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The old CSA system has now been replaced by the Child Maintenance Service.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
    dobbo Thursday, 29 March 2018

    My daughter starts university in September when do I finish paying maintenacne

    My daughter starts university in September when do I finish paying maintenance please advise

    Reply Cancel
  • Guest
    Martin clist Saturday, 31 March 2018


    Hi I'm paying child maintenance for my son ..he left collage he is 18 yr old and started work on February 5th 2018 .his mum is a total lier and told child maintenance that he started 10th March and on a month trile. ..child maintenance told me because of term dates don't end till may 31st I still have to pay till then and see if my son is still working after trile date 10th April. ..witch his mum is liein. .please help

  • Guest
    Lisa tilley Monday, 23 April 2018

    Lisa tilley

    I’m hoping someone can help with my problem,
    My husband has 2 children from a previous relationship which he pays maintenance for,
    Now his ex is saying that his daughter no longer wants anything to do with him and will not be coming to visit anymore and she will not make her come.
    We already have a court order in place that states he has the children every other weekend from Friday TIL Sunday and he gets half of all the holidays but he has never once had half of the holidays she allows him to have them for a week in the summer holidays and that’s it she gets the other 5 so already she is breaking the order but going to court is not an option right now as he is paying a high amount of maintenance and can not afford to go back is there anything else we can do to stop her calling the shots as all he wants is what the court have given him.

  • Guest
    Nade Thursday, 26 April 2018

    Very low child maintenance support for two children.

    I am receiving £31.41 for two children per week from the ex husband, he told CSA that he earns just over £800 a month, but I know he earns much more than that, roughly 450 t0 500 pounds a day. I have explained this to the CSA, but they said that they have calculated the income from what inland revenue has given them. I have no written proof, except from what I have seen on his wage slips when we were together and what he said.

    Now, I do not earn much, therefore I do struggle to pay my bills. CSA said that they cannot do anything more, I have contacted HM revenue and they are sending me back and forth to CSA. I do not know his employer, because he is self employed. Have you got any advice on the matter?

  • Guest
    trevor anderson Saturday, 28 April 2018

    when do i stop paying for my children one is 20 this year 2018 and one who leaves on hes 19 this year

    my daughter is 20 this year and my son 19 i am still paying csa now its changed to cms when does this stop.?

  • Guest
    Luke Friday, 04 May 2018

    My partner pregnant and paying child maintenance

    I have a child with my ex and paying child maintenance for him. Will my payments go down now My partner is pregnant and expecting? I'm confused with what I've been reading

  • Guest
    Peter Friday, 11 May 2018


    Hi , I've three children , and also have two mortgages in joint name with my ex wife; she has stop working since the divorce proceeding started , so now until the divorce end what do I pay the child maintenance and the mortgages please I need help as I can't afford both .thanks

  • Guest
    Mark D Thursday, 17 May 2018

    Housing costs

    Hi guys. Need advice on what I should be paying towards my mortgage now that I no longer live in the family home after separation? Legally my ex has no obligation to sell up until my youngest daughter is 18, which is 16 years away. I'm fine with that but she is unwilling to buy me out and expects me to pay half the mortgage until then. Considering the Child maintenance payments include housing costs, should I really be expected to pay HALF the mortgage payments aswell?? I'm seriously disadvantaged financially by this and I will never be able to get another mortgage if I move on as I am stuck on this mortgage too. Any help appreciated.

  • Guest
    EddR Thursday, 24 May 2018

    Child Support- Private school fees

    Hi all

    I have requested my daughters school invoices from her school. I am paying maintenance via her mother and a direct payment is made by her to the school. I am wondering if it is right that the school is not allowing me to have access to these invoices bearing in mind its part of my monthly maintenance?

    Please let me know if anyone has any ideas if I am entitled based on Parental Rights I have plus paying parent.


  • Guest
    M Kelly Monday, 04 June 2018

    M Kelly


    Can you use Childcare vouchers as a means of child maintenance? For example, I currently save £100 in vouchers through Edenred scheme through work, which equates to about £23.07 a week. If this amount is used and is visible on my statement, may I reduce the weekly amount I am authorised to pay by that much?

    The rationale is that it would provide my ex-partner approximately 4 and half hours additional time for recompense

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Guest Monday, 01 June 2020

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