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.
My son and his ex-wife divorced 10 years ago and maintenance was never an issue until both parties found new partners. The CMS have asked him to pay arrears at a weekly rate which is agreed but they have put in a letter this is for a 30 week period back to 29 April 2015 (earlier this year) However the calculation is the weekly figure multiplied by 70. The length of time since a dispute arose, back in 2014 would be about 70 weeks. Could my son ask the CMS to look at their figures again as this would appear to be totally incorrect and would they place a suspension on his payment of arrears until this is sorted. The length of time this could take to be sorted has been said to be about 16 weeks. Is this correct ? What should my son do ?
I'm afraid I can't tell you what policy the CSA adopts when looking into complaints or appeals. However, you can find out more details via the gov.uk link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Oct-15 @ 11:23 AM
My son and his ex-wife divorced 10 years ago and maintenance was never an issue until both parties found new partners. The CMS have asked him to pay arrears at a weekly rate which is agreed but they have put in a letter this is for a 30 week period back to 29 April 2015 (earlier this year)However the calculation is the weekly figure multiplied by 70. The length of time since a dispute arose, back in 2014 would be about 70 weeks. Could my son ask the CMS to look at their figures again as this would appear to be totally incorrect and would they place a suspension on his payment of arrears until this is sorted.The length of time this could take to be sorted has been said to be about 16 weeks.Is this correct ?What should my son do ?
Lizzie - 30-Sep-15 @ 4:34 PM
Hi @helen no he is employed by his family. His uncle owns 5 car garages selling prestigious cars such as maserati ferrari. He gets paid through this company but because he works for his family the family don't comply and however many times I tell the cms this they do not care. The whole family are playing games and have done for 2 years and the cms do not implement anything.
Emma - 23-Sep-15 @ 12:46 PM
@Emma - is your ex self-employed? I'm not siding with the CMS, but it is always difficult for the CMS to take money from someone who does their own accounts. It's really easy to hide earnings if you have a good accountant. The CMS are then powerless to extract the money.
Helen - 23-Sep-15 @ 10:41 AM
I am parent with care over my two daughters. I started a case with CMS in September 2013. My ex has always dodged paying eventually put on a deductions of earnings order for 5 months and then without my consent, without him being compliant and having thousands in arrears the cms took him off deductions of earnings order because he asked.... I am now in my fifth month of waiting for payment and nothing. No punishment no penalties nothing. The CMS do nothing to help you or punish them! It's all lies! They get £20 put of you to join they take a percentage of whatever you receive but in all of it you are the one that has to chase the phone calls which also costs money and they couldn't be more unhelpful if they tried. So any article that tries to state that they do have harsh penalties and consequences speak to me I'm living proof they do nothing!
Emma - 23-Sep-15 @ 10:23 AM
Curious- Your Question:
My son's are 18 & 14 their father left when I was 4 months pregnant with my 2nd son & theres been no contact but they have found out where he is & made contact now. Are they entitled to backdated maintenence money? He is married & both him & his wife have good jobs.
I'm afraid not. If you have never claimed maintenance previously, then the CSA/CMS will not backdate payments. However, you may be able to claim for them now. You can definitely claim for your 14 year old, as 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. Regarding your elder child if he has continued in full-time non-advanced education, not higher than A-level equivalent, for at least 12 hours a week, then your will be able to claim maintenance until your child finishes education.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Sep-15 @ 12:26 PM
have been separated from my wife for 18 mthsi have paid child maintenance for my child since we splitits an agreement between us both on amountthe CSA is not involved.my wife does not work and is on state benefit
my wife now says that i should also paymaintenance for her two other children that are step children and im not the father off
she has never tried to get there real fathers to pay a penny
where do i stand with this ? the step children have been been brought up as my own since we met as they was very young and always was told i was there dad,but my wife has now told them that im notand they no longer wish to have anything to do with me
lostdad1 - 22-Sep-15 @ 9:54 AM
My son's are 18 & 14 their father left when I was 4 months pregnant with my 2nd son & theres been no contact but they have found out where he is & made contact now. Are they entitled to backdated maintenence money? Heis married & both him & his wife have good jobs.
Curious - 21-Sep-15 @ 3:59 PM
Freddo- Your Question:
Hi my ex disappeared without leaving any contact details and it took a few years for her to be found to which her solicitor said my children didn't want to see me anymore I tried my best to have contact with my children I took legal advice and was told because they are 14/12 now it's up to them to make contact with me. So for 6 year's now I've not seen my children and the csa are now demanding money from me Because she's opened a claim up What rights do I have because it's all wrong personally
I'm afraid regardless of whether you see your children or not, you are still entitled to financially support their day-to-day wellbeing. Some fathers do not see their children from birth, but they are be expected to support them until they leave education and get a job.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Sep-15 @ 3:02 PM
Hi my ex disappeared without leaving any contact details and it took a few years for her to be found to which her solicitor said my children didn't want to see me anymore I tried my best to have contact with my children
I took legal advice and was told because they are 14/12 now it's up to them to make contact with me.
So for 6 year's now I've not seen my children and the csa are now demanding money from me
Because she's opened a claim up
What rights do I have because it's all wrong personally
Freddo - 15-Sep-15 @ 7:29 PM
My ex remarried last Aug. He pays CSA, but is her income taken into account once they are married or is he singularly liable still?
PaganMum - 31-Aug-15 @ 6:39 PM
I have for the past 5 years shared custody of my daughter, she stays with me from Thursday until Monday (4 overnight stays). All of a sudden my daughters mother wants maintenance from me & has contacted child maintenance services saying I only look after my daughter 2 nights per week. Child maintenance say I need to provide evidence of overnight stays. I don't know what my options are & also my ex has threatened to not let me see my daughter because she wants the full amount of maintenance.
