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The CSA: Questions and Answers – by Rachel Baul

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Solicitor Rachel Baul joined Stowe Family Law in 2004, and is a member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel. She specialises in all areas of family law and ancillary relief, and has been commended by a number of the firm’s high profile clients.

The breakdown of a relationship is never easy, but the involvement of children can make a difficult break-up emotionally and financially gut-wrenching.

Not every couple will need the Child Support Agency’s help – many come to amicable agreements that work well and support the best interests of the child – but in the absence of an agreement the CSA is arguably the easiest and cheapest way to ensure that child maintenance is paid.

You can ask your lawyer to pre-empt the CSA when preparing a financial settlement upon divorce, by taking into account whether it is appropriate to combine spousal and child maintenance into a global figure. This can then be enforced even if an application to the CSA is later made by the non-resident parent.

This is certainly an avenue to pursue given the CSA’s reputation, with those using the service complaining of serious difficulties. Frequently it appears that there is no uniformity of advice. Phoning 3 different departments can result in 3 different answers to the same question.

Given the administrative problems at the CSA, and the emotional pressure involved, I am often asked to advise people on how to deal with the agency. I have listed some of the most common questions, along with my advice, below.

When can I apply?

Unless you have a child maintenance agreement from before 1991, or a court order dated pre-March 2003 then you fall within the remit of the CSA.

Either party can apply to the CSA for a maintenance calculation, except when there is a court order in place from after March 2003. In these cases the CSA is excluded for 12 months, after which time either parent can opt out of the order and apply for a CSA assessment.

The CSA’s calculations are based on the income of each party, with the assessment having a maximum ceiling of £104,000 take home pay per annum. If either party wishes to have income above this level taken into account, they are able to apply for additional “top up” maintenance through the courts.

What if both parents spend an equal amount of time with the child?

If there is a joint residency agreement in force, the parent in receipt of child benefits is deemed to be the resident parent and can apply for CSA maintenance from the other parent. If the child’s time is divided equally between both parents, the maintenance to be paid by the parent who is not in receipt of child benefits is calculated at the standard rate, but with a discount of 3/7ths. (This is the rate of discount when a child stays overnight with a non-resident parent for between 156 and 207 nights per annum.)

If there are two children, it may be that the parents agree to split the child benefits. If each parent is in receipt of benefits for one child then in theory, parents can make cross-applications – although in practice, most parents simply do not claim in these circumstances.

Does the CSA cover children living abroad or from other marriages?

The CSA can act when the non-resident parent resides in the UK. There are also reciprocal agreements with other child support agencies around the world, including Australia.

It is important to note that the CSA only has jurisdiction over the natural or adopted children of a relationship and cannot deal with, for example, step-children where the step-father has taken financial responsibility for the child during the relationship.  However, the court has the power to make maintenance orders in respect of these “children of the family”.

How much must non-resident parents pay?

CSA maintenance is calculated based upon the net income of the non-resident parent. That is to say, income after deductions of tax, national insurance, student loan and pension contributions.

There are 3 bands of child support.  For those on a weekly income of less than £100 per week, or who are on benefits, there is a £5 flat rate.  Those with an income of £100 – £200 per week will pay the flat rate for the first £100 then a proportion of their income for the next £100.

The majority of claims will fall into the standard rate category, which covers any non-resident parent with a net income of between £200 and £2,000 per week. The formula is somewhat simplistic: 15% for one child; 20% for two children; 25% for three or more children.

There is provision for a reduced payment to be made if the non-resident parent is responsible for the children over night more than 52 nights per year, on a sliding scale that starts at 1/7th discount of the weekly payment. Non-resident parents can also deduct a small amount of up to £15 per week for special expenses such as travel.

The CSA will also take into account any other child living with the non-resident parent for which they have financial responsibility.

What if the non-resident parent earns more than £2,000 net per week?

The Children Act makes provision for special top-up payments to be awarded where the non-resident parent has an income above this level. This can take the form of increased maintenance levels or paying for school fees, nursery fees or other extras.

As any top-up payment needs to be pursued in the courts, without support from the CSA, this effectively means there is a two tier system, forcing a resident parent to reapply to the court to enforce the increased maintenance demand.

What if they won’t pay?

In the same way as PAYE tax works, the CSA has the power to deduct from the non-resident parent’s wages at source to ensure payment. The agency also has the power to confiscate passports and driving licences as well as various enforcement and penal actions it has at its disposal.

The CSA has been heavily criticised for a lack of clout when it comes to self employed parents where income dries up, or when funds are diverted to a partner’s or business account. Equally vocal have been the critics who point to the laborious process of appealing a CSA assessment, which is felt to be too low to support the child’s expected lifestyle.

Arrears are deducted as additional payments along with future child maintenance payments (in the same way that overpayments of benefits are deducted at source from future income and benefits).

In situations where there is a delay in the CSA making a ruling, or there is a prolonged investigation into the true financial picture, the payments will be backdated to the date of the application and arrears will be included into the monthly payments to be repaid over the next year.

