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CSA Payments: How are they calculated?

CSA Payments: How much are you entitled to?

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It’s not easy having to bring up kids with an absent parent, so you’ll need to make sure you get paid in full when you pursue your ex-partner via the CSA.

So how do they work out your payments?

Broadly speaking, child maintenance is worked out by looking at the following:

  • The paying parent’s net weekly income
  • The number of children requiring maintenance
  • The frequency with which your children stay overnight at your ex’s property
  • Whether you or your partner get Child Benefit
  • Whether your ex is paying Child Maintenance on any other children

The most important factor is the income of the paying parent, and one of four rates is applied to that income depending on how much it is:

The Basic Rate is applied for parents with a net weekly income of £200 a week or more. They will pay 15% of that income for one child, 20% for two children and 25% for three or more.

The Reduced Rate is applied where weekly earnings are from £100 to £200: A payment of £5 is made, plus 25% of income if one child is being maintained, 35% if two children are being maintained, or 45% for three-plus children.

The Flat Rate of just £5 no matter how many children are involved is payable if the paying parent earns between £5 and £100 a week. It also applies to paying parents who are receiving (or who live with a partner who is receiving) income-related benefits or certain other benefits like a state pension or incapacity benefit.

The Nil Rate (i.e., nothing is payable) applies if less than £5 a week is earned, or the paying parent is under 16, in full-time education, prison or a care home.

However, if the paying parent or their partner receiving Child Benefit for children living with them, then the rates above are altered:

Basic Rate-paying parents will have to pay 15%, 20% or 25% less than the usual amount respectively if they have one, two or three-plus children to care for.

Reduced Rate-paying parents will have to pay between 20.5% and 32.5%, depending on how many children they have to care for, as per the following table:


Number of children needing maintenance Number of children living with non-resident parent Standard amount, plus => % of net weekly income payable
1 1 £5 20.5%
2 £5 19%
3 or more £5 17.5%
2 1 £5 29%
2 £5 27%
3 or more £5 25%
3 or more 1 £5 37.5%
2 £5 35%
3 or more £5 32.5%


If your child regularly stays overnight with a paying parent, the amount they have to pay is reduced on a pro-rata basis for Basic and Reduced Rate payers, who will need to tell the DSS how many nights the child stays over on average, so that they can make an adjustment.

Flat Rate payers will have their rate knocked down to zero if the child ever stays with them on a regular basis.

Non-resident parent difficulties

Sadly, all-too-often a non-resident parent will make life difficult for the caring parent by failing to provide the required information. In this instance, there’s a default rate that applies, of £30, £40 or £50 a week for one, two or three-plus children. If that amount is less than the non-resident parent would have paid had they supplied the correct information than they’ll be asked to make up the balance.

Applying for a variation

Under certain circumstances a paying parent can apply for a variation: This happens when there are particular non-standard costs they have to bear, and the DSS will make a discretionary adjustment. Eligible costs include:

  • Keeping in touch with children who have moved a long way away
  • Supporting children who are disabled or suffering long-term sickness
  • Repayment of debts accrued prior to separation that were incurred for the benefit of the family
  • Boarding school fees
  • Mortgage payments on a home that you used to share, that you have no financial interest in

Caring parents can apply for a variation, too, if the paying parent:

  • has assets of £65,000 or more (including property equity)
  • is paying the Flat or Nil Rate but is getting income over £100 from a previously unidentified source
  • controls their own income and receives more than £100 per week
  • is diverting income via a business or other mechanism to evade Child Maintenance
  • appears to be more affluent than the amount of Child Benefit they’re paying would suggest

Successfully applying for a variation is not an exact science, so if you make a request to the DSS you’ll need to have done your homework. A letter stating that you’ve seen your ex eating out in expensive restaurants and wearing designer clothes won’t be enough; details of a business he runs with a report and accounts purchased from Companies House, along with photos of his upmarket house and car however, would probably be viewed differently.

Generally speaking, variations are not made on either side if the party involved, or their partner, are receiving income-related benefits of any sort.

Contacting the CSA

For further information you can find out anything you need to know about how the CSA works at www.csa.gov.uk, and you’ll find contact numbers there if you still don’t have answers to your questions.




About Linda Ram

About Linda Ram

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