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The Use of Child Support Payments

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 19 Sep 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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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
James- Your Question:
HI. I am separated from my ex and have agreed to £160 a month maintenance from the csa calculator but ex owing me £1000 pound agrees I keep £60 as payment for debt. So I pay £100 into her account every month when I'm payed. And still buy my child shoes and money for days out etc. I have text messages were she agrees to the arrangements but I have not seen my child for 4 weeks and says I can call to the house to see her. Now she tells me she has a new job and that tax credits will pay 80% of minding fees but I have to put towards the rest. Our child is six and on summer holidays from school for 5 more weeks. We're do I stand.? Thanks

Our Response:
As you have a family-based arrangement, you can agree this between yourselves. However, if the matter went through CMS you would only have to pay the amount CMS requests from you. Child maintenance and child access are not related and are considered separate issues. If you want access to your child, please see the link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Aug-18 @ 2:54 PM
When the Ex wife left I had to persuade her to have 50 50shared care (she only wanted every other weekend, I wish I agreed to that 5 years ago!) Due to our legal system being biased her favourite child goes to private school and other child doesn’t, I was made to give her 60% of out estate and pay £450 contribution towards school fees. Girls are now 13 and 15, their mother is always out working so less rules, they decided to live with her, CMS have confirmed on the phone I only have to now pay their calculation which is £505 a month. Can I be made to pay school fees in addition to CMS payment?
Mac - 6-Aug-18 @ 2:31 PM
HI.I am separated from my ex and have agreed to £160 a month maintenance from the csa calculator but ex owing me £1000 pound agrees I keep £60 as payment for debt. So I pay £100 into her account every month when I'm payed. And still buy my child shoes and money for days out etc. I have text messages were she agrees to the arrangements but I have not seen my child for 4 weeks and says I can call to the house to see her. Now she tells me she has a new job and that tax credits will pay 80% of minding fees but I have to put towards the rest. Our child is six and on summer holidays from school for 5 more weeks. We're do I stand.? Thanks
James - 4-Aug-18 @ 7:44 AM
Grant - Your Question:
Hi, I have my son all day on a tuesday 9:30am - 18.00pm as well as on a weekend, but on the tuesday I do not have him over night, does this count towards ony CSA payments or is it just bases on over night stays?Thanks

Our Response:
CMS payments are based on overnight stays only.
ChildSupportLaws - 31-Jul-18 @ 1:48 PM
Hi, I have my son all day on a tuesday 9:30am - 18.00pm as well as on a weekend, but on the tuesday i do not have him over night, does this count towards ony CSA payments or is it just bases on over night stays? Thanks
Grant - 30-Jul-18 @ 11:11 PM
Ian - Your Question:
Hi, I pay £450pm to my ex partner and have my 2 boys at least 3 nights a week. I take them to all their football training and pay for it at a combined cost of £50 per month plus annual fees of £380. I also pay for school shoes and coats as well as general clothes.I have also helped my ex partner out from time to time when she has been short of cash but now I think she is taking advantage of my goodwill. We are going through divorce proceedings and she is now threatening to take half the profit from my house sale which I’ll struggle to defend unfortunately, but am I able to withdraw all of the above and reduce my maintenance payment to that of the calculator (which is £116 less than I currently pay) to recover the money, not that the boys will ever go without I just don’t want her to profit any further from my generosity and use the kids against me. I feel terrible even considering this avenue but I’m refusing to be walked all over by a woman who could quite easily get off her arse and earn as much as me rather than using the kids as an excuse especially when I do all the running around and have them almost an equal amount of time over a year.Any help would be greatly appreciated

Our Response:
If you have children between you, then your income and assets will be considered in respect to your children's continuing welfare. Yes, you can apply to CMS and you need only ever pay what CMS assesses you should pay, if you choose.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Jul-18 @ 2:40 PM
Hi, I pay £450pm to my ex partner and have my 2 boys at least 3 nights a week. I take them to all their football training and pay for it at a combined cost of £50 per month plus annual fees of £380. I also pay for school shoes and coats as well as general clothes. I have also helped my ex partner out from time to time when she has been short of cash but now I think she is taking advantage of my goodwill. We are going through divorce proceedings and she is now threatening to take half the profit from my house sale which I’ll struggle to defend unfortunately, but am I able to withdraw all of the above and reduce my maintenance payment to that of the calculator (which is £116 less than I currently pay) to recover the money, not that the boys will ever go without I just don’t want her to profit any further from my generosity and use the kids against me. I feel terrible even considering this avenue but I’m refusing to be walked all over by a woman who could quite easily get off her arse and earn as much as me rather than using the kids as an excuse especially when I do all the running around and have them almost an equal amount of time over a year.... Any help would be greatly appreciated
Ian - 24-Jul-18 @ 2:47 AM
@Sfc - It is something we all go through. The thing is to have your clothes for your daughter at yours. When she comes she can change into your clothes and change into the clothes she was sent in when she returns. That's what a lot of us do. It saves the type of arguments you mentioned. CMS won't listen to you - they are not interested in such minor details, they'll expect you to sort it out between you.
AshB - 23-Jul-18 @ 1:46 PM
Ihave just been reading the comments I'm shocked as to what some of these guys are paying I pay £325. a month for one child.i have her every weekend and clothe her when she's here as sometimes she only comes with one outfit,I have let her take home several items of clothing and get told things like."oh we had a flood and her dress you paid £50 pound for has been ruined".or "oh the dog chewed her shoes".should I be paying so much or contact csa about this matter?
Sfc - 22-Jul-18 @ 2:02 PM
I am divorced and pay my ex £150 per month for 3 children. I also pay £40 towards my eldest school dinners per month, two of my kids phone bills of £18 each, my eldest football fees £20 per month. I also agreed to pay half of any school uniform when needed. She is still demanding more money and what seems to be threatening me to go through the CSA and has also no refused to provide the children with any change of clothing and said I am to buy clothes for when they are in my care. I believe I am paying more than expected even on the csa calculator and am starting to think a call to the csa May be in my benefit.. I have good access to my kids and have them 3 nights per week on average and sometimes more if she has to work extra shifts. Any advice would be appreciated
John - 21-Jul-18 @ 2:51 PM
Father - Your Question:
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.

Our Response:
Court is your only option unfortunately. If you have texts that your ex has said it's non-negotiable and you can prove that your ex is basing her access on getting more child maintenance from you, then the court will decide what it thinks is in your children's best interests regardless of her opinion.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Jul-18 @ 2:17 PM
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
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