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Should we Still Pay Maintenance?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 20 Jul 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Child Maintenance Child Support Child

Q.

My stepson is 17 years old and is working whilst also studying at college. He recently moved out of his mother's house and in with his girlfriend. Should we (his dad and myself) still pay maintenance? If so, who do we pay it to and what happens if he decides to move back in with his mother?

(Miss V.L, 30 October 2008)

A.

A person with parental responsibility for a child has a duty to provide for them until they are 18 years old – unless the child marries prior to their 18th birthday. In cases where a child’s parents have separated or divorced, the parent who does not provide the child’s main home should pay maintenance to the parent with whom the child lives.

The parents may reach an agreement between themselves about the appropriate child maintenance payments or, in some cases, the Child Support Agency (CSA) now the CMS may be required to assess and monitor the required payments. The purpose of Child Maintenance Payments is to ensure that both parents make a fair contribution to the costs of looking after and bringing up the child.

Calculating Child Maintenance

When the CSA calculates child maintenance a number of factors are taken into account – these include the non-resident parent’s income, the number of nights the child spends staying with each parent, and the number of children living in the non-resident parent’s home. If any of these circumstances subsequently changes, the CSA should be notified so that they can recalculate the child maintenance.

It is not clear from the question whether the maintenance your partner has been paying is based on a private agreement with the child’s mother, a consent order approved by a court or a CSA arrangement.

Is the Child in Full-time Education?

Child maintenance payments generally continue at least until the child reaches the age of 16. After the age of 16, payments depend on whether the child is still in full-time school education. If the child leaves school and gets a job, the payments stop in the September after they left school. If the child is still in education and is studying at least 12 hours a week towards A-Levels, payments should continue and may continue until the child is 19 years old.

However, if a child over the age of 16 is not taking a higher education course, the payments may be discontinued. If your stepson is not studying for A-Levels, it may be that the obligation to pay maintenance has already ended.

Day-to-Day Care

One of the requirements for eligibility to apply to the CSA to arrange child maintenance is that the parent (or other person applying) has the main day-to-day care of the child. If your stepson no longer lives with his mother, nor depends on her for financial support, then it would be questionable whether she would be entitled to receive CSA child maintenance payments. The situation could, however, be different if the arrangement was made under a consent order or other agreement.

If the child moves back in with his mother and is studying for A-Levels, it is possible that payments would have to be resumed. Even if the child’s father has no ongoing obligation to pay child maintenance to his son’s mother, it is possible that he has an ongoing Parental Responsibility for the child’s financial wellbeing.

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I moved in with my partner last weekend and I am wondering whether this would affect the child support I receive from my son's dad? He hasn't given anything this month and am wondering if it's due to this? Thanks
Clo - 20-Jul-17 @ 6:46 PM
I am emailing on behalf of my partner, his ex wife claimed for csa arrears that he was unaware of several years ago which he has been paying, however as her benefits have changed she has decided she wants more money from him, we have found out the arrears she has claimed for are when his son was enrolled at college for 2 years but did not attend after a few weeks, the claim and arrears are from this period of education. The Csa state because she was claiming child benefit (fraudulently) they have to stand, if we can prove he did not attend and she was falsely claiming child benefit will the arrears be dropped? The child in question is now almost 22 & has claimed benefits as soon as he was entitled.
Bobby - 11-Jul-17 @ 10:02 PM
Hi, my daughter is due to finish her a levels this year and my current csa payments stop in September. She is looking to go to university. Is it correct that I will continue to pay monies to her mother when she is at university by law. My daughter is 18.
Andy - 8-Jul-17 @ 9:26 PM
Jenks - Your Question:
Hi, my son is 16 years old and is going away to Hartpury college to complete his A levels and he has been offered a place on the elite rugby academy. I have paid his mother money every month ever since we seperated but we made the agreement between ourselves not through courts or CSA. His monthly college fees are going to be over 400 a month and me and his mother are going to go halves. Do I still have to carry on paying his mother even though his will be living away?? Plus I will be paying half his fees

Our Response:
Maintenance is payable while a child is still in full time education at Alevel or equivalent. You may be obliged to continue paying maintenance to cover any holiday time etc unless you split this 50/50 with the mother.
LawAndParents - 7-Jul-17 @ 2:41 PM
Hi, my son is 16 years old and is going away to Hartpury college to complete his A levels and he has been offered a place on the elite rugby academy. I have paid his mother money every month ever since we seperated but we made the agreement between ourselves not through courts or CSA. His monthly college fees are going to be over 400 a month and me and his mother are going to go halves. Do I still have to carry on paying his mother even though his will be living away?? Plus I will be paying half his fees
Jenks - 6-Jul-17 @ 9:50 PM
Darren - Your Question:
I have 2 daughter's which iv always paid for but my youngest daughter is now living with me and has been for the past few months, she wants to continue living with me and Im happy, but do I need to carry on paying maintenance to her mother ?? Surely if she cares for 1 and I the other then it's all fare ?? Any help would be very appreciated.

