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The Use of Child Support Payments

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 7 May 2019 | 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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My partner has his ex 13 nights a month and pays his ex £328 a month . She isrefusing to provide clothes shoes and nappies for the two children . Should she provide this stuff
Bex - 7-May-19 @ 7:40 PM
Hi ya...I need some advice.My son is 8 and my ex has him 1 weeknighta week.I am paying for after school club as he cannot get there for when school finishes... is that my responsibility?I have to pay for the rest of the week for afterschool club as we are both working parents.But is this legally covered by CSA payments or not? thanks
Mitch - 25-Apr-19 @ 2:50 PM
Hi, I live in Scotland an know that there are different rules etc but my daughter has a place in college and will still be in full time education, my ex husband had agreed to pay while she is still in an education but has now back tracked as he says my daughter will get a bursary and now says that he is stopping his payments, we have never went down the formal route and involve the CSA(or equivalentto what it was) and has just been an agreement between ourselves made 4 years ago when we split, he had also not long started with his employer and we based payments on his basic wage with a promise to pay more when he starts overtime, which he will have done for a few years now but he never paid extra and I never questioned it as I didn't want to risk no payments, as far as I know...IF...she gets a bursary then that will be for college supplies not for living costs, is that right or can he stop his maintenance payments, is there something in place of what was the CSA that can help
Clan - 22-Apr-19 @ 9:40 PM
Hi I have a 5 year old and a 1 year old. We have split up this year. Since then the care has been shared. Over a month period there is 2 weeks where I have my kids from school finishing till 9pm mon wed thu and then fri through till Sunday night. And on the other 2 weeks I have my kids wed after school until Saturday morning. This is to accommodate her working every night as a dance teacher. Both our current partners help with this child care and my mum does also. I feed cloth and provide shelter for boys when they are with me and she does same when they are with her. I buy new school clothes throughout year. She is well aware to ask when they need over and above. We took them on summer holiday last year and plan to do so again this year. We take turns at having xmas and new year so I will have them this year. There is a lawyers letter been drafted with the agreement of days and then we both agreed in order to avoid court. It is only today she is demanding I pay her child maintenance. Am i obliged topay this. Opinions ?
Daz - 18-Apr-19 @ 9:36 PM
Does anyone know if I should be paying for half the mortgage for the house my ex and child live in AND maintenance?
Ads - 31-Mar-19 @ 10:20 PM
If I pay child maintenance to my ex do I still to buy them clothing for when they come to me or should she supply them
Mark - 17-Mar-19 @ 11:17 AM
I have been paying a mutual agreed maintenance plan of £144 per month to my ex. I have yet to see the money given to actually maintain my childs needs, spent on clothes, shoes etc. I end up paying out for that as well. Am I able to spend the £144 on stuff my child requires and keep the receipts as proof of purchase, instead of handing the money over to the mum who has no intension of spending it on my child but on her own weekend antics.
Bon bons - 27-Feb-19 @ 11:22 PM
My ex husband was forced by the CSA with an attachment to earning which had to be enforced on numerous occasions as he always had an excuse not to pay. 20 years later he is now suing me for £100k claiming he has been paying towards a 35% charge against my home the court rejected 15 years ago. He has just divorced wife number two and left another two kids behind to repeat history. To fight this I can expect £20k in legal fees. Any suggestions that are legal or any free legal services available out there?
Win - 5-Feb-19 @ 2:10 PM
I get maintainemce via CMS. Since November I have paid for a private pyscharist for my daughter as im still onCAHMS waiting list since last july and have made no progress. My daughter has been diagnosed with Bipolar and required medication I cant get from GP. It's £300an hr. I cant afford this but i am paying yo keep daughter safe. Can i get her dad to help with the costs?
Jess - 31-Jan-19 @ 11:20 AM
I agreed to pay my ex wife £230 per month for my daughter who is 16 now. I have paid this every month without fail for 2 and a half years. She agreed to buy me out of the equity in our house, I unselfishly agreed to a 75/25 split in her favour. She still hasn't paid me the full amount, even though she said it would be paid by the end of last year. I am struggling financially to survive and would like to know if I can reduce my payment by £30 as I pay for my daughter's mobile phone each month.
