Child maintenance is financial support that helps towards your child's everyday living expenses and is paid on a regular basis. The parent that pays child maintenance is the non-resident parent i.e. the one who does not live with the child or have day-to-day care for the child. Child maintenance is paid to the parent the child lives with (the resident parent). In some cases, this may not be a parent, such as a grandparent or guardian with full care.
Why pay maintenance?
Paying maintenance for your child is extremely important. The person with full care of your child will no doubt be doing their best, however, the extra money that you pay can help to give your children a more stable and better quality upbringing. Maintenance payments will generally go towards food, clothes, school trips, books, toys and games, toiletries, medicines, childcare, activities, etc.
How much to pay?
The amount of child maintenance that you have to pay as a non-resident parent depends on a number of factors such as income, the number of children living with you and the number of children you have, whether you are the resident parent, are in receipt of benefits and whether or not the child also stays with you sometimes.
Types of maintenance arrangement
There are two main ways to arrange child maintenance:
Child Support Agency (CSA) or Child Maintenance Service (CMS)
If you are on good terms with the resident parent, it may be that you can come to some arrangement about how much you pay and how often.
The alternative and most popular option is to pay maintenance through the CSA and CMS.
How is child maintenance calculated?
The CSA and CMS calculates maintenance, whilst taking into account several factors which includes net weekly income (CSA), gross weekly income (CMS).
The four rates applied to the non-resident parent's net weekly income include:
Any new claims are now organised through the CMS. Between 2014 and 2017 the Child Support Agency (CSA) will contact all existing clients to end their current child maintenance arrangements to put in place a new arrangement.
The following information is based on existing calculations made via the CSA. For new claims via the CMS, you can contact the CMS directly on 0800 0835 130.
If the non-resident parent earns between £100 and £200 per week, they will pay a flat rate plus a percentage of their weekly income. This will vary depending on how many children they have that require maintenance. The flat rate is £5 per week, plus 25% of their income for one child, 35% of their income for two children, and 45% of their income for three or more children.
If the non-resident parent earns between £5 and £100 per week, they will pay a flat rate of £5 per week. This includes people who are on state benefits, Job Seeker's Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Bereavement Allowance, Income Support, State Pensions and certain other benefits. This rate will be the same regardless of how many children they have. In the case of state benefits, the child maintenance is usually deducted at source.
If the non-resident parent earns less than £5 per week, for example if they are a full time student, are under 16 years old, in prison, 18 or under in further education (no higher than A level) or are in a care home, the nil rate will apply. This means that they will not be required to pay anything.
What if a parent has other children?
If a resident parent has children with several different non-resident parents, the CSA will make these calculations separately. For example, if a woman has two children by one father and one by another man, the men will only pay for their own children respectively. Similarly, if a non-resident parent is paying money to several children in different households, the CSA will generally divide the money equally between the children.
If the non-resident parent has some CSA arrangements and some Family-Arrangement maintenance then unfortunately, the CSA cannot take into account the Family-Arrangement maintenance paid. It can, however, take into account any court orders in relation to maintenance.
What happens if the child stays overnight with both parents?
If the child stays overnight with the non-resident parent at least 52 nights a year i.e. on average at least one night a week then both parents have "shared care".
In the case of the basic and reduced rates, the amount of child maintenance that the non-resident parent has to pay is reduced in equal proportion to time the child stays with them. For example, if a parent is to pay £35 per week in maintenance but the child stays with the resident parent for 2 out of 7 nights per week, that £35 will be split into sevenths i.e. £35 divided by 7 nights x 5 nights that the child lives with the resident parent = £25. This is in addition to the flat rate of £5 which is always to be paid.
For the flat and nil rates, the amount to pay is nil.
What happens if the parent with care claims benefits?
Previously if the resident parent was claiming child maintenance, they were not always able to claim in full for benefits . However, since April 2010, benefits will not be affected by the amount of child maintenance received.
What happens if the non-resident parent is self-employed?
Calculations are made in the same way for self-employed non-resident parents as those who are employed. The CSA does have to calculate the earnings differently by working out the average weekly earnings for the past tax year. If this cannot be done, i.e. the business has not been up and running for a full year, then the CSA will use the gross income of the business to date. Reasonable business expenses and VAT are then deducted to obtain a weekly income figure, which is used to determine which rate of child maintenance should be paid.
