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How Much Will I Have To Pay?

Author: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 24 January 2015 |
How Much Child Support Csa Parent Rate

What is child maintenance? Child maintenance is financial support that helps towards your child's everyday living expenses and is paid on a regular basis. The parent to pay the child maintenance is the non-resident parent i.e. the one who does not live with the child or have day-to-day care for the child, to the parent that the child lives with (the resident parent). In some cases, this may not be a parent, such as a grandparent or guardian with full care.

Why pay maintenance?

Paying maintenance for your child is extremely important. The person with full care of your child will no doubt be doing their best, however, the extra money that you pay can help to give your children a more stable and better quality upbringing. Maintenance payments will generally go towards food, clothes, school trips, books, toys and games, toiletries, medicines, childcare, activities, etc.

How much to pay?

The amount of child maintenance that you have to pay as a non-resident parent depends on a number of factors such as income, the number of children living with you and the number of children you have, whether you are the resident parent, are in receipt of benefits and whether or not the child also stays with you sometimes. We give a break down of the general rates and payments below.

Types of maintenance arrangement

There are two main ways to arrange child maintenance:
  • Family-Arrangement Maintenance
  • Child Support Agency Maintenance

If you are on good terms with the resident parent, it may be that you can come to some arrangement about how much you pay and how often.

The alternative and most popular option is to pay maintenance through the Child Support Agency (CSA).

How is child maintenance calculated?

The CSA calculates maintenance, whilst taking into account several factors. The CSA calculates payment by applying one of four rates to the non-resident parent's net weekly income. This income includes earnings from employment, pensions and some benefits after paying National Insurance, income tax and any contributions to a pension scheme.

The four rates applied to the non-resident parent's net weekly income include:

  • basic rate
  • reduced rate
  • flat rate
  • nil rate

Basic rate

If a non-resident parent earns £200 or more per week, the CSA calculates the amount of maintenance they should pay as a percentage of their net weekly income. For one child, this is 15%, for two children this is 20% and for three or more children it is 25%.

Reduced rate

If the non-resident parent earns between £100 and £200 per week, they will pay a flat rate plus a percentage of their weekly income. This will vary depending on how many children they have that require maintenance. The flat rate is £5 per week, plus 25% of their income for one child, 35% of their income for two children, and 45% of their income for three or more children.

Flat rate

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.

Nil rate

If the non-resident parent earns less than £5 per week, for example if they are a full time student, are under 16 years old, in prison, 18 or under in further education (no higher than A level) or are in a care home, the nil rate will apply. This means that they will not be required to pay anything.

What if a parent has other children?

If a resident parent has children with several different non-resident parents, the CSA will make these calculations separately. For example, if a woman has two children by one father and one by another man, the men will only pay for their own children respectively. Similarly, if a non-resident parent is paying money to several children in different households, the CSA will generally divide the money equally between the children.

If the non-resident parent has some CSA arrangements and some Family-Arrangement maintenance then unfortunately, the CSA cannot take into account the Family-Arrangement maintenance paid. It can, however, take into account any court orders in relation to maintenance.

What happens if the child stays overnight with both parents?

If the child stays overnight with the non-resident parent at least 52 nights a year i.e. on average at least one night a week then both parents have "shared care".

In the case of the basic and reduced rates, the amount of child maintenance that the non-resident parent has to pay is reduced in equal proportion to time the child stays with them. For example, if a parent is to pay £35 per week in maintenance but the child stays with the resident parent for 2 out of 7 nights per week, that £35 will be split into sevenths i.e. £35 divided by 7 nights x 5 nights that the child lives with the resident parent = £25. This is in addition to the flat rate of £5 which is always to be paid.

For the flat and nil rates, the amount to pay is nil.

What happens if the parent with care claims benefits?

Previously if the resident parent was claiming child maintenance, they were not always able to claim in full for benefits . However, since April 2010, benefits will not be affected by the amount of child maintenance received.

What happens if the non-resident parent is self-employed?

Calculations are made in the same way for self-employed non-resident parents as those who are employed. The CSA does have to calculate the earnings differently by working out the average weekly earnings for the past tax year. If this cannot be done, i.e. the business has not been up and running for a full year, then the CSA will use the gross income of the business to date. Reasonable business expenses and VAT are then deducted to obtain a weekly income figure, which is used to determine which rate of child maintenance should be paid.

What happens if the non-resident parent refuses to give their financial information to the CSA?

