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Divorce and children: your child maintenance questions answered

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Posts relating to children and divorce continue to be some of the most visited pages on this blog.  Many first-time visitors arrive here after entering their children-related questions into Google or another search engine, and pressing the ‘Return’ key.

Certain queries and predicaments come up time and time again. I asked Mark Christie (left), the new head of our Children’s Department here at Stowe Family Law, to answer some of the child maintenance-related questions that have recently been asked by this blog’s readers.

The questions appear here as they were written. Sadly there isn’t space to answer all the questions that have been asked – last month alone, there were more than 1,000 – but if you have a question and it isn’t featured here, do leave a comment and we will try and point you in the right direction. Alternatively, if you live anywhere near our six offices in London, Yorkshire and the North West (contact details here), you can always make an appointment at one of our legal advice clinics, which run every lunchtime and provide free legal advice.

Do CSA payments stop if I take child abroad?

The CSA has no jurisdiction out of the jurisdiction of England and Wales.  Unless an agreement can be reached for maintenance on a voluntary basis legal proceedings may need to be instituted in the legal system abroad.

17 year old and in full time employment, do I have to fill in a statement of arrangements for children form for my divorce?

There is no need for you to complete a Statement of Arrangements for a 17-year-old if he is in full time employment.  The Statement must be completed for children under 16 but only for children between the ages of 16 and 18 if they are at school or college or training for a trade, profession or vocation.  As your son is in full time employment the form does not need to be completed.

Can child maintenance increase if you married and your new partner earns money?

The amount of any maintenance order is always capable of being varied if there is a material or significant change in the circumstances of either the person paying the maintenance or the person receiving the maintenance.  Unlike agreements or Court Orders relating to property or other capital assets maintenance can be the subject of a later variation for example if the person paying maintenance loses his or her employment.  However if you have formed a new relationship then it will be necessary to firstly show whether or not incomes are being pooled so as to increase the total household income.  It will also be necessary for the person receiving the maintenance to show whether or not he or she has a need for more maintenance and whether his or her circumstances have changed since the initial amount was agreed or ordered.

Can contact be stopped if a parent refuses to pay child maintenance?

The legal position is that contact and child maintenance are regarded as entirely separate issues.  This means that a parent cannot stop another parent having contact to a child/children simply because the other parent refuses to pay the child maintenance.  Similarly a parent is not legally entitled to stop paying child maintenance if the other parent terminates contact.  Unfortunately couples often, and for understandable reasons, link the two but the legal position remains that they are completely unconnected.

I am a father who pays voluntary maintenance monthly. If I have my children for three weeks do I still have to pay the amount I normally do?

Generally speaking the obligation to pay maintenance is not suspended whilst you have the children for holiday periods and certainly where maintenance is paid pursuant to a Court Order or an assessment by the CSA.  However as it is a voluntary agreement then there is nothing to stop you discussing this with the children’s mother to see if you can agree that it should not be paid during these periods.

I have a private agreement child maintenance. Can the CSA override it?

In a word, yes.  Although you may have reached a private agreement about child maintenance, if either you or your former spouse/partner approaches the CSA and they agree to assess maintenance this will override the terms of any private agreement previously in place.

If a man resigns at work whilst the divorce is still in process, will the children get benefits from their father’s package?

The resignation will not necessarily benefit the children of the marriage, but any redundancy package received will be regarded as an asset of the marriage together with all the other assets and be taken into account as part of any financial settlement to the extent that it is not needed to fund the husband’s day to day living expenses if he is still out of work and the package is in effect his only source of income.  If the resignation is motivated to reduce the husband’s legal obligations to his wife and family, the Court can, in appropriate circumstances, attribute a notional income to him in a similar amount to his previous earnings for the purposes of resolving any financial proceedings.

If a mutual child maintenance agreement was signed by both parents could they still go through CSA?

It would depend upon the terms of the Agreement but generally speaking if either parent approaches the CSA and asks for an assessment of child maintenance and this is carried out by them then that assessment will replace any previous arrangements.  However the CSA does encourage the parties to enter into their own private agreements wherever possible.  Even in circumstances where child maintenance is incorporated into a Court Order, within a year of that Court Order either party can approach the CSA and ask for an assessment and if this is done this will replace the maintenance provided for in the Court Order.

If I get married, do I lose legal right for maintenance for children?

Re-marriage will terminate the legal obligation of an ex-spouse to pay maintenance for the benefit of the other ex-spouse but not in relation to child maintenance.  However if the re-marriage puts more money into the pot then the ex-spouse paying the maintenance may believe that he or she no longer has a need to pay maintenance for the children but this is seldom the case.  Like spousal maintenance, child maintenance can always be the subject of a variation if there has been a significant/ material change in the circumstances of either party.  Generally speaking re-marriage should not adversely affect child maintenance as the person paying the maintenance still has an obligation to contribute towards his or her children.

TOMORROW: Mark Christie answers your child contact questions.

