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Should we Still Pay Maintenance?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 17 Nov 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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Tol - Your Question:
In 2015 I approached the courts in order to track down the mother of my child or who has taken my child. The courts tried to locate my child however were unsuccessful. They close the case to which I have paid for the last 27 months in excess of £250 per month. I seemed some some legal advice and on the back end of that advice I wanted a 2nd opinion. I was told at a hearing within a solicitors office that I have tried to track my child down and where we have been unsuccessful I should approach the Csa / CMS to notify them of the mothers abaconding, taking my child. They should pause or stop all payments unroll further notice. I have provided the relevant court document to prove the above however they have basically said that I am to still pay for my child? Someone please assure me or go e me some advice to help assist my case. Surely I should not have to pay or should at least stop paying till the mother decides to notify of my child sure abouts (So that I can take her back to court for breaking the access agreement)

Our Response:
It's generally not acceptable to stop maintenance payments on the basis of no contact. Are the payments being made into the mother's bank account? If so, the courts will have been able to trace her for the contact purposes surely? You should investigate this angle rather than refusing to pay.
LawAndParents - 17-Nov-17 @ 3:35 PM
Berry - Your Question:
I been told to pay maintained for my son who is 17 and his mother claims benefits for him he works how much is he allowed to earn before the payments stop

Our Response:
Is he in full time education of 12 hours or more per week as well as his job? If so, you will need to continue with maintenance payments until his education (at A level standard or equivalent) has finished.
LawAndParents - 17-Nov-17 @ 3:20 PM
In 2015 i approached the courts in order to track down the mother of my child or who has taken my child. The courts tried to locate my child however were unsuccessful. They close the case to which I have paid for the last 27 months in excess of £250 per month. I seemed some some legal advice and on the back end of that advice I wanted a 2nd opinion. I was told at a hearing within a solicitors office that I have tried to track my child down and where we have been unsuccessful I should approach the Csa / CMS to notify them of the mothers abaconding, taking my child. They should pause or stop all payments unroll further notice. I have provided the relevant court document to prove the above however they have basically said that I am to still pay for my child? Someone please assure me or go e me some advice to help assist my case. Surely i should not have to pay or should at least stop paying till the mother decides to notify of my child sure abouts (So that I can take her back to court for breaking the access agreement)
Tol - 17-Nov-17 @ 2:45 AM
I been told to pay maintained for my son who is 17 and his mother claims benefits for him he works how much is he allowed to earn before the payments stop
Berry - 16-Nov-17 @ 10:25 PM
Name - Your Question:
My son turns 18 soon. I have paid the same payments all the time even when my ex started living with her current partner and I had a new partner. I now have 2 more children with my current partner but payments to my ex stayed the same. My son is studying at catering college 2 days a week but also works full time. Can I stop the payments when he reaches 18. He is also about to revive pip for a sight disability if that makes any difference

Our Response:
Unless you have a private agreement (ratified in court) to pay for longer, maintenance payments usually stop when your child leaves full time education (of 12 hours or more per week) at A level standard or equivalent.
LawAndParents - 15-Nov-17 @ 1:00 PM
My son turns 18 soon. I have paid the same payments all the time even when my ex started living with her current partner and I had a new partner. I now have 2 more children with my current partner but payments to my ex stayed the same. My son is studying at catering college 2 days a week but also works full time. Can I stop the payments when he reaches 18. He is also about to revive pip for a sight disability if that makes any difference
Name - 14-Nov-17 @ 2:02 PM
Confused - Your Question:
I have paid maintenance to my ex for 17 years. My son is now 17 and at college for 3 days a week and he works in a job for 21-25hrs a week earning between £150-200 a week. he left school at 16 and was out of education for 9months and I continued to pay my ex over this time. Should I still be paying maintenance?

Our Response:
Maintenance is still payable while your son is in full time education (full time education is 12 hours or more per week) studying at a level no higher than A level standard. So probably yes, you should continue to pay maintenance.
LawAndParents - 10-Nov-17 @ 3:45 PM
I have paid maintenance to my ex for 17 years. My son is now 17 and at college for 3 days a week and he works in a job for 21-25hrs a week earning between £150-200 a week. he left school at 16 and was out of education for 9months and I continued to pay my ex over this time. Should I still be paying maintenance?
Confused - 10-Nov-17 @ 3:08 PM
I'm paying as per verbal agreement since the split to my childs mother. I've seen some conflicting information on the internet regarding payments or cessation of, with regard to the ex starting to cohabitate with her new partner - she is looking to buy a house -what are the legalities of this situation if he is, in effect living with my ex, and my child full time? Kind regards James
James - 8-Nov-17 @ 8:42 PM
My partner pays the cms maintenance for his two children he does not see them, how does he know ow when the eldest leaves full time education as he contacted his ex and she said she will not tell him
Snave - 7-Nov-17 @ 6:43 PM
Confused - Your Question:
Hi. I have been paying child maintenance for sometime now. Am I right in the understanding that once a child goes to university I no longer have to pay csa payments? As my child has been in university since last year and I have been making payments through the csa am I entitled to this back?