In other words, for non-resident parents it’s extremely important to respond promptly to CSA notifications and provides any information requested as soon as possible – you’ll have to pay eventually.

What if I don’t think I am the father?

If the CSA contacts you about a child, but you do not believe you are the father you have the option to request a paternity test. The CSA requires that you pay for the DNA test in the first instance, but if the results of test show that you are not the father the CSA will reimburse the expense.

If your name is on a birth certificate, you were married to the mother at the time the child was born or if you refuse the offer of a DNA test, the CSA will assume you are the father. This is why it’s extremely important to not ignore the agency’s requests.

For those fathers who do resort to a DNA test, ensure that you have the test carried out by a recognised DNA laboratory such as CELLMARK or the CSA may reject the test results as invalid.

When should you seek legal advice?

Liaising with the CSA can be a time consuming and fraught process and at Stowe Family Law we’re happy to communicate with them on your behalf.

If you are contesting an allegation of paternity we can assist in arranging a DNA test and advise you on your options dependant upon the outcome.

However, more important is what to do if you are a resident parent and you believe you are entitled to a top-up payment. This is a court process; we can advise you and pursue your application on your behalf.


Note: This blog receives lots of queries related to the Child Support Agency (CSA). Unfortunately, because of the complex and labyrinthine nature of CSA processes and rules, such questions often call for lengthy and long-winded answers. For this reason, it is difficult to answer such queries on an individual basis.

If you are seeking advice about a situation that involves the CSA, I recommend that you contact the National Association for Child Support Action: a hardworking organisation that can provide ongoing assistance, advice and support.


The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. chall says:


    I am a co founder of although only 5 months old, we have a strong and increasing membership of 377 – we are campaigning for a fairer child support system – We have members on site that are CSA experts, and others offer support, and help to all those parents the CSA fail, due to maladministration, delays and agency non performance.

    We as a group are already expanding due to demand, and at present are in talks with child poverty organisation. I would apprecicate if you would consider linking sites with us, to further enable those that need support, to be able to achieve it.



  2. Jan James says:

    Dear Rachel
    A BBC current affairs news programme called the “The One Show” recently featured a very informative review of the CSA. This article also appears on the shows dedicated BBC web page, together with a link to the web site for an organisation called NACSA Ltd (Registered in England Reg. No 4437043).
    Your site contains a wealth of detailed information, especially your reference to the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) and I would be grateful to receive clarification of reported implementation dates for revised legislation detailed hereunder:

    • CMEC will operate on the percentage based scheme as seen in CS2 rules but income of the NRP will be taken from the latest available tax information.

    • Child maintenance will be calculated on the gross income of the NRP.

    • Percentage rates will be set at 12% for one child 16% for two children and 19% for three or more children.

    • Increase the capping of income from £2000 pw to £3000 pw

    • One year fixed term payment schedules will be imposed, with variations to maintenance payable allowed only if a minimum 25% change of income is reported.

    I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Yours sincerely

    Jan James

  3. Serapis says:


    You mention paternity tests and their use but do not go into much detail. The question of parentage is not always as clean cut and I am a good example of that. When my son was born I had no reason to question whether or not I was the father until some time later when an affair was uncovered. My (now) ex-partner never allowed me to be put on the birth certificate nor does my son have my last name. He was told not to call me “daddy” and I have no parental rights. My ex says I will only ever get them “over her dead body”. Lastly and this may have just been out of spite when the relationship ended but she once said to me, “How does it feel to pay for another mans child”.

    I reported this to the CSA whose response was to call my ex and ask her if I am the father. She obviously said I was and in the eyes of the CSA my claim was unfounded.

    Now the CSA say I need to apply for a section 20 in court to get a DNA test carried out, but that’s all the information they will give me. Do you have any advice for people in my situation who have signed the form saying they where the father but later have had doubts and would like to clarify the situation?

    Great blog post by the way.


  4. emma says:

    i have been reading with much interest and relief the info on this website. how can i proceed in a case where the NRP is self employed – for 3 years – but accounts not produced to CSA and when they are he is claiming no earnings!! i am now 3 years into my battle…………

  5. Shaun says:

    Dear Rachel,

    I have recently been contacted by the CSA and asked to pay for my two children. I had been offering my partner 20% of my net salary for weeks but she continued to refuse it because she was convinced that she would get 20% of my gross salary. The CSA have now told me how much I have to pay and they are refusing to take my student loan into consideration. I believe this is unfair because I incurred this debt whilst I was with my partner and after my children were born. Before I graduated, I was unemployed and was earning nothing. Had I not taken the student loan, I would not be in a position to pay the amount that I am able to at the current time.

    The family home was signed over to me recently and I will struggle to make the payments and pay – what is in effect – more than 20% of my salary. The response from the CSA was “Tell the student loan body that you can no longer pay them”. My student loan is taken directly from my salary.