Our Response:
Usually if you share residency like this, the maintenance would be split but it depends on your circumstances/earning. CM options is a good place to have this looked at
LawAndParents - 6-Jul-17 @ 9:56 AM
Itritated - Your Question:
My partner split from his ex 16 years ago, leaving 2 kids and hating himself for it, the ex was never amicable and he rarely saw the kids although he would go to get them as arranged (100mile round trip) and they wouldn't be there, for the first 2 years he paid cash to a mutual friend to give her for the kids and then she went to the CSA and said he never paid, he couldn't prove he had so had 2 years to back pay, he gave the ex £400 a month via csa and it left us too skint to go on hols etc and we lived on basic food for many many years which was fine but hard as we also had 2 kids together, recently he found out the eldest left home at 17 and the younger one came to us via a fluke contact as nothing had been regular since he left, she had moved into foster care as her 'mother' (not a word she should be entitled to!) had been neglecting her for years unbeknownst to us, she had a court date for a case against her mother for not feeding her, locking her in the house, violent outbursts as she's now an alcoholic and physical violence but the poor kid just wasn't strong enough to turn up to court and go through with it, my question is my partner would rather give the money outstanding to the csa from the backdated arrears to his daughter who needs it and not his ex who both kids don't even speak to now unless she's ringing them drunk with abuse- she spends it all on vodka and hasn't given either kid a penny since they left, my partner also works an extra job to be able to give the girls help financially as they are struggling, any advice would be welcome as csa just say it's arrears although we have the police paperwork to prove the abuse - Thankyou

Our Response:
He should apply for a residency order in view of the circumstances, it's likely he has a strong case. The daughter doesn't have to appear in court. If he has full residencey/majority care, he will not need to pay maintenance.
LawAndParents - 5-Jul-17 @ 2:44 PM
My partner split from his ex 16 years ago, leaving 2 kids and hating himself for it, the ex was never amicable and he rarely saw the kids although he would go to get them as arranged (100mile round trip) and they wouldn't be there, for the first 2 years he paid cash to a mutual friend to give her for the kids and then she went to the CSA and said he never paid, he couldn't prove he had so had 2 years to back pay, he gave the ex £400 a month via csa and it left us too skint to go on hols etc and we lived on basic food for many many years which was fine but hard as we also had 2 kids together, recently he found out the eldest left home at 17 and the younger one came to us via a fluke contact as nothing had been regular since he left, she had moved into foster care as her 'mother' (not a word she should be entitled to!) had been neglecting her for years unbeknownst to us, she had a court date for a case against her mother for not feeding her, locking her in the house, violent outbursts as she's now an alcoholic and physical violence but the poor kid just wasn't strong enough to turn up to court and go through with it, my question is my partner would rather give the money outstanding to the csa from the backdated arrears to his daughter who needs it and not his ex who both kids don't even speak to now unless she's ringing them drunk with abuse- she spends it all on vodka and hasn't given either kid a penny since they left, my partner also works an extra job to be able to give the girls help financially as they are struggling, any advice would be welcome as csa just say it's arrears although we have the police paperwork to prove the abuse - Thankyou
Itritated - 5-Jul-17 @ 1:13 PM
Betty - Your Question:
Can you advice my son pays to his 2 son's age 15 n 13 the eldest we found out is in school only 1 hour a day does my son still have to pay csa as though he's in full time education as I feel it's wrong and do we have to pay her if we have the one grandchild stay for week as we haven't seen them for 4yrs till now the one came to stay over weekend

