It is possible to arrange child maintenance payments through the court. This is done, in England and Wales, by way of a ‘consent order.’ A consent order is an official ruing of the court that orders the non-resident parent to pay an agreed amount of child support to the resident parent. If you and your ex partner cannot agree on the amount that should be paid, a consent order is not the right option for you.
Consent orders for child support payments are almost always ordered at the same time as the parties are in court for another reason, e.g. a divorce or in ancillary relief proceedings. If you are not eligible for legal aid, you will have to pay for the consent order yourself (court fees, solicitors fees etc.) It is also important to note that if you are normally eligible for legal aid, you will not be covered for a consent order if you are only going to court to deal with child maintenance issues.
What Happens If The Order Is Breached?
If the non-resident parent does not comply with the order of the court, the court can then enforce payment against them. If you then wish to go to the CSA/CMS to obtain child maintenance payments, you cannot do this until the order has been in force for at least twelve months.
The Court’s Powers of Enforcement
Much like the powers of the CSA/CMS, the court can require that deductions are made from the non-resident parent’s earnings at source. It is also possible to put a charge on the non-resident parent’s property, if they own it. Although this is not a quick-fix in that you will not get your money immediately, it means that you will obtain the money you are owed on the sale of the property if there is enough equity left after mortgage and any other charges are paid off. If your ex-partner has a lot of charges against his or her property, you may be quite a long way down the list and may not receive anything when it is sold. If someone owes your ex-partner money, you can apply to the court to obtain a ‘third party debt order’, which is basically an order of the court requiring the money to be paid to you rather than to your ex-partner. You can do this with money owed to your ex by banks, companies and private individuals. The facility for an overdraft does not count, in this regard, and nor does money that is contained within a joint account.
If your ex is caught trying to move money between accounts or hiding details of his or her finances, you can also ask the court to intervene by obtaining a ‘freezing injunction.’ This stops the assets being moved around, and is especially useful if your ex-partner is trying to take money out of the country.
Prison For Non-Payment of Child Support
A last resort in relation to child maintenance payments is that you can apply to the court to have your ex-partner sent to prison. The application that you make is called a ‘Request for Judgment Summons’, which summons your ex to court. If your ex does not show up, the court may issue a warrant for their immediate arrest, or a ‘suspended committal order’, which in effect gives them another chance to show up before a warrant is issued.
The judge can either: order that the payments are made by instalments; or, if satisfied that your ex has the means to pay but is wilfully refusing to pay, can send him or her to prison for a period of up to six weeks.
I don’t know how these partners keep getting away with it. Mine is the same brand new business van new Land Rover private number plates paying his brothers wages who also lives in London rent to pay. My ex husband lives at home with his parents for years I’ve been asking for a pay increase to shared maintenance for 9 years. I’ve had to take two jobs just to make sure my daughter has everything I’m paying his share of maintenance. Child support service I had to pay for are doing absolutely nothing. The ex claims he only brings in £262 a week but his life style is a different one. It’s a battle ground for shared maintenance and it shouldn’t be.
Julie2 - 29-Aug-21 @ 7:51 PM
I have a court order for child maintenance payments. My ex has not paid since 2009 due to him going to the Csa/Cma they reassessed the amount down by 2/3rds he is self employed so same old same old not working/hence depression but still manages to go to the pub every night. Is it true that the order was only live for a year and him going to the CMA after a year the order was rubberstamped is correct? So in theory the court order long term is not worth the paper it’s written on?
Ex living the dream - 14-Sep-19 @ 9:14 AM
I went to court and th court said I only have to pay £1,300 as I am self employed. I happily said I’d do that and continue to buy my sons shoes clothes etc when needed. The Csa sent me a letter today with a copy of the order for 1,3000 and asking for £445 a month over 12 months??? More than the order is for?
Kai34 - 2-Sep-19 @ 12:50 PM
My sons dad live out of the UK so i need to take him to court to have a order out im place that he pays child maintenance but i do not know which forms i need to fill out and put to the court to start this process can anyone help me?
Missa - 6-Jun-19 @ 1:37 PM
My husband has a court order to pay child support for his daughter (from a previous relationship)who is 20 yrs old who is studying at a uni. He has remarried and has 2 young children and we are really struggling financially to get by even day to day. Is there anyway we can stop the court order now she is 20 yrs old or even reduce the amount. We are sick with worry as we dont know how we can pay the child support any more. Please can you help. Thank you
Cb44 - 23-May-19 @ 1:22 AM
I was in a 9 years cohabitation and a child of 4 years , because he was extremely manipulative and violent, after I moved from the house he bought when we were together,after I took any non-molestation order. I have applied for CSAin February 2018, and he was gaming all the time with CSA , that he is only a employee and earned £150 pw , as a company director he takes as dividends over 100k and playing with this all the time ...
not only that he have a properties on rental and access over 4 million...