Dad - 28-Jan-19 @ 6:43 PM
Hello I currently pay £160 per month maintenance to my well paid nearly ex wife for our son who is 16 in February 2018. I have him 2-3 nights per week but often he stays just one, because he likes his own bed not surprisingly. My ex wife wants me to pay £80 extra per month towards private tuition , I’ve just paid £70 for his membership to a club. She gets £250 a month between maintenance and Child Benefit. Shouldn’t the money she has for our son (£250 per month) be used for these costs without me having to pay extra? I’m trying to pay for alternative permanent accommodation for my son and I , maintenance I expect to pay rightlyso but being asked to pay these extras as well is reducing my ability to fund a new home for my son and I. My solicitor says all I need to pay is the maintenance, this website says maintenance covers educational costs. I guess I’m looking for more reassurance? Thank youfor any help
Rob - 7-Jan-19 @ 6:00 PM
Hello. I’m going through a divorce. I’m in the martial Home as I have an occupation order against my soon to be ex. I have take over the mortgage and all bills. I will have our 1 child 4 days/nights a week and my ex 3. He earns £55,000 per year gross. And I earn £13,000 per year gross. Both full time. I’m not entitled to tax credits, due to savings and my ex also has the same amount in savings. According to CSA he will pay £68 per week child support. I would like to know if it’s fair for him to also pay half for anything to do with our child’s school. Such as uniform, dinners and trips? My husband is refusing. I said he can pay directly himself. Not to me. But to the school etc. Any advice would be great
Cat75 - 14-Dec-18 @ 11:31 AM
Keen to get some perspective from others. I got divorced 6 years ago. I have 3 kids now aged 16,14 and 13 who live with my ex. I had to do a clean break arrangement and paid my ex £2.2m, the house worth £1m mortgage free and half my pension. I pay the school fees and maintenance of £36k per year. Kids stay with me every second weekend and I take them away on holiday 2 weeks a year. I’ve never missed a payment or seeing my kids. My ex only worked for 5 years up to age 30 and now claims to be a property developer as she’s bought and rents out houses. I’m still working. Am I unreasonable to expect that the maintenance I pay should Cover clothes, travel costs to school, mobile phones etc? I think all the maintenance should be for them but I think my ex uses it to fund her lifestyle as well? I’ve struggled to find our what maintenance should be used for. I’d be happier if my ex was proposing to share costs out of her money but it feels like anytime there is a cost to be met she expects me to pay as I’m the one that works. I’m planning to start paying the maintenance direct to the kids when they reach 18 so they can choose what to spend it on. Any thoughts on that are also welcome Thanks in advance
Fodby - 6-Dec-18 @ 5:44 AM
Hello I have been paying mutually agree maintenance for my son since my ex wife and I parted ways nearly 13 years ago. My son turned 18 in September.He attends college 3 days a week (more than 12 hours) and I pay themutually agreed maintenance to his mother as per the sum that the CMS calculator has given - comes in at £160 per month based on my monthly pension.On top of this I am paying £50 a month for his phone AND am giving him £80 a month to help fund him whilst he tries to get through college.The phone and other £80 are in addition and voluntary by me. Being 18 years old, things are changing with him.He is wanting to take driving lessons and I have said I will pay for his car and his first years insurance.Should I deduct the costs of this from what I give his mother per month?Do car costs for the "child" get considered in all this? Being 18 he is not really a "child" per se and his priorities etc.. are different. Also, he may be working soon.He may only do one day at college and work the remaining 4 days.So, college is less than 12 hours and he is earning a wage.From what I have read, this means that in this circumstance I should no longer pay maintenance - I will be telling him to pay his mother rent. Being 18, he does stay with me but not as often as before and its an "open door" policy really for him because you never know what he is upto lol.. Any advice welcome and thank you. Great site by the way. Really helpful.
Daz - 12-Nov-18 @ 1:50 PM
Hi, my son is 15 and his father left the country when he was a baby without telling me where he was going. He has never contributed anything to our son, or tried to get in touch. I have recently found out he lives in Vancouver (I do not have exact contact details) and wonder what the situation is for requesting that he begins paying something for our child's upkeep?
