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 1 Team 1 Monday, 20 February 2017

    Payments to secretary of state

    Hi Richard
    Unfortunately we cannot comment on specific cases but we would recommend that you contact Child Maintenance Options and/or the Citizens Advice Bureau. Here are links to both:
    All the best Team

  • Guest
    amit shah Friday, 03 March 2017

    parents maintenance

    how to close the parents maitenance case, if the parents died

  • Guest
    Iain duthie Thursday, 13 April 2017


    I have an agreement with manatance payments tho child manatance service and ex where I pay her direct .
    The problem I've got is I've been off work 2 weeks and possible another 4 weeks off.
    All I am getting is ssp at around £88 a week , the cms will not reduce the amount until I've been off work 12 weeks in that time my sick pay doesn't cover the amount I have to pay . Is this correct ?

  • Guest
    Steve Wednesday, 19 April 2017


    Hi I'm Steve, i have been paying child support for many years now but my agreement is about to end in may. Me and my ex can't agree on a new amount, therefore i think I'm going to have to go for the option of direct pay where the CMS calculate the payment. Do you have any idea of what information the CMS need for this? Eg tax returns, bank statements etc as I'm self employed. Any knowledge welcome as i can't find what is needed anywhere, thanks Steve

  • Guest
    dadda Wednesday, 24 May 2017


    they don't need paperwork, they get all the information they need from HMRC directly :)

  • Guest
    Mark Thursday, 06 July 2017

    Mother decides how often I have children, I'm willing to have them more, but she is limiting this so I have to pay more per year

    My ex wife tells me the nights I can have the kids, I'm willing to have them more, but she refuses this, it is an example of the less I have them through her choice the more I will pay next year as I'll drop into the reduced nights bracket so will have to pay more ! . .? Can anything be done ?

  • Guest
    adam taylor Saturday, 08 July 2017


    can i pay into a savings account if i dont beleve that the moniey will be used corectly

  • Guest
    Neil Friday, 04 August 2017

    Will the new arrangements mean additional help for Dads?

    I have happily paid for my daughter, but my ex stopped me having any contact and then moved away without any notice so I have no idea where my daughter is now. The CSA weren't interested in helping me regain contact,their only concern was squeezing every penny out of the absent parent, regardless of situation or circumstance. So will this new arrangement offer help to those of us that want to be part of our child's lives but have been denied? The CSA set up only ever supported the mums rights, not the child's or the dad's!

  • Guest
    Rachel Friday, 15 September 2017

    Child maintenance options

    Hi why does the new system ask you such intrusive questions about why you and your partner split up / how long ago it was / did you live together etc etc ? I found rid quite rude !

  • Guest
    Andy C Tuesday, 26 September 2017


    My daughter is 17 and planning on moving away from home for university will i still have to pay her mother ?

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Guest Wednesday, 30 September 2020

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