How Much Child Maintenance Should I Be Paying?

If you have a child, you have a financial responsibility towards that child, even if you are not living with them. Paying towards those costs is what child maintenance covers, and is usually paid from one parent to one with whom the children live most of the time

You can make child maintenance arrangements between yourselves, or if you cannot agree, go through the Child Maintenance Service.

Arranging it between yourselves

There is not a standard amount of child maintenance that everyone pays, there are different criteria and circumstances which can impact on the amount.

If you want a guide to what might be expected in your circumstances, while still choosing to make the arrangements between yourselves, you can use the Child Maintenance Calculator on the website. You will still be free to decide between yourselves what amount feels most appropriate.

As well as the amount, there are other questions to make sure that you agree on:

  • Will the child maintenance payments be a regular fixed amount all year round, or will the payments vary to help with additional expenses at certain times of the year?
  • Do you want it to cover things like holidays, activities and uniforms, or are these being handled separately?

A good way of working out together how much would be a good amount to pay includes the following steps:

  1. Compare finances – both write as list of your incomings and outgoings, so you can start to see what is available to budget from.
  2. Work out the costs for each child – this might include food, clothes, nappies, etc. But also remember things like childcare, holidays, uniforms, lessons or activities, etc.
  3. Decide how much – looking at the above information how much is needed? Do you want to split costs, so different parents cover the costs for specific things, or just agree an amount as a contribution to the overall costs?

What affects how much is ‘expected’?

There are a range of factors which would influence how much the Child Maintenance Service would calculate is due and who from. These include:

  • How many children there are to consider
  • How much the parent responsible for paying maintenance earns
  • How much time the children spend with each parent

To find out the most up-to-date information and more about how your individual circumstances would affect this calculation, use the Child Maintenance Calculator for a break down. 

Hide comments (6)


  • Guest
    Alan Thursday, 18 May 2017

    Its not as simple as that.

    I have a 13 year old daughter who lives with me full time, this is her decision as her mother has a drink problem and I consider it not a safe environment for her to sleep over at her mothers. The problem is when we were divorced she was awarded six nights and I was awarded eight nights custody. She refuses to pay anything towards our daughters up keep or schooling as the court granted her joint custody. I can't work as I have had a double organ transplants and we are reliant on state benefits.

  • Guest
    Guest Thursday, 26 October 2017

    The world will be cruel

    Its important to help each other out when either one is down. At times even the other parent will get just as greedy as the external world. that when you need to be very careful you don't get conned out of money that will be vital in the near future. keep it consistent regular and minimal. Kids need love more than stuff. (for working class single parents)

  • Guest
    Baz Nicol Monday, 30 October 2017

    CMS are ruining me and my relationships

    So there I was paying £321 per month every month through the CSA then they ceased and the case transferred to the CMS - with a 1% pay rise I am now told I’ll pay £520 per month for my son who will be 16 in January and has not attended School since 1st September. The £200 monthly rise represents every penny of what I have left after bills. I work 400 miles from my home so no fuel money to see my wife and toddler son as every spare penny will now go to the ex. Every Friday my elder son is on to me for money to socialise with his mates. I’m at my wits end.

  • Guest
    R Monday, 30 October 2017

    any advice is appreciated!!

    hi there. i just received by mail a child maintenance order, towards my 7 year old daughter, and i m a bit confused about how things go around here, with this things.
    About one year ago, i had a disagreement with my wife, and i left the house to reconciliate, as things was getting out of control on every aspect. The house is on a JOINT MORTGAGE, so both our names are on the documents. One month later after i left home, the future ex wife, brought HER new partner into OUR house , even though we are not divorce not even now after a year, yet she brought a stranger in our house, near my daughter, and in the mean time, they banned me from seeing my daughter, and poisoned my little one with bad ideas about me, that i was the one who left them and the new guy is the saviour..... Now, just yesterday i had child maintenance decision, to pay to my future ex, but how can I do that when my future ex live in OUR home, with her new partner, and from time to time with his new partner"s child as well..... is it any law regarding that aspect? i feel like i m treated like a fool by those two people, and is not a pleasant feeling.
    Any advice will be more than welcome. thanks a lot everyone!

  • Guest
    Bella Saturday, 06 January 2018

    Cost of a child 2017

    This is the madness of CMS. £520 per month for 1 child is £6240 a year. Over 18 years this would be £112,320

    According to child poverty action group the cost of a child for o- 18 is

    Basic cost £102 k

    Full cost £187k (this includes additional costs for social rent. Childcare and council tax)

    Ao you’ve either paid just over basic cost by yourself alone or just over half


    I’d yoi see the child c days a week there’s costs there too.

  • Guest
    Tom Wednesday, 03 October 2018


    I’m a single father of 2 children as there mum passed away 1 of my children has a disability I have I work full time and they are taking £511 of me every month how am I ment to pay rent bring up 2 children on my own and they think it’s ok to take that amount disgusting nasty bas#%+&@

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Guest Thursday, 22 October 2020

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