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The Use of Child Support Payments

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 19 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Csa Child Children Maintenance Support

It is internationally recognised that parents have a responsibility to support their child, or children. Part of this responsibility means providing financial assistance to cover the cost of the child’s day-to-day expenses throughout their formative years.

This periodic payment can be privately agreed between the child’s parents or can be assessed, calculated, collected and distributed by the Child Support Agency (CSA)or Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

The Cost Of Living

The parent with care shares a home with their child and has therefore numerous living costs to cover. The non resident parent is expected to contribute financially towards their child’s welfare and will therefore have to pay maintenance to the parent with care.

Where parenting is shared equally between both adults the cost of the maintenance payments will be reduced accordingly.

What is not taken into consideration however, is the rising cost of raising children. Although maintenance payments are calculated as a percentage of the non resident parent’s income the amount of payment received by the parent with care generally has to stretch to cover a growing number of essentials.

Whilst the parent paying maintenance may feel hard done by and aggrieved at having to fork out child support the custodial parent still has to contend with balancing finances to make ends meet.

Expense Expectations

Maintenance payments are intended to be used in the best interest of the child and to cover the child’s expenses. This may include shelter, food, clothing, childcare costs and any educational needs.

Maintenance can provide essential funds for a number of specific items like school fees, nursery care or any medical expenses that the child requires. It is therefore acceptable to use maintenance monies to pay for expenses like residential heating costs, but not acceptable if it is used as spending money for luxuries.

Worth Considering

It is a good idea to keep a record of how maintenance payments are spent, in case child support becomes an issue between the parent with care and non resident parent. Items that should be listed include all school and educational expenses, clothing, books, sporting goods or items required for the child’s extracurricular activities and any additional living expenses that may be incurred by the child in their custodial home.

Parents who share care, or have agreed maintenance privately, may also benefit from drawing up a list of costs and payments for future reference.

Standard Requirements

It is expected that children will share in the living standard of both parents. This means that a parent who is financially secure, and may be enjoying an elevated standard of living, must share home comforts with their child, regardless of the other parent’s lower income provisions.

In a situation where the non resident parent is able to provide a comfortable amount of maintenance, due to their greater level of income, it is expected that this payment will be used to meet the child’s requirements and additional custodial household expenses, which may also benefit other people living in the same home as the child.

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@marie - if he wants to take them on holiday he should pay for the passports. Child maintenance is for the kids day-to-day needs. You have every right to refuse.
IanB900 - 25-May-17 @ 12:47 PM
My ex husband is self employed, and lives with his new partner and her child from her previous marriage. He pays £31 per week in total for our two children who live with me. Unfortunately we are not amicable and he refuses to pay anything other than this amount, even when the kids are going on school trips which costs several hundreds of pounds etc. He has now told me he wants to take them on holiday, but they need passports for this. He says I have to apply for these and pay for the whole cost too, as I am the parent who receives payments. I simply can't afford it. Am I obliged to pay for the passports? We have shared custody of both children, aged 9 and 13.
Marie - 19-May-17 @ 4:14 PM
Ahoxo - Your Question:
HiMy partner has 2 children (aged 6 & 8) from a previous marriage. All 3 of us are on very good wades, and my partner pays his ex £700 a month to cover costs for food ect. We have requested to have the kids 50/50, but she simply won't allow it, because of the money, but we have them 3 times a week and in that time we obviously provide the kids with a great lifestyle, including the standard; clothes, food, days out, toys, holidays ect, ect.Myself and my partner are a little confused as to what the child maintence he pays is actually used on, as he still buys school uniform, and she takes half, and he pays half for ballet ect, as well as school food money ect ONTOP of the child maintenance, is that correct? What exactly is the £700 a month used for then?

Our Response:
Child maintenance is based purely on the paying parent's earnings and your partner's ex does not have to justify what she spends the money on (it could be towards utility bills etc/general day-to-day care). However, your partner does not have to pay anything above and beyond the child maintenance payments, if he does it is at his discretion.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-May-17 @ 2:10 PM
Hi My partner has 2 children (aged 6 & 8) from a previous marriage. All 3 of us are on very good wades, and my partner pays his ex £700 a month to cover costs for food ect. We have requested to have the kids 50/50, but she simply won't allow it, because of the money, but we have them 3 times a week and in that time we obviously provide the kids with a great lifestyle, including the standard; clothes, food, days out, toys, holidays ect, ect. Myself and my partner are a little confused as to what the child maintence he pays is actually used on, as he still buys school uniform, and she takes half, and he pays half for ballet ect, as well as school food money ect ONTOP of the child maintenance, is that correct? What exactly is the £700 a month used for then?
Ahoxo - 7-May-17 @ 8:31 PM
Hal - Your Question:
Ex blatantly refuses to pay money for child support but insists on buying food instead, spends a lot less than the actual percentage of income that could be paid as child support coz of buying really cheap value brands of food. Is there anything I can do to stop this and have ex paying money instead?