Mark Christie is the head of Stowe Family Law’s dedicated Childrens Department. Mark has specialised in family law for more than 35 years and provides clients with a wealth of practical experience.

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  1. Luke says:

    “The legal position is that contact and child maintenance are regarded as entirely separate issues.”

    This total decoupling is a HUGE mistake – it doesn’t encourage good parental behaviour – although again the parent with custody if female will usually ‘win’ in all cases anyway.

    The courts will pursue money vigorously but all the woman has to do is make a spurious Domestic Violence claim and in practice regardless of what the court has previously ruled the guy will usually really struggle to have contact with the child whilst continuing to pay.

  2. Stitchedup says:


    Here in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, UK our family justice system has made huge strides the past 7 – 8 years with regard to false allegations of domestic Violence. It’s like a good old turkey shoot of men and that’s the way the feminist organisations, politicians and much of the legal profession like it. Don’t go rocking the boat now.

  3. Bill says:

    question: can child maintenance increase if you married and your new partner earns money

    Answer: The amount of any maintenance order is always capable of being varied if there is a material or significant change in the circumstances of either the person paying the maintenance or the person receiving the maintenance.

    response: I’m afraid this answer is wrong on two counts. so much for any hope of help or truth here. 1) maintenance is not dependent on the circumstances of the person receiving whatsoever; and 2) maintenance is only varied, and only ever upward, when the person paying has his circumstances change.

    let’s please try and stick to facts, which are based on how the csa works – not in theory, but in practice.

  4. Bill says:

    I currently pay £385.00 to my ex wife for my son through a mutual agreement. I am due to be made redundant by my company, as I am remarried and my wife earns a wage, does she have to subsidise my maintainance payments to my ex wife?

  5. Sarah says:

    Stated on my court order is that my ex partner should pay untill my child shall respectively attain the age of seventeen years or cease full time secondary education whichever shall be the later or futher . My daughter is attending college does this order apply for college courses because there is confusion in the court as to what full time secondary education covers many thanks sarah

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Sarah
      You don’t say specifically what the payment is for but I assume its for your daughter? If its for you let me know.
      Full time secondary education can be obtained now through a college – but is she at college studying for a degree or equivalent? If its a degree or equivalent then its not full time secondary education is it?
      However even if its not full time secondary education the liability to maintain a child continues until the child has left full time education and this includes a first degree at University. If that’s the case you can apply to vary the order and for it to remain in place until she terminates her full time education.

      • Name Witheld says:

        I have read your advice on child maintenance for students studying towards a full time degree. The Magistrates agreed my ex husband must continue to pay until her course finishes when she is almost 22. She is currently on a 3 year Adult Nursing Degree Course. My question is I am still supporting her financially and she is still a full time student but has moved out to live with her boyfriend in the last 11 months. The court has just sent me a letter asking when her course finishes and if she still resides with me at home. Does my ex husbaand still have to pay maintenance regardless whether she is at home or living independantly whilst she is still studying?

        Your advice would be much appreciated.

        Kind reagrds

  6. Sarah says:

    Thank you for your reply . The payment is a maintenance payment for my daughter that I receive . My daughter is studying for a nvq at a college . The reason I have queried what is stated on the court order about secondary education is because we are in court because of my ex husbands failure to pay the maintenance and the judge has queried what. Secondary education means . I was told by the court clerk that I may not be entitled to this maintenance as they did not know if a college would come under secondary education . Many thanks sarah

  7. Sarah says:

    Sorry it’s a magistrate who has queried the secondary education not a judge .

  8. Jamie says:

    Please can you advise, I have recently split with my partner after 6 years, we are not married but however we do have a little girl of 1yrs together. I also lost my job back in December, I have been paying a regular agreed amount of £100 although this has left me with £0 for myself I thought my daughters needs are greater. I now feel I am unable to pay the mutually agreed amount as this is leaving me on hand-outs from my family whilst I look for work. I’m finding it difficult to explain to my partners that I am unable to pay Please can you advise on the best explanation rather than just quote “I’m unable to pay” ( or perhaps you have a template letter) Kind Regards J

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Jamie
      Give Child Maintenance Options a call or have a web chat. This is just the situation they are trained to handle.

  9. MH says:

    Dear Marilyn,
    My ex-husband and I divorced in January 2013 and he subsequently set up home with his new partner in February 2013. We agreed a private arrangement with regard to maintenance for our 8 year old daughter of £ 400 pcm. He has now changed this to £ 264 pcm this month which he says is more in line with the child maintenance calculator. When we divorced we had a statement of information in which he stated he paid me £ 1000 pcm, which was to cover the mortgage payments and maintenance however when the house was sold he changed this to £ 400pcm and has now subsequently changed this down again. Can he do this and do I have any legal standing to challenge him. Or do I have to approach the child maintenance services to formalise our arrangement as I am worried that he may change the payments again and I am already struggling with the loss of money. He earns a substanstial salary and also has a forces pension. I earn less than £ 5000 and although I have a new partner who helps with bills now, our combined income is considerably less than half of that of him and his partner. His agrument is that he is that he supports another child in the house.
    Kind Regards

