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Should we Still Pay Maintenance?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 19 Jan 2018 | 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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my daughter is 17, 18 in May, and moved out after an argument, to live with her boyfriend, his mum is trying to get child maintenance off me, at 35.00/week. But my daughter is not at college and doesn't have an apprenticeship, and she has just got a full time job. I am in dispute with the child maintenance service about this, as everywhere i turn im told they cant claim from me, even someone told me that at the agency..is this right?
bob - 19-Jan-18 @ 9:40 AM
Hi we been paying my husband's ex since 2014 since vas got in touch he's never seen this child but set up a standing order to pay her we gave now found out that she stopped claiming child benefit for her son in Sept 2016 n so the child maintance should of stopped our payments to her .so we've paid 16 mths of miney to her she wernt entilted to n there telling us we won't get a penny back so she defrauded them n us in payments she shouldn't of had .where do we stand?
Cheekyenok - 18-Jan-18 @ 9:06 PM
We pay my husbands ex girlfriend maintenance via CSA. His son is autistic and will start to receive PIP in April when he turns 16. His mum currently claims high rate DLA for him. Step son is staying in special school until he's 19 but won't be doing any qualifications, as he has learning difficulties. Will CSA payments cease if he claims PIP at 16, even though he's still in school, given that he won't be advancing to university/ college?
JC72 - 17-Jan-18 @ 2:32 PM
Mick - Your Question:
My Daughter, who will be 18 in April this year 2018, is currently doing her A Levels. In September she is hoping to go and do a 1 year Foundation Diploma at collage so will be 19 when she finishes. I’m currently paying maintenance, so my question is at what point do I stop paying ? After the foundation diploma she then hopefully will get a place at a University. My divorce paperwork states “until attain the age of 17 years or cease full-time further education whichever shall be the later”. I’ve checked the definition and a Foundation Course is classed as Higher Education, but not sure if this is right, even though it may be delivered by a Further Education College, so does this mean that I stop paying in September 2018 or do I need to pay for a further year until September 2019. Thanks in advance.

Our Response:
If her course is higher than A level Standard etc. A foundation year would be considered higher than A level and therefore you might not be expected to pay maintenance. You should check that financial support (e.g Student Loan etc) is available to you daughter.
LawAndParents - 15-Jan-18 @ 1:44 PM
K8 - Your Question:
My daughter 15 decide after me selling my car and moving house for her to attend a private school. That she didn't want to live with me (I have full parental responsibility) it has been just the two of us for over a decade. I came home from work to find her gone. Her sad enrolled her in a school within 2 days and I have seen her about 3 times in 5 months (generally when needing clothes haircuts trainers money) I'm paid quite well as is my ex he has been demanding money from me (he has no parental responsibility) allows my 15 year old to smoke and drink and she is on the pill and stays over at her boyfriends. I financially support her and he brags I'm paying for double glazing in his house. Do I have to pay him?

Our Response:
Maintenance is usually paid by one parent to the other parent with majority care. If you can't agree this between the two of you, you should consider coming to an agreement using a mediation service. If that fails, the courts can decide.
LawAndParents - 15-Jan-18 @ 11:27 AM
My Daughter, who will be 18 in April this year 2018, is currently doing her A Levels. In September she is hoping to go and do a 1 year Foundation Diploma at collage so will be 19 when she finishes. I’m currently paying maintenance, so my question is at what point do I stop paying ? After the foundation diploma she then hopefully will get a place at a University. My divorce paperwork states “until attain the age of 17 years or cease full-time further education whichever shall be the later”.I’ve checked the definition and a Foundation Course is classed as Higher Education, but not sure if this is right, even though it may be delivered by a Further Education College, so does this mean that I stop paying in September 2018 or do I need to pay for a further year until September 2019. Thanks in advance.
Mick - 12-Jan-18 @ 3:31 PM
My daughter 15 decide after me selling my car and moving house for her to attend a private school. That she didn't want to live with me (I have full parental responsibility) it has been just the two of us for over a decade. I came home from work to find her gone. Her sad enrolled her in a school within 2 days and I have seen her about 3 times in 5 months (generally when needing clothes haircuts trainers money) I'm paid quite well as is my ex he has been demanding money from me (he has no parental responsibility) allows my 15 year old to smoke and drink and she is on the pill and stays over at her boyfriends. I financially support her and he brags I'm paying for double glazing in his house. Do I have to pay him?
K8 - 12-Jan-18 @ 8:35 AM
Jelly - Your Question:
My son is 16 years old and us at college full time. My ex husband has just reduced his maintenance because of a change in job. He is paying me half of the previous amount and paying £50 to my son directly, is this allowed?

Our Response:
Child maintenance should usually be paid directly to the parent with majority care.
LawAndParents - 9-Jan-18 @ 3:44 PM
Tp - Your Question:
My daughter is 17 years old and has just given up college to work part time in retail. Do I still have to pay child maintenance for her even though she is no longer attending college and her father is no longer entitled to child benefit for her.

