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Who Has to Pay Child Support?

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 27 Sep 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Child Support Csa Child Support Agency

All parents have the responsibility to financially support their children, and to provide a safe environment for them to grow up in. Due to separation or divorce however, circumstances sometimes unexpectedly change, and the child, or children, may have to divide their time between their parents.

Child support payments provide a form of security for the child and parent with care, but require a commitment from the parent who leaves the family home.

Why Child Support Exists

The Child Support Agency (CSA) was launched in the UK in 1993, and was created to financially help and support all separated families - where one parent lives with the child/children and the other parent lives elsewhere. The non resident parent is expected to contribute to the welfare of their child, and it is the CSA’s job to enforce these maintenance payments if the absent parent refuses to pay this regular contribution.

Are You Liable To Pay?

The father of the child – regardless whether or not the parents were married – is responsible for financially supporting the child. Many unmarried fathers sign a declaration, acknowledging paternity, when the child is born and others are genetically tested in order to prove paternity. Parents of stepchildren however, are not obligated to pay maintenance support unless the child is legally adopted.

In cases where communication has broken down between the parents a father is still expected to contribute financially even though he may have limited visitation rights. However, if the parent with care disappears and makes visitation impossible for the non resident parent, child support payments can be suspended.

Shared care reduces the cost of maintenance a non resident parent is expected to contribute. By sharing parental duties and spending an equal amount of time with the child, including overnight stays, a non resident parent acknowledges responsibility and reduces maintenance costs accordingly. This is calculated as a reduction of one-seventh for each day.

Do Men And Women Have The Same Rights?

Child Support does not discriminate between genders and the Child Support Agency is only concerned with ensuring parents acknowledge responsibility and financially support their child or children. If the father has custody of the child he is therefore the parent with care. This gives him the right to claim maintenance support from the child’s mother.

Maintenance payments are expected to be paid until the child reaches the age of majority, which can range from 16 to 19, depending on the child’s schooling and educational needs. The parent’s responsibility to financially support though, is terminated if a child is legally adopted at any age. If the non resident parent is paying backdated maintenance this is expected to be continue until the debt is covered.

Failure To Pay

The CSA works alongside the Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission (CMEC) and has the power to enforce maintenance payments directly through the parent’s employer, by freezing assets and forcing the sale of property. The non resident parent can also be imprisoned for failure to pay maintenance.

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Mr m - Your Question:
Me and my partner been married for ten years and we got 3 kids together. She got a son from ex partner and who only paid £70 a month since the kid was seven now soon to be eighteen. Is there any way he can be taken to court cause I think he should have paid more than that!

Our Response:
Child maintenance is based on your partner's ex's earnings. If the order was made through court, then there is a likelihood his earnings may have risen in this time and therefore your partner could take the matter back to court and request a variation. If the father pays via the CMS, then his payments are assessed annually, therefore it is more likely he is paying the right amount, as it is assessed on the amount he currently earns.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Sep-16 @ 2:12 PM
Leonie - Your Question:
I just want to know that am I entitled to have more pay, regarding, that I have the full custody of my daughter. As her father never see her for 12 year's. And it's stated in the child Maintenance book that he should pay pay as he doesn't shared responsibilities to my daughter. I quiry to the child Maintenance but.They just totally ignored my case. I'm so depressed of all this. He said he supported his 2 mon biological daughers from his wife now. His wife worked at Royal Bath hospital as a registered nurse.I only worked as a carer, yo support my daughter full time.I long to hear from you.Many thanks Leonie

Our Response:
If you feel you have been treated unfairly by the CSA/CMS you can complain via the link here. If your ex is earning then he will be required to pay. However, it becomes more difficult to extract money if the paying person is self-employed and declaring a low income and/or unemployed.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Sep-16 @ 10:56 AM
Me and my partner been married for ten years and we got 3 kids together. She got a son from expartner and who only paid £70 a monthsince the kid was seven now soon to be eighteen. Is there any way he can be taken to court cause I think he should have paid more than that!
Mr m - 27-Sep-16 @ 10:50 AM
I just want to know that am I entitledto have more pay, regarding,that I have the full custodyof my daughter. As her fathernever see her for 12 year's.And it's statedin the childMaintenance book that he should pay pay as he doesn'tsharedresponsibilities to my daughter. I quiryto the childMaintenancebut ..They just totallyignoredmy case.. I'mso depressedof all this... He said he supportedhis 2 mon biological daughers from his wife now.. His wife worked at Royal Bath hospital as a registered nurse.I only worked as a carer, yo supportmy daughterfull time... I long to hear from you . Many thanks Leonie
Leonie - 26-Sep-16 @ 11:14 AM
kart - Your Question:
My friends marriage has recently broken up but are not yet divorced. When he married her she had a child from a previous relationship they had a child together after they married. Since breaking up the subject of financial support has come up, is he financially responsible (child support or maintenance) for the child that is not biologically his?