Our Response:
You can approach the Child Maintenance Service, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 2-May-17 @ 11:00 AM
Ex blatantly refuses to pay money for child support but insists on buying food instead, spends a lot less than the actual percentage ofincome that could be paid as child support coz of buying really cheap value brands of food. Is there anything I can do to stop this and have ex paying money instead?
Hal - 1-May-17 @ 3:17 PM
My ex earns £625 a week I have four children to him and he pays me £88 a week child maintenance do I have to provide him with clothes and things they need for the weekend
Lucyloo - 28-Apr-17 @ 5:55 PM
Mark - Your Question:
I have a 2 year old son and currently pay my ex £500 a month 309 for maintenance and 200 for childcareI live with my parents at the minute but they are moving away so my costs of living are going to increase dramatically My ex is refusing to reduce this amount Do I have to pay her both payments There is no court order in place

Our Response:
If there is a family-based arrangement in place, then you can renegotiate without any financial repercussions, such as arrears. If the arrangement is made through CMS, after assessment via CMS, then you may face arrears. If part of the arrangement is made via CMS and childcare is a voluntary payment, then you can renegotiate the latter. You can see how much you should be paying via the CMS calculator here which you can use as a benchmark towards how much you should officially pay.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Apr-17 @ 12:57 PM
I have a 2 year old son and currently pay my ex £500 a month 309 for maintenance and 200 for childcare I live with my parents at the minute but they are moving away so my costs of living are going to increase dramatically My exis refusing to reduce this amount Do I have to pay her both payments There is no court order in place
Mark - 25-Apr-17 @ 5:34 PM
Hello. My boyfriend led me to believe that there isn't anything set in stone as to what the maintenance I receive for my child off her father covers. I have asked for more money to help with footwear and clothing for the Summer as I don't have enough to cover it all… I covered her Winter clothing, uniform & school shoes. I get half of whatmy daughter should be entitled to due to his extra marital affair. Is there nothing that can be done? You'd think he'd want to ensure she has what she needs!?!
Mama - 14-Apr-17 @ 12:03 AM
My husbands ex uses child maintenance as a way to punish my husband for leaving her and to make things difficult for us as a family. My husband took a step back in his career when the children were born so that he could be around more as his ex has always been very worked focused, she prioritises it over the children. She earns far more than my husband and her and her new husband have an extremelylavish lifestyle. We have the children half of all school holidays and for the other 39 weeks a year we have them 5 nights every other week. Despite how often we have the children, CMS expect us to pay her over £400 a month which uncludes a small discount for my 2 children who live with us. Obviously it is very expensive having 4 children to provide for without paying hundreds of pounds to a woman who has told us she doesn't need the money but wants to take it anyway. Is there really nothing that can be done when child maintenance is used by the mother as a weapon? I understand that the system is in place for those fathers that walk away from their children and don't want to pay, but what about the mothers that abuse the system?
Jo - 7-Apr-17 @ 7:33 AM
My husbands ex uses child maintenance as a way to punish my husband for leaving her and to make things difficult for us as a family. My husband took a step back in his career when the children were born so that he could be around more as his ex has always been very worked focused, she prioritises it over the children. She earns far more than my husband and her and her new husband have an extremelylavish lifestyle. We have the children half of all school holidays and for the other 39 weeks a year we have them 5 nights every other week. Despite how often we have the children, CMS expect us to pay her over £400 a month which uncludes a small discount for my 2 children who live with us. Obviously it is very expensive having 4 children to provide for without paying hundreds of pounds to a woman who has told us she doesn't need the money but wants to take it anyway. Is there really nothing that can be done when child maintenance is used by the mother as a weapon? I understand that the system is in place for those fathers that walk away from their children and don't want to pay, but what about the mothers that abuse the system?
Jo - 7-Apr-17 @ 7:00 AM
Green - Your Question:
I have 2 children and have shared care (5 days a fortnight and half of all holidays).I pay the required csa along with £450 other a £780 mortgage which my ex lives in with the girls. I have now been told she wants me to pay childcare for the days I have them but I can't afford this. Can't I be made to do that or is it her responsibility to pay the childcare?

