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What if Your Child's Support Payments Stop?

By: Imogen Jones LLB (hons) - Updated: 17 Aug 2023 | comments*Discuss
Child Support Child Benefit Csa Child

Child Support Payments are regulated by the Child Support Agency (CSA); payments are for the support of the child from the non-resident parent to the parent with primary residency. The money is not the same as Child Benefit. Child Benefit is a set amount, state-given sum of money that is higher for the first child than for each subsequent child. 

Payments for children can also be regulated by the court.

The amount of money for maintenance is based on the money earned after appropriate deductions are made, for example, if the non-resident parent has custody of the children for a period of time, such as overnight contact. It is important to remember that the payment is a formal arrangement and can be enforced by a number of powers that the CSA has at their disposal including Bailiffs.

Non-formal arrangements are ones that are not regulated by the CSA and are based entirely on trust between the two parties as to when payments are made. This is not to say that because you have not entered into a formal arrangement you are precluded from, at least, approaching the CSA to ask about more formal maintenance payments. Any agreement that you may have entered into, not to approach the CSA, is not valid legally.

Is it a legitimate stoppage or change in payment?

If the payments stop and they are regulated by the CSA you have to consider whether the payments have ceased legitimately. There may be a very good reason as to why they have stopped and if you need to take action as a result, then you need to explore all the reasonable options. Unless you have an arrangement that is to the contrary, the CSA works along the following basic lines:

Is the child 16 and no longer in full time education? - if yes, then the payments have been correctly stopped. Payments will automatically stop a month after a child who is in full time education turns 19. This is because the maintenance payments are paid a month in arrears, so the support continues for the full year that the child is 18.

Has there been a change in circumstances that necessitated an alteration to the amount that is being paid in maintenance? - the non-resident parent informing the CSA that their financial situation has changed normally instigates alterations in payment. For example, stopping or starting work or changes in employment status to self employed, alternatively changes in benefits either starting or stopping benefits.  The resident parent can also tell the CSA if any of these changes occur. There are a number of alterations that may force the CSA to undertake a reassessment that may change the amount that is paid in maintenance.

It would be unrealistic to expect that maintenance remain static and as a result changes in amounts that are paid should be expected. If you suspect, however, that it is not a legitimate change there are ways to address this.

What if you suspect the change is not legitimate?

Maintenance can be a big source of contention between two parties and can lead to a breakdown in communication, which if your children are subject to shared access orders and custody, can affect the children and the relationship each parent has with each other and their children. This is not to say that if you genuinely suspect that there is something irregular about the payments that you should not investigate, but be careful that this does not impact your children unnecessarily.

The easiest way to raise your concerns, and your first port of call, is to speak to the CSA directly should you suspect anything. If you have any evidence, offer to send it to them and report the facts. Even if you do not have any direct evidence, investigations can be undertaken if the CSA feel they are able to conduct an investigation.

Tread Carefully

CSA payments can become a big problem between parties if one feels that the other is not contributing to shared financial responsibility of your children. It is important that the children do not suffer emotionally as a result. It is an obvious but an important point to make, that if payments stop that does not mean that contact can stop. Contact has often been court ordered and being in breach of a court order can have serious consequences. If you have concerns about maintenance payments, raise them with the CSA or Court as applicable and pursue the matter through official channels seeking professional advice where appropriate.

