Home > Child Support & Family > Dealing With Maintenance Arrears

Dealing With Maintenance Arrears

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 25 Aug 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
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A parent has the financial responsibility, and obligation, to provide maintenance for their child. This Child Support is paid to the parent the child lives with, and the amount payable can be agreed privately or calculated, collected and distributed by the Child Support Agency (CSA). In cases of failure to pay, maintenance payment, via a parent’s employer will be enforced.

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 private agreement and is known as Voluntary Maintenance. 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 Child Support Agency. This form of payment is known as Child Support.

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 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 Child Support Agency 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. 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, 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.

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Hi ive arrears built up on my case of 9000. My ex works all cash in hand and is recieving child tax credits and child benefit for his other son he has custody off also income support and carers allowance. I recieve £10 a month. Can more of this not be deducted from his benefits. Im currently paying back CTC 50 a week for an overpayment. Why can amounts like this not be taken from benefits for child maintence??
tree - 25-Aug-16 @ 1:30 PM
Kiki - Your Question:
Hi my daughters father owes nine thousand in arrears. He has not paid. Now the original case is closing, can I make a new claim without it effecting the arrears of the old case. Which still need to be paid?

Our Response:
You would need to seek legal advice regarding this to see whether you would have a case to claim through the courts.
ChildSupportLaws - 30-Jun-16 @ 11:17 AM
Hi my daughters father owes nine thousand in arrears. He has not paid. Now the original case is closing, can I make a new claim without it effecting the arrears of the old case. Which still need to be paid?
Kiki - 29-Jun-16 @ 1:36 PM
l.march - Your Question:
My sons father works full time and lives with his new partner in rented accomadation. his payments are sporadic and very late (7months missing and amounts not fulfilled in full) he refuses to pay the stated £168 a month. can I take him to court or pursue the money. he has never contributed to school uniform holidays or extra curricular for his son. i am married and my husband pays for the care of his step son. his father holidays 4 and 5times a year and drives a newcar every 6months. what do I do as we can not communicate without him being abusive

Our Response:
You don't say whether this is a family-based arrangement or organised through the CSA/CMS. If it is family based it is unlikely you will be able to take the matter to court. However, if it is collected through an agency then an enforcement order can be issued. Therefore, as specified in the article you should inform the CMS/CSA.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Jun-16 @ 12:45 PM
my sons father works full time and lives with his new partner in rented accomadation. his payments are sporadic and very late (7months missing and amounts not fulfilled in full) he refuses to pay the stated £168 a month. can i take him to court or pursue the money. he has never contributed to school uniform holidays or extra curricular for his son. i am married and my husband pays for the care of his step son. his father holidays 4 and 5times a year and drives a newcar every 6months. what do i do as we can not communicate without him being abusive
l.march - 22-Jun-16 @ 8:47 PM
Vikkiw - Your Question:
My ex-husband and I have a voluntary arrangement of £40 per week paid to me for our son. His payments have become very sporadic - sometimes 6/7 weeks between. He has recently married an Australian woman, to enable her to move to the UK after all other attempts to secure a visa failed, and from this I understand that his declared income has to be of a certain level for HM Immigration services to grant a visa. He is self employed and has always assured me that going through CMS (CSA) would result in a lower weekly amount because he earns so little (he forgets we were married for 7 years and I am well aware of the cash payments he can hid away) This declared annual income that he needs to ensure his new wife can remain in the UK would result in a CMS (? new CSA) payment to me of approximately the same £40 a week - his new spouse could have her visa revoked if his income is all of a sudden below this amount so I guess he has to decide between her and paying for his son!My question is, can I now pursue the £780 arrears he owes me through the governments Money Claim Online service, whilst applying for all future maintenance payments through the CMS?