What happens if the non-resident parent refuses to give their financial information to the CSA?
If a non-resident parent refuses to give information and it cannot be obtained from other sources, then a "default maintenance decision" is applied. This is a default rate which is as follows:
£30 a week for one child
£40 a week for 2 children
£50 a week for 3 or more children
The non-resident parent must pay from the date that the default maintenance decision was applied.
The CSA can also consider other elements before making a determination on maintenance payments. These can include fees for boarding school, special expenses that the non-resident parent pays for disabled children who live with them, mortgage payments for a property in which the parent with care and the child/children live (as long as the non-resident no longer has a legal interest in it) or loan payments for a loan taken out for the family's benefit while the non-resident parent was still living with the parent with care and the child/children.
Challenging the Decision
If you are not paying child support or have an application against you can find out if you have to pay child support. It is possible to ask the CSA to review a decision on maintenance payments.
Do you have to notify the CSA of changes to your circumstances?
The answer is yes. If you have a change in circumstances, you must notify the CSA/CMS immediately. If you are paying less than you should be then your child could suffer. Additionally, if the CSA/CMS finds out, you may have to make up for what you should have been paying. More positively, you could be paying too much and the figure needs to be lowered. You must also keep the CSA informed of any change of address.
How does this work,she's 15 and pregnant and wants to have the baby, my son is 17, how can they share legal rights to the child considering that soon my son will be 18 while she's still pregnant, who can he ask fir support to know what he can do to be the main carer of his child?
SI - 5-Sep-21 @ 8:34 AM
I think it’s a disgrace that men get done over. How a woman can manipulate the kids and when he can see them, and get 15% of his hard earns cash while claiming beniffits and doing sweet fa but sitting in her phone all day. Absolute disgrace.
Dad - 4-Sep-21 @ 12:31 PM
I have 4 sons 3 with my ex wife and another with someone else.
I haven't had DNA, so who knows if they are all mine, I have bought 3 of my sons up like any father would do.
How much CSA would I have to pay? I've applied to the courts for DNA and they've just ignored the possible consequences.
I me a let's face it without DNA anyone could be the biological father to your children.
Jud - 16-Jul-21 @ 2:16 PM
Hi all I'm at my witts end with my ex she tells me for me to get a normal Monday to Friday job I'm gonna have to pay her £80 a week child maintenance would only take £56 a week I give money all the time for her to get my kids what they need and there's never nothing to show I get them stuff when ever they need it its all about money with her all the time she is constantly on at me and treats me like crap I'm basically being controlled I don't no what to do
Danny112233 - 16-May-21 @ 11:22 PM
Hi just wanted to ask how much I need to pay my wife and 4 kids elements per month if we divorced??
As - 18-Nov-20 @ 12:30 PM
I have separated from my husband, I need to know if the mortgage payments should be included in the child maintenance or if he should pay half separately as his name is on the mortgage too
Jan - 30-Oct-20 @ 11:53 PM
My ex has started his own business and has declared he earns less than £7 per week making it so he is on the nil rate. Yet he drives round in a. Nice audi convertible takes his new girlfriend away all the time. He has my son 48 hours a month, ive told him he needs to see him more but says hes to busy. How can i prove he is earning more then he is declaring
Nix - 26-Sep-20 @ 9:24 PM
Regarding the payments made to my children from my ex partner.He insists the money he pays towards the care of his children covers my fuel costs for them to dropped off to him?
Cat - 10-Sep-20 @ 11:44 AM
I have offered my ex wife 3500 a month for the 3 children and 1500 for her.I also pay private school fees for the 3 children on top of this amount.I am consistently told I am out of touch with reality and that this is not enough for her and the children to live on.Whilst I am lucky to have a good income, I also work 6 days a week.
DaveJ - 24-Aug-20 @ 12:58 PM
Reading the comments makes my head hurt and my heart despair.
Are people really as thick as they seem to be?
It's no wonder we have a crisis in the children of separated families ??
Painful - 15-Jun-20 @ 12:18 PM
I pay £254 to my ex wife a month but my daughter has now left collage and got her pass on exams and know is working and earns between £100 and £400 a week so why am I still paying CSA ?