    Could you please tell me if my student loan should be considered?

    Many thanks,

  6. Shaun says:

    I seem to be having a lot trouble with the CSA the moment. I had my first call from them on September the 20th. They asked me if I would like to complete the application there and then or would I like the forms posted out. I explained I was at work so I would like them posted out to me. When my ex partner left the family home months prior to this conversation, she had her mail redirected to her new home. Unfortunately, a lot of my mail was redirected too so I never got the forms. I then got another call from the CSA on the 13th October. I agreed to complete the application on the phone and was informed that payments would be effective from the 13th October. I was advised by the case worker to put some money aside to cover the next two weekly payments of October. I received several letters confirming that the effective date is the 13th but whilst on the telephone with them today, they said it was their mistake and the effective date is 20th September. They have informed me that they will take 40% of my monthly salary until I catch up.

  7. tom says:

    I have been charged arraers and the CSA cannot provide a breakdown of these arrears what can I do Im still having to pay although I know for a fact I do not owe them this is on top of what i already pay in total £320 out of £1000 a month

  8. The CSA: Rachel Baul Answers Your Questions says:

    […] previous posts about the Child Support Agency and its replacement, C-MEC, drew a number of pointed comments and questions from readers. Thank you […]

  9. Christine says:

    I am having difficulty in making the CSA understand my predicament. I earn £50 thousand or so LESS than the ex husband, ( who has blatently lied throughout the claim) He has my son living with him (so called Full time education although my son is NOT attending 80 per cent but at 63) and my daughter who lives with me (but is being coaxed to live with the ex, in so called fulltime education ( I have found out that she is not attending as she should either)
    He has managed to obtain an Attachment of Earnings Order to my meagre wages, whilst he is refusing to give details of his Wages Department to the CSA as he is IN ARREARS for several thousands of pounds for two years. He works on the rigs and earns NINE TIMES more than I do. HOW CAN THIS BE? He seems to think that he can lie in the Divorce Court and Lie his way through life! Totally unfair and unjust. All I want is justice and to be left alone to pay my bills.

  10. Leonard says:

    I am currently paying for my 2 children from a previous marriage, I have since moved on and now have a new child with my current partner. Now I am aware that this will be taken into consideration, but I have been financially supporting my partners child from a previous relationship for the last 6 years, and even though biologically he is not mine I treat him and support him as my own. Does this get taken into consideration as in all but name and blood I treat and support him as my own?

  11. jo conner says:

    My ex-partner has three liability orders for non-payment of child maintenance through the CSA. He owes in excess of £37,500. My son is now 17. He has never paid maintenance for his son. My ex is self employed and the figure was based on an interim assessment order. Last year he was given a suspended sentence on the condition that he pay the current £87.00 a week and £100.00 in arrears. However, our son is now on an apprenticeship and not eligible re the £87.00 per week. So, my ex has to pay the £100.00 a week. This is sporadic. I have asked the CSA to look to the courts to increase the repayment. They said it would be a waste of time and that I’m lucky to get what I am now. My ex is very wealthy and self employed. My issue is this. 7 years ago in an attempt to get my ex to pay ‘something’ I agreed to £30.00 per week as our son needed items I could not afford. My ex paid this in to our sons account, sporadically, over an 18 month period. I had no access to the account and control of the bank account was by our son only. My ex would call him to buy himself PC games, a mobile phone etc. I received a letter through the door last week from my ex’s solicitor. It stated that he can prove he paid maintenance over this period (above) and that I was to reimburse my ex (regardless of the CSA arrears!!!) or he will be taking me to the small claims court as he feels he is paying twice over the same period, even though he admits to the £37,500 debt. How is it that he can take me to the small claims court over this and yet the CSA have been so incompetent to allow the deby rise to a staggering amount? The money was never paid to me but to our son. I may have called this ‘maintenance’ to him to secure some money for his son, whom he never bought birthday / xmas presents for. What am I to do? I dont have that kind of money! I have replied stating if he paid the money he owed I would happily reduce the figure of the amount owed even though I refute this was maintenance! I have asked the CSA and they state that he was informed by tyhem 2 years ago that they did not deem this as maintenance also – so how can he take me to court, when the CSA are dealing with these issues. Surprisingly, having been told that the Enforcement Officer in the CSA would ring me back, ten days later and no return call. Can you advise me? Can my ex do this? WIth what legal clout can he do this? Why cant I demand mjy money from him this way?

  12. trisha says:

    thanks a lot for this post

  13. steve says:

    At what age do you legally stop paying maintenance for your children???

  14. stevie f says:

    what if both parents dont want csa involed,ut they are what happens then??

