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The Use of Child Support Payments

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 18 Jul 2018 | 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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I am divorced from my ex wife and I pay maintenance in accordance with the CMS calculator based on the number of nights per year that I have them to stay with me (between 52 and 103). It has been incredibly difficult to agree the schedule of them staying over with me due to my ex's unreasonableness, to the point where after four years of this, she now says that her 'requests' for when I have them are "non-negotiable". My concern is that if I don't agree then the number of nights will be less than 52 and I will owe her more money under the CMS calculation, which I cannot afford to pay. Mediation hasn't worked. I cannot see how it can be right that she can refuse my proposals for access and then effectively demand more money simply because she won't agree to my reasonable requests for access. Our contact order sets out a framework for contact but ultimately states it is for agreement between the parties.Grateful for any advice.
Father - 18-Jul-18 @ 3:44 PM
Annie - Your Question:
Since my ex and I split 3years ago I have aleays provided clothes for my 3 children whilst they are in his care. their clothes and shoes r getting ruined or vanishing. I'm having to replace everytime. He does pay me child maintenance but it's getting a joke now with the amount I'm having to replace. Last weekend. he allowed the kids to roll around in fire ash in the garden in their uniforms. is this really acceptable?? I have now completely refuse to send them in any clothes other than the ones they r in. and also having to pick the children up every day from school now which I had to change work hours bcuz I don't want their uniforms getting wrecked every week. have I got every right to refuse to send clothes, he tells me he as contacted csa and they have told him, it's my responsibility. I have to provide children with clothes in his care bcuz he pays me child maintenance. His now refusing to bath them as well bcuz of this

Our Response:
You are under no obligation to provide clothes when your children are in their other parent's care.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Jul-18 @ 11:41 AM
Since my ex and I split 3years ago I have aleays provided clothes for my 3 children whilst they are in his care.. their clothes and shoes r getting ruined or vanishing. I'm having to replace everytime. He does pay me child maintenance but it's getting a joke now with the amount I'm having to replace. Last weekend.. he allowed the kids to roll around in fire ash in the garden in their uniforms.. is this really acceptable?? I have now completely refuse to send them in any clothes other than the ones they r in.. and also having to pick the children up every day from school now which I had to change work hours bcuz I don't want their uniforms getting wrecked every week.. have I got every right to refuse to send clothes, he tells me he as contacted csaand they have told him, it's my responsibility. I have to provide children with clothes in his care bcuz he pays me child maintenance. His now refusing to bath them as well bcuz of this
Annie - 16-Jul-18 @ 4:04 PM
Rachella - Your Question:
Hi, my ex partner lives in Southampton, me are son live in Bristol, do I have to cover half the fuel costs? He has a vw camper van and says it costs him £160 there and back!

Our Response:
You are under no obligation to help with fuel costs unless a court order specifies you do. As a rule when parents separate one would drop the child off and the other pick the child up. However, if you cannot agree, then mediation may be something to consider as there are no specific rules either way.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Jul-18 @ 12:20 PM
JRS - Your Question:
I am currently going through a divorce. My ex partner wants from me Child Maintainance as calculated by CMS (which I am agreeable to £320 pcm 2 children who I have 2 to 3 nights per week) but in addition she wants me to pay £250 pcm towards childcare. Is this something she can demand. I am already struggling.

Our Response:
It is at your discretion whether you decide to pay towards childcare or not. However, CMS will not force you to. Many parents decide on the basis of what they consider to be fair. For example, if the children need childcare on the days you have your children and you cannot find alternative care, then you may wish to take responsibility. There are two parents in most families and we know how much childcare can cost. Mediation may help here is you cannot decide between you.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Jul-18 @ 10:33 AM
Hi, my ex partner lives in Southampton, me are son live in Bristol, do I have to cover half the fuel costs? He has a vw camper van and says it costs him £160 there and back!
Rachella - 12-Jul-18 @ 8:09 PM
I am currently going through a divorce.My ex partner wants from me Child Maintainance as calculated by CMS (which i am agreeable to £320 pcm 2 children who i have 2 to 3 nights per week) but in addition she wants me to pay £250 pcm towards childcare.Is this something she can demand.I am already struggling.
JRS - 12-Jul-18 @ 11:35 AM
Siha - Your Question:
Hi, My ex partner and I use the CMS as a way for him to support our two children. He is the non resident parent, is financially secure and pays directly into my account. I am not financially secure. Recently he has said that he wants to take away money from what has been calculated for him to pay for the support of the children and use it on flights etc to Cover returning the children to me, he never travels alone and the costs would have to cover two adults and two children. If this happens we would not be able to afford the childrens basic needs and current living conditions. We may end up being forced out of our home, as his money for the children goes towards part rent payment, food, clothes, school meals, school uniform, school books, contact travel (to get them to him) and any extra curriculum that is part of the school (trips) along with gas and electricity. I would like to ask if it is possible for my ex partner to take this money that is meant for the childrens living to pay for his contact with them? If so, what can I do to try to keep the childrens lives as normal as possible in the circumstances. Thank you