Our Response:
You don't usually have to pay child maintenance once your child is at university unless you have a private arrangement (which we assume you don't since your are using the CSA). It's worth trying to claim it back, but we don't know whether the CSA will cooperate sorry.
LawAndParents - 31-Oct-17 @ 11:45 AM
In Feb My ex opened a CMS case to enact the 12 month rule and nulify court ordered maintenence.. he has since paid zero and when was told to closed his CMS case and has since I opened one been calling in with endless changes of circumstances to avoid paying. The court ordered maintenence covered kids until finished university/ end of first degree / CMS do not cover degrees so essentially my kids have lost around £60k in court ordered parental support ... Is there anything they can do ? Ex earns under £3k a week the level the government says CMS should deal with and likewise children's act cases say CMS should deal with it if earns under £3k a week, so I could go to court and theyd throw back to CMS anyway on basis his income is under £3k a week ? What I do not understand is CMS do not deal with uni payments at all and dont deal with medical i syrance payemnts and other things cohrt order did so how can they nulify those parts ?
Fred - 31-Oct-17 @ 11:16 AM
Hi. I have been paying child maintenance for sometime now. Am I right in the understanding that once a child goes to university I no longer have to pay csa payments? As my child has been in university since last year and I have been making payments through the csa am I entitled to this back?
Confused - 28-Oct-17 @ 3:45 PM
My son is 17 years old and studying A-Levels at college. He stays at his girlfriends house approx an average of 5 nights a week, 1 night at his mothers and 1 night with me. Should I still be paying maintenance to my ex based on him staying with her once a week?
TW - 25-Oct-17 @ 4:13 PM
My 16 year old daughter has moved out from her mom's an moved Iwith "a friend". She has a home here with me but is refusing to go back to her mom's or come to mine. 1. Do I still have to pay CM to her mom/ my ex. an 2. Am I right in thinking my daughter can claim CM from us??
Pops - 24-Oct-17 @ 5:01 PM
Betty - Your Question:
My partner's daughter has started an apprenticeship do we still need to pay her mother maintenance.

Our Response:
If she is undertaking a paid apprenticeship, child maintenance is no longer payable.
LawAndParents - 23-Oct-17 @ 3:38 PM
Bambi69 - Your Question:
PLEASE HELP 1. My 17 year old step son has been on an apprenticeship ever since leaving school. Over a year now. He goes to college 1 day a week from 8am - 5pm (9hours) but then goes to work for four days and is getting paid well over £100 a week, some weeks he gets just over £200 a week. Does my partner still have to pay maintenance to his ex ? 2. My stepson (same as mentioned above) even though he's 17 he's been staying at his girlfriends now at her parents home for over a month , so in my eyes I see it that he's not at home when maintenance is still be paid to his mother. Can maintenance be stopped for both what I've mentioned or for one or the otherPlease let me know as I have messaged before but no advice was given Many thanks

Our Response:
Maintenance is not usually payable if the child is in a paid apprenticeship.
LawAndParents - 20-Oct-17 @ 1:00 PM
My partner's daughter has started an apprenticeship do we still need to pay her mother maintenance.
Betty - 20-Oct-17 @ 11:20 AM
PLEASE HELP 1. My 17 year old step son has been on an apprenticeship ever sinceleaving school. Over a year now. He goes to college 1 day a week from 8am - 5pm (9hours) but then goes to work for four days and is getting paid well over £100 a week, some weeks he gets just over £200 a week . Does my partner still have to pay maintenance to his ex ? 2. My stepson (same as mentioned above) even though he's 17 he's been staying at his girlfriends now at her parents home for over a month , so in my eyes I see it that he's not at home when maintenance is still be paid to his mother . Can maintenance be stopped for both what I've mentioned or for one or the other Please let me know as I have messaged before but no advice was given Many thanks
Bambi69 - 18-Oct-17 @ 9:11 AM
Moomoo - Your Question:
My 17 year old daughter started a college course September 2016 and dropped out December 2016 and has been working on and off. Is her mother still entitled to child benefit and do I still have to pay maintenance for her? She said she is enrolling for another course soon but how will I know if she do I don't have parental responsibility.