  15. 22,000 ‘thank-yous’! | Marilyn Stowe Family Law and Divorce Blog says:

    […] 5.      The CSA: Questions and Answers – by Guest Blogger Rachel Baul […]

  16. Debs says:

    I have recently received a letter from csa asking for payments for my son. But another man has adopted him and my ex partner moved away without telling me, so I couldn’t see my son. So do I still have to pay csa

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

       Dear Debs

      It is usual for both the parent and non-resident parent circumstances to change and this can result in the CSA reviewing the child maintenance payment amounts. As a general rule the CSA does not change child maintenance payments when requested to do so by the non-resident parent. A request can be made to take other factors into consideration. You can make the CSA aware of the change in circumstances. Make the CSA aware of the fact that your son has been adopted by another person and your ex partner has relocated without informing you, resulting in a severe lack of contact with the child. They will then send this information to the other part in order to get a general overview of the facts of the case. A warning however, a request to change CSA payments can result in no action being taken or the CSA payments increasing as well as decreasing.


      It is extremely important to make the CSA aware of the change in circumstances as soon as possible. Non-resident parents are responsible for paying child maintenance in full and on time. The CSA will take action to make sure that payments are made. The action the CSA takes depends on the situation, but they may: take money directly from a non-resident parent’s earnings as an employee if they are employed and do not currently pay that way, take money directly from a non-resident parent’s bank or building society account, or take action through the courts.


  17. c jones says:

    The CSA has been chasing the father if my child for 2 years. He is a Spanish locum pharmacist working in London. They eventually traced his bank account, froze it and he was given 2 weeks to appeal. He did not. 3.5 months later, when they forcibly took a second payment, he suddenly decided to contact me and them. He asked me what I wanted, knowing full well that I had sent his brother an email and himself a letter informing them that our child was asking for him. He said he would see her if I got the CSA off his back and gave hm his money back as he had no money and had stopped working! I said that I would stop the CSA but would not give back what I had already received as he had had the option of seeing our daughter without paying any money before I contacted the CSA over 2 years ago. He refused. He became nasty and so I put the telephone down.
    A few days later, the CSA contacted me to say that he wanted a paternity test.
    This was a strange request since we both know he is the father.
    My instant reaction to this request was to say yes to the test as long as it can be guaranteed that it is him going in for the test.
    Apparently, he can use a GP/ nurse of his choice (he is a locum pharmacist so he will know many!) and he just has to show his passport.
    For his sudden eagerness to do a DNA test, months after having £8,600 removed from his account and after years of CSA chasing him, and the fact that he knows he is the father, I can only assume that he is going to fiddle the test.
    How do I stop this? Otherwise our daughter is going to go looking for him when she is 18, see that he is the mirror image of her and then he will wave a fraudulent piece if paper in her face, saying he is not the father.
    By the time I appeal, he will have taken all of his child maintenance back and disappear again. I could then chase him up with a solicitor but this would prove expensive and a waste of time. Solicitors do not have the power to freeze bank accounts which was the only way that the CSA managed to get him to communicate with them.
    Incidentally, the tax man has had no trace of him for at least 6 years but his large bank account and I know that he has been working and paying no tax.
    Every year, in order to work as a pharmacist, he has been paying the £200 fees. He would not do this if he was not working.
    Please help.

  18. brett says:

    why does the non resident parent have to pay maintainece if they have the child 50/50 and has exactly the same costs as the resident parent exept the non resident parent doesnt receive child benifit and child tax credits ? is there a reason? is this fair?

  19. Observer says:

    Brett, the logic of the CSA here is that mom is not smart enough, or too weak, emotional and irresponsible to have a job, and that she would rather just sit at home munching on crisps in front of the television. This, after all, is the way to continue patriarchal oppression. By holding such attitudes toward women, I think we can safely conclude that the CSA is one among many institutions that exists to perpetuate sexism and gender inequality.

  20. Yvie says:

    It is even more galling Brett, when mon earns quite a lot more than dad. The CSA would have no problem in seeing fathers lose their homes as long as maintenance was paid. That the lower earner might be paying the higher earner is of no interest to the CSA.

  21. JamesB says:

    CSA CM goes to the parent in receipt of the child benefit. That’s the rule, and it’s not fair.

  22. Sharon Whitehorn says:

    Not sure if this is the right place to ask this,but … if a man did not choose to become a parent,the woman having failed to take the pill correctly,can this affect his situation with the CSA..?? Asking on behalf of my partner,regarding his ex.They were not together when she `discovered` the pregnancy. He has already paid out a LOT,towards this child,and has until recently maintained a standing order to the ex. (he is just changing to monthly pay from weekly)

  23. Vctoria says:

    I am after some information about the amount my partner has to pay for his child with his ex partner, I have done the CSa calculator and it only takes into account how many times a week she actually sleeps at our house which is only once, not by choice her mother won’t let us have her anymore, but she is also with us for tea and until bed time 3 nights a week after school. Will they take that into account? Also, as my partner is self employed he is currently not working but can be in and out of work from week to week, will we have to inform the CSa of every different job he does? Or will they be able to see it all from his tax payments?

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Go to the Child Maintenance Options website, and give them a call or contact them for a web chat. They will give you the definitive answers. I went to visit the, and found them all extremely helpful.