Our Response:
You only have to pay child maintenance as required via the CSA/CMS and towards your mortgage as via its terms and conditions. Any money you choose to pay beyond this (unless ordered by the court or has terms and conditions attached to it) is discretionary.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Apr-17 @ 2:27 PM
I have 2 children and have shared care (5 days a fortnight and half of all holidays). I pay the required csa along with £450 other a £780 mortgage which my ex lives in with the girls. I have now been told she wants me to pay childcare for the days i have them but I can't afford this. Can't I be made to do that or is it her responsibility to pay the childcare?
Green - 5-Apr-17 @ 11:23 AM
Wits end- Your Question:
My question is probably one asked by many. I pay my ex wife just over £300 a month in child maintenance, set by the CMS. We had previously agreed our own amount and then I would go halves on uniform and other things. Very much out of the blue she went to the CMS just over a year ago. My maintenance since then has gone up by about £40 a month. I'm sure the CMS told me that this covers everything except say the cost of a big school trip, I do however still pay towards a few other things. My ex has now said she wants me to pay towards our son's mobile phone. Whilst it's not a huge amount it's more the thought of "what next". I've said I feel this should be covered in the monthly amount I pay her, she feels differently. There's not a lot I can find on the internet around what is covered other than some fairly bland definitions. I'd be keen to know what your thoughts are on this.

Our Response:
Any payments above and beyond child maintenance payments are entirely at your discretion. In other words, you are not obliged to pay towards this, it's entirely up to you.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Apr-17 @ 2:20 PM
My question is probably one asked by many. I pay my ex wife just over £300 a month in child maintenance, set by the CMS. We had previously agreed our own amount and then I would go halves on uniform and other things. Very much out of the blue she went to the CMS just over a year ago. My maintenance since then has gone up by about £40 a month. I'm sure the CMS told me that this covers everything except say the cost of a big school trip, I do however still pay towards a few other things. My ex has now said she wants me to pay towards our son's mobile phone. Whilst it's not a huge amount it's more the thought of "what next". I've said I feel this should be covered in the monthly amount I pay her, she feels differently. There's not a lot I can find on the internet around what is covered other than some fairly bland definitions. I'd be keen to know what your thoughts are on this.
Wits end - 2-Apr-17 @ 7:03 PM
Hetty - Your Question:
Hi my child's father and I have payments set up through the Csa, about a year ago I moved to the coast to set up a new life, unfortunately things didn't work out with my new partner but the life my child had settled in to was great. Lots of friends, great school and clubs etc.After my ex moved out my financial situation changed massively and I was struggling to survive.Initially I had agreed to drop my child off to her fathers once a fortnight and he would bring her back.With my new financial situation I could no longer commit to this. After a lot of aggressive abuse the father eventually agreed to pick my child up. My financial situation has recently changed but only so We can actually afford to live in the house and eat. Now my child's father is demanding I start taking my child up to him for his visits again, he has advised he will call the Csa and deduct the travelling cost, can he do this please? As we are struggling enough and trying to get back on our feet.He has already stopped paying towards my child's extra curricular activities so I've also had to take on that additional cost. Please can you advise if Csa will deduct travel costs? Thank you

Our Response:
Your ex can apply for a special expenses variation under the terms listed in the CAB article here which should answer your question.
ChildSupportLaws - 31-Mar-17 @ 2:13 PM
Dave - Your Question:
Hi.Can a main carer use the money given for the children for repaying a mortgage? What would be the procedure to follow to request proof the money is used for the children? Solicitors?CSA or neither?Regards

Our Response:
The receiving does not have to justify what the money is spent on. The money is financial support from the paying parent which goes towards keeping a roof over the child's/ children's heads.
ChildSupportLaws - 31-Mar-17 @ 1:49 PM
Honeybunch - Your Question:
My ex, who is an IT consultant and self employed, has stopped paying agreed child maintenance since July 2016. He states that he is unable to pay this, along with his half of our sons school fees - of which I pay half also (I earn a fraction of what he earns). He has stated that if I pursue the child maintenance, he will not pay his half of the school fees.He makes no other provision for my son - I buy all his clothing, food, heating costs, phone bill, school uniform etc.Can he do this now, even though he has paid the other half of school fees for 3 years and my son is about to start his GCSE years?? He makes me travel further to collection/drop off point, when son is to be with him (every Wed, and every other weekend) he will not share the parental cover during the school holidays - it is all left to me to sort out, despite numerous emails asking him well in advance to look at dates and book in holidays.I am at my wits end, as it is putting a huge amount of pressure on my relationship with my partner of 6 years, who quite frankly, has just had enough of the unfair treatment that he sees me dealing with on a day to day basis from my ex.