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I have an 18yr old daughter who lives with her dad. I've had no contact with either of them for the past 3yrs. My ex has always refused to give me any information regarding her education. I know she has just completed her A levels, I will never know how she did. My ex is manipulative, how do I find out if my daughter is going to go to further education or an apprenticeship? And when would the maintenance payments sto
Binx25 - 17-Aug-23 @ 8:13 PM
My child is 18 and has just finished college. They're talking about and have 'allegedly' applied for university, but don't appear too interested in going. Do I still need to pay maintenance to my ex if they go to university? My ex doesn't talk to me and is very good at manipulating people so I never discuss these issues with my child. I'm happy to help them if they do go to university, but with what I can afford.
Blob - 29-Jun-22 @ 3:05 PM
I’m a paying parent who’s child has just turned 16 1st November. I have no contact and actually didn’t no about until the age of 3. I did have a positive DNA but not even sure if I was registered on theBirth certification. Tried being in contact but hasn’t worked out and agree that it’s best for both I don’t. When can I stop paying maintenance. I have no contact. I don’t no if he will or does continue school. Can I challenge if he attends by asking for attendance records. Will I need legal representation. Any advice will be appreciated
McKay - 15-Nov-21 @ 4:54 PM
Hi, my child is 19 January 2022 , I've been told hes in further education.....and probably will be until June 2022.....am I correct that my payments will stop in February, a month after he turns 19 ? Thanks
Max - 2-Oct-21 @ 6:08 PM
My child is 18 and has failed college for the past 2 years. Although registered, they have failed to attend or keep up or engage with lectures and assignments. I've tried to help but keep getting shot down and excuses made. When I challenged the CMS about the payments I was making for my child not to attend, I was told that if the RP was still claiming child benefit, then that was enough evidence for me to keep paying. The whole system is a mess. I'm happy to pay, but my child should be attending college. If they stop, then my payments to the RP should stop and employment goals set for my child.
Mothball7 - 6-Aug-21 @ 5:09 PM
My husband has been paying child maintenance for 18 years. As far as we know he is not named on the birth certificate, we have no contact at all with either the child/young person or birth mother. They turned 18 in June 21 and we have no proof they are attending full time education other than the CSA saying they are. Is it still a right that we continue to pay maintenance under these circumstances. When should we expect payments to stop or is there anyway we can find out if they are actually still in full time education
NAWhite - 31-Jul-21 @ 5:35 PM
Child is 19 and finishes college in September, I have a private arrangement with the other parent but at what point can I stop making payments?
Anon - 28-Jul-21 @ 11:03 AM
My son is 17 in August but as stopped going college and asno job I have a private agreement , do I have to still pay maintenance
Agger - 26-Jun-21 @ 8:22 PM
My husband I still paying for his 18 Yr old daughter she has left school and isn't in further education when can he stop payments
Niki - 1-Mar-21 @ 2:52 AM
My daughter will be 16 in may and going into an apprenticeship scheme, when should my ex stop paying maintenance (we have a private agreement not via csa)
Kells - 19-Nov-20 @ 6:21 PM
Check your facts, it's the Child Maintenance Service, not the CSA
Bob - 27-Aug-20 @ 4:59 PM
My 16 year old Daughter has had a child and can not attend College . They say that she can have a year out and then start College at 17 years old . Do i still have to pay CSA to her Mother ?
MrBarry - 22-Aug-20 @ 5:30 PM
My son turned 18 in June. He has already completed 2 college courses and failed both times. He is now telling me his mother wants him to start a new 2 year college course. Will I have to pay maintenance until the September after he turns 20?
Gingernuts - 6-Jul-20 @ 8:02 AM
My son has turned 18 and i am still paying csa But is still in college. Does payments stop at 18 or when he finishes his college. Were inU.K
Davey - 15-May-20 @ 10:22 AM
My husbands son turns 19 at the end of September 2020, can he stop paying csa? He has no contact with him, so he doesnt know if his son is going to university or not but he has continued in education upto this point according to CSA.
Loz1 - 10-May-20 @ 10:40 AM
I have a 17year old step daughter who has dropped out if 6th form college and working 5days a week. She has agreed with her mum to pay her mother board. Should maintenance payments now stop to her mother? She is no longer in education and paying her mother therefore it cannot be right for her dad to also pay her mother? Can anyone help?