  10. mr says:

    Dear Marilyn, my daughter is 16 and a half. Her father and parents attacked me following years of domestic abuse by my husband and his mother. As a result I have had to get an occupation and non-molestation order. To my horror, my daughter has chosen to go and live with my ‘soon to be ex’. I have tried eveirything I can think of to get her to come home but they have bought her expensive gifts etc and she just can’t seem to see them for what they are. I have been left with all bills including an expensive mortgage. The decree absolute is almost upon me and I can’t see how on earth I can get my ex to disclosd his financial position (he is a sole trader who set up the business with large amounts of equity from our home). We were married just short of 17 years. I have discovered he has spent large sums of money on luxury goods for himself which I can evidence. My fear is that I will be left destitute as I believe my daughter is being used as a meal ticket. My ex has tried everything to push me under financially since tge assault. The house is up for sale but I am worried sick about what might be happening to my normally sunny child who is so shutdown and how I can set up home again and be free of my ex. I am 52 and considering cashing in my pension as the fund is £90k and with the best will in the world I cannot afford to pay him half. I came into the marriage with my own recently purchased house and just want to leave with my child and a small house so I have a place of safety for her. Please can you advise – my solicitor is not helpful and seems very inexperienced.

  11. Holly Lamb says:


    Marilyn has asked me to reply to your question. I am a solicitor in Stowe Family Law’s London office.

    If you completed a Statement of Information form at the time of your divorce, I presume a consent order was made in relation to financial matters. This order should have clearly set out the level of spousal maintenance that your former husband was to pay to you and for how long. Provision for child maintenance may also have been included in the order.

    If a client in a similar situation approached me for advice, I would need to consider the order itself to confirm whether the former husband was entitled to reduce maintenance payments upon the sale of the house. This would depend entirely on the terms and drafting of the order.

    If provision for child maintenance was made in the order, the court would retain jurisdiction in relation to child maintenance for the period of one year after such an order was made.

    If your former husband has not been paying the specified level of child maintenance, then you can make an application to the court to enforce this.

    However after the period of one year has expired, either party can make an application to the Child Maintenance Service for the level of maintenance to be determined. This will be calculated in reference to your former husband’s salary and the amount of time your daughter spends with him.

    The Child Maintenance Options website ( is extremely helpful and I would suggest you use the online calculator to gain an idea of the maintenance that your husband should be paying. If it is more than the current level of £264 per month then you can draw this to his attention and request that he increases the level of his payments. If he refuses, then you may consider making a formal application to the Child Maintenance Service.

    Best wishes,


  12. Gavin Scott says:


    Marilyn has asked me to reply to your question. I am the managing partner at Stowe Family Law’s London office.

    With regard to the financial issues, you must consider whether a sale of the property is appropriate, considering the financial matters do not appear to have been resolved.

    It is always worth considering whether a property should be retained rather than sold to meet housing needs. This depends on the extent of the assets and the overall income.

    If financial disclosure is not being made, you must consider whether to apply to the Court to deal with the finances. The Court will then set a date for disclosure to be made.

    I would strongly urge you to take legal advice on these points at the earliest opportunity. A child at 16 years may well decide where to live themselves; however, there may be steps you can take to improve the position and I wonder whether this issue links with the property selling and any housing difficulties you might face.

    Best wishes,


  13. Andrew says:

    I have to say that I cannot imagine the court overruling a sixteener’s choice.

  14. Luke says:

    I have to say that I don’t want to imagine the court overruling a sixteener’s choice.

  15. elena says:

    hi,i would like to ask if a couple are divorcing and the mother refuse the child father see or visit the child,which are the steps to do it to be able to see his daughter?
    the father can visit his daughter at school without inform his ex wife?Please help me with one advise….are already 5 month since the father is not able to see his daughter.

  16. phil says:

    My partner left me when my son was 4 and I had to quit my job to look after him, whilst she went and got a career. I attempted to get a part time job at the time but there was little about and I wanted to be there for him when he came home from school. I was devastated by the whole break up but continued to do the best for my son. My ex did pay some child support. Six years later I remarried and moved away with my son, who is now 14, but he didn’t settle so reluctantly I let him move back with my ex. She has also now re-married and both her and her husband have full time jobs and combined they probably earn 45-50k. I now have two small children to support. My ex has not asked for financial support up until a couple of weeks ago when she informs me she is looking to retrain as a teacher and will have a shortfall in cash which she wants me to fill. Since moving away I have managed to get a half decent job which pays 22k per year, my new partner is not working yet since having the second baby. My son comes and stays with me for 6-7weeks of the year during the school holidays and by no means have I abandoned my responsibilities. I had to put my job on hold to look after him when he was young and hence only have a small income and don’t understand why I should still have to pay child support when he is adequately cared for. The law seems to back her up yet this seems utterly ludicrous because in giving her money I will be depriving my children. To be honest I’m surprised she even asked but by the looks of it the law has given her the right. I shop at aldi, I scrimp on everything and can’t afford to go out or go on holiday. How can she expect me to pay anything and more importantly will I be forced to when I simply can’t afford it. Do you have any advice?

