Child Maintenance: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to frequently asked Child Maintenance questions

Child Maintenance: Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the Child Support Agency and Child Maintenance Service?

The Child Support Agency and the Child Maintenance Service are both government-run child maintenance schemes that work out, collect and pay out child maintenance to clients in England Wales and Scotland.

The Child Support Agency manages child maintenance cases set up on the 1993 and 2003 schemes.

The Child Maintenance Service manages the new child maintenance scheme, launched in 2012. It will eventually replace the Child Support Agency to leave one single child maintenance scheme.

What’s happening to the CSA?

The CSA will end all of its maintenance arrangements and let parents know their options so they can choose the right kind of arrangement for them.

Paying parents don’t need to do anything until they receive a letter from the CSA about ending their CSA arrangement, although you could start to think now about the types of arrangement you can make. The CSA will explain in more detail what both parents need to do next when they get in touch.

What happens to your existing CSA case?

Paying parents must continue to make payments until their CSA case is closed, as set out in the payment schedule. Also, parents can report any changes of circumstance as normal during this time.

The CSA will let both parents know what the final regular maintenance payment should be.

Paying parents remain responsible for paying any arrears owed and it is in their interest to clear them as soon as possible by paying what they owe to the CSA. Paying parents should continue to make any arrears payments as per their existing agreement until they are told otherwise.

What are the proposed fees and charges for using the Child Maintenance Service?

  • It’s not law yet but the government plans to introduce fees and charges in March 2014 for Child Maintenance Service clients.
  • There will be a one-off fee of £20 for making a new application to the Child Maintenance Service.
    People who declare that they are a victim of domestic violence and have reported this to an appropriate person/organisation; or a person under 19 years of age do not have to pay the £20 application fee. But they still have to pay the collection fees for using Collect & Pay.
  • For paying parents, a 20 per cent fee is added to each amount of child maintenance the Child Maintenance Service collects from them, if Collect & Pay is used.
  • Paying parents are charged a fee even if they miss a payment.
  • For receiving parents, a 4 per cent fee is taken away from each amount of child maintenance they are due to receive, if Collect & Pay is used.
  • Receiving parents are only charged a fee when the Child Maintenance Service passes a payment on to them.

**There are no plans to apply charges and fees to cases managed by the Child Support Agency.**

How can I avoid Child Maintenance Service charges?

The best way to avoid the proposed fees and charges is to set up a family-based arrangement and not use the Child Maintenance Service at all.

A family-based arrangement is when both parents work together to sort out child maintenance between themselves, without involvement of the Child Maintenance Service.

However, if you and the other parent can’t agree an arrangement between yourselves and you apply to the Child Maintenance Service, you may still be able to avoid paying further charges.

There will be no collection fees for parents who pay and receive child maintenance using Direct Pay. Direct Pay is when the Child Maintenance Service works out the amount of child maintenance a paying parent must pay, but parents agree between themselves how and when payments are made.

If the Direct Pay arrangement breaks down, collection fees will apply if the case moves onto the Collect & Pay arrangement.

The best way to avoid enforcement charges is to pay child maintenance in full and on time.

Will there be an increase to the flat rate payments?

Under the Child Maintenance Service this would increase to £7

If I want to pay via Direct Pay can my ex force me to use the Collect and Pay Service ?

When charging is introduced, either parent can ask to use Direct Pay, but you may not be able to use your preferred option.

  • If the paying parent asks for a Direct Pay arrangement but the receiving parent wants to use Collect & Pay, the Child Maintenance Service will look at whether it’s in the child or children’s best interests for Direct Pay to be used
  • If the receiving parent asks for a Direct Pay arrangement, the Child Maintenance Service will always set up the case as Direct Pay
  • If both parents ask for Collect & Pay to be used the Child Maintenance Service will set the case up as Collect & Pay

Without a good reason – such as proof of previous missed payments – the Child Maintenance Service cannot force the paying parent to use Collect & Pay and therefore incur collection fees

Direct pay and your past payment history in the CSA
The Child Maintenance Service will have information on whether a paying parent has missed CSA payments in the past, because this could affect whether they are able to use the Child Maintenance Service's Direct Pay service. With Direct Pay, there are no collection charges.

So it's important to pay child maintenance in full and on time as per the payment schedule.

Hide comments (35)


  • Guest
    Andrew craig Friday, 29 April 2016


    Does paying for holidays, clothing, activities and food for your children count towards csa payments.....?

  • Team 1 Team 1 Tuesday, 14 June 2016

    Hi Andrew

    I don't know if this is something that is still causing you some concern, but if so, it might be a good idea to speak to the children maintenance people - link to their website contact page below:

    Kind regards Team

  • Guest
    corey Monday, 13 June 2016


    Do you have the right to ask for proof that your child maintenance money is being spent on the child?

  • Team 1 Team 1 Tuesday, 14 June 2016

    Hi Corey

    Thank you for your question - again, as with the comment above, the child maintenance people may be able to advise you on this - here is the link again, plus the link to the main child maintenance website:

    It may be that other Dads have looked into this issue historically so it would be also really good if you posted your question on our forum:

    Good luck - let us know how you get on.

    Kind regards Team

  • Guest
    Graham Hare Tuesday, 21 June 2016

    Shocking System

    This new system is shocking. Dads basically need to go to court to prove the nights they see their children. I am being taken for more money on the say so of my ex. I have been asked to prove it. I have sent lawyers letters stating additional holiday (not all additional holidays as my ex is clever this way) nights etc. The only way for me to prove this is a court order. I can't afford to raise a court order yet being made to pay more money just because my ex says so. Where is the fair justice in all that!!!

  • Guest
    Gary Congerton Monday, 27 June 2016

    Do I still have to pay CSA?

    My 18 year old son is finishing college tomorrow, which means he will no longer on Full time education. Will this mean my ex-wife will no longer be able to claim Child maintenance? Plus, they are emigrating to Australia in September, again will this mean I will not have to pay CSA

  • Team 2 Team 2 Tuesday, 28 June 2016

    Hi Gary

    I would recommend you check out the following websites for more information:
    CMO website:

    We also have a really good community forum. The forum is a great way to hear from other dads in the community as well as our experienced forum moderators. Here's the link:

    Hope this helps.

    Kind regards

    Dad.Info Team

  • Guest
    Rich Sunday, 03 July 2016


    I am now remarried with three children I support from my new marriage, does this effect the amount of money I should pay ?

  • Team 1 Team 1 Monday, 04 July 2016

    Hi Rich - if you check out the following link the child maintenance people should be able to help:

    You could also post your question on our forum page so that our community of Dads and moderators can offer help and advice based upon their previous experiences.

    If there is anything else we can do, please let us know.

    Many thanks

    DAD.Info Team

  • Guest
    Paul Monday, 04 July 2016


    Having recently got a court access order granting me weekly overnight access and half of the children's holidays,my ex wife refuses me access still to my children,where do I stand with regard to Cms payments ?,is it based on her thwarting of the court order or by what the court and judge dictates as a minimum?

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Guest Thursday, 22 October 2020

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