Our Response:
At 15 he will be classed as being in full time education. If not, he's doing something illegal! So maintenance will still be payable. The person with majority care receives the maintenance payment, if the child stays elsewhere for one week, that will not be affected.
LawAndParents - 4-Jul-17 @ 12:05 PM
I have 2 daughter's which iv always paid for but my youngest daughter is now living with me and has been for the past few months, she wants to continue living with me and Im happy, but do i need to carry on paying maintenance to her mother ?? Surely if she cares for 1 and i the other then it's all fare ?? Any help would be very appreciated.
Darren - 3-Jul-17 @ 11:58 PM
Can you advice my son pays to his 2 son's age 15 n 13 the eldest we found out is in school only 1 hour a day does my son still have to pay csa as though he's in full time education as I feel it's wrongand do we have to pay her if we have the one grandchild stay for week as we haven't seen them for 4yrs till now the one came to stay over weekend
Betty - 3-Jul-17 @ 2:25 PM
Dee - Your Question:
I am emailing for my husband. He started paying csa when they split when they child was very young. Child lived with grandma who claimed the £250 csa monthly and once son was old enough she paid him £40 a week. He moved out at 16 into mums house who has never supported him. He left school and is starting an apprenticeship through the job centre. We want to stop the payments as 1) he isn't getting it all and 2) we want to put the money away for him for when he needs it. There is no communication between dad and mum or gran so cannot be done amicably. Are we ok to stop the payments ?

Our Response:
If the apprenticeship is arranged through the National Apprenticeship Scheme, then he will be on the minimum wage and maintenance payments will not be applicable. You could put the money away for him when he needs it.
LawAndParents - 29-Jun-17 @ 10:26 AM
Seahawk - Your Question:
Hi please help! My ex-wife and I have a court order which has been in place since 2001 for maintenance payments for our daughter. It states payments are "payable in advance until the said child attains 18 or ceases full time education (up to but not including University Education or equivalent) whichever is the later or further order". My daughter has been studying A Level equivalent courses since leaving school at 16, she is due to be 20 in the next couple of months. Please can someone tell me if court order maintenance follows CMS rules and Child Benefit, in that payments should stop at 20 years of age? And if so what action I need to take when she reaches 20. As there is no end date stated she could continue studying Alevels for many years to come. Many thanks

Our Response:
Under normal child maintenance rules, the maximum age is 20. As this is a private arrangement/court order, you might need to clarify it with the courts or your solicitor.
LawAndParents - 28-Jun-17 @ 12:44 PM
I am emailing for my husband. He started paying csa when they split when they child was very young. Child lived with grandma who claimed the £250 csa monthly and once son was old enough she paid him £40 a week. He moved out at 16 into mums house who has never supported him. He left school and is starting an apprenticeship through the job centre. We want to stop the payments as 1) he isn't getting it all and 2) we want to put the money away for him for when he needs it. There is no communication between dad and mum or gran so cannot be done amicably. Are we ok to stop the payments ?
Dee - 27-Jun-17 @ 7:59 PM
I'm asking on behalf of my husband. His daughter is 18 and apparently in further education. He has no contact with his ex-wife or his daughter (despite numerous court appearances which went in favour of my husband, only to be told - you're not seeing her take me back to court) so he has no way of finding out what his daughter is doing or when the course finishes. Is there any way he can find this information out as his ex wife will not tell him. Thanks for any help you can offer.
Rutherford - 27-Jun-17 @ 2:44 PM
paul - Your Question:
My daughter is 18 years old and just finishing a Public Service level 3 qualification apparently equivalent to A level. she is due to start a Forensic Criminology Degree with a foundation year in September. I`ve read that I still pay child maintenance up to the age of 19 if they are completing A levels; is the first year of her 4 year course considered part of the degree qualification or is it A Level please?if its part of the degree I`ll stop paying maintenance and have the money ready for her emergencies as and when they arise :-)

