Child Support / Maintenance FAQs
How do I make a claim for child maintenance?
Contact the Child Maintenance Service either:
On the web – https://www.gov.uk/child-maintenance
Or by phone – 0845 266 8792
How is child support calculated?
The specific calculation used depends on when the application for child support was made. Some cases are ‘old rules’ (pre-2003), some are dealt with by the Child Support Agency and more recent cases are dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). We suggest you use the online calculator if yours is a new case. https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-child-maintenance If your query relates to an older claim, please come and see us.
The Child Support Agency/ CMS has got the calculation wrong – what should I do?
It is very important that you notify the CSA/ CMS of your objection to the calculation (ideally in writing). Failure to do so might make it difficult to challenge the calculation. We suggest that you come to see one of our legal advisers immediately as it is important to act quickly if an incorrect assessment has been made.
Child Maintenance has been agreed. Do we need to use the Child Support Agency/ Child Maintenance Service?
If you and the other parent have agreed the child support payable then there is no need to use the CSA/CMS. It would only be necessary to do so if one of you thought the support needed to change and you could not agree the change or if the paying parent stopped paying. It is not possible to accumulate arrears of child support unless a court order is in place or a calculation has been made by the CSA or CMS.
I have received a claim for child support but I am not sure that the child is mine. What next?
If you doubt the paternity of the child in question then it is important to raise this as an issue at the start of the process. The Child Maintenance Service will arrange a paternity test in certain circumstances. If the test proves that you are the father then you will have to pay the costs of the test.
If you are already paying child support but you now doubt paternity, it is important to obtain advice. Burnetts Family Law Team has successfully applied for numerous Declarations of (non) Paternity under the Family Law Act 1986. If you are successful in proving that you are not the father then the payments you have made to date will be returned. Burnetts Family Law Team is able to advise on the different paternity tests available and your legal costs may be recoverable from the other party if you are successful.
Should I stop contact if the parent stops paying?
Contact between a parent and a child is totally separate from that parent’s obligation to maintain the child. Whilst it might be frustrating, contact should continue despite the failure to pay. If you have not already contacted the Child Maintenance Service to make a claim for child support then you should do so. If the CSA or CMS are already dealing with the matter, you should contact them and ask them to take enforcement action.
We share the care of our children. Do I still have to pay maintenance?
If children spend equal time with their parents then the parent receiving the Child Benefit may still be entitled to child support. In cases involving shared residence we would recommend that you seek specialist legal advice from a member of the Burnetts Family Law Team.
Do you offer a free first appointment?
We do not offer a free first appointment to new clients to the firm, but we do provide the first meeting (of up to one hour) and a letter of legal advice at a heavily discounted rate of £210 including VAT. Payment needs to be made either before or immediately after the appointment.
Further information is available on our divorce and separation pages.