Child maintenance

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


The old CSA system has now been replaced by the Child Maintenance Service.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 maintenance

The parent who does not have the main day to day care of the child may have to pay child maintenance to the other parent to cover the child's living costs. Child maintenance will continue until the child is 16 or until 20 if they are in approved education or training.

If you are unable to agree how much child maintenance should be paid directly with the other parent you can ask the Child Maintenance Service to carry out a calculation. 

How is child maintenance calculated?

Child maintenance is calculated by applying the following rates to the paying parent's gross weekly income:

  • basic rate - income between £200 and £3000 
  • reduced rate - income between £100.01 and £199.99
  • flat rate - income between £7 and £100 or receiving benefits
  • nil rate - income below £7 

How much child maintenance is payable will depend on:

  • how many children you have
  • how much time the children spend with the paying parent
  • the paying parent's gross income taking into account any pension payments 
  • whether the paying parent is paying child maintenance for any other children  

If there is a shared care arrangement in place for the children you will not need to pay child maintenance.  If the children spend time with you it will reduce the amount of child maintenance you will have to pay for each child according to how many nights they stay with you.

If the children stay with you between:

- 52 and 103 nights - child maintenance is reduced by 1/7th for each child

- 104 and 155 nights - child maintenance is reduced by 2/7th for each child

- 156 and 174 nights - child maintenance is reduced by 3/7th for each child

- 175 plus nights - child maintenance is reduced by 1/2




Hide comments (73)


  • Guest
    Melanie Thursday, 17 November 2016


    My daughter's dad gave up his parental rights when she was 1. He has given us nothing and I never asked as me and my mum and dad never needed it, she is now 16 and our situation is not good. When my mum passed away from cancer I tried my best now she is in full-time college we need his help. He is refusing. He is saying I am not entitled can anyone help me out?

  • Guest
    Gerold Sunday, 20 November 2016

    wrong year income is being used for support.

    Hi. I have a problem, the CSA is using my old year income of 2014/15 as my income and that is wrong.. Because i was working that time so my income was high, and they calculate the child support based on that and not my income of 2015/16...ecen though i send my weekly pay slips, they still are saying to pay the amount based on my old income..

  • Guest
    Steve Saturday, 26 November 2016

    Steve L

    I'm currently being harassed by the CSA having stopped payments to my eldest child back in 2004. They are claiming they did not make correct calculation and I now owe them +£3k. I always made the payments they requested and even over paid one time and received rebates. I find it hard to believe that over 10 years later they think is OK to chase their mistake. Can they do this? Is it a scam?

  • Guest
    Ross Friday, 02 December 2016

    How is Csa calculated if I'm on price work

    Say if one week I earn between £500-1000 maybie over a thousand weekly pay ...... I've always had problems with them as it takes them ages update there system my job is up and down as I'm a bricklayer we all in a battle for the best jobs

  • Guest
    MIKE Thursday, 08 December 2016


    Now is the time we man have to wake up on CSA the government have give them powers that they abuse it.They think they can do what ever they do without any question.We man have to let the government to know we are not a Donner .The women use them and you and your child become enimine in the future for they selfish game.

  • Guest
    Dominic Saturday, 24 December 2016

    Has anyone else had enough?


    I have been advised by the new CMO that child maintenance is to be 12% of gross salary. In my drunken and idiot youth I got a girl pregnant who has since used CSA, CMO and whatever else she could including my own guilt to extract increasing amounts of cash from me. Being highly trained, I did 'the decent thing' but it soon became clear i was dealing with somone with no moral compass whatsoever, and because she recieves more if I don't see my child, made it impossible for me to see mine. With the new level of maintenance I will along with others be paying an equivalent total tax of 52%. Enough to make life extremely uncomfortable if not send me under.

    Is anyone else sick of being treated like some kind of monster deserving of every kind of financial punishment deemed fit by beaurocrats? Aren't we entitled to try and have a life?

    Who is standing up for us that are prepared to take responsibility for their actions, but not fall on their own swords and give up on having a life that they have worked for, or having that life taken away by someone else?

  • Guest
    Ollie Thursday, 06 April 2017


    I am currently paying maintenance, for my wee girl, to my ex which I struggle with the principles of, given that I, thankfully, have my daughter 50% of the time and all costs associated with my daughter is again shared equally between me and her mother, so what exactly is her mother outlaying more than me, on my daughter that requires me to pay maintenance for my daughter. I can't help feel that this is unfair and the maintenance paid to my ex is not going on my daughter but instead is used to improve my exes new life.

  • Guest
    Dan Sunday, 30 April 2017


    Hi, Does a man have to pay child support if the mother of the baby isnt 100% sure you are the father but wont allow DNA testing but still insists the baby is yours?

  • Guest
    Michaela Wednesday, 12 July 2017

    Can he make me move to my country?

    Hi there,I know I am not dad,I am mum.Me and my ex been in UK for some time,then we split and he left to home country.Baby born in UK.I didn't declare who is dad's name.Can he make me move back to my country if I don't want and do t want share parental rights with him?
    Many thanks for yr advice.

  • Guest
    amine Tuesday, 25 July 2017


    Hi There,
    My son is 7 and stays with me every Wednesday night and every other week from Friday after school till Monday drop off time, I calculated roughly the number of nights/ year he stays at mine and it worked out to be around 166 nights/ year.
    I do not work for the moment and claim Universal Credit and housing benefit.
    Do I qualify for any benefit related to my son ?
    I am separated from the mother since more than 5 years and have no idea what kind of benefit she is claiming, know she work but have no idea if it's full or part time.
    I find myself in a very delicate situation being evicted in two weeks and the council is telling me that because I am not the main carer I am not a priority for housing.
    Please HELP !!!

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Guest Tuesday, 02 June 2020

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