Child maintenance is a legal obligation.
It ensures that the child can have access to clothes and food and is paid by the parent who is not the primary carer, and doesn’t deal with day to day care.
In cases where parents are separated, they can arrange child maintenance privately or through the Child Maintenance Service. The child maintenance service helps parents who have been unable to come to an agreement on maintenance themselves.
How much child maintenance should I pay?
This is calculated on your individual circumstances. We advise that you use the government’s child maintenance calculator which will tell you the amount of child maintenance you have to pay. This will be an estimate and should never be taken as a real child maintenance amount. More information can be found at Calculate your child maintenance.
How does being in a debt arrangement affect my child maintenance obligations?
If you enter an IVA or Trust Deed this will have no effect on your child maintenance. The amount that you are obliged to pay will need to be taken into account as an ongoing expense prior to working out the payments you can afford to make on your debt arrangement.
If you are currently in a debt arrangement and child maintenance has not been taken into account, you will need to contact your case officer as soon as possible so that this issue can be addressed. When you advise them of this change they will need to review your arrangement and see how it affects your debt arrangement in future.
What if I have no source of income to pay?
With all child maintenance cases there is a £5 minimum fee regardless of the number of children involved in the agreement. This minimum fee is worked out in cases in which the parent’s income is between £5 and £100 and they in no way qualify for the non-payment agreement.
We advise our customers that in this instance they must contact the Child Maintenance Service immediately to inform them that an issue has arisen, making them unable to pay child maintenance. You must also disclose with them the reasons why you are unable to make the payment, such as job loss.
Child maintenance debt help
Child maintenance is an obligation, not an option. It’s similar in this way to council tax and other utilities. You must make payment of such a debt as priority, therefore anyone who is unable to make the payment should contact the Child Maintenance Service and see what support they can offer.
How can the Child Maintenance Service chase arrears?
CMS chases arrears in the following ways:
- They can place a wage arrestment on your earnings
- They can deduct money from benefits
- They can take money from a building society or bank account in what is called a ‘deduction order’
- They can appeal to the courts for a liability order and if accepted, it can be passed to bailiffs to deal with
- They can raise a charging order on your property which can lead to a forced sale
- The Child Maintenance Service can also appeal to the High Court to stop you from selling your property and can prevent you from transferring ownership of any assets if it can be proven that this was done with the intention of not paying child maintenance.