CSA Already told him the calculation but he still not paying...
it’s horibly frustrating , the waiting and how he can gaming CSA...
now he trying anything he can to lower the payment... he got another child which was a concent order to awarded to be paid...
what can I do ?
Can I get any consent order to force.
I was his accountant so I know exactly how he gaming the situation...
Kerry - 17-Jan-19 @ 9:54 PM
My ex partner was employed and I had been receiving £1500 a month for two children. In beginning on 2018 he started a successful business employing a further 3 directors, one being his WIFE! They live in a 350k house drive two cars one being x6 have nice holidays and so on.....1 year ago my payments have dropped to £120 a month after he made his wife director and is now only claiming to the HMRC he earns £8200 a year... really! This is not only tax avoidance but dirversion of find to avoids paying maintenance... looks like he’s taking dividends and paying his wife a massive salary when she clearly does not work and Lola after there son full time ! Where do I start this is totally disgusting and unfair..
Kirsty1 - 17-Dec-18 @ 9:41 AM
I’ve a court order and it states my ex should pay an amount for his children each month. It says he must pay on time and by standing order. He’s never paid in time or by standing order and now he’s stopped paying for our daughter. What can I do? He says he’s not going to pay and is three months behind.
Piebaby - 15-Nov-18 @ 1:45 PM
Got a consent order from the court when i got divorced in 2016. It stated that i paid a set amount for my 2 children. I have done this and over the years given her half towards everything else. She has now gone to the child maintenance service saying the court order only stood for a year. Is this true if so why pay a solicitor to get this claus included in the divorce.
Fed Up Ex - 29-Oct-18 @ 3:55 PM
I have been using the CSA then the CMS for the last 4.5years to try and get a fair payment from my sons father (CSA case was closed early due to a nil assessment as he told them he wasn’t work when he was)
He repeatedly plays games (gives false contact details/ living circumstances/income details/employer name etc etc.) in the last year I have received 41 letters from the CMS for all the recurrent changes. As soon as something is arranged and set up the day before payment he will call and change his payment method/say he is now unemployed etc etc they then ask for evidence which is never received and then the processed starts all over again until another deductions of earning is set up and then he calls the day before and makes a minimum payment so that the deductions of earning is removed. He was left on a nil assessment for 7months despite me informing them repeatedly that he was working, and when the backdated figure was put in place he fought against it as it that the CMS fault that the calculation hadn’t been done and the backdated figure was basically ignored. All I got was a written apology from CMS for their mistake.
He has never been out of arrears disputes living a luxury lifestyle of holidays and season tickets whilst I have to work 45hrs pw to support my son.
I understand that it is him that is playing the game but the CMS are just allowing him to do it. How can they allow the same cycle over and over again? He has never been fined for providing false information-should he not be? I feel that the CMS are letting my son down and not providing the service that they are supposed to. Can I go about taking legal action against the CMS for not sorting this out properly?
Helen - 28-Sep-18 @ 8:59 PM
Long story short I have 2 children to an ex, I have custody of one child she has custody of the second child, I am remarried so is she with kids to new partners, but because I work I have to pay her maintenance for our second child, but she contributes nothing to our oldest with her not working, is this right? Shouldn't this balance itself out?
Scotty - 28-Sep-18 @ 7:09 AM
Lisa - Your Question:
My ex husband has purposely gone self employed so he doesn't have to pay for his daughter anymore and has informed me I won't be getting anymore child maintenance.I currently go through the CMS.I know he's going to be earning a lot more than he did at his previous job but he won't declare it.Can I take my ex to court and would it be worth my while?Thank you.
You can take your ex to court, only if you can prove that his earnings are more than he is declaring, which is not easy when someone is self-employed, as they can legally pitch earnings against expenses. You cannot take your ex to court on the basis of hiding income he hasn't yet earned. The only time you can take your ex to court is if his lifestyle begins to look as though he obviously is earning more than he is stating to the HMRC. In such a case, the courts would look at his accounts in depth. However, you have to have a strong case, as if his accounts prove to be squeaky clean, then it is you who may have to pay out for the court costs.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Feb-18 @ 12:13 PM
My ex husband has purposely gone self employed so he doesn't have to pay for his daughter anymore and has informed me I won't be getting anymore child maintenance.
I currently go through the CMS.
I know he's going to be earning a lot more than he did at his previous job but he won't declare it.
Can I take my ex to court and would it be worth my while?
Lisa - 25-Feb-18 @ 7:56 PM
I am in a very similar situation to the comment posted by mom 2.
