It is internationally recognised that parents have a responsibility to support their child, or children. Part of this responsibility means providing financial assistance to cover the cost of the child’s day-to-day expenses throughout their formative years.
This periodic payment can be privately agreed between the child’s parents or can be assessed, calculated, collected and distributed by the Child Support Agency (CSA)or Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
The Cost Of Living
The parent with care shares a home with their child and has therefore numerous living costs to cover. The non resident parent is expected to contribute financially towards their child’s welfare and will therefore have to pay maintenance to the parent with care.
Where parenting is shared equally between both adults the cost of the maintenance payments will be reduced accordingly.
What is not taken into consideration however, is the rising cost of raising children. Although maintenance payments are calculated as a percentage of the non resident parent’s income the amount of payment received by the parent with care generally has to stretch to cover a growing number of essentials.
Whilst the parent paying maintenance may feel hard done by and aggrieved at having to fork out child support the custodial parent still has to contend with balancing finances to make ends meet.
Maintenance payments are intended to be used in the best interest of the child and to cover the child’s expenses. This may include shelter, food, clothing, childcare costs and any educational needs.
Maintenance can provide essential funds for a number of specific items like school fees, nursery care or any medical expenses that the child requires. It is therefore acceptable to use maintenance monies to pay for expenses like residential heating costs, but not acceptable if it is used as spending money for luxuries.
It is a good idea to keep a record of how maintenance payments are spent, in case child support becomes an issue between the parent with care and non resident parent. Items that should be listed include all school and educational expenses, clothing, books, sporting goods or items required for the child’s extracurricular activities and any additional living expenses that may be incurred by the child in their custodial home.
Parents who share care, or have agreed maintenance privately, may also benefit from drawing up a list of costs and payments for future reference.
It is expected that children will share in the living standard of both parents. This means that a parent who is financially secure, and may be enjoying an elevated standard of living, must share home comforts with their child, regardless of the other parent’s lower income provisions.
In a situation where the non resident parent is able to provide a comfortable amount of maintenance, due to their greater level of income, it is expected that this payment will be used to meet the child’s requirements and additional custodial household expenses, which may also benefit other people living in the same home as the child.
I have 2/3 of my children three nights per week (ages 7 & 11) the other is aged 15 and decides not to come although has a bedroom here. I don’t live in the village anymore and live 50 miles away with my new partner and her kids. I have had to purchase a house on shared ownership scheme so that I can still see my kids. She has now taken me to CSA and wants £600 per month which will mean I will lose my house and my time with the kids. All this for one extra night per week. My ex new partner lives with her and has two incomes coming into their house. They’ve had two holidays this year and I cannot afford to take mine away. Can somebody help before I lose my house?
PaT - 10-Jul-23 @ 2:25 PM
CMS offer no help or advice for the father in any situation. I pay £260 a month in maintenance considering I get just above minimum wage. My ex is constantly asking me for more money for clothes, for my kid to go to parties etc and I tell her no because the maintenance covers this and she asks basically every single week.. However, she manipulates my vulnerable mum into buying more and more for my child which is not on. Do I have any legal standing? She doesn’t just manipulate my mum but other people too but apparently I don’t seem to have any rights as the father to stop this from happening. She lies about why she can’t afford stuff too and I have proof but apparently as the dad I can’t do anything if she says it’s what she needs. I’m sure there’s tons of fathers in the same situation as myself. I’m so angry about this:
No help for the fath - 13-Apr-23 @ 3:11 PM
Hi, I have a private arrangement in place based on what CMS advise.
I have my son 3 nights a week minimum including weekdays which in turn means I often have to pay for school clubs to bend around my work costing upto £20 a week at times. I have done this for some time but now finding it difficult to, even more so that my ex partner does not have this same issue and is able to work full time due to the time he spends with me. Is this something that should be taken into Consideration when discussing an amount I should be paying?