Our Response:
It is not possible for your ex to take this money, unless you agree to it. If your ex wishes to take yours/his children away, then it is up to him to finance it from his own pocket.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Jul-18 @ 3:10 PM
Jon - Your Question:
HiI am a non resident parent and pay my child’s mother the required amount of money as per the government website.When our little daughter first went to the nursery she was only 1.5 and had to travel long distances by bus early in the morning (6am) so my ex could get to her new full time job in a different town. I strongly disapproved this idea, especially that we had a mutual friend living nearby my daughters house who offered to look after our child. I offered lifts etc but I was put aside. Then I was begging to be the resident parent and explained that if she agreed, I would not work full time anymore and make daycare arrangements so the child does not need to travel so much and early. After many very expensive mediations, she did not let me be the resident parent and I refused to pay for this nursery. Since then I was forbidden to pick up the child from there even when it was my day with our daughter. Instead I had to wait for her to finish her work. When our daughter was 3, my ex quit the job and moved much further away from me. She and her husband put her to the new preschool. I offered to pay half if I could pick her up from there etc but it was refused as her partner had enough money to cover it at the time. Now my daughter is about to go to school, so I arranged a meeting to discuss holidays and new times etc. My ex said that her partner had to take a loan of £6000 to cover the cost of the preschool and she wants me to pay half. I don’t think it’s fair as for many years I was unable to be there for my daughter on big events, learn about her day to day activities and find out about the progress she made. I was in touch with the headmaster regardless of threats of my ex as I found it nesseseary to help my daughter with her development.Please can you advise if I should now pay half for the daycare?

Our Response:
You do not have to pay anything more than child maintenance website/CMS requests, if you do it is at your own discretion. Child maintenance and child access are separate issues. If you wish to see your child more frequently you can take the matter to court if you have tried mediation and it has been unsuccessful, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Jul-18 @ 2:41 PM
Hi I am a non resident parent and pay my child’s mother the required amount of money as per the government website. When our little daughter first went to the nursery she was only 1.5 and had to travel long distances by bus early in the morning (6am) so my ex could get to her new full time job in a different town. I strongly disapproved this idea, especially that we had a mutual friend living nearby my daughters house who offered to look after our child. I offered lifts etc but I was put aside. Then I was begging to be the resident parent and explained that if she agreed, I would not work full time anymore and make daycare arrangements so the child does not need to travel so much and early. After many very expensive mediations, she did not let me be the resident parent and I refused to pay for this nursery. Since then I was forbidden to pick up the child from there even when it was my day with our daughter. Instead I had to wait for her to finish her work. When our daughter was 3, my ex quit the job and moved much further away from me. She and her husband put her to the new preschool. I offered to pay half if I could pick her up from there etc but it was refused as her partner had enough money to cover it at the time. Now my daughter is about to go to school, so I arranged a meeting to discuss holidays and new times etc. My ex said that her partner had to take a loan of £6000 to cover the cost of the preschool and she wants me to pay half. I don’t think it’s fair as for many years I was unable to be there for my daughter on big events, learn about her day to day activities and find out about the progress she made. I was in touch with the headmaster regardless of threats of my ex as I found it nesseseary to help my daughter with her development. Please can you advise if I should now pay half for the daycare?
Jon - 8-Jul-18 @ 11:19 PM
Hi, My ex partner and I use the CMS as a way for him to support our two children. He is the non resident parent, is financially secure and pays directly into my account. I am not financially secure. Recently he has said that he wants to take away money from what has been calculated for him to pay for the support of the children and use it on flights etc to Cover returning the children to me, he never travels alone and the costs would have to cover two adults and two children. If this happens we would not be able to afford the childrens basic needs and current living conditions. We may end up being forced out of our home, as his money for the children goes towards part rent payment, food, clothes, school meals, school uniform, school books, contact travel (to get them to him) and any extra curriculum that is part of the school (trips) along with gas and electricity. I would like to ask if it is possible for my ex partner to take this money that is meant for the childrens livingto pay for his contact with them? If so, what can i do to try to keep the childrens lives as normal as possible in the circumstances. Thank you
Siha - 6-Jul-18 @ 4:37 PM
My girlfried daughter lives with her dad. She doesnt work at the minute only me. Should I be paying the fuel expenses back ad forth?
Boyo - 4-Jul-18 @ 12:45 PM
Gherkin- Your Question:
We currently pay child maintenance to my partners ex wife through child maintenance. We also pay for haircuts, every other pair of school shoes @ between 40 and 70 pounds a pair, we buy all clothes and shoes for when the little one stays with us, and are also expected to pay half for extra curricular activities such as cricket and football clubs. Could anybody tell me if this is correct? I was under the understanding that the child maintenance payment that we pay should cover all of these costs. Many thanks