If a non-resident parent refuses to give information and it cannot be obtained from other sources, then a "default maintenance decision" is applied. This is a default rate which is as follows:

  • £30 a week for one child
  • £40 a week for 2 children
  • £50 a week for 3 or more children

The non-resident parent must pay from the date that the default maintenance decision was applied.

Other Factors

The CSA can also consider other elements before making a determination on maintenance payments. These can include fees for boarding school, special expenses that the non-resident parent pays for disabled children who live with them, mortgage payments for a property in which the parent with care and the child/children live (as long as the non-resident no longer has a legal interest in it) or loan payments for a loan taken out for the family's benefit while the non-resident parent was still living with the parent with care and the child/children.

Challenging the Decision

If you are not paying child support or have an application against you can find out if you have to pay child support. It is possible to ask the CSA to review a decision on maintenance payments.

Do you have to notify the CSA of changes to your circumstances?

The answer is yes. If you have a change in circumstances, you must notify the CSA immediately. If you are paying less than you should be then your child could suffer. Additionally, if the CSA finds out, you may have to make up for what you should have been paying. More positively, you could be paying too much and the figure needs to be lowered. You must also keep the CSA informed of any change of address.

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Leave a Comment, Ask for Advice or Share Your Story...
[Add a Comment]
@CeilaParadza - our partner page How the CSA Works, link hereshould help.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Jan-15 @ 3:02 PM
@DICK TURPIN'S NEMIS -The only thing I can suggest is that if you feel the situation is unfair then you can appeal against the decision (especially if your income differs from month to month) and I have included a link here . There is also a Child Maintenance Options calulator which helps you work it out yourself to see if you are paying too much, link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Jan-15 @ 11:49 AM
My child's father is self employed thru a limited company and CSA has failed to trace him. He works in Belgium now but no one knows for whom. Hod to l get a payment thru CSA
CeilaParadza - 24-Jan-15 @ 11:15 PM
This system is corrupt, grossly unfair and flawed. I have two children with one mother whom I was in a relationship with for thirteen years and have payed direct maintenance to but also spend a lot of time with my kids. I have another young daughter from a three year relationship with a bitter, vindictive, alcoholic mother who refuses me access even by telephone. Until six months ago I was paying her directly too before she cut me off from my little girl completely. Now she has filed for payment. The CSA and CMS took £430 in one week out of my wages the week before xmas for one six year old daughter. After lengthy conversations with the aforementioned parties informing them of my financial commitment to my other two kids, one of whom they already knew about, they said that I would now pay a combined 19% between the three children. In the meantime they have now written to the directly paid mother giving her details of my earnings (where is my data protection?), informed her that I must pay £145.44 every week until the end of 2015 (but my earnings differ week to week and there was no mention of percentages). The other mother is being overpaid and given 39 days to respond to the updated transfer from the CSA under the 1993 scheme to the CMS under the 2012 scheme. I am just inside the 40% tax bracket and get raped by the taxman each week. In turn... The CMS are now raping me by granting what looks like 25% OF MY GROSS to both mothers including one who won't let me see my daughter. These departments are committing daylight robbery. If I was to become unemployed tomorrow after paying taxes all my life I would be awarded an embarrassing amount of around £60 to survive each week as an adult. My six year old daughter is getting £117 a week from me when her mother is earing £25000 per annum. This is to a mother that has no reason other than being spiteful for not letting me see my little girl. All the agencies are interested in is the money Instead of focusing on the lives instead.
DICK TURPIN'S NEMIS - 23-Jan-15 @ 11:26 PM
Am resident in the UK, my ex girlfriend and Iare expecting a baby soon but we fellout and we are not marrie. I want to know the the legal amount, I should pay monthly to support my child. Also she is refusing to give me her account to makepayments, we might agree on. What should I do?
Moses Karim - 15-Jan-15 @ 7:56 PM
@DR - I have included the link to Child Maintenence Calculator here.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Jan-15 @ 2:20 PM
@Pensive - I think in this case I would give the Child Maintenance Options a call on 0800 988 0988 as they will advise on the most appropriate way forward.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Jan-15 @ 10:59 AM