RG - 14-Mar-23 @ 1:54 PM
Hi my ex has been ordered to pay by cms. They have been paying it into my sons school food account and not directly to me , I am sure they have arlewdy been warned not to. Is this right
Pwagon - 27-Jan-23 @ 4:59 PM
My ex has been caught by cms and ordered to pay a certain amount towards me. But every week they pay it into the school meal account and not directly to me. I am sure they have contacted him before to say he must pay me directly. Is this right
Pwagon - 27-Jan-23 @ 4:57 PM
Amazing how little help is offered here and in all gvt websites. This is the main reason for the pain most people feel here. I dont even see the point of asking my questions. Sad.
Its not clear what maintenance is meant cover!! Website says living expenses eg clothes. What does that mean? There are basic things like nursery fees. Does the paying parent by the CS amount plus nursery on top or not? Does it mean if they get visits the child should come with clothes? Does maintenance cover all that or not.
I think it should be clear given maintenance takes account of the paying parent it should be clear what it covers.
Eg a parent can decide to take tge child to the most expensive nursery they can find, is the paying parent then obliged to pay that on top of the cs amount??
No help - 16-Sep-22 @ 7:38 AM
I have been asked to pay towards my daughter’s passport! Does this fall under CSA?
Dads help - 13-Sep-22 @ 9:40 AM
What can my daughter do to get the CSA to listen to her. The children father is only declaring part of his earning. His boss is also his friend. He is doingmost of the kids father's wage in cash that way all the CSA see is false papers. My granddaughter tells her mother that he has loads of money hanging round in his house most in £50s my granddaughter is coming up 18 so she see what's going on. Also he often works private jobs at weekends and takes his youngest with him on building sites she is 8 and not watching her properly. He is a very highly qualified Electrician and does not work for peanuts. My daughter only gets £90 a week for 3 kids. Today she asked the father for money to pay for the eldest 19 emergency dental treatment. But he refused telling her that's what the ESA is for. His son has a heart condition and a little this like he had (abscess) could make him seriously ill.
Fuming - 9-Jun-22 @ 4:35 PM
Does my ex's payments include his half towards our mortgage?
happy - 19-May-22 @ 6:20 PM
I didn’t have much choice but move closer to my parents so therefore my ex has to travel a few hours away. Every other weekend he stays at my parents, in which my mum literally does most of the looking after & makes food for them all.
I asked him if he’d pay for it half towards the 2 kiddies school shoes giving that I just forked out on uniforms. He point blankly refused throwing up that I did well out of him through sale of marital home which according to him he paid for, I did have a career before having children then had to go part time to look after them, whilst he excelled in his career path, he didn’t want me working as he wanted me to care for our children.
That’s what CM is for, I’m not paying anymore, then threatened it’s going down soon?!!
But he stays free at my parents, eats drinks what he likes. I can’t see my parents whilst he’s there, my dad has cancer again & I usually help when I can but I do feel pushed out. He never bothered with them before to the point he wouldn’t visit them with me before as he hated it!!!
Sara - 21-Aug-21 @ 12:20 PM
I pay child csa payments and my ex is now asking me to pay for 3 childens school shoes and if I don't they can not come on a 3 week holiday
This I feel most threatening and I will not give her anymore money on top of what I pay it's her choice to stop them going on holiday
What's anyone's advice ?
Mad - 11-Aug-21 @ 10:15 PM
Hi, i left my ex over 7 months ago and we had a 17month baby at the time. I tried to have my son as much as possible (4-6 days a week) and sometimes it would be 10days in a row. Over the last 7 weeks i have established that my son lives with me and has done everyday, i am paying for his nursery, his clothing, day to day expenses and his mothers started cms directly from my work for a very high amount(599). Every time i call cms to update and explain the current situation they dismissed everything i tell them and the evidence i have and continue the payments back to my ex who has not been involved with my son for months. I have studied there guidelines and rules and it seems they make it up as they go along. So now the law is been broken by cms/csa and money is taken from the resident parent and given to the non resident parent. (No one from cms can explain to me why there is no support for my child).
Ozzy - 25-Feb-21 @ 6:42 AM
I pay my ex wife child maintenance for 2-3 days a week. But have her 3 days a week but pay the larger amount. I have now been asked for extra funds for private tuition.
Am I liable for this?