Our Response:
Non-biological fathers are not responsible for paying child maintenance to their non-biological children.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Sep-16 @ 2:14 PM
My friends marriage has recently broken up but are not yet divorced. When he married her she had a child from a previous relationship they had a child together after they married. Since breaking up the subject of financial support has come up, is he financially responsible (child support or maintenance) for the child that is not biologically his?
kart - 20-Sep-16 @ 5:09 PM
My partner has two children with his ex wife. He has shared responsibility, having them 3 nights a week , sometimes more. He has to travel 150 miles a week since she moved house to get them to school which means incurs significant fuel costs. She receives all the child allowance every month totally over £800 in six months. He currently pays her £50 a month in maintenance but now with the added fuel costs and us actually caring for them 45% of nights in a year is there any requirement for that to continue ? They have equal care and financial responsibility so does he have to pay her money ??
Shell - 2-Sep-16 @ 5:34 PM
Hi, my childs father has never had to pay child support l. The current reason been that he is in higher education (full time). However this will be his second degree at university having already graduated several years back. This means he will be funding his own studies as the course is not a NHS course or engineering. Is it right that he is accessed as owing nil contributions when he can afford to study additional further education. Could he potentially should repeatedly do multiple degrees along side his other earnings and never have to contribute? Thankyou in advance Nat.
Nat1980 - 1-Sep-16 @ 2:59 PM
Tassy - Your Question:
My husband and I are divorced. We have 2 children aged 17 and 18. He lives with one child, the 17 year old who is about to start her last year of A levels. I live with the 18 year old who is starting uni shortly. The children never stay at the other parents house. I am a single income parent. My ex lives with a woman in a joint income situation. They earn significantly more than I do. They also have 2 babies together and she has children from previous marriages. My question: as we both have full care of one child each and provide fully for that child, can my ex begin to claim money from me for our youngest? He is threatening to. I receive no support for our eldest from him.

Our Response:
Theoretically, yes he could claim child maintenance. Regardless of whether your ex is living with someone who earns an income this is not taken into consideration. What is taken into consideration is the earnings of the non-resident parent, i.e you. You can check how much you may be likely to pay via the CMS calculator here. If your son at uni is living at home and you are supporting him, this may counter any payment, therefore you should look into this. You may wish to seek further advice.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Sep-16 @ 2:57 PM
My husband and I are divorced. We have 2 children aged 17 and 18. He lives with one child, the 17 year old who is about to start her last year of A levels. I live with the 18 year old who is starting uni shortly. The children never stay at the other parents house. I am a single income parent. My ex lives with a woman in a joint income situation. They earn significantly more than I do. They also have 2 babies together and she has children from previous marriages. My question: as we both have full care of one child each and provide fully for that child, can my ex begin to claim money from me for our youngest? He is threatening to. I receive no support for our eldest from him.
Tassy - 28-Aug-16 @ 8:17 AM
My ex husband moved to Abu Dhabi Feb 2014. Since moving he said he doesn't have to pay maintenance as he doesn't see our daughter. Prior to him moving the CSA had to take it from source. He still has a house, fiancé and Twins in the UK who he supports. He has made random contributions £50 month about 6 times since being out there. He is in arrears with what was the CSA which I will have to try and claim when and if his contract ends and he returns to the UK. Can I do anything to make him pay. He moved out there on a much higher tax free wage. Regards.
Lynds - 21-Aug-16 @ 11:25 PM
I have 4 children with my ex and we split about 8 years ago. At the time we agreed he wouldpay £70 per week which in all that time despite him getting a better job and me poeading with him to increase it slightly he has never done. Althought he as never missed this £70 payment. He has always said this would continue until our youngest reached the age of 18.He has hardly took them out or offered to buy clothes etc in all this time.i feel that hes done ok out of this arrangement because if i had gone through the official channels he would of had to pay far more surely? My question.... our youngest who is now 17 is not sure he wants to go back to college full-time non-advanced education. My ex now says if he does not go back to college this payment will stop. I have already registered the youngest child with careers and applied for the 20 week extension for child tax credit and child benefit. So am i legally still entitled to support for these 20 weeks whilst still in reciept of this? Im expecting a phone call this weekend off him and would like to be prepared , polite! And no what my rights are over this matter. Thanks
Jj - 19-Aug-16 @ 12:11 PM
Hawker - Your Question:
Hi, I earn £42k, My wife earns £35k. She remains in our £300k marital home, I pay 50% of the Mortgage. we have 3 Teenagers, 17,16,16, and they stay with me 3-4 nights a week.How do we decide who pays maintenance to whom? If we use the.gov calculator, why does it not take into account her income, or my contribution to the mortgage, as well as pay for all my accommodation costs, and looking after the children for 6-7 day less than her each year?