Good afternoon. I live in England. My ex partner is responsible for and is currently paying CM through the CMA DIRECT PAY for our 1 year old daughter. There is a very strong possibility that he will be emigrating to Canada next year. Would it be a good idea for me to get a Notice of [intention to proceed with] an application for a financial order or court ordered child maintenance in place now, in the event that he leaves and stops payment? Many thanks.
Pensive - 12-Jan-15 @ 3:03 PM
Good afternoon. I live in England. My ex partner is responsible for and is currently paying CM through the CMA DIRECT PAY for our 1 year old daughter. There is a very strong possibility that he will be emigrating to Canada next year. Would it be a good idea for me to get a Notice of [intention to proceed with] an application for a financial order or court ordered child maintenance in place now, in the event that he leaves and stops payment? Many thanks.
Pensive - 12-Jan-15 @ 2:33 PM
just to add, he does not live with any of his partners
DR - 12-Jan-15 @ 10:32 AM
Hi, My ex has 1 child with his first partner and 4 children with his second partner. His annual salary is £65000. what should he be paying? Thanks
DR - 12-Jan-15 @ 10:29 AM
@Andy - yes, in some situations either the paying parent or the receiving parent can ask for other factors to be taken into account when working out child maintenance, see the NI Direct link herewhich should clarify some issues. Also it depends on what his daughter is studying, here is another gov.uk link on when child maintenance payments should stop, which may make things clearer here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Jan-15 @ 12:12 PM
Hi my partner is paying csa for his older 2 children. His 17 year old daughter goes to college, but works around 21 hours per week. We have 2 children of our own. Our son has talipes and we have to make weekly trips to hospital which is a 40 minute drive so have petrol and parking costs. We also have an autistic daughter. Should he still be paying CSA for his daughter, even though she is earning her own money? And also will the CSA take into account the extra expense involved with having 2 disabled children? I agree he should pay for his other children, but it is coming at the expense of our children as we can barely afford to eat!
Andy - 7-Jan-15 @ 7:08 PM
@Ace - no. If she is not longer in full-time education then you can stop paying if she is 16 or over and getting certain state benefits - including Income Support, or if she stops being eligible for Child Benefit, or if the parent receiving the payment stops being the main carer of the child. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Jan-15 @ 2:02 PM
My daughter has just turned 18 and recently given birth to her own child. She is leaving with her boyfriend and he works. Should I still be paying CSA?
Ace - 1-Jan-15 @ 5:02 PM
Help- my 12 year old had decided to live with dad after years of dad paying when he feels like it he has applied straight to the csa and I have to pay 250 per month. My question is I am having a baby and worried that I will still have to pay this amount and struggle to provide to my new baby. Will my case be reviewed once the baby is here ?
Nikkianne2511 - 30-Dec-14 @ 7:24 PM
My granddaughter will be 21 in Jan 2015 and has 2 more years at Uni, since she was 18 her father stopped paying the court awarded maintenceand for the last 6 months hasn't give her anything - can she take him to court to get this?
fred - 26-Dec-14 @ 11:42 PM
My ex partner pays CSA for two children in the last six months he payed bit and pieces he played nothing in November December I got on to CSAand that said we can not get in contact with employer so what can ido about it he done last year as well he is still employed with same firm
flower - 22-Dec-14 @ 5:26 PM
@jo - In theory you should only pay maintenance at the flat rate or half the rate if you get income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Is this a back payment? It seems rather hefty if you are in receipt of ESA. There is a link here to the CSA, 'what to do if you can't pay'. I also suggest you call Family Lives which is a confidential helpline which gives parenting and family support on 0808 800 2222, it may help you to talk through your problems with someone who can give you some direct helpful advice.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Dec-14 @ 10:24 AM
hi im divorced mom of two boys , one lives with dad , and one with me , divorced through dv ,im on esa as had breakdown ,i moved to new area and x dont know where i am , no contact for 8 mths and just recived letter from csa to inform me they stopping £72 pm out my esa , i am lost for words ,this is just his way of control , yes i claim from him to help me an little boy live , rent ect , i dont drink or smoke or go out just live for my boy ,6 , i dont see my other son , and xmas coming im finding this all too much to bear , my solic said she cant do anything can anyone help ?
jo - 15-Dec-14 @ 12:23 PM
@Tan - Many people who are self employed see it as a way of escaping payments through disguising their earnings which reduced the amount they owe to the CSA. The CSA takes the amount from the most recent tax return. Unfortunately, self employed people who want to avoid paying CSA will try to declare as little as possible in their tax return in order to pay both less tax and child support.
Phil - 10-Dec-14 @ 12:40 PM