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Phil
      If you have a child, you have a legal liability to support your child. Why not give Child Maintenance Options a free call or have a free web chat. They are trained to suggest all kinds of ways to resolve disputes.

  17. adrian nicholson says:

    The amount of maintenance I pay my ex-wife was originally calculated based on my salary plus company bonus. This year the company, for which I work, has not met its targets and therefore not paid out a bonus. How do I go about requesting an amendment to original maintenance order?

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Adrian
      It’s a long winded process. The easiest way is to agree between you that the order will be varied downwards to a mutually acceptable sum. You need to record the agreement, preferably by both applying to vary the original order by consent. Alternatively you could apply to the court for a variation of the order and proceed. If you decide not to do so and simply pay less she could apply to enforce the order in full but at that point you could apply to vary the order albeit with no guarantee of success and may have to pay up with interest and any costs incurred. The enforcement proceedings would be stayed pending the outcome of your application. There’s no easy answer to this, a mediated agreement might be the best solution overall, on the basis you can’t get blood out of a stone.

  18. Darrin says:


    I have now been paying my ex a sum of £280 pm for my son who is now 17 years old through the CSA for the past 10 years.

    The sum I pay was calculated by the CSA that my son stays with me over night once a week and for just 2 weeks during the numerous holidays throughout the year which then put me in a particular high band.

    But since Jan of this year my son now stays with me three nights a week and the majority of the holidays which has now out me in a much lower band that means I should be paying £100 less per month according to a case worker at the CSA.

    The problem is my ex has a history of lying and I know will not admit to these new dats of shared responsibiliy of my son.

    I have been told by a CSA case worker to keep a diary of the days my son is with me but I said my ex will simply counter the dates. I was then advised that I can have a three way call with a represetative from the CSA mediating between myself and my ex.

    What I want to know is how will the CSA be able to decide who is telling the truth (which I know I am) as im worried my ex is going to lie all the way and continue to receive the higher band maintaince she is no longer entitled to.

    I hope you can please give me a little bit of clarity regarding my concerns as ill be much appreciate.your support.

    Thanks for your time


  19. ET says:

    My ex husband has been made redundant this week and has told me he cannot now have the children every wednesday night from next week as he will be living away with his partner and son in a new town, and that the payment he makes will drop from £395 to £351 per month from next month. He now wants to have them from a Thursday to Monday every other weekend to make up for it. He has done this without warning and has said he will now work self employed and possibly rent a room out in his house. Do I have any rights to say he has to keep his wednesday nights, they were in a consent order. And what about the redundancy package can he not top up the costs with that? He is also saying now he can work self employed he will want to see them more. How to we calculate child maintenance on self employed salaries, I cant trust him to tell me what he earns. He already has them 5 weeks for annual leave (which is a struggle to make him keep to), every other weekend and (normally wednesday nights). I dont want him to have them anymore as they hate the to’ing and fro’ing as it is. What can I do?

  20. lindsey says:

    hi i hope you can help me? i got divorced from my wife in 2010, in the divorce settlement i had to sell my family home in order to buy my ex wife a home for her and my children. im still paying maintenance for the children, I’ve been told i shouldn’t be paying anything as i provided a home for my children. please can you tell me if this is true, and if so where can i get help with sorting it out? many thanks.

  21. Dee says:

    Hi Marilyn,
    Here’s hoping you can help?
    My partner has been paying maintenance for his two children in line with a mutuallycagreed private agreement for 10 plus years. The agreement involved equal sums for each child. The eldest is due to start uni in sept. My partner was intending to half the payments to his ex and use the other half to help support his elder child.
    His ex is now threatening to go via CSA as she won’t accept this.
    They stay with us alt wkds and one night in week plus shared school holidays.
    I have a dependant child who I don’t receive child benefit for.
    Is there anything he can do or will he have to increase the payment as if he is supporting just the one child now?

    Thanks in anticipation

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Dee
      Could I suggest he contacts Child Maintenance Options for a discussion? They are specially trained to resolve these issues and Ive been to see them in action and think they’re very good. The service is free.

  22. Barbara says:

    Hi, My partner is divorced and currently paying child support to his ex-wife for his 2 children. He is due to be made redundant in October, he will be going onto other employment directly after so the child support will not stop to his ex-wife. He will be given redundancy pay on the 21st of October as he was with the company for 27 years. Here’s the question: would his ex-wife have any claim to his redundancy pay?

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Barbara
      If the financial matters have all been sorted out then why would she? But if there’s no final settlement, and its still ongoing, he has a duty to disclose the amount he receives. She can make her claim over it, but whether she gets it is a different matter.