Our Response:
You can agree what you both pay through a family-based arrangement where no rules apply, but you work out what is best for you all. Alternatively, you could try to sort out an arrangement through mediation or a solicitor. If you have shared care, then by rights no one parent pays maintenance, unless one earns significantly less than the other. However, you may wish to continue paying the mortgage on your house until your children have finished education (which is more than likely what a court would rule). You can also speak to Child Maintenance Services directly and they will advise you further. This advice may sound a touch vague, but unless one of you decides the agreement is unfair and wants to take the matter further either through CMS or court, then you are pretty much left to sort out your finances between yourselves.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Aug-16 @ 2:20 PM
Hi, I earn £42k, My wife earns £35k. She remains in our £300k marital home, I pay 50% of the Mortgage. we have 3 Teenagers, 17,16,16, and they stay with me 3-4 nights a week. How do we decide who pays maintenance to whom? If we use the .gov calculator, why does it not take into account her income, or my contribution to the mortgage, as well as pay for all my accommodation costs, and looking after the children for 6-7 day less than her each year?
Hawker - 17-Aug-16 @ 8:15 PM
George - Your Question:
My British sons currently reside in France. They are 19 and 17 respectively. They relocated there with their mother 5 years ago. She has since remarried into affluence. I am an Australian citizen. A court order was established in the UK in 2005 for child maintenance and contact arrangements. My question is when do child support arrangements end? Some university degrees are up to 6 years in length and involve years out in industry. I heard that extensions can be made to the courts to enforce child support payments beyond 18 years of age but when does it stop legally? Why can't donations be made voluntary, especially when the relationship between yourself and the children (adult) has broken down? Can I enforce payments to be made directly to my children, rather than to their mother?

Our Response:
Every parent has the basic responsibility to provide for their child up until the age of 16, when they are legally allowed to leave school and get a job. After this age, it depends what your child chooses to do. If they continue in full-time non-advanced education not higher than A-level equivalent, for at least 12 hours a week, then your maintenance payments will continue until your child finishes the course (or until they turn 20). You do not have to pay child maintenance if your child is attending university, unless your ex applies for a separate court order and that order is successful. If your children are not in full-time education and are working, then your payments will end. If your children are in further education and you wish to support them directly, then you would have to apply for a variation of the order through the courts. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Aug-16 @ 2:27 PM
My British sons currently reside in France.They are 19 and 17 respectively.They relocated there with their mother 5 years ago.She has since remarried into affluence.I am an Australian citizen.A court order was established in the UK in 2005 for child maintenance and contact arrangements.My question is when do child support arrangements end?Some university degrees are up to 6 years in length and involve years out in industry.I heard that extensions can be made to the courts to enforce child support payments beyond 18 years of age but when does it stop legally?Why can't donations be made voluntary, especially when the relationship between yourself and the children (adult) has broken down?Can I enforce payments to be made directly to my children, rather than to their mother?
George - 16-Aug-16 @ 1:48 AM
My partner pays csa for his 2 children. Im his new partner i have one child which my previous partner pays for. I want to know if my daughterscsa payments from her biological father will be reduced?now that my new partner contributes to my daughters upbringing ??
kaz - 12-Aug-16 @ 12:03 PM
Kathy - Your Question:
My 17 year old daughter has moved in her boyfriends parents house and her father, my ex, is paying child maintenance. Her move is against all our wishes but are helpless. Does my ex now have to the maintenance to the boyfriends mother?

