Child support and maintenance

Child support (or child maintenance) means a parent’s financial contribution towards a child’s living costs after they’ve separated from the other parent. By law both parents are responsible for the financial costs of bringing up their children.

If you and your ex-partner can agree a child maintenance arrangement between you with the help of a specialist lawyer, then no one else needs to be involved. But if you can’t reach an amicable agreement, the Child Maintenance Service will need to be involved. Please note that existing cases may be handled by the Child Maintenance Service’s forerunner, the Child Support Agency (CSA), which is being phased out and will cease operation in 2017.

How is child support calculated?

How much child support is paid will depend on the circumstances of both parents and the separated family. You can use the Child Maintenance Service’s child maintenance calculator to obtain an estimate of the statutory amount of child support you or your partner will be expected to pay. You can also use the calculator to work out the amount if you and your partner have agreed a private arrangement.

What to do if child support payments are not made

If child support payments from your ex-partner have stopped, you should notify the agency (either the Child Maintenance Service or the Child Support Agency) that handles collection. Both collection agencies have a wide range of powers to enforce the payment of child support. For example, if your ex-partner’s circumstances change and he or she begins claiming benefits, a child support deduction can be made from the benefit payments.

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