Confused - 3-Feb-21 @ 8:30 AM
Hi my husband left me and his 2 children one being 3 and the other 1 he pays me £190 a month set by the csa I have all the usual things to pay for and my sons nursery fees of £110 a month I've asked him to pay half as I'm on uc and can't afford it on my own anymore and he has refused as believes the what he pays is enough to provide for 2 children he doesn't even buy for my children for birthdays or Christmas and doesn't have my children for contact at all (his choice) where do I stand on asking for more money also were still married thank you
Nicky - 27-Jan-21 @ 8:16 PM
Hi my sons dad pays minimal CSA but still expects me to provide clothing when they stay with him. Do I have to supply clothes that I mostly pay for when they stay at his.
Kipp - 14-Jan-21 @ 5:57 PM
So I have started to receive child matenice do I have to supply him with nappies and good
Lloyds95 - 1-Oct-20 @ 12:03 PM
I have read a substantial amount of the comments made here by people seeking advice & guidance & it’s absolutely astonishing that no one actually receives a reply. I came across just one reply & that was to inform the person that advice on their matter couldn’t be provided as they reside in America & not the UK. I came on here seeking advice myself but after seeing the lack of just basic guidance & common courtesy being administered there really isn’t any point in me doing so. This is totally unacceptable & people shouldn’t be treated like it, shame on you
Marie - 10-Sep-20 @ 6:20 AM
Hi - I hope you can help.
I have recently split with my fiancé, we have a 1 year old baby together and he has a 7 year old to another woman.
My ex works Monday - Friday long hours so can’t have our son during the week, however he has said he will have our son every other weekend - Friday and Saturday night.
I have calculated the maintenance payments and it is telling me that the amount he should pay is £65 per week to me and £65 per week to his ex wife. However, I have to find the nursery fees which are £138 per week and I also have our son For the majority of the time.
Can anyone explain to me if this is fair? My ex earns a great deal more than me and I am having to fund towards my sons nursery fees - food - clothing - shelter etc??
Amz - 6-Aug-20 @ 5:38 AM
I split up with my ex 2 years ago. He pays nothing towards our son. He has him 1 night whenever it suits him. Today he told me I will need milk, food and clothes for our son. In the past I've done this so I know my son has had food. My ex is on benefits like me he's on uc and lives in a 1 bedroomed flat. He seems to think that the food I get for me and my son I should provide for him when he has him. I've not had a penny off him even though he's had a few jobs in the past. He was an abusive man, physically, mentally and emotionally and he's still doing it now!! I have to ask him to have our son and when I do it's why, what you doing where you going, or it's a bit early in week (monday) to be asking if I'm doing anything at weekend. I just need to know I don't have to provide essentials when he's got our son only if I feel the need to
Cazza - 22-Jul-20 @ 7:51 PM
My ex partner looks after the children for 3 nights and pays me the maintenance less these 3 days. Who should therefore buy shoes, clothes for children, and pay for school trips? Should it be divided equally?
Kakadu - 17-Jul-20 @ 9:40 AM
I currently pay £160 per month child support for my 5 year old son. I go onto the gov website every April to recalculate what my payments should be to keep it fair. This has never been an issue about the amount I pay. On average my son spends 3 nights a week at my house. His mum usually sends him a weekend bag of clothes and is pretty strict in asking for stuff sending back and moans that I don’t have much clothes for my son to keep at my house. While I agree it would be easier for him to have some clothes at mine I don’t full agree that I should be the one paying out for the clothes. I always thought that my maintenance payment was for clothes ? Is there anyone who can give me advice on this please.
CJ - 15-Jul-20 @ 1:12 PM
My ex has our son 3 nights per week, I have him 4. He pays me 40 pound a week, privately agreed. I need to buy school uniform for my son costing around 100 pounds. My ex wont go halfers with me and says I have to take it from the maintenance money. Is this correct? Also he says if he wanted to he could demand that I provide him with clothes/ shoes etc "by law" because he has him 3 nights and he pays me 40 pound a week. Is this correct? Thanks.