  23. grace says:

    Hi my partner who has a child from another marriage who is almost 18 has just had a letter from csa saying he owes his ex wife £29000 from 2006 when they got divorced in 1999 he left her a £90000 house plus the contents and he wouldn’t have to pay child maintenance will he still have to pay? his ex wife has remarried and has 2 children from this marriage ? Thanks

  24. Kelly says:

    I split up with my ex 5 years ago he always worked but then stopped when he moved in with his new partner so never gave me a penny for our 2 children. I have found out that they are going into fostering does that mean he will then have to pay me child maintence out of his fostering money.

  25. Johhny says:

    My ex recieves a substantial amount (£1k) in CM every month as a result of an agreed sum to go into the court order (the amount was to get her to agree an order rather than fight in court). I also pay all school fees for my two teenage boys. Sadly, this was less than 1 year ago and from an early point, she started to use he CM money to pay off her own mortgage (i gave her 3/4 of the value of her new house), bank her own salary etc whilst my boys have recieved very little. She provides less than £50 per month pocket money for each of the boys and continues to regail that as i earn so much money, i should pay for most things. I have tried to talk to her but there is little agreement. The boys still turn up every 2nd w/e stating that they have no shoes, or need a new pair of jeans (my son had the same jeans on for over 1 year and cant afford a new pair from his pocket money). She refuses to buy them and i feel that i have to buy them for the boys as its difficult to see them go without. I spend another £200-300 every month at least buying them extra items. Im a bot lost what to do?

  26. John says:


    My son and his ex-girlfriend had a son 4 years ago. They were both at college and not in employment. They split and she has since married and had another child with her husband. They have adopted the boy.
    My son is now studying full-time at university and thus has no earned income. She on the other hand has an increased household income from when she was with my sone as college students.
    My son received a statement froim CSA detailing a payment schedule for him to start. He is not earning and her circumstances have now improved.
    Is there a basis to annull the CSA claim please?

  27. Andrew says:

    John: If the boy was formally adopted your son, so far as I know, has ceased to be his father, and is not liable to maintain him. If that is wrong somebody please say so quickly!

    If there was no formal adoption the biological father is still liable.

    I believe that you can get some form of certificate of the adoption if necessary.

    • Luke says:

      Andrew, I don’t understand – even if he is liable if he doesn’t have any income how can they set up a “payment schedule” ?
      I am not stating anything, I’m asking, can they put him in arrears for his payments until he earns or will the payment schedule be effectively zero until he starts earning – I had always assumed the latter, surely it has to be the latter doesn’t it ?

  28. Richard says:

    Good morning.

    My wife and I have agreed to separate over the past week, which deep down I do not want to happen and as a result I have moved out of the joint owned marital home (Not a problem) to protect our two sons from ill tensions caused between the decision. We have two beautiful and amazing boys together and I will support them indefinitely. My wife is aware that this is not what I want but I have accepted her decision.

    We have began speaking about the financial split. I have researched about the possible ways in which the finances will be dealt with and the majority amount going to the primary carer of the children (My wife), 50/50, 60/40 and 70/30.

    My only concern is my parents gave me financial help as a gift to assist in purchasing a property to get started on the property ladder and then later again as my wife and I had our two boys. The first amount was before we got married and then the second sum after we were married. I never actually received the money directly as my father always gave the sum of money directly to the solicitor as gift, that was appointed to deal with the legalities of purchasing the home.

    Is my soon to be ex wife entitled to a share of my financial gift during the final settlement as I fear this will cause family problems between my parents and my soon to be ex wife which I am trying to alleviate?

  29. caroline says:

    Hi I was married in Scotland and have a daughter with my ex husband. After we separated I moved to Ireland with my daughter, my husband a year later visited while in Ireland she ended up in hospital he refused to come sit with her for an hr so I could go get change of clothes to sleep in the hospital. He said he would contact her when she’s 16. He put in for a divorce and it was granted but no mention of my daughter. I have since moved to Spain we have a very happy life he has had no contact with her at all in almost 9 years. The law here is the child’s surname on her birth certificate should be used with school, doctors, passport etc. This is causing some trouble because since a baby she has always been called by my maiden name, it’s upsetting her.I have spoke to the school etc and they said if my maiden name is added to her surname (so she’d have 2 surnames) that they could use either 1. After 8 years I contacted the “father” to ask if he would agree to my name been added he refused and said it meant he’d lose rights this is not the case it’s simply saying she’s 2 surnames. I find it very distressing that he has never tried to have any kind of rights before he has never ever supported her financially. Is there anything I can do? I’ve thought of saying well if he wants to fight for father’s rights he can pay 8 years of maintenance. Can I do this after all this time? Honestly I don’t want the money I think if it came to that he would just let it go. I just want to get on with our lives she knows of him and maybe 1 day she will want to contact him herself. Please note I’m not dissolving his rights. Thanks

  30. desperate says:

    Hi I hope you can help.
    I have tried to receive advice and information from solicitors and CSA but have had no joy. My son who is almost 18 yrs old has been leaving with his father for almost 7 yrs now, after numerous court hearings and lies, my son no longer wants anything to do with me or my family, but i still have to pay almost £300 pcm in maintenance. I have no contact with my child (which is hard to deal with) and don’t know whether he is still in full time education or not, is there anyway i can find this out?
    I have a apartment which i want to sale to move aboard and try and start a new life and get married but can’t seem to get a straight answer whether my son’s father can claim a percentage from the profit of the sale of the apartment? As I have owned it for sometime it has roughly £100k profit after paying the mortgage, can you please help??

