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Who Has to Pay Child Support?

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 27 Jul 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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[Add a Comment]
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
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
Sue - 30-Jun-16 @ 2:57 PM
My ex is off work "sick" so not paying anything. Does he have to pay bk what hes missed when he goes bk to work?
E - 25-Jun-16 @ 5:12 PM
Eth - Your Question:
My son has just split from his wife and they own their own home, his step son lives with them but has regular access with his own father. Can my son sell the house or does he have to provide a roof over his step sons head untill he is 16 as his wife says he does but the father of the child lives in his own rented house so is he responsible to do this?

Our Response:
Your son would have to seek legal advice regarding this in order to see whether he will be able to force the sale. If it was his own child, then it is likely a court would allow his ex to stay in the house until the child comes of age. However, as the child is his step-son, he will have more rights here.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Jun-16 @ 11:03 AM
My son has just split from his wife and they own their own home, his step son lives with them but has regular access with his own father. Can my son sell the house or does he have to provide a roof over his step sons head untill he is 16 as his wife says he does but the father of the child lives in his own rented house so is he responsible to do this?...
Eth - 20-Jun-16 @ 12:47 PM
Expat ( now) - Your Question:
My exhusband and I lived together for about ten years / including married for 4. We had one son, divorced just before he was 3. The divorce inluded him paying maintainence for our son but nothing to me ( I was happy with this - I have always worked). He paid some maintainence and then stopped once moved abroad. He repaid most of this after getting a uk compensation payout and then paid regularly for a while. The last payment was in Dec 2004 and we reicieved nothing for our son since ( he apparently couldnt afford it, or birthday and christmas presents despite living in aprtment complex with pool etc in Thailand). Our son turned 18 in 2011 and has been at university ( in Australia) since early 2012. It has been hard to support him all these years on my average salary alone and he has to pay fees upfront for college too. My question is - my ex has come into some money in the uk as his parent has died - is my son entitled to apply for back pay of maintanence for him not paid since 2004 ( I do not want anything for me) and how do we do this. How would I prove he didnt pay ( or would he have to prove he did) We all live abroad now but my sons childhood years were all in the uk as well as the current solicitors etc dealing with my fatherinlaws estate at present ( and if I need a solicitor who can I contact in the uk). This would make a huge difference to my son as if this has been recieved all along I would have saved for his university years, as well as not struggled to pay for uniforms school trips etc) making life much less stressful ( financially) for him now too.

Our Response:
You could only try and claim back pay from your ex's earnings, not from an inheritance, as an inheritance is not classed as taxable earnings, see link here.Thailand is not covered by the REMO countries (Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders) list either. Therefore it would be difficult for the UK courts to be able to enforce any order, or for you to take the matter to court. If you think you still may have a case, then you may have to seek legal advice, but if you're are attempting to take the matter to court across continents then this would also be highly costly.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Jun-16 @ 10:10 AM
My exhusband and i lived together for about ten years / including married for 4. We had one son, divorced just before he was 3. The divorce inluded him paying maintainence for our son but nothing to me ( i was happy with this - i have always worked). He paid some maintainence and then stopped once moved abroad. He repaid most of this after getting a uk compensation payout and then paid regularly for a while.The last payment was in Dec 2004 and we reicieved nothing for our son since ( he apparently couldnt afford it, or birthday and christmas presents despite living in aprtment complex with pool etc in Thailand). Our son turned 18 in 2011 and has been at university ( in Australia) since early 2012. Ithas been hard to support him all these years on my average salary alone and he has to pay fees upfront for college too. My question is - my ex has come into some money in the uk as his parent has died - is my son entitled to apply for back pay of maintanence for him not paid since 2004 ( i do not want anything for me) and how do we do this. How would i prove he didnt pay ( or would he have to prove he did) We all live abroad now but my sons childhood years were all in the uk as well as the current solicitors etc dealing with my fatherinlaws estate at present ( and if i need a solicitor who can i contact in the uk). This would make a huge difference to my son as if this has been recieved all along i would have saved for his university years, as well as not struggled to pay for uniforms school trips etc)making life much less stressful ( financially) for him now too.
Expat ( now) - 19-Jun-16 @ 12:04 AM
My exhusband and i lived together for about ten years / including married for 4. We had one son, divorced just before he was 3. The divorce inluded him paying maintainence for our son but nothing to me ( i was happy with this - i have always worked). He paid some maintainence and then stopped once moved abroad. He repaid most of this after getting a uk compensation payout and then paid regularly for a while.The last payment was in Dec 2004 and we reicieved nothing for our son since ( he apparently couldnt afford it, or birthday and christmas presents despite living in aprtment complex with pool etc in Thailand). Our son turned 18 in 2011 and has been at university ( in Australia) since early 2012. Ithas been hard to support him all these years on my average salary alone and he has to pay fees upfront for college too. My question is - my ex has come into some money in the uk as his parent has died - is my son entitled to apply for back pay of maintanence for him not paid since 2004 ( i do not want anything for me) and how do we do this. How would i prove he didnt pay ( or would he have to prove he did) We all live abroad now but my sons childhood years were all in the uk as well as the current solicitors etc dealing with my fatherinlaws estate at present ( and if i need a solicitor who can i contact in the uk). This would make a huge difference to my son as if this has been recieved all along i would have saved for his university years, as well as not struggled to pay for uniforms school trips etc)making life much less stressful ( financially) for him now too.
Expat ( now) - 18-Jun-16 @ 11:56 PM
Sarah - Your Question:
We pay monthly child maintenance for my step daughter. My step daughter now resides with us but we are still paying maintenance to her mother. What is the rule regarding suspending payment. Not sure if my step daughter residing with us is short or long term