  24. cathy says:

    if 19 year old child is in boarding school, both parents sharing the cost of this. Family home has maintained by father with financial settlement agreed and paid to mother. When child home from boarding school stays mainly in family home with father. Until now father has agreed and paid monthly payment to mother as she is in receipt of child benefit. Legally when can father stop making payments to mother, given fact maybe wasn’t liable for them in first place??

  25. anon says:

    i have a question about my ex making a change of circumstance and the csa refusing to investigate which he then withdrew. for obvious reasons they cant tell me what that was but i have a suspicion that he has false dna tests claiming my son mite not be his. if this is the case then those are fraudulant documents he has tried to submit because my son is his and he did these tests in the street without my consent. surely there must be a way to find out if he has done this because not only is he denouncing his son as his own but slandering me by saying i had an affair whilst married which resulted in a child . i may just add this wouldnt be the first time he has gone to such extreme lengths and there is a no contact order in place against him for my child due to his bizaar behaviour

  26. Gemma says:

    I have a question, do the CSA still need to see the birth certificate even if the father has agreed to pay CSA and even if he is not on the birth certificate?

  27. jayzee says:

    Hi, I have just had a maintenance reassesment done to which i was told that i returned a nil assessment. They worked out that i do not earn enough to look after myself and child that i now have with my current partner. I am now being hounded by my previous partner for money for clothes and school trips for my first child. Is this allowed? or is she able to claim other benefits?

  28. Jane says:

    Any advice gratefully appreciated… I’m asking on behalf of my fiancé – he had a fling with a girl nearly 9 years ago and shortly after she told him she was pregnant and the child was his. He agreed to support her through pregnancy but wanted a DNA test done once the child was born to confirm he was the father. She refused then went to the CSA to initiate a case for maintenance – he asked for the DNA test and the CSA told him she refused so they would assume he was not the father. She then cut off all contact with him until Nov 2011 when he Facebooked him to say her daughter wanted to get to know her father and how did he want to proceed? He met with her and explained he would be happy to be involved but wanted the DNA test done first. She initially refused but then relented – test was done in Feb 2012 with a home kit, although through an approved company, and came back negative. She initially said she was sorry and wished him a happy life, then six weeks later got back in touch to say she’d had the other potential father DNA tested and that came back negative so would my fiancé agree to another test, he said no. Seven months later (last September) he had a call from the CSA demanding maintenance for the child. He said they’d done a DNA test which was negative (she hadn’t informed them of this) and agreed to a CSA approved test through Cellmark, which was done by a doctor. Again result was negative and the results were identical to the first test done by a separate company. He didn’t hear anything from the CSA until yesterday when a letter came through from the CSA criminal compliance and fraud department saying she disputed the results and they wanted him to do a further DNA test through another approved company. I thought the CSA approved test results were binding and accepted as proof of paternity – or in this case non-paternity – in court so how can they ask him to be tested again? What reason could they have to doubt their own test, especially since it was a second test with identical results? When he wanted a test initially the CSA wouldn’t help him as she refused, so why is she being allowed to drag this out and harrass him thought the CSA in this way?

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Jane
      Contact Child Maintenance Options for their advice. Or go and see your MP and ask him to write a letter. That might put an end to it.

    • Mick says:

      Hello Jane,

      I hope you see this, I am currently going through a similar situation, I’ve been asked to take a second DNA test. The CSA have, so far, not been able to tell me why they think the first result was flawd, all they have said is that the mother insists I am the father. If the results had included paternity, would I have been able to ‘retake’ the test, I think not. It was over 10 months inbetween the results of the first and the request for a second test, although I have no issue with retaking it, I feel that DNA should be right first time every time, so I’m not sure which direction to take this, MP? Press? Or just retake and walk away?

  29. bob says:

    why does the mother of my child get csa if she not a british citizen in the uk and can’t get any benefits from the state.

  30. Mary says:

    Why is money taken from the absent parent first for children living with them, if they are not their biological children? Why is it not taken first for the children they are legally responsible for? As the children living with them benefit from money from both their parents and the new partner.

  31. Dan says:

    my ex and i split mid january and im am currently paying for a littlewoods catalogue which is in my name which my ex incurred a debt nearly £6000. all the stuff is in her house. i am making her sign for the money i am paying as maintenance for the kids.she has yet to contact csa so would these reciepts stop the csa backdating to the date we split up. she refuses to pay half of the money she owes on the catalogue so could i take the stuff im paying for?

  32. Stephen says:

    Please Help
    I have been paying for a child through csa for the last 6 years, I had doubts from the moment the child was born as she had mixed race features and I am pale and ginger I was very young and believed the mother when she insisted she was my daughter. I tried to do the right thing and started a relationship with the mother for the childs sake. 3 months in I couldnt shake it off that the baby wasnt mine as her features of black curly hair, very olive skin and almost black eyes became apparent.