  31. MA says:

    My wife and I have separated over 4 years she has asked me to pay maintenance for a child who is not my son my wife committed adultery and came back pregnant my daughters wanted their mum and brother back so we took them in. What is my position as the wife said I am liable through marriage.

    • Mark Christie says:

      If you dispute that the child is your child then you ought to have a paternity test carried out which will almost certainly establish the position. If the child is shown not to be your child then, unless you have treated him as a child of the family, particularly in circumstances where his natural father is not on the scene and has made no contribution, then you would not be obliged to pay any maintenance for him. A DNA paternity test is a simple and cost-effective procedure to establish the position beyond doubt.

  32. Luke says:

    “unless you have treated him as a child of the family, particularly in circumstances where his natural father is not on the scene and has made no contribution”
    So if you treat the kid like s*** whenever they are in your presence that’s fine and you’re in the clear financially, but if you treat them well and with kindness and another deep pocket is not available then the court is likely to make you indefinitely liable. That’s just swell.
    It should be really simple, if you sign an adoption certificate then you are liable for their future welfare and should get contact rights – if you don’t sign it then you aren’t and have no contact rights – but that would be just too reasonable and fair to men for the courts wouldn’t it…

  33. Michael says:

    I have a spousal maintenance order for £500 per month due to finish in 2 years. I have been informed I am being made redundant and, aged 53 I may find it difficult to find new employment. I have substantial debts due to the maintenance case and legal fees. Would I be expected to use my redundancy to pay maintenance (and not be able to pay my own mortgage/living fees) or, if I use this to clear debts what will happen? I also pay Child Maintenance and will follow this up with CMS for reduction but it is the spousal maintenance I am concerned about as I have a mortgage to pay myself.
    Many thanks

  34. Margaret says:

    Hi my concern it’s, I’m separated around 2 years and have 2 kids I receive child maintenance trough CAS, I’m in relationship and my boyfriend is 2 kids too and pay child maintenance too trough the CAS too, I’m not working just live from benefits cause I’m fibroyalmagia and behcet’s condition ,my question it’s if get married how the child maintenance works,need my boyfriend pay more to his ex and can I stopped by receive from my ex?
    Many thanks

  35. Simon says:


    I have been paying my ex-wife £350 per month for the maintenance of my son for the last 9yrs. This was a mutual agreement made by us both and agreed in the consent order for our divorce. No request was made for a review of maintenance payments. Just required to pay until 17yrs old or until he completes full time education. No that my ex has agreed to pay a lump sum owed from our marital home. she is now asking to see if the maintenance can be increased. I have checked and if we were to by assessed by the CMS then it would increase by around £80pm. I have no problems with increasing my payments. As over the last 9 yrs i have always paid for scholl uniforms, clothing and holidays etc on top of my maintenance payments. I will continue to do so.

    My question is can my ex claim any arrears for the previous 9 yrs?

    Many thanks in advance

  36. Yvie says:

    Payment is only from the date that the CSA is contacted and a claim is made, so if your ex. were to contact CMS, payment would start from that date. You have the choice not to use the CMS and pay your ex. directly, thus keeping the arrangement private. As I understand it, the CMS encourages and helps parents to make arrangements between themselves. If you fail to pay up however, the CMS will commence collection if asked. You will be charged and extra 20% for this and your ex. will receive 4% less. It will cost your ex. £20 if she wishes the CMS to collect.

  37. Di says:

    My ex husband was made redundant and currently on JSA of which I receive a small amount in child maintenance. He has recently re-married . Does the new joint income come into consideration for the amount paid ?

  38. D says:

    My Ex wife just had a blow out. I have been divorced for 6 years and have 3 children. My daughter is 18 and starting a job. My 2 boys have moved in with me and have been living with me since christmas this year. my 16 yr old is starting college in September. My 11 year old is my shadow and i take him to school located 9 miles away every day and pick him up from school, and keeping down a full time job. I provide everything for the children with monies £20 each weekly into the bank accounts. I have managed to over the years to get the agreed maintenance payments down from £200 a week to £70 a week as I have the kids 6 or 7 days a week. I have decided that I don’t want to pay the £70 a week anymore as I cannot see why I am paying this when I do everything for the boys living with me. Sports clubs, clothes, holidays food schooling etc etc. the list is endless. In 6 years the ex has never once offered to help out not even in the 6 weeks holiday and i had them everyday. I do not take benefits in any way and I have asked the ex that now the boys are living with me she needs to sort out the payments etc and not just from me. This has caused the blow out. Where do i stand now. do i keep on paying or take up a case with the CSA.