Our Response:
This is a interesting question. But unfortunately family-based child maintenance agreements are not legally binding or enforceable. This means that if your ex has stopped paying then he can’t be forced to do so through the courts. However, I suggest you contact the CMS directly to see whether it has a differing opinion.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Jun-16 @ 10:41 AM
My ex-husband and I have a voluntary arrangement of £40 per week paid to me for our son.His payments have become very sporadic - sometimes 6/7 weeks between.He has recently married an Australian woman, to enable her to move to the UK after all other attempts to secure a visa failed, and from this I understand that his declared income has to be of a certain level for HM Immigration services to grant a visa.He is self employed and has always assured me that going through CMS (CSA) would result in a lower weekly amount because he earns so little (he forgets we were married for 7 years and I am well aware of the cash payments he can hid away)This declared annual income that he needs to ensure his new wife can remain in the UK would result in a CMS (? new CSA) payment to me of approximately the same £40 a week - his new spouse could have her visa revoked if his income is all of a sudden below this amount so I guess he has to decide between her and paying for his son! My question is, can I now pursue the £780 arrears he owes me through the governments Money Claim Online service, whilst applying for all future maintenance payments through the CMS?
Vikkiw - 7-Jun-16 @ 11:56 AM
Squirrel- Your Question:
Hi,My ex husband and I divorced around 15 years ago. We went through mediation and made voluntary agreement regards maintenance which became part of our divorce settlement. However after a product of eighteen months he dropped the amount he had agreed to pay. I assumed that I would have to go through the courts to change this and couldn't afford to. I therefore didn't contest this change. Our daughter is now nearing the end of formal education and is looking at further education, we have asked her father if he could contribute but he's unwilling. Is there any way of recouping the maintenance money he should have continued to pay from at least 9 years ago ?

Our Response:
If there was a mediation order in place and your ex dropped the agreed payment for no good reason, then yes. However, mediation is not like a court order which is legally binding, so you would have to seek legal advice because if you agreed to the change then this could be seen as resorting back to a family-based arrangement. In addition, you may also be able to apply to the court for your ex to help your daughter financially through further education. It's definitely worth seeking advice on to see what your options are.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Jun-16 @ 10:53 AM
Hi, My ex husband and I divorced around 15 years ago. We went through mediation and made voluntary agreement regards maintenance which became part of our divorce settlement. However after a product of eighteen months he dropped the amount he had agreed to pay. I assumed that I would have to go through the courts to change this and couldn't afford to. I therefore didn't contest this change. Our daughter is now nearing the end of formal education and is looking at further education, we have asked her father if he could contribute but he's unwilling.Is there any way of recouping the maintenance money he should have continued to pay from at least 9 years ago ?
Squirrel - 31-May-16 @ 1:09 PM
oxytocin- Your Question:
I'm 37. Father has never paid any maintenance. Can you claim historical maintenance? Thanks

Our Response:
Your ex can't file a new claim and ask for money retrospectively, unless she has previously put in a claim and either you have ignored it, or the CSA/CMS have been unable to track you down.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-May-16 @ 2:41 PM
I'm 37. Father has never paid any maintenance. Can you claim historical maintenance? Thanks
oxytocin - 22-May-16 @ 10:23 PM
Pixiedust - Your Question:
My 20yr old son with learning difficulties has a 17yr old pregnant gf, baby was her choice (i know it takes two but he does as hes told) he works, shes not long left school and lives with mam who knows the benefit system well. She wants her to stay at home for a few year so she can get the tax credits etc. Relationship seems on rocky ground & hes going to be screwed for everything hes got along with his baby. Im in no doubt he will pay but she will get everything she can out of the system & be better off with baby while he works and pays & prob stopped from seeing his baby. People going on about the men being the bad guys and not paying but theres some money grabbing mothers out there & doubtful the kids will get any benefit out of it. He needs a house but if she moves in will she be able to claim it if they split?

