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Child maintenance and your ex

Child maintenance and your ex

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Child maintenance can be a tricky issue to confront when you split up with a partner. But whatever the situation, both parents are legally responsible for the financial upbringing of their children, until they are at least 16 years old.

Whether you’re going through a break up and don’t know where to start with child maintenance or you’re having trouble getting your ex to cough up, here are some useful pointers to help you come to an arrangement.


To qualify for child maintenance your child/children must be under the age of 16, under the age of 20 but still in full-time education up to A-level or equivalent or under 20 and living with someone who claims Child Benefit for them. Exceptions where child maintenance will be reduced to nil rate, meaning no money is paid, include where the paying parent is under 16 or under 18 and still in full-time education, a student, in prison or is 16-17 years old and receives certain benefits.

Family Based Arrangements

This is when both partners are able to come to an arrangement between themselves. You will both agree how much child maintenance will be paid and how the money will be transferred. There is no need to involve a solicitor or the authorities, making this the quickest and easiest way to set payments up. It also allows changes to be made easily if circumstances change. However, as it isn’t legally binding, you won’t have the same level of back-up support if payments are missed. If this is something that concerns you there is the option of using a solicitor to make it a legal arrangement.

Child maintenance and your ex

Child Maintenance Service

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) has taken over from its predecessor, the Child Support Agency (CSA) and deals with all new cases. You can contact the CMS if you and your ex can’t agree on an arrangement on your own. The CMS will work out an amount and arrange payments for you. However, there is usually a charge for using the service. The CMS offers two services. Direct Pay incurs a £20 set up fee and the CMS will decide on an amount of child maintenance and set up payments to be made to you. Alternatively, the Collect and Pay service can collect the money from your ex and pass it on to you. This does involve more charges though: on top of the £20 set up fee the parent paying the maintenance has to pay 20% of the amount to the CMS, while the parent receiving the money has to pay 4% to collect it.


In some cases, the only option may be to go to court to get a maintenance order. This option is limited to those whose ex-partner lives abroad or whose ex has a high income of more than £156,000 a year. Courts can also be used to decide on private school fees and to work out how much money should be contributed for stepchildren or children with special needs.




About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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