Funmum - 27-Jun-20 @ 9:38 PM
Hi, myself and ex partner have recently gone through the CMS to arrange maintenance paid by myself. She is now telling me I have to pay more money for childcare fees. When I have the children I don’t need childcare. Do I have to pay towards childcare if paying the correct amount of maintenance? ( I also pay for their swimming lessons, school trips and uniform on top)
Ben - 9-Jun-20 @ 1:55 PM
Hello I wonder if anyone can advise. My daughter’s partner left my daughter and his child .
He pays £180 per month as he says that this is all he should pay under the CSA. He has left my daughter with a mortgage, household bills, toddler and dog and moved in with someone else. My daughter works full time and has just changed her job as he would not come and pick the baby up for her to get to work in time. Childcare costs are £700 per month so my daughter is left trying to find £520 for childcare plus money for food, clothing and a roof over the baby’s head. Is it that he only pays this amount?
Kal - 13-Mar-20 @ 8:39 PM
I have been separated from my ex for 6 years have 3 children 19,15 and 9. Both boys live with me and daughter lives with my ex, maintenance has only been paid with the help of the csa for the past 2 years and contact was running smoothly on my part with my youngest (eldestest has been disowned by him) but sporadic on his part, past few months maintenance payments have been short yet I've still to run a house pay bills and feed our boys on my own which I am trying to do but I also study and work part time and pay maintenance for my daughter , it's very draining, mentally and physically trying to create a better life and run the one you have with little support. My ex has been dragging his feet about providing payslips since November and me and my middle child are now arguing because ive ceased contact till its all sorted. I find it hard to do the right thing in this circumstance
Angel81 - 25-Feb-20 @ 12:30 AM
My sons partner asked him to leave Last September,he has paid her £270per month for his 2 children,he looks after them 2 evening per week and has them every other weekend.
He buys there clothes and shoes etc. .
She is now asking for money for childcare costs whilst she works in the evening.
She is extravagant and spends money on false eye lashes & hair and alcohol .
Just recently we have found that she has been lying to him about house hold bills whilst they were together,she had control of his wages and was buying beauty products and saying that the bills were far higher than they were
Poppy - 11-Feb-20 @ 7:06 PM
Hi does anyone know, if I have to pay maintenance, if I have all my receipts from when I have bought my son things when I see him every week, sometimes I don't buy him things, but when I haven't I always make sure I spend more on him the following week, is there a way around this or do I not have a choice, any advice would be appreciated, and I am yet to see him in any items of clothing or anything that I have bought him
Shaunito - 8-Feb-20 @ 8:41 PM
Hi there could you let me know if I'm paying to much to my ex.
I pay 450 a month I have one child my ex works as well. I pay a mortgage and bills. I have my child 2 days one week and 4 the week after and some half terms. I spend money on him while his with me and take him on holidays. I would like to have him more but the ex said no.
Jo - 6-Feb-20 @ 9:37 AM
I have read and sympathise with the majority of the above. My daughter is in a similar situation whereby her still current husband pays the minimum CSA, will only have the children 1 to 2 nights a week because that is the minimum requirement for the CSA payments and doesn't think he should help with childcare during the school holidays, although my daughter is working to help make ends meet. He expects her to use all her days off to look after them, but that he shouldn't. It goes on, but what I would like to say to all parents out there who are fighting over who pays this or that, does this or that, look at the picture from the child's point of view. You may have separated, but you should be thinking, what can I do to make sure my children don't suffer because as parents, we no longer live together? What is the maximum I can provide them with to ensure that they have the same standard of living as if we were all still together? What is the maximum support I can give to help provide for and bring up my children in a loving, caring environment without it having any impact on their way of life. These children have been brought into this world by both parents, and both parents whether still together or not, should be trying their best to fulfil the needs of the children, not try to contribute as little as possible.
Tess - 3-Feb-20 @ 12:46 PM
Hello. My ex and I have a private maintenance agreement and he is asking not to pay maintenance in the two weeks he's taking him on holiday for later this year, however I will still have to pay the rent for the house my son will return to, so think he should still pay the maintenance money. He said he's happy to keep covering the odd day, here and there, but not for a long holiday term. I need some advice, please!