Our Response:
It is likely that if his girlfriend moves in and should they split and his girlfriend becomes the primary carer of the child, then she would be allowed to stay in the house as it would be considered in the best interests of his son or daughter.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Apr-16 @ 2:37 PM
My 20yr old son with learning difficulties has a 17yr old pregnant gf, baby was her choice (i know it takes two but he does as hes told) he works, shes not long left school and lives with mam who knows the benefit system well. She wants her to stay at home for a few year so she can get the tax credits etc. Relationship seems on rocky ground & hes going to be screwed for everything hes got along with his baby. Im in no doubt he will pay but she will get everything she can out of the system & be better off with baby while he works and pays & prob stopped from seeing his baby. People going on about the men being the bad guys and not paying but theres some money grabbing mothers out there & doubtful the kids will get any benefit out of it. He needs a house but if she moves in will she be able to claim it if they split?
Pixiedust - 5-Apr-16 @ 9:50 PM
Hi, I was pushed into court in Zimbabwe by my ex girlfriend of which I have a 13 year old son, I was advised poorly by a citizens help agent and appeared in civil court with no lawyer and was unemployed at the time and was coersed by her lawyer to pay a monthly sum of US$250.00 which was unimaginable to any ordinary Zimbabwean. I have recently moved here and started working as I am an EEA citizen. This month I received an email from an attorney in Zimbabwe on my ex's behalf claiming I have to pay arrears and keep up maintenance costs to date, is there any way I am able to dispute this from the UK as I was totally taken for a ride as most other Zimbabweans earning a living can never afford such amounts of maintenance and don't even earn that much in full time employment. I am at a loss as I have a family of 3 to maintain who live with me right now, a 3 year old daughter, an 18 year old dependant step daughter and my civil partner of 8 years and have just only started to make a living barely getting paid enough to afford our two bedroom flat and schooling for my now immediate family..
Shafted - 5-Mar-16 @ 9:12 PM
Rienie - Your Question:
Can I sue the grandmother for maintenance if the father runs off

Our Response:
No, the grandmother does not have Parental Responsibility of your child.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Feb-16 @ 3:06 PM
Can I sue the grandmother for maintenance if the father runs off
Rienie - 23-Feb-16 @ 7:35 AM
baby - Your Question:
My baby's dady has resigned and he has stopped paying maintanance, what can I do to ensure that I my baby get a potion of is pansion.

Our Response:
If his pension is classed as earnings, then you may be entitled to help for your child. You don't say whether you are going through CSA or CMS. If you are, you should contact whichever directly. Otherwise you may have to seek some legal advice. The Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Feb-16 @ 12:19 PM
my baby's dady has resigned and he has stopped paying maintanance, what can i do to ensure that i my baby get a potion of is pansion.
baby - 7-Feb-16 @ 5:29 PM
Sammie - Your Question:
Hi, I have been claiming child maintenance from the non-resident parent via the CSA for ten year now. And for the 10 years, the non-resident parent has done everything in his power to avoid making payments. From disputing parentage, to paying £10 a fortnight for a month and then failing for another three months or until I realise and have to contact the CSA again, who then writes to me saying that they have started this up again and it will be a further 10 days before a payment shows. It just seems very unfair and the CSA mention nothing about the arrears he has accrued either. I believe that somehow he is playing the system, as he has said that he is on jobseekers and cannot afford more than £10 per fortnight for maintenance, however he has been seen multiple times to be working in different shops in the area. I would like to know what to do and how to go about 1) claiming the arrears back and 2) investigating whether or not he is working and ensuring that he pays child maintenance each fortnight without being able to not pay whenever he feels like it.

