At DAD, we speak to lots of separated parents who feel that the CSA treats them unfairly:

“I never see my kids so I don’t have to pay child maintenance..”

Under child support law, contact with your children and parental responsibility - including paying child maintenance - are two separate issues.

Whatever your situation is, a child’s need for financial support remains the same.Most parents would agree that they want what is best for their children and the most important thing is the welfare of the child. .So even if you can't see your child, you can – and should - still contribute to their upbringing by paying child maintenance.

Having said that, it is widely recognised that when both parents take an active role in the child's life (as long as it is safe to do so) it can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of the child. So don’t give up. There are several organisations that specialise in access/contact issues. These include  NACCC, Cafcass, Resolution, National Family Mediation or Relate. Centre for Separated Families also offers information about access.

If you want to find out where you stand legally, it might also be worth contacting Community Legal Advice. Their helpline number is 0845 345 4345.

Remember though, payments must be made in full and on time, to prevent arrears from building up and legal action being taken against you. Plus failure to make payments may be used against you in court.

“She’s got the house, the car and the kids. I’m living out of a suitcase and sleeping on my mate’s sofa. Why should I pay?”

Under child support law, child maintenance must be paid to the parent with the main day-to-day care of the child. This is usually the person who receives child benefit for that child.

Even though that might seem unfair, try to think about things from your child’s point of view. Having a child maintenance arrangement can make a significant difference to a child’s well-being, because it can help create a more stable environment for them.

Most parents want what’s best for their children, and understand that they don’t stop being a parent just because their relationship with the other parent ends.  This includes being responsible for financially supporting their children.

By contributing financially you can show your child how you’re still helping to take care of them, no matter what else has changed. It will also show your ex-partner that you’re willing to do the right thing.

If you want to find out where you stand legally, it might also be worth contacting Community Legal Advice. Their helpline number is 0845 345 4345.

Remember though, payments must be made in full and on time, to prevent arrears from building up and legal action being taken against you. Plus, failure to make payments may be used against you in court.

“She spends the money I pay her on booze and new clothes for herself.”

Unfortunately, the CSA can't check or control what the money is spent on once the parent receives it.

If you’re concerned that the money you pay isn’t benefitting your children, there are a couple of things you can do.

The first is to see if your child’s other parent is willing to make a family-based arrangement. This is where parents sort out child maintenance privately between themselves, without the CSA or anyone else getting involved.

With a family-based arrangement, you can pay for specific items for your child, like clothes, shoes and toys, if the other parent agrees to it. You could also agree that contributing towards household bills counts as child maintenance.

Get more information about family-based arrangements.


“The amount they are asking for is unreasonable.”

The CSA calculation uses a formula based on 15% of a parent’s income for one child. If that seems unreasonable, then you might want to consider this: official figures suggest that the cost of raising a child to the age of 18 will average out at about £775 a month (excluding housing and household bills). Read the full article here.

If you and your ex-partner can reach agreement, then you can decide between yourselves how much child maintenance you pay, and even what counts as child maintenance. This is called a family-based arrangement.

If you think your CSA payments are too high, you should contact the CSA straight away and check that they have the correct information about your circumstances.  

If the CSA can’t change your payments and you’re still struggling financially, find out what to do if you can’t make payments

A DADs Guide to CSA continued

- Understanding how the CSA works

- What to do if you can't make payments

-What happens if you stop paying?

- Alternatives to the CSA

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