My ex-husband is no longer employed and will be relocating to America. We did not have any court order, just mutual agreements and then we used CSA towards the end which is case file was just closed, as he is no longer employed. I read that I cannot do anything with the REMO country because we never had a court order.
I honestly don’t want to get him in any trouble with his new life in America and I don’t know if I’m supposed to now bring him to court in the UK or bring him to court in America to request a court ordered child support. Any advice would be very much appreciated.
Sunny - 3-Feb-18 @ 3:06 AM
Hi i read All your comments ihave been at this problem over 8years.done all Csa complaint procedure it’s called RUN AROUND.make sense.GET TO YOURMP. Get them involved about Csa or Cms failing you .GET your MP to contactRT HON FRANK FIELD MP chairman of work and. Pension committee about your case .he is having ago with child maintenance minister,Get more complaint in then government wii have to listen.its about Diversion of money and Assets please don’t sit back . ATTACK.
Justice for children - 29-Dec-17 @ 1:25 PM
SJ1982 - Your Question:
My ex has never paid maintenance and our daughter will be 12 years old soon.He receives profit from rental properties, even after all mortgage and insurance expenses are deducted he still earns enough to not need to work. CSA state that they don't consider rental income as an income for maintenance calculations. Ex also is getting ESA somehow so surely I should get at least £5/ week? I wouldn't like to know how I can get maintenance from him. If HMRC recognise his income for getting their tax paid then why can't it be considered for chairs maintenance? And why am I not even getting £5/week?Can I take him to court?
Taking your ex to court for child maintenance is a costly business and therefore you would need to have a strong case. Where a non-resident parent has 'unearned income' (eg. income from property rental, dividends or interest, as defined by reference to the tax statutes) it can be taken into account, dependent upon the amount he earns. Also, a non-resident parent's liability can be increased if that individual's 'lifestyle is inconsistent with their income.' In the first instance you may wish to complain via the gov.uk link here. If you wish to seek legal advice with regards to taking the matter to court, then you will have a stronger case if you can prove your ex makes excessive pension contributions, or pays himself via his new partner, or if he does not pay himself a salary that equates to his lifestyle. A court can look into his accounts and spending habits more in depth than CMS can.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Oct-17 @ 10:27 AM
My ex has never paid maintenance and our daughter will be 12 years old soon.
He receives profit from rental properties, even after all mortgage and insurance expenses are deducted he still earns enough to not need to work. CSA state that they don't consider rental income as an income for maintenance calculations. Ex also is getting ESA somehow so surely I should get at least £5/ week? I wouldn't like to know how I can get maintenance from him.
If HMRC recognise his income for getting their tax paid then why can't it be considered for chairs maintenance? And why am I not even getting £5/week?
Can I take him to court?
SJ1982 - 9-Oct-17 @ 11:51 AM
@Lulu - you are paying to help support your child, who might not eat otherwise!
Rudi - 26-Sep-17 @ 12:53 PM
Hi .the mother of the child I am paying maintenance to is illegally living in the UK .Can she get away with this, because she is hiding from the uk border and still receiving money from csa .Is there any chance I can take her to court with this new system .
Lulu - 25-Sep-17 @ 9:45 PM
My husband has a consent order that does not specify child maintenance, more so financials of assets but he has paid the agreed amount that was originally in the separation agreement since separation.
One daughter has just finished A levels and the son has finished the first year uni. The intention is to now stop all maintenance.He paid the extra year for the eldest just to keep things simple. (I might add he does not see his children after a lengthy contact battle but continued to pay maintenance)
The separation agreement specifies paying to tertiary education but he never agreed to have that in the consent order as we were advised to keep maintenance out. So the question is: Are we correct that the consent order over rides the separation agreement that was made before divorce and so therefore now both have finished their A levels he can stop maintenance?Thank you
Poppy - 26-Jul-17 @ 1:17 PM
My children's father has not paid maintenance for 6 years. Despite the arrears building up to over £20k, the CSA were not able to get any from him. The new CMS is not able start a claim as he now lives abroad. They told me to contact REMO which only enforces child maintenance if your arrangement was through the court. Is there anyone who knows who I should contact? My children are at secondary school now and it's really difficult despite a good job and they deserve it.