Our Response:
When she starts the college course her mother will be entitled to child benefit. As long as she is studying a level no higher than Alevel or equivalent, you should continue paying. The easiest way to find out if she does start another course is to ask her?
LawAndParents - 13-Oct-17 @ 2:30 PM
tad - Your Question:
Hi my son is 18 and in full time education and up to 4 months ago he was living with his mother and I was paying mainteance for him. my son has now moved out off his home and has gone to live with his friend and his family. they say that they can still claim from me is is true

Our Response:
You may still have to pay maintenance if his mother is still contributing to his upkeep. You might want to consider negotiating with your ex and paying the money directly to you son.
LawAndParents - 13-Oct-17 @ 12:27 PM
My 17 year old daughter started a college course September 2016 and dropped out December 2016 and has been working on and off. Is her mother still entitled to child benefit and do I still have to pay maintenance for her? She said she is enrolling for another course soon but how will I know if she do I don't have parental responsibility.
Moomoo - 12-Oct-17 @ 4:58 PM
hi my son is 18 and in full time education and up to 4 months ago he was living with his mother and i was paying mainteance for him. my son has now moved out off his home and has gone to live with his friend and his family. they say that they can still claim from me is is true
tad - 12-Oct-17 @ 10:51 AM
My son is 19 and still trying to get his gcse maths and English his dad has stopped his maintenance payments as of his 18 Birthday is this right or should he still pay whilst he is at college advise would be great thanks
Mumma Do the hump - 6-Oct-17 @ 4:20 PM
Rebc- Your Question:
My husband currently pays £260 in CM for his 9 year old son, we have discovered that he was taken into local authority care in July this year (ex wouldn't let him have contact from the word go, and court was too expensive to continue) but we have been paying CM for the 3 months that he has been in care, are we legally obliged to continue? If not, what do we do to avoid being accused of not paying?

Our Response:
We're sorry, we don't know what the situation is with child maintenance and children in care. You might want to speak to social services to discuss the situation. Especially if you feel you can give him a home yourselves.
LawAndParents - 3-Oct-17 @ 3:25 PM
My husband currently pays £260 in CM for his 9 year old son, we have discovered that he was taken into local authority care in July this year (ex wouldn't let him have contact from the word go, and court was too expensive to continue) but we have been paying CM for the 3 months that he has been in care, are we legally obliged to continue? If not, what do we do to avoid being accused of not paying?
Rebc - 2-Oct-17 @ 6:00 AM
Gav - Your Question:
My son turned 18 this month and starts an apprenticeship next week earning £130 a week. Do I have to continue paying child maintenance to his mum?

Our Response:
You do not usually have to continue mainteance payments if your child is doing a paid apprenticeship.
LawAndParents - 29-Sep-17 @ 2:19 PM
Bank of Dad - Your Question:
My son is 16 and has just started an apprenticeship in wales. He attends college 2 days a week and works the remaining 3 days. For this he is paid. I have raised the question about stopping the maintenance payment with the Ex, she is under the impression as he is in college for 2 days (16 hrs) a week that it should continue, however I read it that he is undertaking training and as because he is paid that I would be within my rights to stop the maintenance to her and instead give my sone support direct. Can any one clarify this for me ?

Our Response:
If your child is doing a paid apprenticeship, maintenance payments do not usually have to continue. You can, as you say, continue to support your son directly as apprenticeship pay is not very high.
LawAndParents - 29-Sep-17 @ 12:56 PM
My son turned 18 this month and starts an apprenticeship next week earning £130 a week. Do I have to continue paying child maintenance to his mum?
Gav - 27-Sep-17 @ 10:14 PM
My son is 16 and has just started an apprenticeship in wales.He attends college 2 days a week and works the remaining 3 days.For this he is paid.I have raised the question about stopping the maintenance payment with the Ex, she is under the impression as he is in college for 2 days (16 hrs) a week that it should continue, however i read it that he is undertaking training and as because he is paid that i would be within my rights to stop the maintenance to her and instead give my sone support direct.Can any one clarify this for me ?
Bank of Dad - 27-Sep-17 @ 6:37 PM
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