If you think your payments are unfair

At DAD, we speak to lots of separated parents who feel that they are treated unfairly, especially around child maintenance...


“I never see my kids so I don’t have to pay child maintenance..”

Under child support law, contact with your children and parental responsibility - including paying child maintenance - are two separate issues.

Whatever your situation is, a child’s need for financial support remains the same. Most parents would agree that they want what is best for their children and the most important thing is the welfare of the child. So even if you can't see your child, you can – and should - still contribute to their upbringing by paying child maintenance.

Having said that, it is widely recognised that when both parents take an active role in the child's life (as long as it is safe to do so) it can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of the child. So don’t give up. There are several organisations that specialise in access/contact issues. These include  NACCC, Cafcass, Resolution, National Family Mediation or Relate. Centre for Separated Families also offers information about access.

If you want to find out where you stand legally, it might also be worth contacting Civil Legal Advice (used to be Community Legal Advice.) Their helpline number is 0345 345 4345. They will tell you if you are also entitled to free legal aid

Remember though, payments must be made in full and on time, to prevent arrears from building up and legal action being taken against you. Plus failure to make payments may be used against you in court.

“My ex-partner got the house, the car and the kids. I’m living out of a suitcase and sleeping on my mate’s sofa. Why should I pay?”

Under child support law, child maintenance must be paid to the parent with the main day-to-day care of the child. This is usually the person who receives child benefit for that child.

Even though that might seem unfair, try to think about things from your child’s point of view. Having a child maintenance arrangement can make a significant difference to a child’s well-being, because it can help create a more stable environment for them.

Most parents want what’s best for their children, and understand that they don’t stop being a parent just because their relationship with the other parent ends.  This includes being responsible for financially supporting their children.

By contributing financially you can show your child how you’re still helping to take care of them, no matter what else has changed. It will also show your ex-partner that you’re willing to do the right thing.

If you want to find out where you stand legally, it might also be worth contacting Civil Legal Advice. Their helpline number is 0345 345 4345.

Remember though, payments must be made in full and on time, to prevent arrears from building up and legal action being taken against you. Plus, failure to make payments may be used against you in court.

“My ex-partner spends the money I pay on booze and new clothes”

Unfortunately, the Child Maintenance Service can't check or control what the money is spent on once the parent receives it.

If you’re concerned that the money you pay isn’t benefiting your children, there are a couple of things you can do.

The first is to see if your child’s other parent is willing to make a family-based arrangement. This is where parents sort out child maintenance privately between themselves, without the CMS or anyone else getting involved.

With a family-based arrangement, you can pay for specific items for your child, like clothes, shoes and toys, if the other parent agrees to it. You could also agree that contributing towards household bills counts as child maintenance.

Alternatively you can use the Child Maintenance Service to try and mediate a solution you are both happy with, your first stop should to to contact the Child Maintenance Options

Get more information about family-based arrangements.


A DADs Guide to CSA continued

- Understanding how the CSA works

- What to do if you can't make payments

-What happens if you stop paying?

- Alternatives to the CSA

Free Expert Help

Visit our DAD.info forum today to find free advice and guidance from our Child Maintenance Experts.

Click here to visit the forum and post your query


Updated: September 2017

Hide comments (19)


  • Guest
    Aidan Saturday, 16 September 2017


    I have brought up my girls for the last 10 years while there mother was off out an partying she has come back now an is acting Ike the perfect mother she spent all the girls benefits on booze an never got them a thing. Now she's back the csa have been notified an she wants me to pay every week .i still buy them school shoes bags pencils pens coats, the csa should take all this into account instead of leaving the dads with nothing I don't see how this benefits the children when the dad is left with nothing the law should be changed so the kids get the benefit of all the money .

  • Guest
    Paul Saturday, 23 September 2017

    Mr Paul penniless

    I pay £1000 a month for 1 child, my ex is married again her and her husband earn 99k a year between them , i earn 20 k per annum plus commission, the vs a bases my contribution on my expected yearly income, asked to meet with her to arrange to see my son in a nice friendly manner and have since been arrested for harassment .Is the fair , vs a help absolute rubbish

