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Child Maintenance

Between 2014 and 2017 The Child Support Agency CSA will be changing to the Child Maintenance Service.

What does Child Maintenance cover?

Child Maintenance is a legal responsibility for providing help with a child’s everyday living costs.  This includes food and clothes and is usually paid by the parent without the main day to day care of a child and is paid to the other parent. It can make a real difference to the child’s life by helping to pay for clothes, food and other essentials.  It can also help to keep both parents involved in children’s lives. 

Most separated parents arrange the Child Maintenance between themselves either privately or through the Child Maintenance Service.  The CMS is only for parents who have been unable to sort out a maintenance payment between themselves.

We have recently put together a new resource hub to assist you further with your child maintenance queries. We have created a child maintenance calculator to help you decide what type of arrangement is best for you and a short and simple guide to explain what options are available and how they work. You can visit the hub by clicking here

Child Maintenance and the Law

For support on child maintenance issues or the changing in the law, you can contact NACSA who offer specialist help at affordable rates. You can contact them either by email or in writing to: admin@nacsa.co.uk or NACSA, Loverock House, Brettell Lane, Brierley Hill, West Midlands DY5 3JN

If you are worried about the changes in the law about child maintenance then the above website gives a guide on what the changes are and what effects it will have and what you need to do .

You can also contact the below for advice on your options

Contacting Child Maintenance Options

Call FREE on 0800 988 0988*

8am to 8pm Monday to Friday

9am to 4pm Saturday

Or go to www.cmoptions.org

How much child maintenance should I pay?

You can use the government’s child maintenance calculator to work out how much your payments should be. Find it at:


The calculator will only work out an estimate. You need information about your income before you start. 

Contacting the Child Maintenance Service

Child Maintenance Service cases set up between 1993 and March 2003

Call the CMS Helpline if you opened a child maintenance case before March 2003.

Child Maintenance Service Helpline
Telephone: 0345 713 3133
Textphone: 0345 713 8924
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturdays, 9am to 5pm

Child Maintenance Service cases set up after 2003

Contact your local office if you have a query about an existing case opened in March 2003 or later.

  • Belfast (for east England)

Telephone: 0345 609 0092 

Textphone: 0345 713 2243
Fax: 0845 713 2336
By post:
Child Support Agency 6
Mail Handling Site A
WV98 1SH

  • Birkenhead (for north-west England)

Telephone: 0345 609 0082

Textphone: 0345 713 8099
Fax: 0845 713 8095
By post:
Child Support Agency 5
Post Handling Site B
WV99 1GH

  • Dudley (for the Midlands)

Telephone: 0345 609 0062

Textphone: 0345 713 1707 or 0845 713 1707
Fax: 01384 488 341
By post:
Child Support Agency 1
Post Handling Site B
WV99 1ED

  • Falkirk (for Scotland and north-east England)

Telephone: 0345 609 0042

Textphone: 0345 713 6804
Fax: 0845 713 6134
By post:
Child Support Agency 3
Mail Handling Site A

  • Hastings (for south-east England)

Telephone: 0345 609 0052

Textphone: 0345 713 4700
Fax: 0845 713 4241
By post:
Child Support Agency 2
Post Handling Site B
WV99 1NE

  • Plymouth (for south-west England)

Telephone: 0345 609 0072

Textphone: 0345 713 7217
Fax: 0845 713 7016
By post:
Child Support Agency 4
Mail Handling Site A
WV98 1QL

*You can find out about what call charges might be associated with the above numbers here.

Existing cases with the (new) Child Maintenance Service

Call the telephone number you were given over the phone if you have recently made an application. You can also find the number:

  • in your welcome pack
  • at the top of any letter the Child Maintenance Service has sent you

Does being in a debt solution impact child maintenance?

If you enter a debt solution such as a DMP or IVA, then this does not have any bearing on your child maintenance. Any Child maintenance payment you make, weekly or monthly, will have been taken into account on your essential budget before working out what payments you can afford to your debt solution.

If you are currently in a debt plan and the child maintenance hasn’t been taken into account, you need to speak to your case officer to advise them on the change and your budget will be reviewed. Your case officer will discuss how this affects the continuation of your plan.

Get advice now

What if I have no income to pay?

There is a flat rate of £5 per week regardless of how many children are involved. This is used when the paying parent’s weekly income is between £5 and £100 and they don’t qualify for the nil rate.

Contact CMS– explain what has arisen that the maintenance cannot be paid (loss of job/home/new relationship/baby etc)

If possible speak to the person you pay maintenance to, to explain the current situation – if maintenance is on a voluntary basis.

Will this be a temporary measure?

Can family or friends help in an emergency?

Consider applying for a Social Fund/Crisis loan from DWP

Would it be possible to move back to the home where the children live?

Child Maintenance Debt Help

Child Maintenance is a priority bill and must be covered along with your council tax bill and other utilities. For someone who is unable or cannot maintain the payments it would be advisable to contact the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to see what support they provide you and if you are able to reduce your monthly payments.

Visit their website for further details https://childmaintenanceservice.direct.gov.uk

If you are struggling with unsecured debts and trying to keep up with your minimum payments, PayPlan can discuss a wide range of debt solutions which may be available to you.

Get advice now

How do the CMS collect arrears?

The Child Support Agency or the Child Maintenance Service as it’s now known as can recover arrears in outstanding child maintenance in the following ways:

  • Money can be taken from the parent’s earnings. This is called a deduction from earnings order.
  • Money can be taken from Benefits.
  • Money can be taken from a building society or bank account; this is called a deduction order.
  • Application can be made to the courts for a liability order, if this is granted it can be referred to the bailiffs.
  • Application can be made for a charging order, this could force you to sell the property and use the money to pay off the child maintenance debts.

The CSA or CMS have the power to apply to the High Court to prevent you from getting rid of any property or transferring property or assets if they consider you are doing this to avoid paying child maintenance.

There are no time limits within which the CSA or CMS can collect child maintenance arrears.  Debt collection agents can also be used to find a parent who should be paying maintenance or to collect arrears.

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