Our Response:
You do not have to pay more on top of what CMS assesses you have to pay. However, child maintenance is for the day-to-day welfare of the child and many non-resident parents realise that financially a child costs much more than what child maintenance assesses. For instance, if a person is paying £80 per month then a £20 per week contribution doesn't cover very much at all. If you're paying £400 per month, then obviously this covers more. Therefore, most parents use their discretion to negotiate, as children, as we know are expensive. Most non-resident parents also make provision for their children at their homes in the form of clothing, toys etc, which you cannot expect the resident parent to provide. In addition to the information in the article, you can see the cost of raising a child via the link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Jun-18 @ 9:26 AM
We currently pay child maintenance to my partners ex wife through child maintenance. We also pay for haircuts, every other pair of school shoes @ between 40 and 70 pounds a pair, we buy all clothes and shoes for when the little one stays with us, and are also expected to pay half for extra curricular activities such as cricket and football clubs. Could anybody tell me if this is correct? I was under the understanding that the child maintenance payment that we pay should cover all of these costs. Many thanks
Gherkin - 25-Jun-18 @ 2:33 PM
Me- Your Question:
Hi My girls are at a child minder before and after school on a Wednesday and thursday, and all day during school holidays , the agreement at the beginning was fir my x to see the girls at mine every Wednesday nite ( I collected the girls from the child minder) Since the original agreement Wednesday nites has changed to a over night stay I take the girls Wednesday morning He collects them Wednesday nite - both have been feedHe returns them before school ThursdayI collect them Thursday evening I still pay for the cost of this including school holidays (including the minders holidaysAm I right to say that I shouldn’t be covering the whole cost of this I ve said to him he should be paying Wednesday nite Thursday morning and one of the full days during school holiday Please advise

Our Response:
You don't say whether you are in receipt of child maintenance from your ex. Your ex does not have to pay more than child maintenance states, but when it comes to nursery or childcare fees many fathers do. However, there is no specific rule and if you both cannot agree, then you may wish to suggest your ex attends mediation in order to work out whether the current arrangement is fair or not.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Jun-18 @ 12:46 PM
Hi My girls are at a child minder before and after school on aWednesday and thursday, and all day during school holidays , the agreement at the beginning was fir my x to see the girls at mine every Wednesday nite ( I collected the girls from the child minder) Since the original agreement Wednesday nites has changed to a over night stay I take the girls Wednesday morning He collects them Wednesday nite - both have been feed He returns them before school Thursday I collect them Thursday evening I still pay for the cost of this including school holidays (including the minders holidays Am I right to say that I shouldn’t be covering the whole cost of this I ve said to him he should be paying Wednesday nite Thursday morning and one of the full days during school holiday Please advise
Me - 21-Jun-18 @ 9:32 PM
Dolly - Your Question:
My partner pays his ex £80 pm and we have his daughter 3 nights and 4 days pw. We also have his stepson (his ex's son) 1-2 nights pw. We have calculated through cms calculator and he should be paying her £12 pw/£52 pm. She says this isnt enough and she needs the money for days out/treats etc.We provide clothing, school uniforms (for both children even though my partner isn't financially obligated to his step-son and he still sees his real dad) and we pay half towards other things when needed like school trips.Firstly, should my partner pay more because he still sees his step-son?Secondly, is it right that child maintenance should go towards days out and treats?

