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Child Maintenance FAQ’s

Which children are covered by child maintenance? Child Support law governs the level of child maintenance that should be paid by a parent who doesn’t have main day to day care, to the parent with main day-to-day care of the child


For child maintenance purposes, a child is anyone under 16 or someone between 16 and 19 who:

  • is not, nor has ever been, married or in a civil partnership, and
  • is in full-time non-advanced education.

However, in certain circumstances, someone between 16 and 19 can still be regarded as a child for child maintenance purposes, even if they are not in full-time non-advanced education. To find out more, call Child Maintenance Options on 0800 988 0988 or visit the website at

How much child maintenance will I pay or receive?

With a family arrangement, you and the other parent can agree between yourselves how much child maintenance should be paid, and how often.

A family arrangement also allows for times where you would rather pay for or receive specific things for your child, for example new clothes or a school trip, instead of money for child maintenance. 

You can get an idea of what your payments might be by using the Child Maintenance Calculator . You could use this figure as a starting point for a family arrangement. 

If you can’t agree on an amount, the Child Support Agency (CSA) can calculate a child maintenance amount for you.

How does the Child Support Agency calculate child maintenance?

The Child Support Agency (CSA) calculates an amount using rules set out by Child Support law. This amount is based on:

  • the net income of the non-resident parent 
  • the number of children the non-resident parent lives apart from 
  • the number of children who live with the non-resident parent  
  • how much shared care the non-resident parent provides.

You can get an idea of what your payments might be, using the Child Maintenance Calculator. You could also use this figure as a starting point for a family arrangement. 

What child maintenance payments can a court order?

The court (or the sheriff inScotland) still has powers to make orders for:

  • the payment of school fees
  • child maintenance for step children or disabled children
  • child maintenance for those who are in further education and certain other specific situations

It can also order that a particular sum of money must be paid for children, or for property to be made available for them, in certain circumstances.

Child Maintenance Options can give you more information on court orders if you need it, or you can visit Legal Aid Finder

What if there is disagreement about paternity?

If you are named in a child maintenance application and the child hasn’t been legally adopted by someone else, theCSA can presume that you are the father if:

  • you were married to the mother at any time between the child’s date of conception and date of birth
  • you are named as the father on the child’s birth certificate
  • you have legally adopted the child
  • you have been named in a court order as the parent
  • you can legally be presumed to be a parent of a child born as a result of fertility treatment

If there’s a dispute about who the father is, the CSA can use aDNAtest. If you refuse to take a DNA test they can also presume that you are the father.

Remember, both parents can contact Child Maintenance Options on 0800 988 0988 or visit the website at for more information.

You can also visit the Child Maintenance Options blog at Talking Child Maintenance blog or follow them on Twitter at


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