Our Response:
The foundation year would not normally be considered part of the FE equivalent to A levels.
LawAndParents - 22-Jun-17 @ 12:48 PM
My daughter is 18 years old and just finishing a Public Service level 3 qualification apparently equivalent to A level. she is due to start a Forensic Criminology Degree with a foundation year in September. I`ve read that i still pay child maintenance up to the age of 19 if they are completing A levels; is the first year of her 4 year course considered part of the degree qualification or is it A Level please? if its part of the degree I`ll stop paying maintenance and have the money ready for her emergencies as and when they arise :-)
paul - 20-Jun-17 @ 3:55 PM
Please please could somebody advise. I have twin- 19 years old now. One is finishing his NVQ Course at college this July 2017 but has been working Full Time as a Chef earning an £18k full salary. The other is also finishing his course July 2017 & works Part Time with his mentor (paid work).He will be taken on to do an Apprenticeship once finished college course in July. I've been paying via CSA for the last 7-8 years or so. Their mother just graduated from a Uni course & now works (they live with her) So they are all in paid work. I'd like to know if I'm still meant to have over £500 taken from my salary each month & if so.....how long will this go on??? I've rung CSA but they're very vague. I've no problem supporting my children as I am that way inclined BUT I do not want their mother to milk me or deceive me any further & the system too. I need to know when and how it will cease please please
Geog - 17-Jun-17 @ 12:26 AM
Webby - Your Question:
My 15 year old step son has lived with me for 18 months now. His dad and I are a couple and have been for 14 years but we don't live together. When my partner removed my step son from his mother due to neglect he asked to live with me and our kids which I totally accepted. My question is whilst I receive tax credits and child benefit and maintenance from his dad is his mother suppost to assist me financially too? He has seen her three times in 18 months and she never contacts him just to see how he is. Please can you advise me on his rights. Thank you

Our Response:
No not necessarily. If your partner effectively has(full) residency of his son, he should be able to claim child benefit and child tax credits for him. If you are a couple we're not sure why he is paying maintenance to you...as it's a complex situation therefore our advice may not be correct.
LawAndParents - 15-Jun-17 @ 2:11 PM
Top Scaff- Your Question:
My daughter is 13 my exwife has remarried and now my daughter has his surname and he has step-parental rights. They have another child between them. Do I still have to pay maintenance

Our Response:
Yes you do. You will need to continue with maintenance payments until your daughter is 16 or if she continues in further education to A level or equivalent, 18/19.
LawAndParents - 13-Jun-17 @ 12:38 PM
My 15 year old step son has lived with me for 18 months now. His dad and I are a couple and have been for 14 years but we don't live together.When my partner removed my step son from his mother due to neglect he asked to live with me and our kids which I totally accepted. My question is whilst I receive tax credits and child benefit and maintenance from his dad is his mother suppost to assist me financially too? He has seen her three times in 18 months and she never contacts him just to see how he is.Please can you advise me on his rights. Thank you
Webby - 12-Jun-17 @ 10:14 PM
My daughter is 13 my exwife has remarried and now my daughter has his surname and he has step-parental rights . They have another child between them . Do I still have to pay maintenance
Top Scaff - 10-Jun-17 @ 8:09 PM
My stepdaughter has finished a-levels, is working but is about to go to America on a year exchange. Do we still have to continue maintenance payments. We are unclear of the reason for her going to America.
TT - 6-Jun-17 @ 4:35 PM
My daughter is 18 and says she has just signed up for a college course full time she lives alone and gas done since she fell out with her mother when she was 16. I have paid maintenance regardless every week. Do I still have to pay maintenance now she had turned 18 ?
Kev - 1-Jun-17 @ 4:51 PM
My son is 17 and has now started to do a b tech in music do I still have to pay maintainence
Ad - 31-May-17 @ 8:20 PM
My 17 year old stepson is at a residential college term time for which both seperated parents pay half the fees, inclusive of food and board. His other parent has now gone back on the agreement and has put in a claim for child maintenance despite the fact said son is rarely at her home.CMS have said that despite son being away at college because the mother recieves child benefit she is entitled to maintenance.This seems immoral as we have been paying for his upkeep at college. . Apparently had we paid fees in cash to mother this would have counted as maintenance but because we paid direct to college it doesn't count. Is there any way of fighting this?
PIP - 30-May-17 @ 2:50 PM
Hi my son is about to leave school after his exams he is 16 years old. He is starting a part time college course and also working 2.5 days per week. He is also moving in with his girlfriends parents. Do I still need to continue paying maintainance payments for him ?
Julian - 25-May-17 @ 8:29 AM
Hi I have a son who turns 18 in October he is doin exams the now and no back to school till June but he also has a part time job of 15 hrs a week do I still need to pay maintenance many thanks
Dunk - 21-May-17 @ 9:48 AM
na - Your Question:
My son is 17 and does drama at college 3 days a week and still lives with his mum do I still need to pay maintenance ?

Our Response:
Yes if he's studying for 12 hours per week or more and the course is at A level or equivalent standard you will need to continue with maintenance payments.
LawAndParents - 17-May-17 @ 12:51 PM
my son is 17 and does drama at college 3 days a week and still lives with his mum do i still need to pay maintenance ?
na - 16-May-17 @ 3:23 PM
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