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Who Has to Pay Child Support?

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 28 Aug 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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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
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
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