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
    Richard Barden Sunday, 29 April 2018


    My son is 19 this summer. is currently doing an apprenticeship. Which he gets paid . He goes to college 1 day a week. When do my payments I make for him stop

  • Guest
    Joe Wednesday, 02 May 2018


    My partner took the house, the car and my child. She started a relationship with another man, ha assaulted me. I complained to the police, she decided to stop me seeing my child I took her to Court, left me broke and owing close to £30k. The court decided that I was not allowed to see my girl due to their lies and my daughter's wishes were ignored by the judge.

    I stopped giving her money, I put the money into a savings account and when she is old enough, I will give her the money.

    The Law sucks, it needs changing and it needs changing soon.

  • Guest
    paul Wednesday, 06 June 2018

    Paul W

    I was/still are the paying parent towards my daughter. The mother told her she wasn't allowed back to her house, so she decided to move in with me 25/05/18. Child services have been informed, child allowance people have been informed, child maintenance have been informed. All relevant paper work has been sent. The child allowance people said it will take 21 days to get info onto the computer, then a possible 16 weeks to sort out, CMS said, i need to open a new case with them, but I cannot until the current case they have is closed, this can only happen when I'm in receipt of child allowance. The child allowance will be back dated to the day my daughter moved in with me, however the CMS said no backdate, I can only claim maintenance when I open a new case and also in the mean time I am to pay my current maintenance. The CMS have proof that the child is living with me, but now instead of preaching "Mr W, its in the best interests of the child" all I get now is "Mr W we are only following the rules" If i need to question those rules, I need to speak to my MP.
    The CMS told me that the paying parent, is now charged on a daily basis, this applies to all paying parents, but when the paying parent has their child over night they still have to pay the parent with child money. So for example, if I'm paying £10.00 a day maintenance, and i have my child for 51 days a year(no discount applied), I still pay the mother £510.00. But the CMS just tell me, its too much admin to sort out the calculations.

  • Guest
    Nicole Saturday, 23 June 2018


    I've read all the comments above and it annoys me that some parents are playing the system to get more money while others (the paying parents) struggle.
    They system is for people like me who are 100% honest and yet yet still get screamed over!!

    I am on the other foot where I am the the full time carer (the mother) of the child. I am the one who receives the Child Maintenance(or meant to at least).

    I tried getting the father, who sees our child once a month for 3 hours (his choice), to pay child maintenance without getting them involved. We even came to an agreement of how much he will pay (he should be paying £45 a week but we came to agreement of £30). However we tried it for 3 years and I can count on one hand how many times he paid.

    So just when our son turned 4, after numerous times of trying to get him to pay, enough was enough so I had to go through Child Maintenance Collection.

    He still doesn't pay and boasts to me how he take all his money from his account so he doesn't have to pay.

    I work 30 hours, I don't claim benefits as I earn just over the cut off for benefits. I live in a private rented house, I own a car, pay all my bills, pay child care fees (which even with 30 hours free I still have to scrape up £400).
    Yet he gets away with earning £30,000 + overtime and not having to pay.

    I am on the other foot where I am the one struggling, I am the one crying every time I have to go food shopping, or every time I have to pay nursery bills or having to explain to a 4 & half year old why he can't have that toy or why mummy has to cancel his football classes which he loves.

    I have a separate account for the child maintenance so I can buy shoes, clothes, school uniform (which he'll need in September), pay for his £30 a month football etc. Yet this account is always empty.

    I think CSA (or what ever they are called now) should be able to have a look at what BOTH parents earn and have a look at what BOTH parents spend their money on and work it out that way.

    The system doesn't work for paying or receiving parents.

  • Guest
    Brad Monday, 08 October 2018

    Mr B

    CSM stinks Ex gets £500pm off me claiming everything going & Forster cares over £4000 pm in her bank & im on my Ars, system needs looking at big time!!!!!!!

  • Guest
    Darren purdy Tuesday, 20 November 2018


    Back in February after paying my ex wife a family based arrangement my 14 year old daughter decided she wanted to live with me but my 12 year old son stayed with my ex wife, she then decided to open a case with the CSA, that's fine because I was then able to counteract her claim and claim for my daughter, however it transpires that they used my income from HMRC in 2015 to work out my payments and in September this year I was sent a letter to prove my income because my ex wife didn't believe the workings were correct, this has now come back stating a considerable increase of 400 on top of my original payment, when I requested the same of my ex wife a income I'm told by the CSA that this cannot be done.
    Has anyone else found that the CSA are very one sided in how they deal with claims, it seems if it's the mother they will do everything in their power against the dad but if the other way around they are less likely to be as hospitable, during my time dealing with the CSA they have made so many mistakes, it's about time dad's got together and had something done about the CSA

  • Guest
    Embers Tuesday, 04 December 2018

    Something needs to be done

    My partner is now a non-resident parent and as a new couple we now experiencing the effects of biased system and unaffordable CSA payments.

    The only way we way we can afford to live (with breathing room) is to down size which means he won't be able to have his kids 2 weekends a month and some holidays.
    Our new baby who's due in 6 weeks will also suffer the consequences.

    Right now, with two incomes (mines maternity pay) we are just about tredding water. When my maternity pay runs out, ill have to look to start a new job just so we can tred water.
    All the while we reap no benefits for being a working couple.

    I would be substantially financially better off leaving him and claiming as a single parent.
    He would only have 5% of his income left after downsizing and paying essentials.. He'd then also be open to a Maintenance claim from me would would effectively bankrupt him.

    What a discriminatory travesty.

  • Guest
    Mike Monday, 24 December 2018

    Top dad

    I have it in writing and really don’t get it my two oldest children want nothing to do with me that’s out of ther own mouths she’s 13 my sons 15 ther mother and her mother poisoned them both against me I agree it takes two to bring up a child but she has a new partner which I respect any man who can take on somebody else’s kids is good to me he and my ex earn s**t loads more than me I’m sofa surfing my kids want nothing to do with me ther own words I don’t have the right to call myself ther father but yet csa take money out my wages automatically how is this acceptable that I’m paying for two kids who want nothing to do with me does that mean any women no offence can go get pregnant poisen the kids against the father and potentially ruin ther life o love my kids to death and I fought for them and ended up looking a complete twat I couldn’t fight anymore now I’m being rinsed by ther mother and csa to pay for two kids who want nothing to do with me surely this isn’t right

  • Guest
    Daniel Emsden Saturday, 05 January 2019


    Ive been paying csa for the last ten years ive had to sleep on poxy sofa thorough most of it the whole system is a joke.

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