Our Response:
This is a tricky question with a few grey areas. A person with parental responsibility for a child has a duty to provide for them until they are 18 years old unless the child marries prior to their 18th birthday. The purpose of Child Maintenance Payments is to ensure that 'both' parents make a fair contribution to the costs of looking after and bringing up the child. You don't say whether your daughter is remaining in full-time education, if so you both will be responsible for your child's upkeep. If your daughter has moved out and has a job, then child maintenance payments stop. Also, you don't say whether child benefit is still being paid and who the child benefit is being paid to. If it is you, then you will have to let the child benefit know the change in circumstances. Also, child maintenance payments stop when child benefit does. Therefore, if child benefit has stopped, so will your ex's child maintenance payments. You’ll usually get Child Benefit for eight weeks after your child goes to live with someone else (eg a friend or relative), if nobody else claims. It can continue for longer if you make contributions to your child’s upkeep, please see link here. In essence you would have to speak both to the CSA/CMS and Child Benefit Office regarding this. If you have a family-based maintenance arrangement with your ex, then you will have to re-assess how/if you are both going to support your child now she has moved.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Aug-16 @ 10:52 AM
Dan - Your Question:
If I sign my children over to there mother because I don't see them do you still pay csa

Our Response:
I'm not sure what you mean about 'signing over your children' - your children are your children unless they are adopted by another person and you agree to this, then financial responsibility would stop. If adoption is not a consideration, then regardless of whether you see your children or not, you are still deemed by law as responsible for the financial welfare of your children until the time they finish education. As specified in the article: 'In cases where communication has broken down between the parents a father is still expected to contribute financially even though he may have limited visitation rights.' It is rare that a court will revoke parental responsibility unless absolutely necessary. So, as long as you have PR, you are considered their parent and therefore co-financially responsible.
ChildSupportLaws - 2-Aug-16 @ 2:38 PM
My 17 year old daughter has moved in her boyfriends parents house and her father, my ex, is paying child maintenance. Her move is against all our wishes but are helpless. Does my ex now have to the maintenance to the boyfriends mother?
Kathy - 2-Aug-16 @ 11:31 AM
If I sign my children over to there mother because I don't see them do you still pay csa
Dan - 2-Aug-16 @ 6:50 AM
Joeblogs - Your Question:
I pay over 450 a month for my two daughters who I am not allowed access too. I also have a son who stays with me but told because I don't claim the child support I can't get deduction, this is putting me in to hardship in so many ways. Also my daughter is 18 and working why would I still be paying ? I understand other daughter still needs support but it's putting me in mental distress. Advise please

Our Response:
If your 18 year old is not in full-time education and is working, then you should not have to pay. Every parent has the basic responsibility to provide for their child up until the age of 16, when they are legally allowed to leave school and get a job. After this age, it depends what your child chooses to do. If they continue in full-time non-advanced education, not higher than A-level equivalent, for at least 12 hours a week, then your maintenance payments will continue until your child finishes the course or until they turn 20. If your daughter is working and decided not continue in full-time education, then your payments would end in the September after her final school term. The CMS should take into consideration that your son is living with you and you should contact its helpline for further advice.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Jul-16 @ 1:52 PM
I pay over 450 a month for my two daughters who I am not allowed access too .. I also have a son who stays with me but told because I don't claim the child support I can't get deduction, this is putting me in to hardship in so many ways . Also my daughter is 18 and working why would I still be paying ? I understand other daughter still needs support but it's putting me in mental distress. Advise please
Joeblogs - 27-Jul-16 @ 9:19 PM
Andy - Your Question:
I have been supporting 2 kids that aren't mine for the last 10 years. The father has paid nil in all this time. Can I seek a rebate of some sort as I've been supporting kids that aren't mine. I'm not married to my partner so no parental responsibility whatsoever. Thoughts