Andy - 10-Jun-20 @ 12:06 PM
If in the past ive left 30 thousand pounds for my son when hes older went through court and still have the proof? And pay her a 200 a month will i still have pay the csa money she wants more off me?
Bobby - 18-Mar-20 @ 12:12 AM
I pay 280 a month to my ex for my 3 kids witch I’m happy to do because there my kids but I know the money isn’t going on my kids my son hasn’t had a coat for school all week my son has only just informed me about this witch of course I went out and got a coat for him but wot I’m trying to say is that the money I give my ex should be going on my Kids but she spents it on herself she has also book a girls holiday out of this money how can I go about not giving her as much so then I can get everything my kids need my self instead of giving her the money thanks
Mark - 21-Jan-20 @ 1:19 PM
I don'tgetanythingfromfatherof thechildhow shouldhim pay for hischild.
Molly - 15-Dec-19 @ 7:01 AM
My sperm donor for my girl pays 40 a month was seein her wen he had time poping here and there put a stop to it he works full time has a older child sees her every other weekend she stays over and takes her on holidays he also has z child 5 months younger then mine doesn't see her neither
Dolls - 10-Nov-19 @ 9:01 PM
I would like to have my daughter stay a few nights a week but my ex wife refuses as it will drop her maintenance, what can I do ?
Jimbo1 - 6-Nov-19 @ 2:47 AM
Hi i had already agreed to pay my ex during our seperation i will continue to pay for my share of the mortgage and house bills, even though i am not living in the house. She is now claiming child maintenace, which i am happy to pay as it will cover food and clothes. But the CSA will not take into account i am already paying towards living expenses so each month i am paying £900. what are my options with my case?
BM - 25-Oct-19 @ 2:47 PM
my ex and I used the online calculator to see how much maintenance I will receive for my daughter. it said £72 per week, but as he will have to travel a 60 mile round trip to pick her up and then again to drop her off, I offered for him to only pay £50 A week instead. Now he's saying he wants to pay me per calendar month (even though he gets paid weekly) because some months is a 5 week month and he doesn't want to give me "4 extra weeks money a year".
Is maintenance worked out by week or calendar month?
Should I tell him I want the full £72 per week because of this? And is it up to him to pick her up and drop her off?
I do work part time (30 hours) and would work more but I can't because I'm looking after my kids. I do need the money weekly and I cannot afford to pay the fuel costs if I had to pick her up every week.
Mpops - 15-Sep-19 @ 1:35 PM
I have struggled bringing up my now 16 and 18 year old myself not ever recieving maintenance from their father. I am now happily married to my husband that has one child to a previous partner. We was both satisfied paying £54 a week. But getting back from our honeymoon found out he now has to pay £62 a week. We have been working 6 days a week to pay for our wedding and it seems like his ex is getting treated for it too. This system is just so wrong!!!!
Donna - 3-Sep-19 @ 6:12 PM
why is it we get calculated how much we pay to our Ex before tax and not after tax? I earned 38k last year but my take home pay was 32k yet I was calculated on 38k which to me is a massive over calculation due to the fact I have to live off a lot less.
my monthly take home pay on a good month is 2k AFTER tax and NI. out of that I have to pay my mortgage all my bills that comes to 1,100 leaving me with 900 out of that I have to pay 630 in csa leaving me with just over 200 to live off for the month. out of that I have to buy food and essentials like shampoo soap etc etc. I have no joys in life and have recently sold my car as I couldn't afford to run it anymore while my ex is driving around in a range rover.
the system need to be looked at and I think its about time the CSA take in to consideration people out goings. at this rate am going to have to sell my house and walk away from my job because I just can not afford to live.
1 we should not be calculated before tax it should be after tax
2 who ever asks to use collect and pay should be charged for it not the personnot asking to use it and is more than willing to pay direct debit.
3 all essential outgoings I.E Mortgage/rent, bills and weekly food bill all should be taken in to consideration when calculating someone.
4 a court order should have to be in place before CSA will get involved to state the arrangements made between both parents for over night stays. there is far to many EXs lying about over night stays and refusing access to gain more moneys.
