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Should we Still Pay Maintenance?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 21 Oct 2019 | 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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Hi,my daughter is 17 in 2 months she will 18,she does attend Bcot,basically what she is catching up on what she was behind in school,she does attend for 12hrs a week but it's not towards A-levels but I'm still paying maintaince till she's 18,is that correct?
Humpster - 21-Oct-19 @ 5:37 PM
Hi,my daughter is 17,will be 18 in 2 months,she will attending some further education for 12hrs a week not for A levels just catching up on what she did not learn a school.when do I stop paying.
Humpster - 21-Oct-19 @ 11:31 AM
Hi my partner has 2 girls aged 16 & 18. 16 year old is in year 11 so full time education, 18 year is in her 3rd year of sixth form does hardly any hours and doesn’t work and no longer lives with her mother. Does partner still need to pay for 18 year old? Any help would be greatly appreciated thank you :-)
Concerned partner - 21-Oct-19 @ 11:02 AM
I am the absent parent paying directly to parent with care, for some years now,child is 19 and has a baby, is still in education, I'm not in contact, so unable to find out much info, do I still have a responsibility to maintain payments ?
Barry - 16-Oct-19 @ 6:39 PM
Hi my daughter is 18, 19 in a weeks time she doesn't work or go to college. Do I still have to pay maintenance.
Dingo - 11-Oct-19 @ 8:13 PM
My eldest daughter is nearly 18, in full time college and has a part time job working 3-5 days a week. When would I be able to stop paying maintenance for her to my ex, would rather give my daughter the money if possible! Thanks.
Dadof3 - 11-Oct-19 @ 9:16 AM
when a child is 16 years old and has a paid apprenticeship, does the divorced parent have to pay child maintenance ?. Many thanks
pinkie - 10-Oct-19 @ 3:53 PM
I have a son studying A levels, if he fails and has to re sit them do I still have to pay? If so is it just until he turns 19?
t0mma - 9-Oct-19 @ 10:21 AM
Hi I have 6 children which I have been paying maintenance for for over 10 yrs, one of my twin daughter's who is 17 and studying for her A levels, has moved out of her mother's home with her boyfriend and his parentsI'm not trying to get out of paying, but am I entitled to give my daughter her share of what I pay, as I feel that she would benefit from this because her mother no longer has care of her, I understand that should she for whatever reason move back to her mother's then business as usual,, ???
LA - 6-Oct-19 @ 6:57 AM
My daughter has justturned 18 and will sit her a levels in six months. She plans to do another year In full time education at a fashion college studying for an NVQ. Can anyone advise when I can stop paying child support to her mum. The mum works the minimum hours to claim all the government benefits available, ie gets the rent paid for etc etc...only has the one child and has screwed me for every penny Thank you
Dube - 5-Oct-19 @ 8:44 AM
My ex wife is on benefits and hasn't and hasn't worked for years, I have a 19 year old daughter who wants to get a job but has been told by my ex wife that she has to stay at collage for another year so she won't loose out on child tax credit. My daughter is not doing A levels, she is doing level 2 maths which is the equivalent of GCSE grade C. I pay maintenance through standing order not through cad and my maintenance should stop on the 5th of this month. I have had a text message from my ex wife saying that she now wants a lesser amount than I pay now of she will take me to the csa. Can someone please tell me if this is right
Ambo - 2-Oct-19 @ 9:34 AM
My husband is paying for his 18 year old just gone into further education college. Ex is still claiming child benefit in my opinion illegally. Should he still pay for her. She does 4 hours a week at college
Trish - 30-Sep-19 @ 11:26 AM
My son is just starting a 4 year university course and is 18, is the Dad expected to pay maintenance
spirit - 28-Sep-19 @ 7:56 PM
my son is 18 and starting a 4 year university course. Is the Dad expected to continue paying maintenance?
spirit - 28-Sep-19 @ 7:20 PM
My son is 16 nearly 17. Hes at college 3 days a week and works 2 days. Am i supposed tl pay maintenance still not
Mug - 27-Sep-19 @ 9:42 PM
Hi my daughter is 18 & left college do I still have to pay my ex maintenancefor my daughter.
Jeff - 27-Sep-19 @ 11:24 AM
My estranged daughter from my prior marriage is 18 years old. I have always paid regular maintenance. My divorce many years ago was not amicable and my ex and I do not converse. Is there any way to formerly prove my daughter is in full time education so that I can establish if I still should bepaying maintenance. Her 19th birthday will be this coming December 2019. If my ex no longer receives child benefit is that also not an indicator I could use and if so am I able to find out if she receiving it?
Spike1966 - 23-Sep-19 @ 3:28 PM
My friend has a daughter 17 yrs old works weekends looking for a apprenticeship does he continue to pay child maintanance she has also left full time education. Also does the child benefit continue when a child goes for a apprenticeship Plus if a child works weekends does the child benefit stop remembering she isn't in full time education.
Nicolas - 21-Sep-19 @ 8:00 PM
I am asking for advice for a friend his daughter is 17 working weekends looking for a apprenticeship she has finished full time education does he need to continue to pay child maintenance. Also does the child benefit stop.
Nic - 21-Sep-19 @ 7:54 PM
can I claim for child support maintenance if the children get child support grant?
Mika - 20-Sep-19 @ 1:10 PM
Do I have to pay maintenance to my ex if my kid is kicked out of school education
Jay - 16-Sep-19 @ 1:31 PM
My step daughter is 17 and has just gone to college, she has a child of her own and is living with her boyfriends family. Do we have to pay child support?
Jembob - 13-Sep-19 @ 8:54 AM
My stepson is 16 and left full time education. He is now working as an apprentice, is my husband still required to pay child maintenance?
Nicnacs - 9-Sep-19 @ 8:10 PM
Hi my daughter is 17, 18 on 4/11/19 and last week his ex rang to say maintenance to stop as her child benefit had stopped. My daughter did a college course last year but quit this and then got seasonal work during the 6 weeks holidays. She is still working there but on weekends only. I have now received a phone call from the ex saying that I have to start paying maintenance again as my daughter is going on something called Workpay. This basically helps them with cv’s etc and to get an apprenticeship. She is going there twice a week don’t know how many hours for though.Do I still have to pay maintenance as I thought the child had to be doing A levels or higher education and this is just a training scheme. If i do have to still pay can it stop at 18. Thanks
Si - 9-Sep-19 @ 6:06 PM
Hi my step daughter is 19 and just starting university does my husband still have to pay maintenance?
Dormo - 9-Sep-19 @ 10:53 AM
Does my ex continue to pay maintenance payments whilst my 18 year old daughter is at full time university?
Jackie - 8-Sep-19 @ 6:11 PM
My son is going college two and a half days a week ,will this reduce my child maintenance
Goody - 8-Sep-19 @ 10:18 AM
My son is going college 2 Nd a half days a week will my maintenance reduce
Goody - 8-Sep-19 @ 10:16 AM
Daughter left school and started college on “level 2 course do I still have to pay child support ??
Jim - 7-Sep-19 @ 7:41 PM
Hello, my son left school in june2019 and has started work after his a levels. He got good grades and has a place at uni in Sept. 2020 so is workinguntil then. Can I now stop paying child maintenance!
Jaay - 7-Sep-19 @ 5:15 PM
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