Our Response:
In this case, I suggest you speak to Child Maintenance Services to see what options you have. If your child is established in the school and your ex has previously been paying school fees, a court can request that your ex continues to help pay school fees alongside child maintenance (dependent upon his and your salary). The court will always decide upon what it thinks is in your child's best interests and if his best interests are to remain at the school, it will attempt to try to resolve this issue (if it cannot be resolved through mediation or mutual negotiation). However, we do suggest you seek legal advice first to see whether you have a case to answer.
ChildSupportLaws - 31-Mar-17 @ 10:46 AM
Hi my child's father and I have payments set up through the Csa, about a year ago I moved to the coast to set up a new life, unfortunately things didn't work out with my new partner but the life my child had settled in to was great. Lots of friends, great school and clubs etc. After my ex moved out my financial situation changed massively and I was struggling to survive. Initially I had agreed to drop my child off to her fathers once a fortnight and he would bring her back. With my new financial situation I could no longer commit to this. After a lot of aggressive abuse the father eventually agreed to pick my child up. My financial situation has recently changed but only so We can actually afford to live in the house and eat. Now my child's father is demanding I start taking my child up to him for his visits again, he has advised he will call the Csa and deduct the travelling cost, can he do this please? As we are struggling enough and trying to get back on our feet. He has already stopped paying towards my child's extra curricular activities so I've also had to take on that additional cost. Please can you advise if Csa will deduct travel costs? Thank you
Hetty - 31-Mar-17 @ 5:43 AM
Hi. Can a main carer use the money given for the children for repaying a mortgage? What would be the procedure to follow to request proof the money is used for the children? Solicitors?CSA or neither? Regards
Dave - 30-Mar-17 @ 9:30 PM
My ex, who is an IT consultant and self employed, has stopped paying agreed child maintenance since July 2016. He states that he is unable to pay this, along with his half of our sons school fees - of which I pay half also (I earn a fraction of what he earns). He has stated that if I pursue the child maintenance, he will not pay his half of the school fees. He makes no other provision for my son - I buy all his clothing, food, heating costs, phone bill, school uniform etc.... Can he do this now, even though he has paid the other half of school fees for 3 years and my son is about to start his GCSE years?? He makes me travel further to collection/drop off point, when son is to be with him (every Wed, and every other weekend) he will not share the parental cover during the school holidays - it is all left to me to sort out, despite numerous emails asking him well in advance to look at dates and book in holidays... I am at my wits end, as it is putting a huge amount of pressure on my relationship with my partner of 6 years, who quite frankly, has just had enough of the unfair treatment that he sees me dealing with on a day to day basis from my ex.
Honeybunch - 30-Mar-17 @ 1:07 AM
Asadstepmum - Your Question:
Could you please remove posts from Asadstepmum. Thanks for the helpful advice though

Our Response:
It is not our policy to remove posts unless there is something identifiable in the text such as names etc. The post will disappear from the page naturally when replaced by other questions.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Mar-17 @ 11:20 AM
Could you please remove posts from Asadstepmum. Thanks for the helpful advice though
Asadstepmum - 27-Mar-17 @ 1:47 PM
AsadStepmum - Your Question:
My partner's ex is always asking for money even he pays over £500 in cild maintenance for 2 children under the age of 12 and is telling the children lies about their dads so they are caught in a loyalty bind with her. They think hes mean to mummy when in fact its the other way round. They only come to us when she goes to the gym or running and she doesn't want them to stay overnight during the week. We see them every wkd from Saturday to Sunday and she's very unflexible due to her hobbies. She also doesn't like my partner to have a social life so it works very well for her. Alternate wkds Fri to Sunday is what my partner wants but she's convinced the children they want to see mummy and daddy every wkd so she doesn't have to change her wkd plans. In fact she doesn't want them all wkd as she can't cope and shouts at them a lot.My partner has been trying to change this wkd routine for about a month however she's having none of it so we don't see the children as much atm which is very sad. He tried to change it by going to mediation about 2 years ago but didn't follow it through as the mother told the children evil daddy was taking her to court and she constantly cries in front of them. The children do get very upset by it as expected. She's emotionally abusing them and is playing the victim all the time to get what she wants. In fact she's the one being nasty and awkward and has been from day 1 since they separated 5 years ago.What can be done without involving courts or the children so she has to change the routine and we don't lose out by not seeing the children or by having to pay her the full child maintenance bill due to the fact they don't stay overnight anymore because of her?Any suggestions anyone? Many thanks