  • Guest
    J, watson Monday, 23 October 2017

    New CM payments totally unfair

    I am a mum who has never lived with my sons father and has no contact with him following an assault from him on me. My son decided 8 months ago to go and live with him wich as he was 16 was a desicion I felt he was old enough to make. Out of the blue my child benefit and csa payments stopped. No warning was given to allow me to jiggle payments around so I had to take out pay day loans. I have now been told I have to pay £563 a month for my son. I received £89 child benefit and £113 in maintanence from him. The csa took his mortgage and council tax into account. Neither of these nor any other essential living costs are being taken into account with me on the new system. I have a large mortgage ( due to moving to a nicer area so my son could go to better schools) and a second charge on this mortgage totalling over £1200 a month. I have been in an iva plan due to being a single parent and even though I work full time, child care costs for the past 16 years were not cheap. With him now getting child benefit, saving the measles £113 per month he paid towards my son and now the £563 he is due from me, he is better off by nearly £800. My son has a part time job but works 19 hours - anythingover would need to be accounted for so that's clever that is stops with one hour to go. My payments are based on last years earnings wich included overtime, something I am not getting this year. I have written to the CM on numerous occasions and they haven't even got the decency to respond as a person, they just send threatening generated letters. They are now taking payment direct from my employer and even though I have told them I am happy to pay for my son, I simply can't afford the amount they are expecting. I don't know how they can deem £190 a month sufficient to raise a child when he was with me but now it costs over £700 with him. In the 16 years, payments never increased with cost of living rises or with his yearly pay increments. I have written to my local MP and to the MP responsible for the CM to raise this matter. I am not left with 60% of my income to cover essential costs as they imply - they haven't even asked me what my essential living costs are. I fear I am going to loose my house for which I have worked hard for and Is the only thing I have to give my son should I die. It is also still a home for him should he ever need to come back.
    I just wanted to share that it's not just dads that go through this but mums too. I feel there should be something done to make the system fairer especially for those of us who do work hard and don't shirk our r

  • Guest
    Mr Macdaddy Monday, 30 October 2017

    Mr Macdaddy

    I have paid over £9000 to a childs mother and child ive never met, when I was first contacted the child was 15 ,now that I'm in arrears and lost my job,csa are telling me that I owe them another £10000 ,
    Are these people extortionate, or am I being soft?

  • Guest
    ade Friday, 08 December 2017

    cant even pay my rent or for my first child

    i am paying for a child i don't see and the csa refuse to take into account i have 2 children despite all of the information being passed to them numerous times, i now find myself in further debt as i cant pay my rent or council tax nor can i pay for my first child who hasn't received any money since jan 2017 because of the csa...........65 pounds a week for a baby who i dont see........unfair.....!!

  • Guest
    Tom Friday, 12 January 2018

    System totally unfair

    My wife had affair , I lost job due to walking in on them , I paid her 60% of my assets , so that children would be ok she has no mortgage new cars and is financing lover boy, she doesn’t work claims benefits and is working the system. If we both produced the children the both have financial responsibility I think I’ve done my bit by giving her more than she deserved and still pay £1500 per month

  • Guest
    Dave Sunday, 21 January 2018

    Mr Robinson

    My ex was sleeping around while I was working hard at work to support my family. She had the house, car, while I had to sleep on a friends sofa, I pay her every month & yet she spends the money on herself! While my kids are dressed like tramps!! If I have to pay for the kids why didn’t she???? If I pay her £400 a month why don’t the government make her pay the same?? My ex even owns her own business for God’s sake! Money from BOTH of us should go into an account for the kids, not so she can watch her bank account grow!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Guest
    mrs Thomas (mother) Friday, 09 February 2018

    mr Francis -thomas

    I have 2 children and the mother claims tax credits and child benefits and is working but has another guy living with her but won't let ne see my kids if I don't pay £100 a week! What can I do?

  • Guest
    Cloud Saturday, 24 February 2018


    I have tried contacting Csa about payments but I needed a password which i could not remember they said they would send a letter for me to sort it after 2 weeks nothing so i called again they said they would send the letter again nothing third time calling they hung up on me. Now I got a letter saying I have given proof I earn £3000 odd a month I couldnt help but laugh at this as I have given them nothing and i dont earn anywhere near that much. Then i get a debt colletor ringing at an address I dont live at (my mother's as it's a care of address for my mail) as I currently do not live anywhere and people knocking on her door who have been rude to her. But they are saying I owe thousands. I don't see my children as my ex wife pushed me out of her life and theres shortly after we split up and is engaged to another man she started dating shortly after and has been letting my children call him daddy. I don't earn much i cant afford to rent a crappy place and pay bills especially when paying child maintenance which atm has stopped. I suffer from depression iv lost my children I don't have a home and can barely afford to live and csa do not care. I complained to them once when I did have a house about them pushing me to the point of leaving my job or killing myself all i got was we advise against that as it can get worse for you.

  • Guest
    Philip Tuesday, 24 April 2018


    The system is totally wrong I took a large pay cut to hep save my business. The cms took 4 months to process my claim to reduce the payments during which time they expected me to pay more than I earned. Needles to say I could not pay this all and ended up on a collect and pay arrangement with 20% chargres, it’s now going to take years if at all to recover what was overpaid.
    My complaints keep hitting a brick wall and the only excuse I was given is that they are to busy to deal with claims in the. 28 day window. This is peoples livelyhood they are ‘playing with’. Wholly unacceptable

    In addition to this I was paying my ex’s mortgage as my name could not be taken off the account even when the house was transferred to the ex. My ex after several years decided to tell the cms she was underpaid because of this. They are now hounding me to pay these amounts to her again as despite providing evidence of the payments and a court order saying this was the arrangement they refuse to recognise these payments.

    The cms and the regulations and policies are so bias against the paying parent normally the father, it’s no wonder that they have been found guilty of breaches of the human rights convention in the House of Lords!

Leave your comment

Guest Wednesday, 27 May 2020

PLEASE NOTE: If you have a specific question for DAD.info or for other dads, please post it on our Forum.

We may use your email address to respond to you about your comment. View our Privacy Policy for more details.