Our Response:
If child benefit is no longer being paid and your daughter is not in full time education of 12 hours or more per week, then you should not need to continue with maintenance payments.
LawAndParents - 9-Jan-18 @ 12:15 PM
sjnivs - Your Question:
They are telling me that as shes not working, even though shes nearly 18, and not in full time education and doesn't have an apprenticeship either, that I still have to pay. Ive rang up twice now, the first time I was told, as you told me aswel, that I dont have to pay, and the second time, ive been told that I do! Which is correct, as im so confused?

Our Response:
As said below: "Generally if a child is over 16 and not in full time education, maintenance is not payable. You need to discuss what your daughter does next as the boyfriend's parent will not be able to claim Child Benefit indefinitely if she isn't in f/t education."
She clearly has no other means of support at the moment, so as a father you may want to continue paying...we don't know enough about your/her situation to be able to tell you any different. Perhaps you could talk to you daughter about this and find out what income she has and where from. If Child Benefit is still being paid then you will be expected to continue paying child maintenance.
LawAndParents - 9-Jan-18 @ 11:51 AM
My son is 16 years old and us at college full time. My ex husband has just reduced his maintenance because of a change in job. He is paying me half of the previous amount and paying £50 to my son directly, is this allowed?
Jelly - 9-Jan-18 @ 10:51 AM
My daughter is 17 years old and has just given up college to work part time in retail. Do I still have to pay child maintenance for her even though she is no longer attending college and her father is no longer entitled to child benefit for her.
Tp - 8-Jan-18 @ 9:57 AM
They are telling me that as shes not working, even though shes nearly 18, and not in full time education and doesn't have an apprenticeship either, that i still have to pay. Ive rang up twice now, the first time i was told, as you told me aswel, that i dont have to pay, and the second time, ive been told that i do! Which is correct, as im so confused?
sjnivs - 8-Jan-18 @ 9:26 AM
We pay child maintenance for my husbands daughter who is 16 and at college.However she is now expecting and the baby is due April so will be taking time out from college. Should we still pay maintenance?
Brownie - 3-Jan-18 @ 6:19 PM
My husband pays nearly £300 to his ex girlfriend for his 14yr old daughter every month via direct pay but she is not attending secondary school as keeps getting permantly excluded and goes to ' naughty school' but again doesn't attend most days. She's now not even living at home with her mother who is still in receipt of monthly payments should we still be paying? Please help as we are financially struggling and have step change debt charity involved too
Hannah - 22-Dec-17 @ 12:00 PM
Thats what i thought, and she is co habiting with her boyfriend and his mother doesn't have parental responsibility either for her. Im not sure where to go from here, shes just being a stubborn 17 year old, who refuses to come home as i wont let her do as she pleases, and i banned her boyfriend from the house because of how he treats her..
sjnivs - 20-Dec-17 @ 1:19 PM
sjnivs - Your Question:
My daughter, whos 17, moved to her boyfriends after an argument, and refuses to come home. I have just had a claim through for child maintenance for her from her boyf mother, who is also claiming child benefit for her. She is not in full time education, after leaving college, after a month, saying she wants to get a full time job, and isn't doing an apprenticeship, and doesn't even have a part time job at the minute. Ive looked into this and as shes not in full time education and is over 16, then I shouldn't have had the claim made against me, is this correct?she still has her room and everything at my house, but refuses to come home, even messaging me recently saying I am no longer part of her life and to stay away!

Our Response:
Generally if a child is over 16 and not in full time education, maintenance is not payable. You need to discuss what your daughter does next as the boyfriend's parent will not be able to claim Child Benefit indefinitely if she isn't in f/t education.
LawAndParents - 20-Dec-17 @ 12:23 PM
my daughter, whos 17, moved to her boyfriends after an argument, and refuses to come home. I have just had a claim through for child maintenance for her from her boyf mother, who is also claiming child benefit for her. She is not in full time education, after leaving college, after a month, saying she wants to get a full time job, and isn't doing an apprenticeship, and doesn't even have a part time job at the minute. Ive looked into this and as shes not in full time education and is over 16, then i shouldn't have had the claim made against me, is this correct?..she still has her room and everything at my house, but refuses to come home, even messaging me recently saying i am no longer part of her life and to stay away!
sjnivs - 19-Dec-17 @ 2:03 PM
Hi. My son is 18 years old and in full time further education. He currently lives with his mum and I pay he weekly child maintenance. My son is now looking at moving out and getting a house share with his mates. My question is: when he moves out, do I stop paying his mother the child maintenance and pay it directly to him or am I able to stop paying all together now that he would be supporting himself? I have no order to pay and have always had a word of mouth agreement with his mother. Many thanks.
Dave - 18-Dec-17 @ 8:23 PM
fred - Your Question:
My son is 19 in February and on a level 1 course at college.What age will I pay child maintenance up to? If he enrols in another course next September when he is 19 will I continue to pay until he is 20 ?

