Child support/maintenance

One of the key considerations for separating parents is how to provide ongoing financial support for children. One method is child support, also known as child maintenance. What is child support and how does it work?



This information below is relevant to the old CSA system which has now been replaced by the Child Maintenance Service. For up to date information on the new service please refer to our section on the CMS HERE


About child support

Under the child support legislation, parents are given the title of parent with care (PWC) or non-resident parent (NRP). This is dependent on who the child normally lives with. Disputes about residency may be resolved in the family courts. However, even where a court grants joint residency, child support rules still require one parent to be the PWC and the other to be the NRP.

Child support is money paid by the NRP to the PWC to help provide for a child’s financial needs. It may also be paid to another carer such as a grandparent or a guardian, who the child normally lives with.

Who can apply for child support through the CSA?

A parent with care or a non-resident parent can apply to the Child Support Agency (CSA) to work out child support and set up arrangements for payment. In Scotland, a child over 12 years of age but under 19 and in full-time education may also apply.

When a parent with care, or their current partner, claims Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, their claim will also be treated as an application for child maintenance. It is possible to ask the CSA to deal with your child maintenance case even where you have previously made a private arrangement, although some restrictions may apply.  

How is child support calculated?

The CSA uses information provided by both parents to decide whether maintenance is due and, if so, how much should be paid. It may also use information from other sources, including the non resident parent’s employer or HM Revenue & Customs.

Maintenance is calculated by applying one of four rates to the non-resident parent’s income. These are:

  • basic rate (on income of £200 a week or more)
  • reduced rate (on income of more than £100 but less than £200 a week)
  • flat rate (on income of between £5 and £100 a week)
  • nil rate (on income of less than £5 a week)

This is then adjusted by:

  • the number of other children living with the non-resident parent
  • who they or their partner get Child Benefit for
  • the number of children the non-resident parent needs to pay child maintenance for
  • whether the child stays with the non-resident parent at least one night each week

My children live with me for half the week; do I still have to pay maintenance?

Child support law requires a transfer of money from NRP to PWC even when a child spends equal amounts of time with both parents. This can mean that a child is at risk of experiencing poverty whilst living with the NRP. If you are the NRP and you are worried about this, try talking to your child’s mother about possible ways of managing the situation.

Types of contact  


Updated: September 2017

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Hide comments (43)


  • Mike
    Mike Saturday, 12 March 2016

    Child maintenance to another country

    Hopefully I can get mediation to the issue below. I am a UK resident having a permanent job for 6 years. We have a child who and my ex as well never have been UK resident. The Local Court in the EU country where I am coming from decided 18% of my salary several years ago as the living cost in that country 1/3 compare to UK. Now my ex suits me for 18% of my UK salary. Here in this country the 18% is for 3 children in local circumstances. How does this handled in the Court of Magistrates in the UK. At the calculation of the child maintenance do they take into consideration the child is not living in th UK so her living cost is definitely much lower than it would be here in England.
    Could you offer someone who can help.

  • Team 1 Team 1 Wednesday, 08 June 2016

    Mike - thank you for your comment. We are unable to advise directly on your individual situation but if you are still having problems you could contact the child maintenance people or citizens advice. Links for both are below:

    If we can be of any further assistance please let us know.

    Many thanks

    DAD.Info Team

  • Matthew
    Matthew Saturday, 19 March 2016


    What does child maintenance cover I.e clothes food , childcare

  • Team 1 Team 1 Wednesday, 08 June 2016

    Hi Matthew - the Child Maintenance people will be able to help you with this I'm sure - here is the link to their website:

    You could also post your question on our forum page where our community of dads and experienced moderators may be able to advise you further -

    All the best

    DAD.Info Team

  • Martin Bayes
    Martin Bayes Friday, 01 April 2016

    Mr Michael Hayes

    my teenage daughter is only agreeing to see me once or twice a year, yet I still have to pay full child maintenance

    my ex has remarried to a high earning husband with no hildren, and so obviously he has de facto become her father in all but name

    I have tried to see her every week but first my ex and certainly now my child effectively refuses to see me will not even send a Christmas card or text

    I have done nothing to cause this. She has not given any reason why she no longer sees me, nor has she to anyone else. I am poring more and more money into their household when they are almost certainly millionaires and I have no job just assets which I own

  • Team 1 Team 1 Monday, 06 June 2016

    Hi Michael

    So sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult time - it may be helpful if you post your question on our forum, link below:

    Alternatively you could get some maintenance advice from Child Maintenance Options at the following link:

    I hope this helps.

    Kind regards

    DAD.Info Team

  • Steven watkins
    Steven watkins Sunday, 17 April 2016

    I've paid Csa for my sons since birth ( 17yrs) he's now in college 2 days p/w. He has a part time job for 5 mornings p/w. Do I still pay same amount of Csa or should it be reduced??

  • Team 1 Team 1 Monday, 06 June 2016

    Hi Steven

    Have you been in touch with 'Child Maintenance Options' - their website is

    Alternatively you could post your question on our forum - the link is below:

    This is a great way for our community of Dads and our experienced moderators to be able to help you.

    Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to advise.

    Kind Regards

    Dad.Info Team

  • Guest
    Jon Badcock Thursday, 12 May 2016

    Stopping child payments

    My sons leaving college in 6 weeks and strating a full time job. im worried his mother will not advise the CSA about this and i will have to continue to pay?
    i already pay £521 a month for 1 child, which is ridiculous anyway.
    As the paying parent, am i allowed to advise the CSA of this change and they will stop payments or will they contact her to confirm.
    surely they must be able to check?
    plese advise.

  • Team 1 Team 1 Monday, 06 June 2016

    Hi Jon - have you tried contacting the CSA yourself to find out where you stand - if not then why not post a comment on our forum page where you may be able to get some advice from our community of Dads and experienced moderators.

    Here's the link:

    Kind regards

    DAD.Info Team

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Guest Monday, 23 October 2017