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Should we Still Pay Maintenance?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 26 Apr 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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[Add a Comment]
I paid for my son who turned 18 in April religiously since 2007. The old Csa ended my arrangement in January..His Mother has just approached me saying we need to sort out Csa , can she start a new case against me as hes now 18 ? Hes going into advanced education after the summer holidays so i wont have to pay then anyway. She has plenty of money now and is just looking to make things uncomfortable for me.
Scottishbikers - 26-Apr-18 @ 6:17 PM
Craftyrach - Your Question:
My husband is currently paying for 2 children aged 15 and 17. The 17 yr old no longer lives with her mum and now lives with boyfriend and his family. She doesn’t see her mum but she receives all the money and never passes any one to 17yr old. Can we stop and split the payment so 1/2 goes direct to his daughter until she turns 18?

Our Response:
Is a court order/financial agreements order in place? Is the CSA involved? If there not, then your husband could continue paying maintenance but to the person who is looking after the daughter (assuming she is in full time education).
LawAndParents - 25-Apr-18 @ 3:13 PM
Hi, my son is 17, 18 in a few months and started and been expelled from a'levels and then started a new college course but now quit. Should I still pay maintenance? It's a direct payment to my ex.
Salbeethinkin - 23-Apr-18 @ 8:28 PM
My husband is currently paying for 2 children aged 15 and 17. The 17 yr old no longer lives with her mum and now lives with boyfriend and his family. She doesn’t see her mum but she receives all the money and never passes any one to 17yr old. Can we stop and split the payment so 1/2 goes direct to his daughter until she turns 18?
Craftyrach - 23-Apr-18 @ 8:06 PM
tony - Your Question:
Hi I have stopped being liable for csa payments but have some arrears what is the legal min payment for these to be cleared thanks

Our Response:
We're not aware of a minimum amount being in place, sorry. In general if you are in arrears, the CSA or CMS should try and negotiate a repayment schedule with you. They usually aim to collect all the arrears within two years and can ask you pay up to 40 per cent of your income, depending on your circumstances and other financial commitments.
LawAndParents - 16-Apr-18 @ 11:56 AM
Betty - Your Question:
Hi, I need help. My partner's daughter lived with us for few years and her mum was paying us the CSA for her. When she turned 16 she decided to leave and live with her boyfriend and his parents. Now his mum is asking for money. Who is responsible for paying ? My partner who hasn't got parental responsibilities for his daughter or her mum or both parents?

Our Response:
There are no cut and dried rules relating to this kind of situation. If both parents are on the birth certificate there is joint parental responsibility and they need to simply agree to jointly support their child (assuming she is not employed and/or claiming benefits in her own right). Maintenance payments are only usually applicable to parents with main care.
LawAndParents - 13-Apr-18 @ 2:23 PM
hi i have stopped being liable for csa payments but have some arrears what is the legal min payment for these to be cleared thanks
tony - 13-Apr-18 @ 11:51 AM
Hi, I need help. My partner's daughter lived with us for few years and her mum was paying us the CSA for her. When she turned 16 she decided toleave and live with her boyfriend and his parents. Now his mum is asking for money. Who is responsible for paying ? My partner who hasn't got parental responsibilities for his daughter or her mum or both parents?
Betty - 11-Apr-18 @ 11:17 PM
Paul - Your Question:
My son, who is 18, lives with his mother, he once lived with me for 10 years as I took her to court for basically being a not so good parent, I received nothing from her in 10 years, now he is 18 he chose to go back to his mother, straight away she got in touch with the csa, as I am not the main carer anymore I am struggling to get info whether he is working or still at college, all I have heard is that he is doing army training, and left college. I have no problem is paying what I have to but I got a msg from the mother last month saying to stop paying her, but then a call from the csa saying I've stopped paying her? So she had obviously reported me?? Trying to get me in trouble springs to mind! Oh and my older son, who has spoken to her, saying that she has said she is going to milk me dry?!? Someone pls help.

Our Response:
Tell CSA that your son is in the army to start with. They should be able to verify whether this is in fact the case.Maintenance is only payable while a child is still in further education at a standard no higher than A level.
LawAndParents - 9-Apr-18 @ 3:26 PM
Tib - Your Question:
My son turned 19, in march 2018 and is still in full time education untill june 2018, is his dad still to pay for him untill june 2018 or should payment stop now my son is 19?