It would seem the csa benefit the wealthy and victimise the poor. A non resident employed parent earning £20.000 a year has to pay £40 a week maintenancefor one child per week. Yet a self employedperson, such as my ex, gloats and mocks me about only having to contribute£10 per week when he earn £50.000 per year. Disgraceful.
tan - 9-Dec-14 @ 8:05 PM
@Nolda - I have included a Government link on how to apply for child maintenance if one parent lives abroad here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Dec-14 @ 10:54 AM
Am married to a British man and am from Sierra leone. We have a baby he is 2years old now. But my husband left 2days after I had our son he came back after 3months begging I accepted him and after we got my sons British passport by then the baby was 6months he wanted to take him and I disagree andhe left promising to come back for us and since then he hasn't come back or send financial support I need help on how to make him pay child maintenance as I live in Sierra leone with my son
Nolda - 7-Dec-14 @ 4:37 PM
I think it's very UnFair how csa work. They don't care about the non resident parent.. They just want to bleed them dry.. The non resident parent moves on and begins a new family,wife children etc and the csa use his income including working tax credits if he recieves them which is fine BUT.. Not his other children's child tax credit benefits..as the residential parent obviously is claiming child tax credits anyway..I'm all for supporting kids after seperation but what I think is totally wrong is how CSA use the child' tax credits and class it as your income.. Obviously it's there as a benefit for children for a reason..so what gives them the right to take money away from this??? Did you no csa and child maintenance are to different organisations??Where as child maintenance does not class child tax credits as your income so why does the csa??this needs to be stopped It's a Terrible organisation what is 1sided
Danny - 1-Nov-14 @ 10:42 PM
Personally i think that mothers who have full custody and are in reciept of csa should get it knocked off the child tax and child benefit also theier income should be taken into consideration. i have an 8 y o lad whom i dont see after an 18 month court battle and visits to contact centres ended when the government got rid of legal aid. My ex knew i didnt have the money to continue with it so basically stuck 2 fingers up at me. I recieved a letter from the csa to say they want £40 a week off me plus money for arrears. I am all for supporting my child but what they are asking for is scandalous. I bike it 7 miles to work and 7 miles home in wind rain snow or shine as i cant affford to run a car. setting off @ 5am and getting home @7pm for £250 a week. My partner has 2 children and i try to support them all and run the house on just my wage.My partner cant work yet as her daughter is to young for full time school and we cant afford childcare. We struggle along whilst thatc**t sits there raking in2 wages (1 off its new partner] benefits .plus has 2 cars and a mortgage. the law stinks and so does csa. your better off not working
koppel - 30-Oct-14 @ 4:03 PM
This system is a joke! Who runs on organisation like this?? Its about time the government pulled their fingers out sat on a pile of money at home forcing dads to be homeless whilst the mothers laughing all the way to the bank, every father should pay for their child but not half a wage! COME ON open your eyes dads need to live to! I have two children and would never use the csa on my ex because I dont hate him enough to put him in an early grave and steal his money. Csa should be used as an alternative if you agree to give up your benifits, its one or the other its wrong to be claiming so many benefits plus juicing your ex's wage to a point where he would be better off on the dole than working.I feel ashamed to bring my kids up in a world like this with this disgusting government,and even more so how are csa even aloud to operate this way?! Any mother who tries to argue against this should also be ashamed nobody should be aloud to work for nothing, women play the system because they can.
Sarah - 30-Oct-14 @ 3:46 PM
My Brothers wife has kicked him out of the materal home and has been forced to move into a tiny bedsit,she has refused him access to his little girl who he absolutly adores who is austistic for a whole year and has decided to ho to the csa and he has been made go pay £75 per week and he cant afford it what can he do????
gem - 25-Oct-14 @ 9:31 PM
Hi i have a 4 yr old daughter who livez with me.. her father and i split up when she was 14months old. He pays anything from £0 - £20 a week for her. He is self employed with safestyle and says its comission based so if no sales then no wage for him so child gets nothing. Would going to csa be a benefit for me? The father gets cash in hand and has no bank account.
jen1uk - 20-Oct-14 @ 6:59 PM
@Robert. It depends on what your income is- but as shown on our website if a non-resident parent earns £200 or more per week, the CSA calculates the amount of maintenance they should pay as a percentage of their net weekly income. For one child, this is 15%, for two children this is 20% and for three or more children it is 25%. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Oct-14 @ 2:51 PM
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