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Should we Still Pay Maintenance?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 11 Aug 2020 | comments*Discuss
Child Maintenance Child Support Child


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 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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Daughter is 16 left schoolI've been paying x for years no problem she not going to go college looking for job do I need still pay cheers
Andyrob - 11-Aug-20 @ 6:06 PM
My son was 18 in May and finished college in mid July. He now has a full time job since the end of July. I have paid maintenance up to the end of August. Can I now cancel all maintenance payments?
JP - 4-Aug-20 @ 1:13 PM
Hi my sons father has said he is to stop paying maintenance for his son as he has finished collegeI fully understand this but how is finished college defined? Is this the september or when he has taken his last exam? Also my ex has not provided earnings evidence since 2011 despite requests to provide. He is a police officer and I believe his salary has increased in that time and that he has earnt quite a bit in overtime. He has not paid any since 2011. How can I navigate this issue to ensure that my children receive this money? NB I work so I do not rely for this for my living costs.He and i have a written private agreement that he would pay 20% of his take home for the two children. 15% since 2018 as it reduced to just the one child.
Joanna Heller - 20-Jul-20 @ 6:47 PM
My son is 18 years old and has left college but he's now doing army training. Do I still have to pay maintenance to his mum? Thank you
Andy - 18-Jul-20 @ 6:01 PM
Hi, My son is leaving school this month and is 18 and is not persuing further education. When should I stop paying maintenance for him. My ex wife is saying I need to pay until end of August even though he is leaving school end of July??
j - 18-Jul-20 @ 4:36 PM
I have a Maintenance Order under the Family Law Act 1976, issued to me from an Irish Court in 2011. It states that payments be made until the child reaches 16 OR 21 if in full time education. My son lives in Ireland with his mother, and turned 21 in March 2020. He has now decided to live and study full time back in the UK as of Sept 2020. Has the Maintenance Order ceased? I can’t seem to find any information to clarify this. The courts haven’t returned any emails and his mother is demanding money.
AL - 18-Jul-20 @ 12:15 PM
Hi my son has recently left school and started work full time as an apprentice , so do I still have to pay for child maintenance.
Dave - 14-Jul-20 @ 5:49 PM
Himy partner currently pays child maintenance for hes daughter who is 15. She has decided to drop outof school to which the birth mother really clearly doesn't care.We have tried many ways to get her back into school but she does not care about her education.Does he still have to pay maintenance for his daughter ?
Bonnie - 6-Jul-20 @ 1:14 PM
Hi - my 15 year old son has recently gone to live with his Father, I don't know how long for, he may chose to go to college there and he may not, he is still deciding!My ex-partner contacted me a couple of days ago with his bank details so I can send him child maintenance, do I have to do that immediately?He has only been there a matter of weeks, and whereas his Father does pay me child maintenance (which clearly has stopped now), it was incredibly hard to get that processed and receive it regularly and I effectively had to write off £2500.Any advice would be fantastic, thank you.
Charlie - 3-Jul-20 @ 11:48 AM
Hi, my 19 year old son is apparently doing a level 3 Nvq (dont get any answers from my ex about course/when he started etc) and was just wondering where I stand on maintenance payments? Do they stop this august? on his 20th birthday? or do I have to pay until he finishes his course in full? Many thanks.
Darius - 30-Jun-20 @ 7:09 AM
Hi, My Daughter is 18 this month and due to having a baby early in August. She is intending to continue with college after the Baby is born. am I still liable to pay maintenance?
H - 29-Jun-20 @ 12:34 PM
My stepdaughter turns 19next month and starts a btech level 3 at college in September. Does my husband stop paying maintenance next month, There is so much conflicting answers to this, thanks in advance for any replys
Janet - 29-Jun-20 @ 10:33 AM
My husband is paying child maintence for his son whom turns 18 tomorrow, He is wondering when the child maintence payments for him would stop as he will be going to Musical Thertre college in September and was told of the CMS that they do not class Musical Thertre as further education any help would be greatly appreciated before he gets in touch with them, Thank you very much
Chicken - 26-Jun-20 @ 2:40 PM
I have been paying maintenance for my two boys for years. The eldest is not far off 18. He attended college which I believe he was played for by the college. He stopped going back in March probably due to the coronovirus.I found out today that he works part time. Should I still be paying for him? My other son is 15.