Alison - 8-Nov-18 @ 1:04 PM
Hi i pay my ex money every month but do i have to if i see him 5 days a week he stays over 3 nights i pick him up from his mums drop him backall the time i pay for his after school clubs
123456789 - 16-Oct-18 @ 6:30 PM
I pay my ex wife monthly as per CSA. However my ex wife pays for the children school lunches.She now refuses to pay for lunches and makes her have sandwiches the children Don’twant.Can I pay for the school lunches and deduct from payments to ex.We don’t qualify for free school meals.
Richy - 9-Oct-18 @ 1:03 PM
hi there me and my ex sorted out payments of £20 per week as she said she used a calculator and it said £15 i added the extra £5 but now shes wanting i know its silly to moan but an extra £10 per week for fuel cost even though i said i am more than happy to goand pick up and drop off our child but on top of this when i done a calculator it says £7 per week can she really complain about fuel costs since i happily pay double and would do the travel myself and its not exactly a big drive shes aprox 2miles so a £2 bus fare for me
Greig - 19-Sep-18 @ 8:11 PM
Andrew - Your Question:
I have been voluntarily paying at least £2,500/month child maintenance for the last 6 years for 2 children who are with me >110 days per year, even though my consent order requires me to pay £1,500. In aggregate I have paid my ex who remarried 4 years ago over £265k in 6.5 years. After moving to reduce the monthly maintenance to £1,500, she is now taking legal action against me. Thoughts?

Our Response:
Much depends upon your personal circumstances. If your earnings are over £3K per week gross taxable income then the court can order top-up child maintenance. This means the court will take into account the standard of living and the lifestyle of the parents and attempt to keep the lifestyle the child is accustomed to continuous. For example, if your children are attending fee-paying schools then the courts will attempt to maintain this. With regards to your ex making a court application, before the court will consider an this, it will need to see proof from CMS that your gross weekly income has been calculated at £3,000 or more.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Sep-18 @ 12:04 PM
I have been voluntarily paying at least £2,500/month child maintenance for the last 6 years for 2 children who are with me >110 days per year, even though my consent order requires me to pay £1,500. In aggregate I have paid my ex who remarried 4 years ago over £265k in 6.5 years. After moving to reduce the monthly maintenance to £1,500, she is now taking legal action against me. Thoughts?
Andrew - 15-Sep-18 @ 8:40 PM
After my ex partner spent years abusing me inclusive of financial abuse where she has run up debts in the sum of £13,500.00p I have had to leave the family home to live in a hostel where I have to pay full rent cause I work for a living and don't claim anything from the benefits system. My ex has gone to the CMS even though we had a personal agreement in place already whilst I am renting, was trying to pay court fees and the debts she raised in my name. Whilst I now have a court order that agrees I have the children every other weekend I cannot have them in the hostel that I live in yet I still have to pay child maintenance even though I am taking my children out every other weekend until I can afford my own place also my ex takes great pleasure on showing me all the rubbish she buys with my CMS payment inclusive of new tattoos which is not benefiting our children in anyway. My kids are handed to me with scruffy torn trainers, unbrushed dirty hair and socks with holes in. What can I do??
The Accused - 3-Sep-18 @ 2:57 PM
My ex-husband ( father to our three children) stopped paying maintenance of £360 pcm which was deducted from his salary since going self-employed in 2015 currently pays £92.58 pcm for the youngest two, he refuses to have the children for sleepovers, visits every 6-8 weeks has no phone contact through his choice, I work 37 hours per week, have been paying for the actual day to day living costs(school meals, trips, residentials, childcare, uniforms) 11 year old is due to start secondary school this September and I have had to put the uniform on hold only to put it on the credit card along with the advance term payment for the school meals! Can I expect him to contribute towards the uniforms, childcare, school meals in the future as it’s taking its toll on me Or is that a No-Go area???
Mummy02 - 27-Aug-18 @ 11:50 PM
@Jam - you don't have to pay more than what child maintenance says you should pay. I'm sure a court won't request more either.
Ad88 - 16-Aug-18 @ 11:06 AM
We have a CMS weekly agreement in place now she is taking us to court for dancing fees. Is She right to expect more money
Jam - 14-Aug-18 @ 7:39 PM
@funkmessiah - I don't know whether this is right or wrong, but why doesn't she pay the mortgage from a different fund source? All she needs to do is move the money around a bit. I know that child maintenance is for the day-to-day care of the children, but if she doesn't have to justify what she spends the child maintenance money on to you then why should she to tax credits? It sounds a bit odd.