  39. warren says:

    Hi there, my baby son is seriously ill from birth and still in hospital. The mother is asking for maintenance……am I obliged to pay from birth or when he leaves hospital? Many thanks warren

  40. Andrew says:

    Warren, not sure, but I think from birth.

    But in any event all the best for your baby. Rotten for you.

  41. M says:

    I pay maintenance for my 17yr old daughter who is currently in her second yr of college. My partner contacted the CSA to claim that I have not been paying, after showing them my direct debits to my ex partners account to prove I was paying the CSA stopped treating me like a criminal. I did however get them to work out monthly payments which they did and I still pay into my ex-partners account( i would like to add that I was paying the correct amount), I have since found out that my daughter has since moved out and is living with her boyfriend and his mother. this has been the case for 3 months. My questions are:
    1: Does the mother have to let the CSA know that my daughter has moved out
    2: Does she have to tell me my daughter has moved out
    3: is she still entitled to child benefit (as I wager a huge bet she is still claiming)
    4: Do I still have to pay my ex-partner child maintenance
    5: Can I pay my daughters boyfriends mother for housing and feeding my daughter

    I must state that this is not about the money, my ex-partner claimed I was not paying when I was and I was dragged through the mill until I proved this to be incorrect, now she is committing in my eyes fraud and I am sick of the double standards.

  42. Tracy says:


    My sons father will not take a fair share of the school holidays. He has another child and he said he is going to split the time between them. He always has them together but all of a sudden has turned around and said they do not get on. He lives in Wales and we live in Devon. My son and his other child do get on as we meet up on occasions (without their Dad). I said that this is not acceptable as he will have less time with his Dad and also I need help with the 13 weeks holidays that they get per year. I dont think I am being unreasonable. I have always ensured that him and his Dad have a good relationship and I pay his petrol to come and get him and give him money to have him while he is with his Dad. All I got from him is it is my fault that we split up (he has a new partner) and he says he pays maintenance. Is there anything I can do?

  43. Andrew says:

    I don’t see that there is, Tracy, if he won’t he won’t, but I will be interested to see what marilyn thinks.

  44. Yvie says:

    Its odd how some dads can be quite casual about maintaining a meaningful relationship with their children and others will walk on hot coals in order to keep their children in their lives. You sound very fair helping out with petrol and expenses Tracy. I hope things work out for you and your children.

  45. Theresa says:

    If a child support agreement is agreed when both parents are in the UK and then the resident parent moves overseas is this considered a material change in circumstance and should the payments be adjusted so the non resident parent can visit the children?

  46. D says:

    Please tell me why I have to pay full child maintenance when my children have been brainwashed not to see me. My 2 teenage son’s don’t want me in their lives and live with their father. I’m happy to pay child maintenance but why full amount when ex husband earns 22k more than me. I’m on 18k. He also sold marital home for 30k profit, I came out of 17 year marriage with 3k. I didnt go for any money as only wanted children. So much more to this story but won’t bore you with it.

  47. Andrew says:

    Because (1) CM depends only on the NRP’s means and (2) contact does not enter into it.

  48. Gavin Woods says:

    I pay maintenance for my son he is quitting his course at the end of this collage year do I still have to pay maintenance for him if he quits this one and then starts yet another course

  49. C says:

    My son’s father is wealthy and has previously lived abroad. We have been litigating over financial and custodial issues for almost 4 years. My child is 4.5. Over 2 years ago I was awarded child support of £3,500/m which was calculated on my son’s fathers various trust funds overseas. According to him he earned $28,000 per year however he was spending close to $1m. My counsel at the time uncovered 8 accounts that he tried to hide, abroad. We went to the courts again last year as despite living abroad since our child was conceived he now decided to move to the UK from the US and wanted to share custody 50/50. Following the hearing it became clear that he needed the court order to then approach Immigration to present a case for him to live in the UK to care for his child, despite never wanting to up until that point. None of this was mentioned as we were going through these proceedings. The judge, my counsel and myself all thought he already had the right to live and work in the UK. I was then forced by court order (shoe horned in by his counsel when they drafted the court order) to surrender my passport and that of my child to his immigration lawyers to support his visa application.

    He has now been in the country for a year, he doesn’t work and has bought a £1m home. Since his arrival I have been continually harassed by his counsel who he can afford to instruct at £550/h to write inflammatory and distressing letters to me, knowing that I can’t afford to respond with solicitors. I was told this week that he is now looking to reduce the child maintenance payments to £1,000/m because he can’t work in this country. My lawyers established that he is worth upwards of £50m. I am not seeking anymore than what was awarded. I still work on a part time basis earning £20,000 in London. I’m unable to secure a full time job as I have no one to help with childcare and have to pick up and drop off my son from school which is 5 miles away from my home. His lawyers are unwilling for him to disclose his new financial position to prove a change in circumstances.

