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)


  • Team 2 Team 2 Tuesday, 05 July 2016

    Hi Paul

    Thank you for getting in touch - if you check out the following link the child maintenance people should be able to help:

    The following website may also be of help to you:

    It would also be helpful if you posted your question on our DAD.Info forum page where I community of Dads and experienced moderators may be able to advise you further - the link is below:

    Kind regards

    DAD.Info Team

  • Guest
    dad 2016 Saturday, 09 July 2016


    If my son is at college 3 days a week and works 2 days a week. do i pay any maintenance

  • Team 1 Team 1 Monday, 11 July 2016

    Hi there - thank you for your comment.

    It would be really good if you posted your comment on our forum page as there will be other Dads in a similar position who may be able to offer advice. We also have a team of experienced moderators.

    In addition the child maintenance people could advise you too - links to both sites are below:

    All the best

    DAD.Info Team

  • Guest
    Micheal Ben-moussa Wednesday, 13 July 2016


    I have to travel over 7 hours there and back to see my daughter, I have to pay for a travel lodge plus all the entertainment and it cost a fortune. Can I get the CSA that I pay to my ex wife reduced?

  • Team 2 Team 2 Friday, 15 July 2016

    Hi Micheal - thank you for your comment. It maybe helpful for you to check with the child maintenance people - the link to their website is below:

    It may also be helpful if you post your question on our DAD.Info forum page where I community of Dads may be able to offer advice based on their experiences. We also have a team of experienced moderators who may be able to help you further - here's the link

    Kind regards

    DAD.Info Team

  • Guest
    David Thursday, 25 August 2016

    Travel Expenses Variation

    I have recently submitted an exception circumstances form requesting for travel expenses to the CMS. I travel 250 mile round trips, 3 times a month at a cost of 18p per mile for my vehicle expenses.
    Recent discussions with the CMS suggest i am only entitled to 12p per mile which would work out as £90 costs for the month. However by their calculation my variation application would only reduce my monthly payments by £8. I am not sure why or how they work out this figure of £8 and would be grateful if you could assist with a leaflet or a similar worked out example on how this is worked out.


  • Guest
    Harvey Saturday, 24 September 2016

    Wife with Narcissistic Personality Disorder

    I love my children but due to my wife and her sister and mother's high-conflict personalities (HCP) and domestic violence towards me we separated and we agreed to have joint parental responsibility and that I'd also reimburse her for our Son's school fees and pet food while she moved into our new matrimonial home with our dogs and I rented a place for myself and my children.

    While I paid my half to her as promised my wife completely denied our children access with unfounded excuse after excuse.

    After receiving a lot of disappointment in her behaviour from friends for denying our children access to their Father she began to let our Son see me only.

    Through financial hardship I couldn't afford maintenance (my employer failed to pay me for 2 months of work).

    After finding sentinel injuries on my Son in her care my wife retaliated by contacting CMS to demand payment regardless of my living costs exceeding my wages and perjuring herself on a C100A petition to get an emergency 3 months temporary full parental-responsibility order to take away our children's right to contact of their Father on false pretences without my consent, without a chance to defend myself nor her having to answer to a finding of fact request by the court. She literally used the justice system against itself to give the child-abusive parent sole-access to our children.

    As she's responsible for not disclosing how she's denying my family access to my children to CMS (who base maintenance on her unilateral arrangement of active parental alienation to hide abuse of our children) can I prosecute her or bring on criminal charges for child endangerment (or similar), accepting benefits on self-created, single-parent hardship, manipulating the CMS system that I'm made to pay her through regardless of how she successfully gamed the system and my inability to afford?

    # of Children: Two (2)
    Child 1:
    - 3yrs old and full-time Nursery
    Child 2:
    - 5mos old and not enrolled

  • Guest
    Steve Monday, 03 October 2016

    Maintenance and Childcare Vouchers

    Does anyone know if my ex-partner can claim hundreds of pounds in maintenance every month if I am already paying £243 per month in childcare vouchers? We have one child who stays with me 3 nights a week? Thank you

  • Guest
    steven Tuesday, 18 October 2016

    Education status

    tricky one here...

    If you set up a direct pay or even (if we are lucky) a private agreement, how can you find out your childs education status?. I have PR but child benefit wont release any information about education status and i know for sure my Ex wont. I don't know where she or my children live so i'm a little lost and can't find the answer anywhere.

    cheers for any help


  • Guest
    Richard Saturday, 18 February 2017

    Payment to secratary of state.

    Hi, my problem is from my case that was closed in 2004 my child was 16 but one of the reasons was my overpayment to his mum, if my case has been closed and for 13 years have heard nothing regardiñg this case then all of a sudden just before xmas 2016 i got a letter stating that i have an outstanding debt of 3000 pound i have since been told it is owed to the secretary of state. What i dont understand is why was the case closed for all these years and no outstanding monies were mentioned until just as the child support agency was closing i asked for a full financial breakdown but this seems to have been conveniently forgotten about as the 40 day timescale has passed, what advice could you give me so i can remedy their error. Thanks, from Richard

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