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The old CSA system has now been replaced by the Child Maintenance Service.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
    stuart small Thursday, 03 August 2017

    Stuart Small

    Good Morning, I am currently being taking through the new child maintenance service by the mother of my 17 year old daughter. They calculate my payment based on the HMRC record for 2015/16. I have a company car and fuel which the HMRC class as separate but the child maintenance take this as an income when it clearly isn't. I've appealed and got nowhere. As anyone had this problem?

  • Guest
    Phil Saturday, 05 August 2017

    CMS trying to cripple me financially!

    I have recently had my child maintenance increased from 20 a week to 52 a week. I have spoken to them and they are basing it in my gross income. Not taking into account my tax and insurance, not to mention my outgoings. They seem completely ignorant towards it. I have told them i physically can't afford to pay that amount and they were threatening me with bailiffs. Where do i stand as this is completely ludicris and insensitive of them.

  • Guest
    Mark Gannon Wednesday, 23 August 2017

    living outside of europe

    My ex-partner now lives in the Arab Emirates with my children, do i still have to pay child support outside of Europe?

  • Guest
    Christopher Byrne Wednesday, 18 October 2017


    Using the Gov calculator I have been paying now for nearly 3 years for my daughter. My partner and I have recently had our daughter so, as directed by CSA Calc, I have reduced accordingly. I care for my daughter full time 6 days out of every fourteen therefore short of 50/50 by one day, and I pay for everything my daughter needs whilst in my care, from school uniforms, Brownie uniforms, school dinners clothes, riding lessons etc. Both her mother and I are on a very good income but since the reduction she has come to me for extra for school trips etc. I've read through the guidelines several times and they seem a little woolly at best. my questions are; do I have to contribute to school trips, can I deduct school meals and other from amount I pay or indeed should I be paying anything at all?

    thank you in advance for any help.

  • Guest
    Antony hayles Tuesday, 24 October 2017

    do I have to pay maintenance

    I have my children at my house every other weekend and at my x's house two nights a week whilst she works. I do chip in for the odd things the children need but do not pay any regular form or maintenance from my salary. My x thinks I should be contributing financially as well as helping out. Do I have to. She seems to have a better quality of life than I do. Is it the law that I have to pay

  • Guest
    MR DEREK PENTREATH Thursday, 04 January 2018

    mr derek pentreath


  • Guest
    Graham Smith Tuesday, 16 January 2018

    Unfair maintenance payments

    My wife and I have split up yet I have my son in a week longer than with her yet because he sleeps at her home 5 nights a week she get the majority of maintence from me to pay out. I know my son does not like living with his mother as he has said many times to me and that I spend money in the days I do have him yet my wife still wants more from me which to me is way over what I feel she should get. I am going through a divorce right now and it seems that I may up paying for the majority of a home as well which leaves me very short and in debt. Is there a way to say that "hey look I have him for 4 days but 2 nights and the CSM should take account of this but they dont. I feel this grossly unfair as my wife seems to pay out very little cost when she has my son. All the clothes she gets are hand me downs from other families & what money she does get is used up on her not the child. I have 2 other now grown up children and I pay more for the 1 child thean I did for both my other two in the past. Does this seem fair?

  • Guest
    Craig Monday, 05 March 2018

    Do I have to start paying child support if my child is over 18

    I have always paid child maintenance directly to my wife as instructed through the court when we got divorced, which stopped when she was 18. The CSA have now contact me to advise that because my daughter is in full time education i must continue to pay until she is 20... Is this correct as i have never paid child support through the CSA and I was under the impression that once she was an adult as in over 18, they could not start requesting payments.
    Please advise

  • Guest
    mwr Tuesday, 20 March 2018


    My ex is being awkward as usual with when I can see my daughter, ive been told that if my ex is in new relationship where the guy lives with my ex that my maintenance is eligible to change as he is contributing financially, is this correct?

  • Guest
    stuart Wednesday, 21 March 2018

    Child Maintenance

    Good morning,

    I have paid my ex wife circa £140K over the past 15 years for child maintenance which was agreed through a "minute of agreement" between both our laywers. This money was net and paid direct to her, question I am wondering, and I am currently asking the inland revenue also, should I have been claiming tax relief on these payments? In other words, as though the money being paid could have been taken from "source" prior to getting tax calculated?

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