Our Response:
If your daughter is living with you on a short-term agreement, and you are on amicable terms with the mother and the maintenance decision is a family-based one, then I should speak with the mother directly. If the child maintenance is not a family-based agreement and is paid via the CSA/CMS and your step-daughter has officially moved in with you, then you would need to inform that agency of a change in circumstances and the payments will be reviewed accordingly.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Jun-16 @ 2:01 PM
We pay monthly child maintenance for my step daughter. My step daughter now resides with us but we are still paying maintenance to her mother. What is the rule regarding suspending payment . Not sure if my step daughter residing with us is short or long term
Sarah - 16-Jun-16 @ 6:05 PM
?? - Your Question:
I'll try and explain is simple as possible. so here goes. I'm am writing on behalf of my father. Is there a law that even if you are not the biological father does he need to pay maintainance for his ex wife's child??He married a woman in 2012 seperated in 2014 no children together, nor assets.In the 10 years she has left him twice. She has a daughter who she called dad.Now this last time she has left and have both moved on, separated and had my father has had no contact with her daughter since then. Both parties have now moved on. Now after nearly 2 years he has filed for divorce. Which she had agreed to start off with arranged to meet in my fathers solicitors office. But now she disagrees and wants child support for her daughter, I quote"because he has been in her life for the past 10 years and he has "responsibility" to pay maintenance" the child knows that my father is not her real dad. So basically she isn't going to sign the divorce because she has been advised, and she should press to get maintenance. She had said her cucumstances have changed when she left and has been diagnosed with throat cancer ( no evidence) of this, and if ever the worst was to happen she wants her child to be looked after. Is this correct, he hasn't adopted the child and hasn't had contact since she left. My father doesn't know what to do next as he is not the biological father and isn't his responsibility as such. I could go on this isn't the first time she has gone after money!! Much appreciated for any information and help. I would just like to know if what she is saying is true, in the eyes of the law.

