What to do if you can't make CSA payments

A few tips for when things go wrong with CSA payments...


The information below is relevant to CSA cases. The CSA has now been replaced by the Child Maintenance Service. For information on CMS please see our section HERE


Contact the CSA

You should contact the CSA immediately if you are having problems paying or you are going to miss a payment.

You can find contact details for your local office here.

It’s not easy for the CSA to determine whether a parent is experiencing genuine difficulties or avoiding payment, but the actions are the same, so it’s important for you to be willing to discuss the situation if there are problems.

If you are honest with them about your financial difficulties, the CSA will do it’s best to help.

Keep payments manageable

If you’re worried about making child maintenance payments, deal with it NOW.

Ask the CSA if you can change how often you make your payments. Child maintenance can be paid:

•    every week
•    every fortnight
•    every four weeks
•    every month

If you miss payments, you will normally be asked to pay the full amount you owe straight away. If you make your payments in full and on time, you won’t go into arrears and your payments will be more manageable.

If you’re new to the CSA

Under CSA rules, the non-resident parent’s responsibility to pay starts as soon as the case is set up. But it may be a few weeks before payments start to be collected and passed on.

Sometimes this may result in several payments being due at once.

You can avoid this by making payments directly to the parent with care, before the first collection date. In certain circumstances, these payments can be counted towards your CSA child maintenance payments.

For example, if the payment was made to:

•    pay a mortgage or loan which is taken out to buy or pay for essential repairs or improvement to the home where the child lives, and which is secured on that home
•    pay rent or council tax for the home where the child lives
•    pay gas, water or electricity charges for the home where the child lives, or
•    make essential repairs to the heating system or fabric of the home where the child lives.

Making these early payments will also mean your children won’t miss out while your regular payments are being set up.

If your circumstances have changed

If your personal circumstances change, the first and most important thing you need to do is  contact the CSA.

For example if you lose or change your job, you start living with someone new or you have another child - contact the CSA straight away.

The CSA will look at your case and see if your child maintenance payments will change because of your change in circumstances.

Think you’re paying too much maintenance?

Again, contact the CSA and check that they have the correct information about your circumstances.

You can get a rough idea of what your payments should be using the child maintenance calculator.


A DADs Guide to CSA continued

- Understanding how the CSA works

- If you think your CSA Payments are unfair

-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 (4)


  • Guest
    Michael Georgiou Saturday, 12 May 2018

    Nights child stays at dad place

    I think it's wrong that the CSA look at nights child says at dad's place, and not consider that it costs absolutely nothing when children are sleeping! When you don't see your child for god knows how long, and you take your children out in the DAYTIME!!, then this should be taken in to consideration as it's now costing money to us dad's! Not nights! Thanks for reading x

  • Guest
    Simon Wednesday, 06 June 2018

    CSA and the night over rule

    You are right! I am new to this separated dad stuff and just received a CSA letter this morning so been doing some research. I have found that if a child stays over the night at the dads (non-resident parent) house, the rates dads pay can be reduced but what if the dad wants his kids to stay over but the ex won't allow it? Surely it's unfair for us dads to pay full rate because of the mother's selfish decision???

  • Guest
    Tommy Masters Sunday, 23 September 2018


    We where struggling and living month to month when the kidds and my ex partner live at home evern whith child tax creddits and my wages as partner dont work . Now she moved out whith kidds and wants 250 . a month i pick them up every friday and drop them off sunday whitch is getting hard to do things whith them whith no money . iv payd it but i have nothing now and falling in to det whith bills and rent . What can i do pleas. Tom

  • Guest
    Mark Friday, 25 January 2019


    Hi I can not afford the csa payment

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Guest Sunday, 31 May 2020

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