Our Response:
In general maintenance is payable until a child finishes full time education at a level no higher than A level/equivalent.
LawAndParents - 9-Apr-18 @ 9:55 AM
My son, who is 18, lives with his mother, he once lived with me for 10 years as I took her to court for basically being a not so good parent, I received nothing from her in 10 years, now he is 18 he chose to go back to his mother, straight away she got in touch with the csa, as I am not the main carer anymore I am struggling to get info whether he is working or still at college, all I have heard is that he is doing army training, and left college. I have no problem is paying what I have to but I got a msg from the mother last month saying to stop paying her, but then a call from the csa saying I've stopped paying her? So she had obviously reported me?? Trying to get me in trouble springs to mind! Oh and my older son, who has spoken to her, saying that she has said she is going to milk me dry?!? Someone pls help.
Paul - 8-Apr-18 @ 11:44 AM
jw - Your Question:
My partners daughter has left school and started an apprenticeship working approx 35 hours a week, does he still have to pay maintenance? He has being paying maintenance through a mutual agreement with his ex not through CSA

Our Response:
Maintenance is not usually payable if the child is doing an apprenticeship. A private agreement might have different arrangements though.
LawAndParents - 6-Apr-18 @ 3:22 PM
My son turned 19, in march 2018 and is still in full time education untill june 2018, is his dad still to pay for him untill june 2018 or should payment stop now my son is 19?
Tib - 6-Apr-18 @ 9:33 AM
My partners daughter has left school and started an apprenticeship working approx 35 hours a week, does he still have to pay maintenance? He has being paying maintenance through a mutual agreement with his ex not through CSA
jw - 6-Apr-18 @ 8:12 AM
Ellie102 - Your Question:
Hi, my 14 year old Son may go to military college in 2 years time. It is miles away so he will need to board. Does my ex-husband still need to pay me maintenance? Will I still be entitled to child benefit? Thanks.

Our Response:
It would be better to contact the CMS and Child Benefit about this. They will do a recalculation based on the amount of time your son spends at home etc.
LawAndParents - 4-Apr-18 @ 3:39 PM
malsa - Your Question:
I have my children 4 days my x partner has them 3.can I still apply for any financial support from their father

Our Response:
This depends on your financial circumstances. The Child Maintenance Calculator is a good place to start.
LawAndParents - 4-Apr-18 @ 10:12 AM
My son is 16 and has finished school he is not working so am I still entitled to child support from his father ?
Prices - 3-Apr-18 @ 4:43 PM
Hi, my 14 year old Son may go to military college in 2 years time. It is miles away so he will need to board. Does my ex-husband still need to pay me maintenance? Will I still be entitled to child benefit? Thanks.
Ellie102 - 3-Apr-18 @ 11:02 AM
I have my children 4 days my x partner has them 3.can i still apply for any financial support from their father
malsa - 1-Apr-18 @ 1:01 AM
My Daughter who is 15 but will be 16 in july will be starting a full time apprenticeship after her 16th bday this july. Will I still have to pay my ex child support? My daughter will be earning about £150 a week. We have an agreement from 2004 which I have stuck diligently to. I meed this matter clearing up so I know my rights/responsibilities?
Cazuchi - 27-Mar-18 @ 5:39 PM
My partner has 3 children with ex wife and he has not seen them for a year. Their mother got a new partner and since then my partner has stopped being their father. Whenever he asks for information about school or even the photografs they take at school she refuses and has even said that the partner has more rights over the children than my partner. He still paying child maintenance to herbut should he stops to pay because she said that he notlonger their father and does everything to keeping away from his kids??Even when he calls to speak with them have always a problem or the kids cant speak with him properly because their mother is always around to listen everything.
Va.Co - 27-Mar-18 @ 3:04 PM
LSB - Your Question:
Hi my husband has a 17 year old daughter , that was at college , she has now decided she wants a apprentiship , my husband pays maintenance each month to his x wife will he still have to pay his x wife maintenance once his daughter is earning , through the apprentiship. thanks LSB

