How to get Child Maintenance in 2022

8 December 2022 by Robin - 9 minutes of reading time

child maintenance 2022

Child Maintenance is a service that can help separated parents pay for the living costs of a child. Then, you may receive or a certain amount on a weekly basis. Your Benefit will tell you everything you need to know about Child Maintenance.

What is Child Maintenance?

The Child Maintenance Service is a system that allows parents to pay or receive payments for the living costs of a child. It is intended in the case that parents were not able to make private arrangements for it. Private arrangements is another way of saying that you figured out a solution by yourself.

This benefit can be received by a parent if they are divorced or separated. The child also needs to be a certain age. More specifically, they need to be one of the following:

  • Under 16 years old;
  • Under 20 years old, and in A-level full-time education or lower.
You may have already set up your Child Maintenance Service case. If this is your situation, you may manage it online. You may also have a change in your circumstances, like in the benefits you receive, the people living with you and in your employment. In this case, you will need to report it.

How is Child Maintenance calculated?

The amount of Child Maintenance that needs to be paid is usually calculated in 6 steps. The final amount calculated will be for how much money you can get or pay weekly.

The first step will be calculating income. Information regarding the yearly gross income of the paying parent will be communicated by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Benefits will also be counted. This does not apply to student grants, loans and tax credits, however.

Second, things that may impact income will be observed. This can include additional children, or pension payments. Then, yearly gross income will be converted to calculate a weekly amount.

Third, a rate will be applied. This is based on the paying parent’s weekly gross income amount calculated previously.

Child maintenance amount 2022
Paying parent's total gross weekly income Rate name Weekly amount
Either unknown or not provided Default £38 for a single child, £51 for 2 children, £61 for 3 children or more
Under £7 Nil £0
£7 up to £100, or if the paying parent receives benefits Flat £7
£100.01 to £199.99 Reduced Worked out using a formula
£200 to £3,000 Basic Worked out using a formula
This table show the basic amounts to be made for the payments, before the next steps and additional calculations are done. The paying parent may receive more than £3,000 in gross weekly income. If so, the receiving parent can appeal for more child maintenance to the courts.

What is the fourth step?

Fourth, additional children under the care of the parent(s) will be taken into account. Fifth, the weekly amount to be paid will be calculated, using all previously acquired information. Finally, shared care is determined. This is choosing when a child stays overnight with the paying parent.

‘Shared care’ reduces the weekly child maintenance amount. In other words, the number of nights that a child stays with their paying parents will incur a deduction on weekly payments.

How is Child Maintenance paid?

How is Child Maintenance calculated?

Money that the receiving parent earns is paid directly into their bank account. There are different ways in which Child Maintenance is paid. They include paying: 

  • Between parents directly
  • By reducing the benefits of the parent that is paying
  • Through Direct Debit
  • By taking the money from the parent’s earnings directly (this is negotiated with their own employer).

When will Child Maintenance start? 

The first payment will usually be initiated no more than 12 weeks after the payment arrangements are decided.

You may be the paying parent. In this case, you will receive a letter with all the necessary information about when and how much you are required to pay. This is also known as a payment plan. 

You may be the receiving parent. In this case, you will receive a letter with all the necessary information about when and how much you will be paid. This is also known as an expected payment plan.

How can I arrange the payments if my partner is abusive or controlling?

You may be experiencing controlling behaviour or domestic abuse. In this case, you may contact the Child Maintenance Service. Indeed, they will be able to arrange Child Maintenance for you. They will do so with the child’s other parent.

You may have also gone through with changing your name. Do not worry: you can arrange the payments without the other parent ever learning of your new name.

You may also have changed home address. In this case, you may not want the other parent to know what your address is. If so, then ask your bank to configure an account that has ‘non-geographic’ sort code.

If required, you can ask the Child Maintenance Service to provide a letter for the bank. It will explain why you need a specific type of account created.

What if I want to set up the payments myself?

You first need to wait for the Child Maintenance Service to figure out an amount to pay. However, once this has been done, the payments can be set up by you. Indeed, this is known as Direct Pay.

Standing order remains the easiest way to pay. However, what does this mean? The money paid by the paying parent goes from their bank, Post Office or building society account directly inside the account of the receiving parent.