5 the percentage of how much one should pay needs to be scraped. there should be a fixed weekly amount. there is no way it costs £600 a month to look after a child
the system is outdated and needs massive change to many fathers are losing everything and in some cases taking there own lives because they can not afford to pay the maintenance being told he has to pay.
stu - 27-Aug-19 @ 11:34 AM
I pay £250 to my ex as we alway have had disagreements through DD but as the child is now 2 she demading me to pay £300 or she was come on my doorstep and cause a scene
Who or what can i do going forth as the minder charges alot more ??
Any advice can help
Help - 22-Aug-19 @ 1:54 PM
A friend Earns £687.03 per wk. he has just received a letter statinghe will have to start paying £360 per month for he’s 13ry old. After taking out the Mortage, Petrol to and from work, all general bills etc he is left to live off less than he’s paying. The mother receives all benefits and a disabled benefit, Housing Benefit etc, plus the CSA. All I want to know is .... Dose this sound the correct payments ?
Help - 8-Jul-19 @ 10:03 PM
Hi, I'm having trouble working out what I should pay as I have 2 ex's, one of which is very reasonable to my circumstances, the other is not. Ex no.1 i have 2 children with aged 15 and 13. They see me every 3rd weekend and 4 full weeks per annum. Ex no.2 i have children with aged 7 and 6 who i visit 2-3 times a week as i am on good terms with ex. I currently pay £240 every 4 weeks to each childs mother but my circumstances have just changed.
My take home pay after tax is £1900. My key outgoings (if they matter) are as follows;
Rent, £1000 per month
Council tax £120 per month
Utility/phone/house bills £150 per month
Car finance £225 per month
Car tax/insurance £80 per month
Ccj's £40 per month
Child support £480 per month
Travel costs £100 per month
I've not included anything for my own personal living costs and food etc and am struggling to get my head round what's a fair amount to pay child support wise. Any help on how to make a fair assessment/calculation would be greatly appreciated. X
LondonDad - 4-Jul-19 @ 6:54 PM
I get £14 every other week for my child, he won’t provide clothes, food, haircuts, school dinners, school trips all he will pay is the £28 a month but yet has him every other weekend and works but doesn’t declare it!!! How can Father’s get away with this sort of rubbish they see there child but yet won’t provide for them, if you can’t go half on your child’s needs than you should stop seeing them there better off with out you in there lives.
Ex - 17-Jun-19 @ 8:36 AM
Hi , cms has just cot in contact with me about my daughterabout me paying £100 a month , when spoken to cms the told me i sould payfor yr child but the child in question is 22yrs of age not living with her mother but with her boyfriend in nother village so way should i pay in the first place and were a to who does my money go to can any one help me pleas
Big boy - 16-Jun-19 @ 7:01 PM
My daughter was put in my care 8 years ago, no child support because daughter mother got married and husband paying child support and stop paying as they come of age so I pay £20 to new system to get £7 a week but decline paying me nothing because they are state benefits and have her daughter once a week is that true and I’m £20 worse off because of false info on new csa booklets. Where do I go from here. Thanks chris austin.
Austin - 15-May-19 @ 5:29 PM
Hello everyone I pay my ex £700 a month and when I asked the csa how they work this out they said it's worked out fair to I pay the same as the ex to bring up the kids. I'm very sure my kids don't get 1400 a month spent on then so it works out I'm paying 100% of their up bringing and she not having to put her hand in her pocket at all it's very unfair as I'm loving on the bread line I'm having my parents help me out every month so I don't lose my house as I have also had to spend all my savings in court fighting to see my kids that cost me a year of the kids lives and 12k to prove the ex was a compulsive liar
The system is a sham it's unfair and wrong
Azz - 10-May-19 @ 4:00 PM
My husband pays child support for his son (13 yo) to his ex girlfriend and she is asking for more which I do think she is entitled to. He rarely stays with us. However we have a child together also who does live with us and I don’t understand how to work out how much to give his ex. The calculator doesn’t seem to account for having a second child that lives with us. Unless I am being stupid or that doesn’t make any difference?
Mooommy - 23-Apr-19 @ 10:01 AM
My partner and I do all the transportation of the children as their mother refuses to meet us half way to collect or drop off the children. He also pays weekly maintenance for them. Can he reduce the amount he pays weekly in order to over the cost we incur to transport them?
Becca - 12-Apr-19 @ 4:17 PM
Ex pays £6 for two kids walked out of police officer job as he did not want to pay me , I sleep with people for cash due to no money for kids .