Sashav - 14-Aug-18 @ 1:44 PM
I currently have a child arrangement order in place that stated that I drop off and pick up half way. This is a 5 hour round trip, which I was happy to do, so that my son could keep contact with his father. However since this agreement my ex husband has reduced the agreed maintenance by £100 by going through the CMS and is threatening to reduce it further but claiming his travel costs back potentially reducing the money even further, which I can not do. I would like to know if I can insist he now does all the travelling as he can claim the money back? any advice would be great as I know
cottie - 13-Aug-18 @ 11:31 PM
My ex wife and i have an informal agreement that i pay £540 a month, far more than the calculator says i should but i am happy paying this amount. We have 2 children that she cares for except every fortnight when i have the childen for the weekend. Is it legally acceptable that she uses this money to pay the mortgage on the family home? we both agreed this but the tax credit people are saying this is incorrect use of the money. Who is right? thank you p.s. my ex and i are both happy with the amounts paid just want the tax credits people of her back!
funkmessiah - 13-Aug-18 @ 6:58 PM
CLS - Your Question:
Hi,My wife (separated) is planning to go to the CMS. We currently share care in terms of overnight stays where she has them one night per week more than me (I currently have them sleep with me an average of 3 nights and she has them 4 nights per week). One night a week however when they sleep at her house I do actually pick them up from school at 3:15pm, feed them, take them to clubs and care for them until later in the evening when I take to my wife's to sleep. With this in mind I do feel that I share care equally with my wife, I also contribute to school trips, pocket money, clubs etc etc. My wife also receives child benefit and earns over 50,000 per annum and makes lifestyle choices to live in an expensive house, drive a brand new car etc. In terms of equal care would the CMS conclude that this was not the case on the basis the children don't sleep at my house one night a week despite the fact I provide daytime care on this day. Secondly would they conclude it was not equal care on the basis my wife receives child benefit.Finally if I were to obtain a formal 50:50 custody split when we get divorced would this change any of the above or would the simple fact she claimed Child Benefit prevent this. Thanks

Our Response:
Firstly, the earnings and lifestyle of your ex have no bearing on the amount of child maintenance you pay as the non-resident parent. Only overnight stays are considered when assessing the amount child maintenance you would pay as the non-resident parent. Likewise, the person in receipt of child benefit is considered the primary carer of the children. However, if you can prove you have shared-care of the children on an almost 50/50 basis and your ex is earning a higher or similar wage to you, then a court may grant you shared-care (if you cannot resolve this issue via mediation). Shared care doesn't have to be an exact 50/50 amount, but near enough for a court to decide that both parents play an equal part in bringing up their children. Then child maintenance payments can be waived. Many families can agree this mutually. Those that can't may need to apply to court where mediation fails. I hope this helps answer your question.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Aug-18 @ 12:30 PM
Hi, My wife (separated) is planning to go to the CMS. We currently share care in terms of overnight stays where she has them one night per week more than me (I currently have them sleep with me an average of 3 nights and she has them 4 nights per week). One night a week however when they sleep at her house I do actually pick them up from school at 3:15pm, feed them, take them to clubs and care for them until later in the evening when I take to my wife's to sleep. With this in mind I do feel that I share care equally with my wife, I also contribute to school trips, pocket money, clubs etc etc. My wife also receives child benefit and earns over 50,000 per annum and makes lifestyle choices to live in an expensive house, drive a brand new car etc. In terms of equal care would the CMS conclude that this was not the case on the basis the children don't sleep at my house one night a week despite the fact I provide daytime care on this day. Secondly would they conclude it was not equal care on the basis my wife receives child benefit. Finally if I were to obtain a formal 50:50 custody split when we get divorced would this change any of the above or would the simple fact she claimed Child Benefit prevent this. Thanks
CLS - 12-Aug-18 @ 10:49 AM
@Mac - possibly if she tries to claim the school fees via court and if your daughter is already in a private school. The courts will be less likely to want to change the school if she's happy there and you can afford the payments.
MattR - 7-Aug-18 @ 1:45 PM
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