Our Response:
Even though your partner pays maintenance to the child maintenance calculator, he is still in a family-based arrangement which is agreed between both parents. If child maintenance payments were organised through CMS, then he would not have to pay more than what he is assessed to pay. If he chooses to pay more, this is at his discretion. With regards to your second question, your partner's ex does not have to justify what she spends child maintenance on. If your partner is paying £12 or even £20 per week, this would not cover very much on a day-to-day basis. To put it into context, the average cost of bringing up a child has been assessed as being on average at £600 a month. Food, clothes, utility bills, transport, lunches, parties, presents, childcare, books, equipment, school trips etc. However, child maintenance is based upon the non-resident parent's earnings as a percentage. It seems your partner is willing to help where needed above what he is requested to pay. Through using his case-by-case judgement and it is this sort of arrangement that is deemed to be in the best interests of the children. With regards to paying for his step-son, your partner is not obligated to pay for him. But it sounds as though he is doing it out of kindness, which could be viewed as a generous and admirable motivation by you both (if you are both contributing).
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Jun-18 @ 1:02 PM
My partner pays his ex £80 pm and we have his daughter 3 nights and 4 days pw. We also have his stepson (his ex's son) 1-2 nights pw. We have calculated through cms calculator and he should be paying her £12 pw/£52 pm. She says this isnt enough and she needs the money for days out/treats etc. We provide clothing, school uniforms (for both children even though my partner isn't financially obligated to his step-son and he still sees his real dad) and we pay half towards other things when needed like school trips. Firstly, should my partner pay more because he still sees his step-son? Secondly, is it right that child maintenance should go towards days out and treats?
Dolly - 19-Jun-18 @ 3:36 PM
Anna - Your Question:
Hi myself and my ex have been separated for 2 years our 2 children live with me my ex lives with his parents he dosnt pay child maintenance for our children instead he gets them clothes and keep it all at his mums. Is this reasonable what my ex is doing?

Our Response:
It is entirely up to you how you wish to organise your child maintenance. A family-based child maintenance arrangement is agreed between you both. If you wish to calculate how much you think you may be able to claim, please see the link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Jun-18 @ 3:19 PM
Hi myself and my ex have been separated for 2 years our 2 children live with me my ex lives with his parents he dosnt pay child maintenance for our children instead he gets them clothes and keep it all at his mums. Is this reasonable what my ex is doing?
Anna - 19-Jun-18 @ 10:40 AM
Sam - Your Question:
Hi, my partner pays child maintenance calculated via CMS and his ex wife has confirmed that this is to cover the mortgage payments and nothing else (because she decided to stay in the house they had as a couple amd can't afford the mortgage), therefore, she also expects that he (we) pay for other things for the children ourselves. It feels like we are paying for her to stay living in a large, nice home and not covering day to day living costs. This doesn't feel right somehow?

Our Response:
Your partner is not obliged to pay for anything above the rate of child maintenance calculated via CMS. However, some non-resident parents choose to use their discretion regarding such issues on an individual basis.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Jun-18 @ 3:28 PM
Goat Man - Your Question:
Hi, I currently pay the correct child maintenance as recommended on the GOV maintenance calculators as well as 6 weekly haircuts at £15, out of school activities which equate to £50+ p/m and other necessities such as clothes etc. The current situation is that we have my daughter every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well as every other weekend including Sunday over night on our weekends. The only days I do not have her overnight out of these is Wednesdays. (Equating to an average of three nights per week, and 4 days per week) Although previously asked we are not allowed to have her overnight on Wednesdays as well (I'm assuming because this would take us over 50% carers)Due to new work commitments me and my partner are unable to pick my daughter up from school on Tuesdays now, and have asked if we can switch overnight stays from Tuesday nights to Wednesday nights with over two weeks notice. My ex is demanding that if we want to switch these days, we need to pay the childcare costs on Tuesdays (the day that I will no longer be responsible or be able to see my daughter) because she is used to only paying for 2 days worth of after school clubs instead of 3 days worth. Am I in my rights to say no to the extra money she is requesting? I feel that its not fair to have to pay for after school clubs on what is going to be her day and the amount of overnight stays will not be affected it will just be a change from every Tuesday to every Wednesday instead.Thank you.