    My child’s father and I have no contact and although we share custody I have no contact with my son apart from a 1 min goodnight call only when my child is staying with his father for 5 nights or more, which is heavily policed by his father. His lawyers have proposed that I return to work full time and hand over the care of my child to his father whilst I work, which will mean that I will never see my child when he is with me. Nor know or allowed to ask how he is or what he is doing. I’d have to leave my home at 7am to start work and not return until 7.30/8pm at night if I were to work full time. I feel like this is an impossible situation and don’t know what I can do in this case

  50. Jo says:

    Hi there, question if you could answer would be greatly appreciated! my boyfriends ex (although they are not yet divorced, is very difficult to deal with. she has constantly used the children and in the past stopped him from seeing them. As a result he has got a solicitor but she is costing him a lot of money and Im really not that impressed, as she is not giving him much in the way of advice. The solicitor has sent two letters to the ex, asking her to meet for mediation (setting out what he is offering in the way of financial matters, and also when and how often he wants to see the children. But mainly to remind the ex that he has joint parental rights and responsibilities. He went to a mediation session on his own and has been waiting for her to attend a session. He has now found out that she is refusing to go, saying that she cannot afford it. It costs £120, she can afford it, but wants to be difficult. So my question is, what happens next. I know they go to court, but will she have to pay costs to go to court. If so, Im wondering why his solicitor and mediator hasn’t informed her of this. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  51. valerie hasnaoui says:

    Hi.I am waiting for final decree but did not state any maintenance and I have never got any penny since 5 years of separation. it normal .aren’t the court suppose to deal with maintenan ce and obligations to pay something.I am struggling. and work but not any help from this man.the father o f both.9 years old and soon six…never paid any penny.thank you for answering.please .would very appreciate.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Valerie
      Where to start? Please download my book on the sidebar it will tell you what you can claim. It will cost you 99p and proceeds go to The Children’s Society.

  52. Martyn says:

    Hi i separated from my ex partner just over 3 years ago we came to a mutual agreement that i pay £500 per month which i have done every month since, my ex has now decided that what i pay her each month is not enough and is going to csa / cms, my question is that over the last 3 years i have my children 3 nights one week then 5 nights the following week so on average 4 nights a week, its unclear to me whether the non paying parent has to have their children away from the childrens family home for the csa / cms to calculate payments could you clarify please. I have them at the ex’s house ( childrens home) for 6 of those nights.

    Any clarification would be appreciated

  53. J says:

    Hi please could you advise as I am desperate and keep getting conflicting advice. I Separated from ex in 2011. We have second FDR next month. Our son is 18 years and in full time education. I have residency of 13 year old grandaughter. Basically FMH has been valued at £110,000 ex wants 10k. Sounds fair. However, there is £35.500 left on Mortgage and £37.000 debt of which I have had a debt management plan in place for past 3 years. Ex owes me £5,000 arrears under old CSA. Under new CMA claim from 2015 from new CMS he owes £4,200. Our son education ceases in 2019 before age of 20. Forecast of maintenance approx £4,000 based on CMS assessment of £65 per week. However, ex has refused to pay despite deduction of earnings ex and employer refused to adhere to payments. Ex is n ow self employed and refuses to give full disclosure of income/expenditure. My solicitor advises to agree pat ex settlement of £10.000 on sale of FMH when grandaughter reaches 18 years. This advise fills me with horror not only will I be 55 years old. I will be penniless having agreed to take on all matrimonal debt £37.000. Waive existing and present Child maintenance for our son. Approximately £14,000. My solicitor advises court will not consider Child Maintenance as this is should be pursued by CMS. However, I have tried this to no avail, Other factors do not appear to have been considered. Throughout marriage of 10 years I have paid all bills and mortgage. Ex worked as and when basis influenced by alcohol and drug addiction. During the marriage my sister died and along with 20k I inherited 2 young children of which I raised. The inheritance was used to build extention in order to accommodation girls in addition to my own 3 children. Needless to say this has in later years added value to FMH. Basically there will not be any money left for me to pay ex 10k based on 50/50. I was diagnosed with depression due to domestic violence back in 2011 and currently off work again due to stress. Diagnosis is classified as a ”disability” ”long term ill health” surely this has to be taken in account. I earn £2000 a month and pay everything. Ex earns around £2500 and pays nothing no rent/bills ect as he lives rent free with is friend. Please advise as I am going to loose house job and sanity.

  54. LR says:


    My husband and I agreed that if I did not have any claims on his retirement and all assets were divided equally, he would agree to pay 20% of his wage to this children’s child maintenance until they finished tertiary education. Our son is in his first year of university and our daughter starts this year. He has now cancelled his payments without any warning and is not replying to any of my attempts to communicate. Can he so easily get out of our consent order, signed by the judge? Can the CSA cancel the agreement we reached? Will the CSA take into account any of the circumstances? Thank you and best wishes

  55. Deborah blackburn says:

    My partner has a child with his ex wife he pays maintenance, he has a new job and earns about more so it has increased, but we have a child together does that affect the maintenance he pays her?

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