Dravey - 24-Jun-20 @ 5:31 PM
Hi, My son is leaving college this month and is 18 when should I stop paying maintenance for him. Thanks in advance
Johnny Sellers - 20-Jun-20 @ 8:14 PM
My Son is in further education but his course finished in May and he turns 19 in August.Should I have stopped paying CSA in May or continue until August?
Watto - 17-Jun-20 @ 11:42 AM
Hi my son was 18 last October and left school at the end of May when do I stop paying maintenance
Ken - 15-Jun-20 @ 12:03 AM
I now live in canada, I have been paying £500 per month for the last 16 years, never missed a payment. My daughter is turning 20 in November, she is resisting her exams, to enable her to attend nursing school, she now wishes to attend the navy nursing program and get her degree that way. When do I cease being legally responsible for child maintenance payments ? On top of maintenance payments I also bought her car, pay the Insurance, maintenance and pay £100 a month for pocket money. I am hoping November when she turns 20 is the last child support payment, child support at 20.Wow !
Brasso - 6-Jun-20 @ 10:43 PM
Hi my eldest is 16 this month & my ex wants to stop payments. My son will be attending college full time
Lex - 5-May-20 @ 12:20 AM
My son 16 left college due to really hating the course he chose, he was getting ill over having to go. He has been applying to every job and Apprentiship he can find but not been successful, so it looks like it’ll be in September when he can restart- during this coronavirus he cannot work or study - does his father still have to pay or am I the only one who financially supports him now/ Meets his needs? Thanks
Sarah - 2-May-20 @ 11:26 AM
My son is leaving school next year to go to naval collage will I still need to pay child maintenance for him.
Pitbull - 30-Apr-20 @ 6:49 PM
My daughter is applying for full-time degree course. Her father still pays for her and I am expecting this to continue. This is until September. Does anyone know if I can continue to receive this maintenance payment from September onwards. Daughter will be living with me and not in residence at university /college campuss
Kez - 28-Apr-20 @ 5:00 PM
I now receive Child Benefit for my boy who is 6. I have two other children with the same person who are 12 and 2. I told the CMS that I would like to my son removed from the calculation because I receive CB for him. I am in a shared care arrangement with 165 nights per year responsibility. I pay 500GBP per month. I am struggling to pay this because I owe 7k in legal fees to fight for the custody I have now. I received a letter today from the CMS saying that my request has been rejected. Can someone please explain why this could be? I have appealed.
Gavin - 24-Apr-20 @ 11:33 PM
My son turns 18on the 26/4/20 and has been working ( apprenticeship)since he was 16 and still is.when would be my last payment for maintenance.
Watto - 20-Apr-20 @ 9:51 AM
My step son is 18 and has now officially finished school as a level exams are cancelled.He May go on to university do we have to continue to pay maintenance. He is working parttime and has applied for a few apprenticeships
Lm - 17-Apr-20 @ 3:45 PM
HELP!!! I pay maintenance foe my daughter, who turns 18 in August. Her college has closed and she was due to sit her A levels, but this has been cancelled and grades are being organised by tutors. As she has technically finished college, can I stop the maintenance payments? Divorce was evil and I have no contact with any of the family, so I do not know if she is still 'studying' and ex will just lie to get money out of me anyway.
TheCat - 16-Apr-20 @ 4:59 PM
My son is 18 and has an apprenticeship as a vehicle technician, do I still have to pay child maintenance??
Marky - 7-Apr-20 @ 2:28 PM
My son is 18 and will be leaving school this year and going to college but he does have a part time job at the moment so I still pay And also do you still have to pay if the child mother doesn’t review child benefit for the child and what age does he stop to qualify for child benefit thanks
None - 3-Apr-20 @ 12:08 PM
I pay maintenance for my daughter,she's 17, work 5 days a week in a shop,apparently does her 2 day per week college work from home?? obviously college is also closed for the foreseeable future anyway.... should I still be pay maintenance?
kier - 29-Mar-20 @ 9:54 AM
My child is still in college and the final date for the course in August 2020 the academic year I still get my child benefit until then do I still get maintenance for my child until then too?
Beena - 28-Mar-20 @ 6:49 PM
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