Our Response:
If he is working on a casual/illegal basis then it is very difficult to obtain money from him. If he is working legally and not divulging this, then the CSA would be able to get his earnings from the HMRC. If he is self-employed then it can aslo be difficult to obtain child support as it depends on what he declares, which is always registered a financial year behind. If you feel you have been treated unfairly by the CSA, you can complain, see link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Dec-15 @ 2:46 PM
Hi, I have been claiming child maintenance from the non-resident parent via the CSA for ten year now. And for the 10 years, the non-resident parent has done everything in his power to avoid making payments. From disputing parentage, to paying £10 a fortnight for a month and then failing for another three months or until I realise and have to contact the CSA again, who then writes to me saying that they have started this up again and it will be a further 10 days before a payment shows. It just seems very unfair and the CSA mention nothing about the arrears he has accrued either. I believe that somehow he is playing the system, as he has said that he is on jobseekers and cannot afford more than £10 per fortnight for maintenance, however he has been seen multiple times to be working in different shops in the area. I would like to know what to do and how to go about 1) claiming the arrears back and 2) investigating whether or not he is working and ensuring that he pays child maintenance each fortnight without being able to not pay whenever he feels like it.
Sammie - 3-Dec-15 @ 10:32 AM
@Ashy - I'm afraid contact and child support are different areas - just because he may not be able to pay, shouldn't mean that he should be withheld access to his son whom I assume he is very connected to emotionally. You don't say why he hasn't paid. Have you applied for child support? If you haven't, then you can access advice via the CMS Options link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Aug-15 @ 12:43 PM
My son is nearly 7 yrs old. I have never had a penny from my ex. Never offered. I have a contact order now for the past 6 years could i stop him from seeing my son. I cannot to go all the time for contact.
Ashy - 1-Aug-15 @ 9:16 PM
@MrPotter - the payments are based solely on the paying parent's income.
Sal - 9-Jun-15 @ 10:57 AM
If the receiving parent (now in a new relationship) has a larger combined annual income than the paying parent will the paying parent now pay less maintenance?
MrPotter - 6-Jun-15 @ 2:53 PM
@frustratedmom - if you are unhappy with the way the CSA is dealing with your case you can complain via the Complaints Resolution Team. I have included a link on how you can go about it here . I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Jan-15 @ 11:44 AM
@Catwoman - I can understand how this is very frusrating for you however in theory, you should be able to go through the court that issued the order. I can only suggest you give them a call again as if procedure has changed then they should be able to advice you on how it has changed and where you should go to next. I have included a CAB link here that fully explains about arrears. If you can't get any joy from the court again, perhaps the CAB may be able to advise. But it really should be more straightforward that you having to go from pillar to post in order to get this simple information.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Jan-15 @ 11:08 AM
I receive child maintenance from my ex husband for my 12 year old daughter, as part of a consent order, which is less than 12 months old, lodged with the county court. Although he is making payments now, he missed payments in Sept, Oct, Nov 2014, amounting to £750.00 in arrears. I contacted my solicitor, who dealt with the divorce, consent order, etc and he advised that I contact my local magistrates court. I did this and they said because it is part of the consent order lodged with the county court, I should contact them. I have done this today and they said procedures have changed and my solicitor has given me outdated advice, but they were unable to advise me. I feel like I am going round in circles!!!! Please could you advise what I need to do???
Catwoman - 5-Jan-15 @ 4:44 PM
My ex is refusing to pay maintenance and has done for 2 years now. He is playing the system a treat yet raving all over social media sites he is working 70 hours a week. His arrears currently stand at £2.5k and csa are simply allowing him to keep making empty promises month after month. Am I able to apply through a court to get my arrears back as I know he can afford to be paying or do I have to just wait for csa to do something? They already got a liability order granted last Feb 2013 for the £800 arrears he had at that time.
frustratedmom - 5-Jan-15 @ 1:06 PM
@Arm , for you to be able to claim maintenance you have to be the parent that receives the child benefit - if your child is still of an age where you would be entitled to child benefit.
yoho - 29-Sep-14 @ 2:05 PM
My daughter has moved back to live with me full time. Does this mean that I can claim child maintenance as I would be now classed as the resident parent. Confused can anyone help
arm - 29-Sep-14 @ 1:58 PM
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