Our Response:
If you are living with your partner and helping to support your partner's children with your partner as a family, I'm afraid this is your decision and you are not entitled to any rebate.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Jul-16 @ 11:22 AM
I have been supporting 2 kids that aren't mine for the last 10 years. The father has paid nil in all this time. Can I seek a rebate of some sort as I've been supporting kids that aren't mine. I'm not married to my partner so no parental responsibility whatsoever. Thoughts
Andy - 26-Jul-16 @ 7:18 PM
E.D. - Your Question:
My partner (not married) has received a letter saying his ex partner has applied for maintenance via CSA, he is not working, recieving Carers allowance (£45.05 a week due to priority debts being automatically taken but the DWP) and has them for 108nights per year not including school holidays when we tend to have them for the full duration, I have done my research and he is entitled to a Nil Payment decision based on this but his ex is under the impression that because I work 30hrs per week and support my partner financially I should support his children to because I got into a relationship knowing he had 2 children to support, I'm asking for reassurance as to whether she has any legal standing to make such a claim because I'm sure what I do already for his children is more than I have to considering they are not my children, not to say I don't love them unconditionally.

Our Response:
It is your partner's earnings the CMS/CSA take into consideration, not yours. You are not responsible for supporting his children.
ChildSupportLaws - 25-Jul-16 @ 10:13 AM
My partner (not married) has received a letter saying his ex partner has applied for maintenance via CSA, he is not working, recieving Carers allowance (£45.05 a week due to priority debts being automatically taken but the DWP) and has them for 108nights per year not including school holidays when we tend to have them for the full duration, I have done my research and he is entitled to a Nil Payment decision based on this but his ex is under the impression that because I work 30hrs per week and support my partner financially I should support his children to because I got into a relationship knowing he had 2 children to support, I'm asking for reassurance as to whether she has any legal standing to make such a claim because I'm sure what I do already for his children is more than I have to considering they are not my children, not to say I don't love them unconditionally....
E.D. - 24-Jul-16 @ 1:45 AM
Rene - Your Question:
My partner is registered disabled and unemployed. She had custody of her son until last week when she agreed in court to let the father have residency. Will the fathers maintenace stop or will it be reduced. will she be expected to pay anything given she is unemployed. will I be expected to pay for the step child as her partner and I earn? Many thanks!

Our Response:
The father's maintenance will cease if your partner is no longer looking after the day-to-day needs of the child. If she is unemployed your partner may have to pay the flat rate of £5 per week which is used if the paying parent’s weekly income is between £5 and £100 and she doesn't qualify for the nil rate. You will not have to pay child maintenance for your step-child.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Jul-16 @ 10:23 AM
My partner is registered disabled and unemployed. She had custody of her son until last week when she agreed in court to let the father have residency. Will the fathers maintenace stop or will it be reduced. will she be expected to pay anything given she is unemployed. will I be expected to pay for the step child as her partner and i earn? Many thanks!
Rene - 5-Jul-16 @ 5:24 PM
Sue - Your Question:
Hi, my ex is currently paying child maintenance through Child Maintenance Service (CMS). He's paying £160pcm, as he's earning £16,000pa the CMS worked out that's how much he should be paying (12% of gross income) from his previous tax year HMRC. This is his part-time job working 3days pw.Questions:1) If he finds a 2nd job or new job more than his current income 25%+, will he has to let the CMS know?2) What happens if he leaves his job and decide to go self-employed? I heard rumours he's thinking of leaving his job to try setting his own business.3) Would I continue to get child maintenance if he leaves his job and set his own sole trader business?4) Will I get more child maintenance automatically he ex finds a new job that's more than £16,000pa?He won't agree to family based arrangements, but only willing to pay what the CMS told them what he should be paying, which is fair enough.Thanks,Sue

Our Response:
If your ex begins earning more than 25% of his annual income then he will have to let the CMS know, likewise, if he changes his job to go self-employed and his salary drops, please see link here. It means his payments will be adjusted accordingly, but payments can go down or up. If your ex becomes self-employed it can become difficult to extract money due to the fact he may be earning very little to start with and there is always ways of pitching expenses against earnings to prove that not much has been earned at all. If your ex does not inform the CMS of these changes, then the CMS will take the changes from the dates the differentiation begins and he could be liable for arrears if he does not disclose if his wage has risen.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Jul-16 @ 11:50 AM
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