Our Response:
Child maintenance is not generally payable if a child is enrolled on an apprenticeship unless the arrangement is a private one.
LawAndParents - 27-Mar-18 @ 12:16 PM
Hi my husband has a 17 year old daughter , that was at college , she has now decided she wants a apprentiship , my husband pays maintenance each month to his x wife will he still have to pay his x wife maintenance once his daughter is earning , through the apprentiship .... thanks LSB
LSB - 24-Mar-18 @ 4:23 PM
Hi I have 2 children and they stay at there dads every other weekend so 4 nights a month but my son has decided he no longer wants to stay at his so has stopped yet my daughter still does. My csa payments went down when they started staying at his so what happens now regularising my son who doesn’t now? Will my payments change??
Stacey - 23-Mar-18 @ 9:22 PM
Sorry, I guess there is a limit to comment size.Continued from below.... I got a divorce not long after, which my (ex)wife refused to even acknowledge the paperwork for.Since then I have had some sporadic contact with my daughter and ex-wife, all by Internet chat through Facebook, and some emails with my ex-wife.However, this quickly dried up and the last time I had any contact was over a year ago. I found new employment in 2015, so I am able to take care of our daughter here again.During the time since our 2011 agreement, my ex-wife has said on a few occasions that she would send our daughter back, but each time coming up with some excuse not to go ahead with it.The last time this happened was June 2017. However, now I have received another claim for maintenance, which was initiated on 31st August 2017, two months after last contact. So (finally) to my questions. As the original maintenance order was quashed due to our daughters abduction, is my ex-wife allowed to make a second, new claim, considering she has not returned our daughter to the UK as per the Mexican court order and our 2011 agreement? My ex-wife committed a criminal offence by illegally removing our daughter without my permission in 2008, so even without a Hague case in my favour, would she be entitled to maintenance payments from me, even though I have tried to get our daughter back several times since? In the new maintenance order, my ex-wife is demanding £875 a month.I only take home about £1180, so how much would she really get?I've looked at an online calculator and that said about £37 per week. Is that correct? Will I have to pay, even though my ex-wife has made promises to send our daughter back, but then changed her mind, and also stopped contact? I'm sorry for the 'wall of text' but I felt it important to give you the details, so you can advise me as best you can.I'll be going to the Citizens Advice Bureau for further assistance too, but I'd appreciate your views as well. Jay.
Jay - 14-Mar-18 @ 10:07 PM
Sorry for this long story, but I feel it's important to give the correct details before I ask my questions. My wife abducted our daughter to Mexico in May 2008.I immediately made a Hague case for her return, which was granted to me by a court in Mexico in August 2008.The court ordered our daughter be returned to me in the UK, but my wife went into hiding and refused to comply with the court judgement.In February 2009 I received a notice to pay child maintenance, for which I sought legal advice.I wrote to the court explaining the situation and requesting the maintenance application be quashed.I heard nothing more about it after that, so I assume it was quashed. In April 2009 I suffered a stroke which has left me partially sighted.Over the next couple of years my life got quite bad with the stress of having little contact with my daughter, the case having zero results (Mexico is REALLY bad!), and my recovery from the stroke.I lost my job because of my sight and was on benefits for several years. During 2011, my wife and I were getting on a lot more amicably.In August 2011 she agreed to bring our daughter back to the UK and preparations were made.I (foolishly) was led to believe that, as we had agreed to their return, that we needed to stop all legal proceedings (in the UK and in Mexico), which would allow them to travel freely back to the UK.As I had no work, I had only a little money, but as long as I didn't need more benefits to support them, it would be fine. Unfortunately, I had more medical problems, and one of my benefits was reduced.I was in a dark place and felt I had no option but to say they could stay for the time being.I felt I had no way to support them here, and my medical problems were not going to go away.It was then that I felt I had no option but to abandon the Hague case.In hindsight this was the wrong thing to do, but something I have to live with now, as I was told I can not make a another case.In my defence, I wasn't really in a fit state to make any decisions then. I did send some money (most of my savings at the time, about £1000) for our daughters schooling, clothes, food, etc.However, I was furious to discover that my wife had not used the money for anything that it was intended for.Instead she had spent all of it on buying a car, which promptly broke down.She then started demanding a lot of money to repair it, AND for those things the original money was for.Of course, I only had her word for this. Obviously things went from bad to worse after that.She was spending more money on herself, rather than our daughter, demanding more and more money, and contact became less and less, until it was practically non-existent.I ended up stopping sending any money because I had little contact, no control over when that contact happened, and no money as I was on benefits. I got a divorce not long after, which my (ex)wife refused to even acknowledge the paperwork for.Sin
Jay - 14-Mar-18 @ 10:04 PM
Caza- Your Question:
My son has children all under 18 has separated from his wife and intends to have shared responsibility for the children will he still need to pay maintainance

Our Response:
This can depend on other circumstances but if he takes a look at the goverment's Child Maintenance Calculatorhe'll get an idea of what he'd be expected to pay if they take it through the Child Maintenance Service.
LawAndParents - 14-Mar-18 @ 3:42 PM
My son has children all under 18 has separated from his wife and intends to have shared responsibility for the children will he still need to pay maintainance
Caza - 12-Mar-18 @ 4:41 PM
I have been divorced from my x for 7 years and the children live with her. I have always paid her an agreed maintenance amount based on the child support calculator. I have two children aged 13 and 17. My question is that my oldest son is actually my step son , he is NOT my paternal son. What are my rights regarding payment for my step son? Should I have to pay my x anything , as I have been contributing to his life since we were married and split.
chris - 7-Mar-18 @ 9:21 PM
Hi, my husband has a 13 yr old daughter who has been expelled from school and has not attended any education for 5 months now. Does he still have to pay CSA as she’s not in education?
KellA - 7-Mar-18 @ 4:25 PM
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