Our Response:
In a situation such as this (where you have a family-based child maintenance arrangement) there is no right or wrong answer and perhaps mediation may be an option.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Jun-18 @ 3:22 PM
Hi, my partner pays child maintenance calculated via CMS and his ex wife has confirmed that this is to cover the mortgage payments and nothing else (because she decided to stay in the house they had as a couple amd can't afford the mortgage), therefore, she also expects that he (we) pay for other things for the children ourselves. It feels like we are paying for her to stay living in a large, nice home and not covering day to day living costs. This doesn't feel right somehow?
Sam - 18-Jun-18 @ 6:35 AM
Hi, I currently pay the correct child maintenance as recommended on the GOV maintenance calculators as well as 6 weekly haircuts at £15, out of school activities which equate to £50+ p/m and other necessities such as clothes etc.. The current situation is that we have my daughter every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well as every other weekend including Sunday over night on our weekends. The only days I do not have her overnight out of these is Wednesdays. (Equating to an average of three nights per week, and 4 days per week) Although previously asked we are not allowed to have her overnight on Wednesdays as well (I'm assuming because this would take us over 50% carers) Due to new work commitments me and my partner are unable to pick my daughter up from school on Tuesdays now, and have asked if we can switch overnight stays from Tuesday nights to Wednesday nights with over two weeks notice. My ex is demanding that if we want to switch these days, we need to pay the childcare costs on Tuesdays (the day that I will no longer be responsible or be able to see my daughter) because she is used to only paying for 2 days worth of after school clubs instead of 3 days worth. Am I in my rights to say no to the extra money she is requesting? I feel that its not fair to have to pay for after school clubs on what is going to be her day and the amount of overnight stays will not be affected it will just be a change from every Tuesday to every Wednesday instead. Thank you.
Goat Man - 15-Jun-18 @ 9:11 PM
Lucy - Your Question:
My ex pays maintenance but has no contact with our child (due to his poor life style and our daughters decision not to see him). She is now a teenager and costs for her upbringing are getting much higher. Expensive school uniform, hobbies and school residential trips. In total I pay around £500 a months for her activities or trips. My ex refuses to contribute towards any of these. Can I go make him via court?

Our Response:
A court will not force your ex to pay anything above what CMS assesses he should pay.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Jun-18 @ 3:03 PM
My ex pays maintenance but has no contact with our child (due to his poor life style and our daughters decision not to see him). She is now a teenager and costs for her upbringing are getting much higher. Expensive school uniform, hobbies and school residential trips. In total I pay around £500 a months for her activities or trips. My ex refuses to contribute towards any of these. Can I go make him via court?
Lucy - 14-Jun-18 @ 10:38 PM
John - Your Question:
I currently pay the correct rate as calculated by CMS.Am I required to pay for child care for the days after I have my child or is that covered within my CMS payments, or am I required to pay for child care,

Our Response:
You are not required to pay child care on top of child maintenance payments. Only if the child is in your care and you need to seek childcare arrangements should you take responsibility. However, some non-resident parents choose to split the costs of childcare, as due to the very high costs it can negate child maintenance payments. The decision is up to you.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Jun-18 @ 2:17 PM
Fatherlikeson - Your Question:
Hi, my son stays with me 3 nights a week one week and 4 nights a week the following week. This is a strict routine and continues to be so. I pay the mother child maintenance based on the fact I have my son a minimum of 3 nights per week, however we both have my son equal amounts of time and if anything he is often more with me so I am possibly paying more than I am required? She is telling me that I must also pay the childcare costs, but during this day she doesn't work so there is no need for him to be in there anyway? Where do I stand with this and how do I go about getting an accurate estimate of child maintenance based on 3 nights one week and 4 nights the next, rather just basing it on 3? Obviously I also buy his own clothes etc when he is with me. Thanks.

Our Response:
You are not obligated to pay childcare costs. You can see more via the calculator here .
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Jun-18 @ 11:51 AM
Hi, my son stays with me 3 nights a week one week and 4 nights a week the following week. This is a strict routine and continues to be so. I pay the mother child maintenance based on the fact I have my son a minimum of 3 nights per week, however we both have my son equal amounts of time and if anything he is often more with me so I am possibly paying more than I am required? She is telling me that I must also pay the childcare costs, but during this day she doesn't work so there is no need for him to be in there anyway? Where do i stand with this and how do I go about getting an accurate estimate of child maintenance based on 3 nights one week and 4 nights the next, rather just basing it on 3? Obviously I also buy his own clothes etc when he is with me. Thanks.
Fatherlikeson - 12-Jun-18 @ 10:19 PM
I currently pay the correct rate as calculated by CMS. Am I required to pay for child care for the days after I have my child or is that covered within my CMS payments, or am I required to pay for child care,
John - 12-Jun-18 @ 7:34 PM
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