Our Response:
It is unlikely the court would make the non-biological father pay child maintenance unless the child was adopted by him. You don't say whether the biological father is around, if so, the mother would have a better chance of claiming for child maintenence from him.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Jun-16 @ 1:55 PM
I'll try and explain is simple as possible. so here goes.. I'm am writing on behalf of my father. Is there a law that even if you are not the biological father does he need to pay maintainance for his ex wife's child??He married a woman in 2012 seperated in 2014 no children together, nor assets.In the 10 years she has left him twice. She has a daughter who she called dad.Now this last time she has left and have both moved on, separated and had my father has had no contact with her daughter since then. Both parties have now moved on. Now after nearly 2 years he has filed for divorce. Which she had agreed to start off with arranged to meet in my fathers solicitors office. But now she disagrees and wants child support for her daughter, I quote"because he has been in her life for the past 10 years and he has "responsibility" to pay maintenance" the child knows that my father is not her real dad. So basically she isn't going to sign the divorce because she has been advised, and she should press to get maintenance. She had said her cucumstances have changed when she left and has been diagnosed with throat cancer ( no evidence) of this, and if ever the worst was to happen she wants her child to be looked after. Is this correct, he hasn't adopted the child and hasn't had contact since she left. My father doesn't know what to do next as he is not the biological father and isn't his responsibility as such. I could go on this isn't the first time she has gone after money!! Much appreciated for any information and help. I would just like to know if what she is saying is true, in the eyes of the law.
?? - 13-Jun-16 @ 6:12 PM
Sluther - Your Question:
My daughter is 17 and has just become a parent herself she isn't in full time education or living with my ex she lives with her boyfriend and family am I still legally obliged to pay maintenance for her

Our Response:
It depends whether your daughter is receiving certain benefits or not, such as Universal Credit. If she is, then you can stop paying child maintenance. Child maintenance stoppage usually falls in line with the cessation of child benefit payments.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Jun-16 @ 2:18 PM
My daughter is 17 and has just become a parent herself she isn't in full time education or living with my ex she lives with her boyfriend and family am I still legally obliged to pay maintenance for her
Sluther - 10-Jun-16 @ 10:03 AM
Tom - Your Question:
My daughter lives with her grandparents and has done for nearly 4 years since we separated. They have shared residency over my daughter. Ive always paid her grandparents every week an had her Friday to Sunday every week. Her mum will go weeks, months with out seeing her, and is not allowed to have her unsupervised, an now she is threatening with csa an back dating for the 4 years we've been split. Is this something she can do? Thanks

Our Response:
Unless your ex has made a claim previously for child maintenance then she would not be entitled to make one retrospectively. It means your ex cannot try to claim for payments from four years previously. Likewise, if your ex does not have residency of your child, then she is not entitled to claim. In fact as you pay for your daughter's support, so should your ex pay half towards it, if she is earning.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Jun-16 @ 1:49 PM
My daughter lives with her grandparents and has done for nearly 4 years since we separated. They have shared residency over my daughter. Ive always paid her grandparents every week an had her Friday to Sunday every week. Her mum will go weeks, months with out seeing her, and is not allowed to have her unsupervised, an now she is threatening with csa an back dating for the 4 years we've been split. Is this something she can do? Thanks
Tom - 2-Jun-16 @ 10:53 PM
Floyd- Your Question:
My 17 year old son is moving away to college and I would like to pay him his maintenance money directly. His mother has said I should still be paying it to her to keep a roof over her head as she has been his primary carer since we split and would continue to be if he quit college. He has said he may be home most weekends where he could stay at either of our homes. Is she correct?

Our Response:
It may be your ex is paying for his upkeep while away, or using the money to help with his rent/food etc, therefore is is best to establish this first. This is really something your should discuss mutually and with your son to see how the money can be best used to help with his day-to-day needs, as until he is 18 parental responsibility still applies. But there is no right or wrong here and mediation may help if you can't agree.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Jun-16 @ 12:53 PM
My 17 year old son is moving away to college and I would like to pay him his maintenance money directly. His mother has said I should still be paying it to her to keep a roof over her head as she has been his primary carer since we split and would continue to be if he quit college. He has said he may be home most weekends where he could stay at either of our homes. Is she correct?
Floyd - 31-May-16 @ 8:07 PM
? - Your Question:
How do I know how much I have to pay my ex girlfriend lives with her parents at there house with my child and she had no bills to pay. I am on a zero hour contract and don't know from one month to the next what I will earn I have more bills to pay than her and when I am back from work I have my child and pay for what she need I'm already paying her but I'm starting to think she is not using the money for my child

