £4800 and is also refusing to pay! I have been to my MP the citizens advice and also rang bailiff companies up today to get some help from somewhere! Nobody can help collect the arrears for me! I'm owed over £7000 how am I going to get my money?? Please help! I'm getting really stressed with it all
Jane - 8-May-17 @ 7:46 PM
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