    The relationship broke down as the mother said if I wanted a DNA test I could just leave as i obv didnt trust her. few months later I recieved a phonecall from csa explaining as my name was on the birth certiicate they were presuming parentage and I wou7ld need to pay maintanence. I was very young back then and I tried explaining everytime they called I was not the father and should not have to pay for this child they advised me that unless I proved that she was not my child I would be liable for the maintenance. This went on for several years at one stage I was working 3 jobs earning around £1200 a month I was lucky if I saw £400 to £500 a month of that as CSA took 40% of my wages from each job.

    I took the mother to court for dna and and if she was mine access to the child as she had stopped all contact since had asked for a DNA test we went to court the judge granted access in a contact centre and I would have to reapply to court for a DNA to be granted. However the court case had taken a year and had been very costly during this time I had met somebody else and set up home with her and our son.

    We suffered extrem financial hardship due to csa payments and court costs court wasnt an option any longer. I had access and tried mutually agreeing with the mother for a peace of mind test outside of court she was agreeable at first but on the day of the arranged est didnt turn up or answer phonecalls and messages and again stopped contact. Me and my now partner went on to have another son and the ffinancial strain was just to much we lost our home and our now being forced to live seperately with parents. I finally after 6 years of pleeding with the csa got them to agree to do a DNA test January this year my DNA sample was taken at beginning of march. The mother was contacted to provide a sample but failed to turn up for the appointments on 3 occasions CSA threatened her with court proceedings and she finally attended on the 3rd of May. The results came back 3 days ago and as I knew all along I am NOT the biological father of the child The DNA states it is geneticly impossible for me to be the father as the genes that the child has inherited do not match any of my DNA.

    Finally I thought we had closure How wrong I am despite proof that the child is not mine CSA are still taking money a they cannot close the case until the mother of the child will confirm my identity by photograph ( a worry is she will deny its me to delay things) CSA are also claiming I will only be refunded maintenance payments from January as they have no record of me denying paternity befor then (convinient)… I have lost everything because of the csa and have been unable to financially provide for my 2 boys I finally thought we was getting somewhere and finally have closure and. I’d be able to pick up the pieces of my family and start again does anyone have any advice on what I can do or has experienced something similar what was the eventual outcome

  33. Kez says:

    My step daughter will be 17 in Oct 2013, and will be starting a Photography course at a media centre ( 3 days a week) in September.When will my boyfriend stop paying ? also , she will be moving in with her boyfriend ( into his mother’s house ) at the same time -why should her mother continue to get a substantial amount of money each moth when her daughter has ( obviously , un officially ) moved out ??

  34. donna says:

    Im not happy with my partners ex,going through the c.s.a.We have to pay £300 including arrears as it took them 4 months to sort his new job credentials out,and he sees his boys twice a month, thats it,she wont allow him anymore time,and we cant afford to go to court,yet she will get all the help in the world going to college and having them in childcare full time.My son and I havn’t even met his sons as she wont allow it,3 years on and yes i despise paying her!!!sorry!!!

  35. Yvie says:

    The very worst exes are the ones who drip feed the children negative comments about their father. Doesn’t stop them pocketing their CSA entitlement though!

  36. Observer says:

    The sad thing Yvie is that it’s not really about ‘the very worst,’ but is a lot more common than we would like to admit.

    That’s why the equal parenting presumption was so vitally necessary, so as to protect children from this sort of thing. Ironically, though, we had the twisted academics twist the notion of child protection in such a way as to use it to deprive children of any sort of real protection from emotional abuse.

  37. Observer says:

    Does anyone know whether the CSA is now using underhanded strategies to bully dads into moving fromother systems of payment to having monies withdrawn directly from their paychecks? I’ve heard something about this recently, and just wanted to see what others feel. It seems that their tactics have failed, and that they are now reacting by trying to assert more control over the incomes of separated dads.

  38. JamesB says:

    It is on the form as an option and they recommend it (“for piece of mind”). I went for the direct debit option instead (sod them – wouldn’t look good having attachment to earnings – at work). If you and ex can’t agree they push for quick and easy on going settlement at every stage and just want the case to go away with as little effort on-going as possible.

    They prefer to have these and put your case on the dealt with file. How do I feel about this and them? They are amoral parasites feeding of of peoples relationship difficulties like so many in the divorce and legal industry and I wouldn’t pee on them if they were on fire.

  39. JamesB says:

    Peace of mind / piece of mind.

  40. JamesB says:

    Feeding off of.