Our Response:
Child maintenance has nothing to do with what your ex earns, or what she spends the money on, it solely has to do with your own earnings and the responsibility of contributing to the day-to-day welfare of your child. If you are on a zero hours contract, as a rule the CMS will use a retrospective calculation of your income in order to determine what you have to pay. This is obtained through your previous financial year earnings from HMRC. If there is any change in circumstances regarding your earnings and there is a difference of 25% in income they will complete a reassessment.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-May-16 @ 10:46 AM
How do I know how much I have to pay my ex girlfriend lives with her parentsat there house with my child and she had no bills to pay. I am on a zero hour contract and don't know from one month to the next what I will earn I have more bills to pay than her and when I am back from work I have my child and pay for what she needI'm already paying her but I'm starting to think she is not using the money for my child
? - 9-May-16 @ 1:22 PM
My ex has been paying child maintenance through the CSA since our son was 3, he is now 13.I have had a long history of problems with him not paying what he should and not paying on time.This all seems to have resolved now and he has been regularly paying for the last few years. He has remarried, as have I, and gone on to have 2 other children with his new wife and they all live together in forces married quarters. About 3yrs ago,I requested the CSA to perform a pay review on him, which they did but I was shocked to learn from them that he was then having to pay child maintenance through the CSA for his other 2 children as well as my son.The letter stated that my ex would from then on be reducing the amount he paid to me as he now had to support his other kids and that he would be paying x amount to his wife. Don't get me wrong, if he should of been paying for those children I would not haveany issue with that but what I do have an issue with is the fact that he has blatantly lied to the CSA an made it seem like he is not living with those children when in fact he is and always has so that he doesn't have to pay as much for my son. When I rang the CSA to query this matter, I was told there was nothing they could do, they can't discuss what my ex has said due to data protection laws (fair enough)and that was the end of the matter as far as they are concerned. I know I'm one of the lucky ones who actually receives maintenance and don't want to sound like I'm wanting to bleed him dry but to me it's the fact that he would stoop so low as to cheat his son out of the financial support he deserves. I would greatly appreciate any help and advice on what, if anything I can do about this as surely this classes as fraud of some kind? Many thanks.
hacked off - 9-Apr-16 @ 7:44 PM
My ex has been paying child maintenance through the CSA since our son was 3, he is now 13.I have had a long history of problems with him not paying what he should and not paying on time.This all seems to have resolved now and he has been regularly paying for the last few years. He has remarried, as have I, and gone on to have 2 other children with his new wife and they all live together in forces married quarters. About 3yrs ago,I requested the CSA to perform a pay review on him, which they did but I was shocked to learn from them that he was then having to pay child maintenance through the CSA for his other 2 children as well as my son.The letter stated that my ex would from then on be reducing the amount he paid to me as he now had to support his other kids and that he would be paying x amount to his wife. Don't get me wrong, if he should of been paying for those children I would not haveany issue with that but what I do have an issue with is the fact that he has blatantly lied to the CSA an made it seem like he is not living with those children when in fact he is and always has so that he doesn't have to pay as much for my son. When I rang the CSA to query this matter, I was told there was nothing they could do, they can't discuss what my ex has said due to data protection laws (fair enough)and that was the end of the matter as far as they are concerned. I know I'm one of the lucky ones who actually receives maintenance and don't want to sound like I'm wanting to bleed him dry but to me it's the fact that he would stoop so low as to cheat his son out of the financial support he deserves. I would greatly appreciate any help and advice on what, if anything I can do about this as surely this classes as fraud of some kind? Many thanks.
hacked off - 9-Apr-16 @ 7:26 PM
My partner has two children with his first partner and one with his second partner his first partner is in an arrangement monthly his second partner was and was quite happy taking the weekly money until she decided it was not enough now she wants double the money cause she thinks he is wealthy which couldn't be any further from the truth he has property in his name but it's mortgaged his second partner has two other children to two other men who do not pay anything nor has she per sued them oh and both these mothers have never worked and claim everything going also she has not acknowledged any payments that have been paid we use to have the child every weekend this was not mentioned ether now bailiffs are involved the money they are asking to pay is extortion also I believe her first son she is claiming for as my partner was there from birth but is not the father for 10 years also he has not seen his own son in two years because she won't allow him near him until she gets the money she wants
Chizz - 7-Apr-16 @ 7:34 PM
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