Note that you do not need the other parent’s consent in order to set up Direct Pay. However, this is unless there is good evidence pointing to the fact that the paying parent will probably not pay.

You are not alone in this process. In fact, if necessary, the Child Maintenance Service is able to make sure that the paying parent makes missed payments. However, it is recommended you keep track of the payments that are made. This will help if there are any problems with them later on.

Child Maintenance Collect and Pay

Your situation may include you using the Child Maintenance Service in order to receive and transfer payments. If this is the case, this will be done depending on when the paying parent receives their wages, benefits or pension. This is known as Collect and Pay.

You may have done Direct Pay payments while using the Collect and Pay service. If this is the case, you must notify the Child Maintenance Service. You can call them on 0800 171 2345.

Child Maintenance collection fees

There is a fee that must be paid each time that a regular child maintenance payment happens. This is regardless of whether you are receiving or paying the amount. Indeed, making payments in advance cannot keep you from having to pay collection fees. The amounts are the following:

  • 20% for paying parents, added to the child maintenance payment;
  • 4% for receiving parents, taken off the payment.

However, some things will not have to be paid in certain situations:

  • Any kinds of fees, if you do a private arrangement;
  • Collection fees, in the case that you use Direct Pay.

Parent doesn’t pay Child Maintenance

If a parent decides not to pay this benefit, certain actions will be taken. Indeed, enforcement charges require the paying parent to pay an additional charge, the amount depending on the measure taken.

First, if a liability order is enacted by the Child Maintenance Service, the fee for the paying parent will be £300.

Second, if it is a lump sum deduction order, the fee will be £200. Third, for a regular deduction order, the fee will be £50. Fourth, for a deduction from earnings request or order, the fee is £50.

If payments are done through the Child Maintenance Service, they will take action automatically. However, the paying parent may be paying this benefit directly, and used the Child Maintenance Service only to calculate the amounts that needed to be paid. In such a case, action will need to be requested by the receiving parent. 

Child Maintenance when parentage is disputed

It may be the case that the parent of a child denies their parentage. If so, the Child Maintenance Service will take the following actions:

  • Request proof that they are indeed not the parent;
  • Ask the other parent for proof of parentage and ask what the situation is.

There may not be any evidence that the parent in question is not the parent. If this is the case, the Child Maintenance Service can do any of the following:

  • Let the court decide what decision to take;
  • Demand a DNA test from both parents.

Can the Child Maintenance Service assume parentage?

The Child Maintenance Service may assume parentage. This is the case if any of the following situations apply to the individual that is named as parent:

  • They were married to the mother of the child anytime between the time of conception and the birth of the child (this is unless the child in question was adopted);
  • The child was born from a surrogate mother, and the individual in question was named as a parent in a court order;
  • Completely went through the legal adoption process for the child;
  • Took a DNA test, with results showing that they are indeed the parent;
  • Has their name on the birth certificate of the child (this is unless the child in question was adopted).

Do I need to pay Child Maintenance during a disagreement?

How is Child Maintenance paid?

A parent may be disputing parentage. However, an amount may have already been determined. If this is the case, the parent in question has to make the payments, until they are able to provide proof that they are not the parent.

The amount of Child Maintenance to be paid may not be determined while parentage is disputed. If this is the case, the amount to be paid will not be determined and payments will not be demanded. This is until an agreement has been reached.

If the individual is indeed shown to be the parent, the amount to be paid will be backdated. This means that the parent will have to make all the payments that they have missed.

What if I prove that I am not the parent?

If this is the case, a few things may happen. The Child Maintenance Service can:

  • Provide a refund to the individual for any payments paid after the date of first denial of parentage, or they can transfer the total amount paid towards this benefit for another child;
  • Pay back the fee incurred by the DNA test asked by the Child Maintenance Service;
  • Ask of the other parent to pay back some or all child maintenance received up to this point.

What will be asked to be refunded depends on the particulars of your case.

Autres questions fréquentes

Robin is a writer for Your Benefits, writing about aids that people may be entitled to. He is currently working on his Master in journalism at the Institut Supérieur de Formation au Journalisme in Lille.

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