  41. cm says:

    hi, my partner recieved csa forms through the door, and was shocked that a girl named him as the father of the child when we and the whole town knows it to be this other man who she lives with for a number of years. we sent forms back saying it was this other man, then recieved forms to say to take a dna test which he agreed & sent back in time time stated. after a week we got a letter back to say that they didnt recieve the form and now they can assume parentage, i posted them myself and they should have recieved them? why are they doing this and what can we do now?? help

  42. Anon says:

    My partner and his Ex split in Sept of 2011, they have 1 Daughter together. When they split up my partner was only in receipt of benefits and so the CSA ruled that he should pay £5 a week, which he did without missing a payment. He then started work and informed the CSA of the change of circumstances in order for them to recalculate the maintenance payments. When the amount was recalculated he agreed to a weekly Direct Debit being set up, of the set amount plus £12 arrears which were mounted up in the lengthy time it took the CSA to calculate the amended amount. Since his Ex went to the CSA shortly after their split he has never refused parentage or payments and has always been very compliant with what they have needed from him. Along side all the CSA stuff we have been in a very messy custody battle for said child which as my partner and his Ex live 400+ miles apart from each other has resulted in either us paying for her travel to bring the child to us and then collect her again, or paying for ourselves to collect and return the child. Each time costing us in excess of £300 for car hire, fuel, and accommodation costs. Not to mention the £450 we have payed over the last 18 months directly into his Ex’s bank, referenced as Child Maintenance. After all this his Ex has decided the £43 a week she gets for 1 child isn’t enough and has appealed to Tribunal level. Included in the appeal papers was her statement declaring she has never seen a penny outside of the CSA payments. She is querying the shared care even though we have the child for overnight care for 56 nights a year minimum, and she is denying that we pay for her travel when we don’t drive the 400 miles ourselves. On top of this my partner and myself now have a child together and so already the financial strain is ridiculas. I’d like to add we do keep all travel receipts and booking forms along with the receipts of the direct payments to her. I think what I’m asking is can she get away with lying so much even though we have proof which has been sent to the Tribunal just to get more money!? If she wins the appeal it will cripple us. And as My partner will never give up on his daughter the court fees and travel expenses keep on coming. Thanks in advance for any help or advice anyone can give me.

  43. Bincrafty says:


    The CSA are sexist and discriminate against fathers, if you have a female friend have them phone with regards to a case the difference is black and white.

    They automatically assume you are a dead beat and just ran off and don’t want to pay and they don’t care if they leave you struggling.

    I was paying my ex yet they took 45% of my salary as arrears. I told them and the name of the payment I was making as it did not say child maintenance they said it did not count. My ex just said to them it was money I owed!!

    When I left her as she is a psycho, I left the rent fully paid, council take was over paid she kept the refund. She ran up an £800 data bill as she refused to return the contract phone I was paying for. All other bills were paid and I left everything in the house.

    She is a liar and a benefit cheat yet CSA screw me over. The CSA staff are rude, ill-educated morons it would be better if they out sourced the lot to India. The operate in a realm where they think they are above the law and can do what they like.

    They never proved paternity, I know she screwed other blokes but as I had an income she picked me! I was not on the birth certificate and she never gave me a reason apart from best not let the benefits agency know!

    My choice now is to have her jailed for benefit fraud maybe the CSA will believe me then!! I told them this they did not care. I said to them well your telling I am the father when she goes to prison I will get the child as you say I am the father. They said NO I would have to goto court to prove this and get custody!!

  44. natalie says:

    My husband is being chased by the Csa for 7000.
    We applied for his whole case file and thought his file we could only calculate arrears of 3000.
    The csa however stand by their calculation and are currently taking payment for this 7000 arrears even though there is nothing in the file to suggest where this amount has come from.
    is there anything we can do about it?

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Natalie
      We don’t deal with CSA queries. I would suggest you call Child Maintenance Options who may be able to help.

  45. Steve says:

    If the non resident parent remarries, does the new wife’s wages then have to be considered in the maintainence calculations as by marriage they become a step parent?

  46. Name witheld says:


    In July 2013 my ex partner done one of her trademark disappearing acts and would not take my son back off me one evening so he stayed overnight with me and i could not go to work the next day and was not paid. This had become a common occurance from her and when i returned my son the next day to her there was a heated arguement which resulted in me slapping her with an open palm across the top of the head. I was charged with common assault and my 3 or 4 nights per week with my son were stopped by her. there has never been any other incidents of any violence and was an isolated incident. I hired a solicitor straight away and after four months had a contact order in place to get my son one night week one and 2 nights weeks two over the weekends plus a weeks holiday in summer , birthdays and xmas etc.. the order also states that if its agreed between both parties my son can stay extra nights. I have kept a diary over the last year and my son stays 3 or 4 nights per week. I have incidents one of which i informed social serivces recorded in my diary when his mother has vanished for dayts or failed to collect. I keep all texts printed off in a file that have correspondence between me and her mother stating she neither knows off her daughters where abouts and i have on a few occasions had to knock at her mothers house mid week to take my son in order i dont miss work. In may i took my son on a thursday after work and we agreed i drop him the next morning before work, when i rang she was still in a house where i had collected my son from the night before with 3 males. I dropped my son to her mum as she would not answer the phone. I told her mum the address she was at and her mum went with my son to knock and when she come to the door she told her mum to and shut the door in her face. I collected my son after work and on the sunday he went back to his mum. I knocked at the house in question alone on sunday as when i collected my son on the Thursday i had been threatened by the 3 males she was with. The males were not home but the uncle was , i recorded our conversation on my phone which he clearly says she had told her mum to f off and basically been in this house for days with my son and these males. I left and later was informed she was at this house again with my son so i went around to get my 3 year old out that house and again when i knocked i recorded it on my phone and was confronted by one the men with a kitchen knife which is all visable on the video. My son was screaming i want my daddy i want my daddy so i by passed the man with the knife and walked in the living room and took my son out of harms way. Tuesday she ended up taking my son back in the end. Social services have put her on a final warning saying if there are any more cases of abandonment he could go to my care full time. His mum went against the court order a few weeks back and refused to let me have my son twice. It clearly states she can be held for contempt of court but she ignores it. My son loves staying with me and often cries when he has to go back. She is 24 and her new partner is 17 who seems to almost be living there with her and my son. I have been advised to go for residency and would love for nothing more to do so. Do i have a case ? i was led to believe because of the slap across the head incident that it would be unlikely i would be successful.