Mum of 2 - 19-Jul-17 @ 6:56 PM
Randolf - Your Question:
I separated from my wife in 2014 the consent order had the annual review of the child maintenance taken off due to the whole financial package There is a amount that I should pay until there 18 or finish further education which I have always paid and moreDoes this still stand as she has now gone to CSA for no reason Talking to her is not a option
You can see more via the CMS link here . I advise you also speak with CMS or your solicitor directly regarding this. It is highly unlikely you would have to pay both child maintenance through your financial agreement and additional child maintenance via CMS.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Jul-17 @ 10:36 AM
I separated from my wife in 2014 the consent order had the annual review of the child maintenance taken off due to the whole financial package
There is a amount that I should pay until there 18 or finish further education which I have always paid and more
Does this still stand as she has now gone to CSA for no reason
Talking to her is not a option
Randolf - 2-Jul-17 @ 9:40 AM
Seahawk - Your Question:
Hi,My ex-wife and I have a court order which has been in place since 2001 for maintenance payments for our daughter. It states payments are "payable in advance until the said child attains 18 or ceases full time education (up to but not including University Education or equivalent) whichever is the later or further order". My daughter has been studying A Level equivalent courses since leaving school at 16, she is due to be 20 in the next couple of months. Please can someone tell me if court order maintenance follows CMS rules and Child Benefit, in that payments should stop at 20 years of age? And if so what action I need to take when she reaches 20. Many thanks
Yes. 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 you are paying via CMS, then your payments will stop automatically. Otherwise, it should be agreed between your daughter's mother and yourself.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Jun-17 @ 3:00 PM
My ex-wife and I have a court order which has been in place since 2001 for maintenance payments for our daughter. It states payments are "payable in advance until the said child attains 18 or ceases full time education (up to but not including University Education or equivalent) whichever is the later or further order". My daughter has been studying A Level equivalent courses since leaving school at 16, she is due to be 20 in the next couple of months. Please can someone tell me if court order maintenance follows CMS rules and Child Benefit, in that payments should stop at 20 years of age? And if so what action I need to take when she reaches 20. Many thanks
Seahawk - 25-Jun-17 @ 10:54 AM
iantt - Your Question:
Hi there, got divorced in 2006 and had court order for child maintenance for my 2 children , paying every month into my ex bank acc. I didnt realise that the order went over and above csa calc and had to pay until my daughter finished education to first degree or 18yrs old. she is now 21 and finished her degree and working. I will be stopping paying for her but my son is 16 and due to go to college.my question is how do we come to a new payment amount. back to court or new csa?
Speak to CMS directly, please see link here. You will either continue the payment agreement for your son as to the court order. Or if the court order has ended on your son leaving school, CMS will be able to help arrange.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Jun-17 @ 10:57 AM
hi there, got divorced in 2006 and had court order for child maintenance for my 2 children , paying every month into my ex bank acc . i didnt realise that the order went over and above csa calc and had to pay until my daughter finished education to first degreeor 18yrs old. she is now 21 and finished her degree and working. i will be stopping paying for her but my son is 16 and due to go to college.
my question is how do we come to a new payment amount. back to court or new csa?
iantt - 11-Jun-17 @ 3:05 PM
sammy123 - Your Question:
I am currently owed back pay (substantial amount) my son is now 22 years old and I have never recieved a penny from the father. He has had numerous assessments by the CSA, some reasonable other amounts baffling. I fully intend to take the father to court for the back pay, I am just looking for advice on where I should begin? The process etc.
You should begin by seeing a solicitor to see whether you have a strong case, as you could be liable to court costs if you lose. You don't give the reason why your ex has not paid and why CSA/CMS were unable to collect the money. If your ex does not have the money (regardless of whether he owes it or not), a court may not be able to extract the money either. Therefore, please take some sound legal advice first.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-May-17 @ 2:49 PM
I am currently owed back pay (substantial amount) my son is now 22 years old and I have never recieved a penny from the father. He has had numerous assessments by the CSA, some reasonable other amounts baffling. I fully intend to take the father to court for the back pay, I am just looking for advice on where I should begin? The process etc..
sammy123 - 19-May-17 @ 1:08 PM
I separated from my children father in 2015, he hasn't paid me a penny since oct 2016, and the payments in between was in constant. I finally got a csa agreement in Aug 2016, which he broke 3 months later. They wright to him, he promises to pay, then don't. I am owed 1200 and counting. He hasn't seen my chick since July 2016 after my son just refused to c him as all visits was in the pub, or around other people. My son kept requesting time alone with him, he refused, calling my son selfish. Since we split I have had a non mol order against him, and his new partner has had a warning of the police for harassment, which they have both resently broke. I am in financial crisis, I was debt free when I broke from him, after 4 yrs of slugging my guts out to free myself, after we split, I unavoidable got myself into debt, just trying to keep the roof over mine and my children head. I've been advised to get a court order for maintenance, but I'm not sure where he lives, where he works, and I really can't afford court costs, etc. I work, 30 hrs a wk. Will I get any help taking him to court? The csa just write to him, in the meantime me and my kids live hand to mouth.