AMJ - 15-Aug-15 @ 9:57 AM
I haven been paying child support for ten years since my son was born, and have struggled to see my son in this time, I have had court orders to no avail. I recently went back to court even to get sum kind of access for my son, basically he does not want to see me as he has a new daddy my exes husband.. The child has been brain washed into not wanting to see me.. I have two other children with my current partner, and struggle to meet ends meet, rent rates and maintenance etc.. Do I still have to pay mentainence? As I have been alienated from this child, and is settled with his family and step father? Obviously my money's good enough for them while I struggle week by week.. The system is unfair
Russt - 29-Jul-15 @ 10:04 PM
Does a father of 15 years old need to pay csa in future?
lee - 21-Jul-15 @ 3:12 PM
My 18yr old daughter ( 19 end of year ) might be going away to Uni in Sept.My 16yr old son is planning on joining the military in Sept, rather than 6th form .
Both children reside with their mother, & @ the moment I pay for both of them .
How will this change based on the above scenario?
doubleM - 14-Jul-15 @ 9:11 PM
@Brettj - In 2013 the law changed, making it compulsory for all UK children to continue in some kind of further education until the age of 18 (that is the end of the school year in which they turn 18). If child support is being paid through the Child Maintenance Service or Child Support Agency, it will automatically come to an end when your step-daughter finishes secondary education in the September after her final school term. However, should your partner feel that your daughter may need support through university, she could apply through court to extend maintenance to the end of her university degree. If she applies through the courts, the court will consider each case individually, taking into consideration her financial needs, along with the parents’ ability to pay. Some parents continue with a voluntary arrangement and pay support to their child directly. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 2-Jul-15 @ 10:33 AM
hi I'm the step father of our eldest daughter she turned 18 on Saturday and her father has told her payments to her mum my wife will now stop is this true she is off the uni in September please help brett
brettj - 29-Jun-15 @ 12:27 PM
Does a father legally have to pay child support for his child if she stays on in full time education after the age of 18
Tikalili - 15-Jun-15 @ 7:34 PM
@Hambro - If your son has decided that he wants to get a job and not continue in full-time education - which includes studying for 12 hours or more a week - then your payments would end in the September after his final school term. You don't say how you pay and whether it is a family-based arrangement or through a government agency or court order. If you pay through the CSA/CMS you should call directly to discuss how your circumstances have changed. You can also use the CMS Options calculator here to calculate what you should be paying for your other children once your maintenance to your elder child stops.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Jun-15 @ 2:23 PM
@introuble - you don't say whether it is a family-based agreement for maintenance or an official one i.e CMS/CSA or via a court order. If child support is paid through the CSA or CMS, then you can as for a review if you think he is earning more than he specifies, or if you think his personal income circumstances have changed. If it is a family-based arrangement and his payments are sporadic, then you may want to consider going through the CMS, via the link here. However, the fact that his wife earns the money, will have little or no bearing on his payments to you, as in, she is not liable to pay you child support.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Jun-15 @ 12:01 PM
@preshy - you don't say whether this amount is calculated officially, or whether it is a family-based agreement. If it is a family-based agreement, you would have to speak to your ex, and request he pays more. If it is through the CSA/CMS, then they will calculate the amount of money you should be awarded by assessing how much he earns, therefore you would have to contact the CSA and ask for a review if you feel that the official calculation may be wrong.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Jun-15 @ 10:41 AM
@jadeyy - I'm afraid it doesn't quite work like that. If the mother of your child decides to name you as the father then you will be awarded 'parental responsibility', which means you will (along with the mother), be financially responsible for your child until the age of 18 or 20. I have included the link: Child Support Law and Parental Responsibility, here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Jun-15 @ 10:02 AM
Hi my ex lost parental responsibility dies that mean he isn't financially responsible also..
kazza - 14-Jun-15 @ 8:02 PM
I have two sons who I have being paying maitence for the last 13 years with no problems
One son is finishing education this summer and he is 18 so I will stop paying
The other son I have 2 further years to maintain , how do you calculate the reduction ?
Hambro - 12-Jun-15 @ 8:07 PM
the father of my 2yr old daughter doesn't pay regularly and claims to earn not enough, even though he lives with his wife and their child in a big house, having an expensive lifestyle, though his wife earns the most of their money at the moment.
I there any way I can still get the maintenance for my daughter somehow, even if he really does not earn enough?
introuble - 12-Jun-15 @ 11:57 AM
Hi...I have a three yrs old son and his father send 600 per month but its not enough. What can I do
preshy - 12-Jun-15 @ 8:37 AM
Hello....can the father of a child sign away the write to be a parent, before the child is born? If so would that mean they wouldn't pay child support ? Thanks
jadeyy - 12-Jun-15 @ 1:25 AM
@confused - please see our partner article: Shared Care of a Child, link here which tells you all you need to know. The CAB also has a site here which has further information. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 11-Jun-15 @ 10:01 AM
Hi... Can anyone tell me what the laws are if there are two children and one child lives with the mother full time and the other lives with the father full time. Are either parents required to pay child maintenance? And if so, how is this calculated?
confused - 9-Jun-15 @ 9:43 AM
@natty -it is a difficult situtaion that many parents have when trying to claim maintenance, and more so if their ex is self-employed, as hiding money then becomes very easy when they have a good accountant. However, it's rare (and possibly not legal) that an employer would pay wages into a parental bank account, are you sure this is taking place? Can you not speak with your ex directly, he must know that the money is building up in arrears, therefore he might have to pay it back at some point. Hopefully, he can't live in this situation permanently and will at some point have to declare that he is earning.