Our Response:
I'm afraid if your partner's ex does not agree with the change in routine, the only options are to consider mediation to try to resolve the issue mutually, or apply to court. Court is always seen as the last resort - but where a resolution can not be agreed it is often necessary.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Mar-17 @ 10:31 AM
My partner's ex is always asking for money even he pays over £500 in cild maintenance for 2 children under the age of 12 and is telling the children lies about their dads so they are caught in a loyalty bind with her. They think hes mean to mummy when in fact its the other way round. They only come to us when she goes to the gym or running and she doesn't want them to stay overnight during the week. We see them every wkd from Saturday to Sunday and she's very unflexible due to her hobbies. She also doesn't like my partner to have a social life so it works very well for her. Alternate wkds Fri to Sunday is what my partner wants but she's convinced the children they want to see mummy and daddy every wkd so she doesn't have to change her wkd plans.In fact she doesn't want them all wkd as she can't cope and shouts at them a lot. My partner has been trying to change this wkd routine for about a month however she's having none of it so we don't see the children as much atm which is very sad. He tried to change it by going to mediation about 2 years ago but didn't follow it through as the mother told the children evil daddy was taking her to court and she constantly cries in front of them. The children do get very upset by it as expected. She's emotionally abusing them and is playing the victim all the time to get what she wants. In fact she's the one being nasty and awkward and has been from day 1 since they separated 5 years ago. What can be done without involving courts or the children so she has to change the routine and we don't lose out by not seeing the children or by having to pay her the full child maintenance bill due to the fact they don't stay overnight anymore because of her? Any suggestions anyone? Many thanks
AsadStepmum - 26-Mar-17 @ 8:35 AM
Cookie - Your Question:
We are primary carers for my husband's children and have a residency order also (the children see their mother every other weekend and every Wednesday). The mother has made no maintenance payments to date on the basis that she is unemployed (now allegedly setting up a new business). She has recently refused to provide the children with school uniforms on the days she drops them off at school and claims it is our sole responsibility as primary carers to provide all school clothing, bags etc. We do not believe that this is correct as she has parental responsibility and therefore a duty of care in providing the children with food, clothes etc. Can you confirm this is the case?

Our Response:
I'm afraid there are no specific rules concerning this, I'm afraid it is down to both parents trying to find a mutual resolution.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Mar-17 @ 12:43 PM
We are primary carers for my husband's children and have a residency order also (the children see their mother every other weekend and every Wednesday).The mother has made no maintenance payments to date on the basis that she is unemployed (now allegedly setting up a new business).She has recently refused to provide the children with school uniforms on the days she drops them off at school and claims it is our sole responsibility as primary carers to provide all school clothing, bags etc.We do not believe that this is correct as she has parental responsibility and therefore a duty of care in providing the children with food, clothes etc.Can you confirm this is the case?
Cookie - 24-Mar-17 @ 1:13 AM
Hi i have a question regarding the way we count "nights". In the case of the daughter/son stays at the grand parents or another member of the family of the mother (or father) or spend a night at a friend's place (without the mother or father), how are those nights are counted? thanks kind regards
Julie - 16-Mar-17 @ 10:52 AM
Woody - Your Question:
Hi myself and a ex split up over 6 years ago and have 1 child together I have a csa agreement which I pay every month as soon as I get paid but over the last year I have started to wonder what my money is being spent on due to my son is being sent over in clothes miles to small and footwear that is barely held together or sizes way to small and it have started to come a weekly thing to the point where me and my present partner have had to go out and buy him new stuff on the facts that I don't want my son looking like a tramp so to say when we are out which leads to my question is there any thing put in place saying about what standard of clothing that he is to be sent over in or anything I can do to reforce it to try revolve the matter due to I make my csa payment which is to cover his welfare and clothing but believe his welfare isn't being put first costing me more money due to she knows I wouldn't settle for my child looking like crap

Our Response:
Your ex does not have to justify what she spends child maintenance on. It can go towards unseen items such as food, heating and other utility bills that help to keep a roof over your child's head.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Mar-17 @ 2:40 PM
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