Our Response:
You will need to pay until the end of his current A level course.
LawAndParents - 15-Dec-17 @ 12:23 PM
My son is 19 in February and on a level 1 course at college.What age will I pay child maintenance up to? If he enrols in another course next September when he is 19 will I continue to pay until he is 20 ?
fred - 12-Dec-17 @ 7:45 PM
My son is 16 and at college. Can I now pay maintenance to him in an account, or do I still need to pay his mother?
Tony - 8-Dec-17 @ 9:54 PM
My ex partner is a police officer working full time on an income of around £40,000. He had an work related accident and was paid work related compensation and is registered disabled and had the disability badge for his car. He still works full time in the police. In court his barrister claimed that he only has to pay £7 per child by law.He has our 2 sons living with him 17 and 14. I have the 2 girls living at mine 11 & 7. He agreed in court to pay £15 pw per child. £120 per month. He took me to court for maintenance and I earn £192 pw and have been asked to pay £22 pw. Which is based on income. My question and concern is this. If i ask CSA to recalculate his income if he uses his disability and they uphold it I will still be paying my £22.00 pw and losing money from his agreement to pay £15 reducing to £7. I cannot afford the loss of payment. Please can you give me advice. I'm at my wits end.
Tracey - 1-Dec-17 @ 10:39 AM
Gilly73 - Your Question:
I have 2 children living with my ex, son 14 & daughter 10 for which I pay maintenance by standing order of £340 a month mutual agreement. However my son had behavioural/suicidal issues & I begged and pleaded with her for him to come and live with me so I could sort him out. Eventually social services got involved and he has now come to live with me. He has been with me for 6 weeks and I am still paying the full amount out of a moral obligation even though my ex and I don't get along. However, the time has come to move on and want to know the best way forward. 1. Do I stop the full amount child maintenance payments as she has one child and I have the other therefore cancelling each other out.2. Do I pay her half the £340 for my daughter & then apply to CSA for payment for my son because he is now living with me.I am not bothered about any back payments I just want to know were I stand legally and above all do the right thing. Please can you help

Our Response:
It might be worth having a look at the Child Maintenance Calculator to see what amount you should be paying based on your changed circumstances. If your ex disagrees to any proposed changes, then you may have to get the CMS involved (that's usually worth avoiding).
LawAndParents - 29-Nov-17 @ 2:57 PM
Andy - Your Question:
My son is nearly 19 he works part time as a barmen, he gets disability allowance and goes to college 4 days a week , how long should I be paying maintenance for him

Our Response:
You will need to pay maintenance for as long as your son is in further education (up to A level standard or equivalent) - this can be up to 19 or sometimes 20.
LawAndParents - 29-Nov-17 @ 2:55 PM
# - Your Question:
My daughter is 17 she has a full time job and is no longer in education, do I still pay maintenance to my ex till she is 18?

Our Response:
If your daughter is no longer in full time education, you do not usually need to continue maintenance payments.
LawAndParents - 28-Nov-17 @ 2:16 PM
My daughter is 17 she has a full time job and is no longer in education, do I still pay maintenance to my ex till she is 18?
# - 27-Nov-17 @ 11:53 AM
I have 2 children living with my ex, son 14 & daughter 10 for which I pay maintenance by standing order of £340 a month mutual agreement. However my son had behavioural/suicidal issues & I begged and pleaded with her for him to come and live with me so I could sort him out. Eventually social services got involved and he has now come to live with me. He has been with me for 6 weeks and I am still paying the full amount out of a moral obligation even though my ex and I don't get along. However, the time has come to move on and want to know the best way forward. 1. Do I stop the full amount child maintenance payments as she has one child and I have the other therefore cancelling each other out. 2. Do I pay her half the £340 for my daughter & then apply to CSA for payment for my son because he is now living with me. I am not bothered about any back payments I just want to know were I stand legally and above all do the right thing. Please can you help
Gilly73 - 26-Nov-17 @ 12:03 PM
My son is nearly 19 he works part time as a barmen, he gets disability allowance and goes to college 4 days a week , how long should I be paying maintenance for him
Andy - 26-Nov-17 @ 11:06 AM
Hi My son is 19 , I have no contact with him or my ex apart from paying maintenace. I have since found out that he has moved out of her house and is living in a flat. I have been paying the ex the amount specified by the CSA/CSM by bank transfer. As he has moved out should I still be paying ? I cannot get confirmation that he is at college or in part time or full time employment apart from going over there and spying ! Is there anything I can do ? Thankyou
SUNSHINE - 22-Nov-17 @ 3:28 PM
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