Di - 17-Apr-20 @ 11:04 AM
Hi, I have a 17 year old who was in College but has quit and is now starting an apprenticeship 4 days a week.1 day a week she is in college (around 6 hours). This is a paid apprenticeship. Should I expect child maintenance payments to stop immediately or in September 2020? CSA worked out the amount that should be paid but the transfer of money is directly between my ex and myself. I just wanted to know the facts about when payments would stop so it causes no undue stress. Many thanks
Salli - 11-Mar-20 @ 1:40 PM
Hi My husbands son is 18 and has just quit college. Can he stop paying csa to his ex now? Do we have to contact csa to tell them or do we just cancel the direct debit? He is still willing to give the money to his son but we know for a fact when he pays it to his ex she spends it on herself. We are in the uk
Tayamyoko - 28-Feb-20 @ 1:33 PM
Hi My husband has an 18 year old daughter who finishes college in May, she is 19 in August. When do he payments he makes stop 1) when college finishes 2) when daughter is 19 Please help, can’t find a definite answer anywhere
Step Mummy - 20-Feb-20 @ 3:54 PM
I'm a single parent and was receiving CSA from my daughters mum which has now stopped. I've received a letter from CSA saying it has stopped but no reason why it has. could the payee be in prison for this to happen.
rob - 9-Dec-19 @ 7:01 PM
My son is 17 and a half he is 18 in May. He dropped his college course only to retake his english. He does 3/4 hours a week at college. Doesn't work. My question is if he was to return to his mothers to live. Will I be expected to pay child support to his mother
Maxie - 19-Sep-19 @ 3:19 PM
My daughter is 19 and a half and has finished a 3 year course at college and is going to university Sept 2019. Do I still have to pay maintenance now? Please help
Livo - 4-Sep-19 @ 6:14 PM
My 18 year old Daughter has just finished her A levels, she is planning to go to Uni in September,My ex husband has said my last maintenance payment will be 12th July is this correct ? Or should it be the end of August ? Her Birthday is December ? Thank you
Jue - 4-Jul-19 @ 9:10 PM
My son is 19 since the star of April and has been working between 40-48 hours and no longer enrolled in college but did start the college year. As he has left half way through the year how does this stand?
Solo1 - 21-May-19 @ 12:46 PM
My daughter turns 18 in June and I also have a 15 year old son. My ex has said that he will only pay half after her birthday month. Is that correct? It's simply half the normal payment or should it be recalculated?
Kj - 20-May-19 @ 7:15 PM
My son is 18 and just finisheed his A-Levels, hopefully going away to uni in Sept 2019. My ex-husband (who has no contact with his sons) has stopped paying child maintenance this month, saying he is no longer in education therefore he has no financial obligation. Is this correct as child tax credits finish in August, should he be paying upto August? Can I legally get an extention on child maintenance for my 18 year old?
Toria - 18-May-19 @ 5:17 PM
my son is 16 and in full time private college with a bursary for his education and also a bursary full time boarding (mon-fri), do i still pay the full child support or pay a bit less.
antelope - 16-Apr-19 @ 3:29 PM
I pay maintenance to my ex. My court order has a clause that says ‘for the avoidance of doubt the payments shall continue after remarriage’. The Act in Section 28(1) says maintenance terminates on remarriage. She has just remarried, what is the correct thing to do.
Robbie - 19-Mar-19 @ 9:37 PM
My daughter dropped out of college before her 17th Birthday and will be 18 in July....she goes to a local authority centre one day a week...which should be helping her find employment,placements for further advice on her education or a career which has resulted in her not getting anything from September to November last year....Then getting a placement in December to drop out of it in January....She still only goes to the centre once a week to this present time. I’ve been paying the csa and now cms since she was 6 years old and have never missed a single payment....I feel like I’m being duped out of continually paying whilst the girl is not trying and her mother is happy to collect the payments all the time all the time Child Benifit is handed out....so must the tax payer! Should I keep quite until she’s 18 or report what my gut feeling is telling me...that I and the tax payer is being conned by my ex ?
postie - 4-Feb-19 @ 9:17 PM
Hi, my son 17 going to sixth form he has3 A levels already which he past when leaving main stream School.My Question is how long do i have to pay maintenance for my child. Slighty confussed about this could someone advise. Many Thanks
Magic71 - 6-Jan-19 @ 2:53 AM
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