    Name Witheld

  47. Jasmine says:

    Hi, please could I have some advice? I need to know if I am entitled to child maintenance from my ex. He tells me that because he works on the rigs I am not entitled to any money from him. He is moving to a rig in norway and I’m worried that I won’t be able to claim. He tells me he is paid through Guernsey therefore the CSA can’t touch him. My ex resides in the uk but will be paying into the Norwegian tax system. I just don’t know where I stand. Please help,

  48. jasmine says:

    P.S our son is now 6 months old.

  49. paul says:

    I’ve been paying my ex cash every week I have spoke to the cSA about this and gone through the csa calculator with an agreed fee of £75 per week. Now because my hours have been cut at work and she isint getting as much she says she is going to the csa and say I have never given her a penny! We have always had an agreement now I’m worried I’m gonna get stung for thousands! Will the csa have a log when I rang them regarding how much I should pay? Can she do this to me? Please help.

    A worried dad..

  50. LM says:

    My dad has not had anything to do with me since I was a year old he has never paid money for me or anything I am now 18 and I was wondering if I or my mum are entitled to anything off him?

  51. Laura says:

    How can you claim csa when all you have is the farthers first name and mobile number??

  52. KC says:

    Please help my husbands ex has informed him that he has a 14 year old daughter . She passed the child off for another mans and put his name on birth certificate and gave the child his last name they have now split up and the non biological dad as access to her . The child refuses to have contact with my husband but her mother is now demanding maintaince and 14 year backpay from us could you please advice us to where we stand on the matter many thanks

    • JamesB says:

      Be grateful she didn’t file a claim 14 years ago. 5 or 6 years is better than 18 or 19 (or 20). No to the back pay. The rest you can sort directly with her or with those nice people (not) at the CSA / CMEC / CMOptions / CMS or whatever they are calling themselves this week, I call them misguided.

  53. Yvie says:

    Claims start when the claimant contacts CMS and they contact you. She will not be able to claim before that date.

  54. Paul says:

    For the last 3 years my ex wife and I have a agreement that I pay her every time I get paid which I have done and not missed a payment now she is saying she is going to csa to get it out my wages can she do this even though I have always paid .

    • JamesB says:

      Yes, she can, you decide how much between you without them, or if you don’t agree (or agree any longer) then they will decide how much. Then, if you don’t pay what they say then they take it from you and add 20% to the amount on an on-going basis.

    • JamesB says:

      p.s. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, I’ve been through it and know the answer and you asked the question. Perhaps write to your MP about the unfairness of it. That’s what most of us do and I like to think they listen and act accordingly.

  55. Yvie says:

    The CMS is designed to promote family agreements, and if and when they contact you, you need to remind them of this. It will cost your ex.£20 to open a case. It is not usual to take from anyone’s wages unless then have a record of non-payment. Payments begin from the day your ex contacts CMS. It is your choice how you want to pay, and you should ask them to provide her bank details so that you can pay direct. You must always marked the transaction as child maintenance paid to…in respect of… Unfortunately some women will deny they have ever received child maintenance, hoping to get payments backdated. CMS can only calculate from the date the claim is opened.

  56. C says:

    My son and his ex partner have come to an amicable agreement through the csa for child support.
    His ex partner who has a gambling problem has now decided she wants more money. Can she just do this?

  57. carol says:

    My ex is trying every way he can not too pay child mainence for our 2 children,our oldest sends a week with him then a week with me, but our youngest refuses to spend any time with him at all, the youngest goes to boarding school which i do not agree with, he does pay for this but gets a reduction on child main payments, he also will not disclose how he is funding this. Now i have just had a letter from csa saying that i am not the main carer for my daughters and they are investigating so my payments could stop, I have been totally honest with them, my daughter spends all her holidays with me when she is home and wont see her dad,I dont know why they are saying i am not the main carer for them

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