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Should we Still Pay Maintenance?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 23 Feb 2021 | 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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My daughter is 18 and just started full time work. Do I still need to carry on child maintance payments.
Creeky - 23-Feb-21 @ 8:12 PM
My son is 17.There is a court order in place for his father to pay maintenance.My son has now started working. The payments have stopped.Can he stop the payments if a court order is in place?
Mum - 4-Feb-21 @ 1:30 PM
My granddaughter lelf school in Sept and has a part time job.my maintenance stop.if she starts up college now.would I have to start paying maintenance again.she is 17 and will be 18 in may 2021
Linny - 16-Dec-20 @ 8:36 AM
My son is 18 and at college 15hrs per week doing a basic plumbing course and English,do I still need to pay his child maintenance to my ex or does the payments finish now he’s 18
Macca - 13-Dec-20 @ 3:59 PM
I'm 21 years old and I'm at college studying and my maintenance support has stopped because my father reached his retirement years, and my mother does not have a permanent job, I want to know if I qualify to get a portion of money from his retirement money .
Vicky - 9-Dec-20 @ 2:40 PM
I am paying support on 6 children of which the youngest is 21 years of age.They are all on their own now . They have jobs and none have pursuedhigher education.They range from 21 years - 28 years old . Why is it N.Y. state just keeps on taking my money . There are no arrears or payments owed and it is 3 years since the youngest turned 18 and has been employed since he was 17. The oldest passed away December of 2019 . How do I end this without traveling 40 miles to Oswego County family court ? I am permanently 100% disabled and traveling even a few miles is extremely difficult for me . This should have ended 3 years ago and being on a fixed income with full physical custody of my 2 daughters 12 and 16 years old from another marriage this isn't helping us at all.....
Henry - 7-Dec-20 @ 11:50 PM
Hi, my son is 16 and in full time education at collage. He's also working 20 hours a week and staying with me when working. This means he's staying at mine at least three nights a week. Should I still be paying csa?
LittleJohn - 5-Dec-20 @ 10:27 PM
My 16 year old child dropped out college 2 months ago. They are not doing anymore further eduction and they do not have a job. Do I still have to pay child maintenance.
Gaz - 3-Dec-20 @ 11:47 PM
My partner was informed beginning of the year that his son had quit college and got a job but also quit that, his mother was telling him to apply for college again,if he has gone back to college (he's 18) does my partner need to start paying again?
Kerry - 1-Dec-20 @ 3:47 PM
Hello. My daughter is 17 in December, she has left School and wants to be a Fitness trainer. She has secured a place in a fitness college in Manchester where she goes for two half days mon and Tuesday. She has also managed to get a job at McDonald’s working 3 days a week. What happens to the maintenance I pay, does it stop.
Fredthered1 - 26-Nov-20 @ 10:02 AM
My partner currently pays maintenance for his son. Laws of now changed and said children have to stay in school until they’re 18 . so do you pay maintenance if they’re in a special needs school so between age 16-18 6th form he won’t do higher education he can go to college and do life skills. It’s confusing what is the legal age is it 16 or is it 18 if in school and he won’t be doing any 6th form of higher education . can his ex mothers of his so. keep making him do courses untill he 21 to get more maintenance? Its gray area i’m different solicitors give different advice
cvs - 18-Nov-20 @ 8:37 PM
My partner currently pays maintenance for his son. Laws of now changed and said children have to stay in school until they’re 18 . so do you pay maintenance if they’re in a special needs school so between age 16-18 6th form he won’t do higher education he can go to college and do life skills. It’s confusing what is the legal age is it 16 or is it 18 if in school and he won’t be doing any 6th form of higher education . Also can his ex keep making him doo courses untill he 21 to get more maintenance? Its gray area
cvs - 18-Nov-20 @ 8:36 PM
My daughter is 17 and expected a child in Feb 2021 I am still required to pay child maintenance for my child although she will be claiming for her child?
Lee - 16-Nov-20 @ 3:05 PM
My daughter has turned 18 and only doing 3 hours a week at college. I've spoken to csa and they say I have to pay until she is 21. But everything I have read up on online say under 12 hours education a week I dont need to pay. Can anyone help me this this please.
Mash - 15-Nov-20 @ 11:17 PM
My son is 18, he goes to college for 2 days a week doing a diploma in fitness training, does this qualify me the father still paying child maintenance?
Rick - 14-Nov-20 @ 7:10 PM
Hi, my son is 18 and currently in college although he’s dropping out in 2 weeks as he’s entering the Royal Navy. Do I still pay maintenance after he’s entered the navy?
Bigjohn - 10-Nov-20 @ 8:07 PM
If the children temporarily go and live with non residential parent due to the residential parents ill health needing surgery and other treatment, can the non residential parent stop paying the thr agreed amount per month.
Beth - 7-Nov-20 @ 4:31 PM
My Brother in Law found out he had a daughter when she was already 13 years of age, from then he has been paying an agreed maintenance amount agreed by both parents, upon trying to build a relationship with his daughter, both daughter and mother said he would have to buy that right and proceeded to shut him out of their lives. His daughter is now 19 and is still in education but he has received a letter stating that they want more moneyfor the final year of payments, my Brother in laws current situation thanks to covid is that he now lives with me and my wife and has just started a new job. Any advice?
GMC - 6-Nov-20 @ 6:18 PM
I have three kids. 1 is 19 at college. She has her own accommodation and a part time job. The other two are 17 and studying for A level. They will be 18 in January next. How long do I keep paying maintenance for. Thanks in advance for your help Kevin
Juan - 6-Nov-20 @ 11:17 AM
My child turn 18 recently and she is still at 6th form collage, should I still get maintenance for her off my ex?
Nan - 5-Nov-20 @ 2:57 PM
My 15 year old son has not been going to school since he was 14 and after lots of effort he refused to do any school work although still under the care of his school and so am I still responsible for child maintenance payments ??
Matt - 5-Nov-20 @ 7:47 AM
My girlfriend's son is 17 and going to collegefor a bricklayer course for about 18 hours a week and workin 24 hours a week. Is she still entitled to C.S.A.? Thanks
Jim - 2-Nov-20 @ 11:13 AM
My child has started university and is meant to be in halls, but is studying and living from her mothers house due to COVID do I still pay as I thought once she started uni I don’t need to pay her mother any more.
Smithy - 31-Oct-20 @ 6:18 AM
My son is 19 this Feb and has finished college doing a plastering course and starts college on the 1 Nov 20 doing a ca maintenance course. Am I duty bound to continue paying maintenance. Kind regards
LFC - 28-Oct-20 @ 1:52 PM
My wife and i seperated many years ago. I have paid for my wide maintenance for her ever since. She is in full time education and aged 18. My daughter is moving in with her boyfriend. Do i now pay my daughter direct for maintenance?
James - 25-Oct-20 @ 12:17 AM
My has left college not 18 do still pay csa
Stevey - 22-Oct-20 @ 1:34 PM
My son has left college he is not 18 do I still pay csa
Stevey - 22-Oct-20 @ 1:32 PM
My daughter was 17 in September 2020 her mother is saying she is attending the local collage until June 2021.i have paid maintenance monthly since 2008 last payment was September 2020 this is when I was informed of the collage. I have said I would carry on paying maintenance until June as long as I get proof of her registration and attendance and my daughters bank details to pay direct. Her mother after some vicious emails and texts to me gave me my daughters bank details but they are for a bank located in London not in the north of England where they live. And I still have no proof of her actually going to collage. The ex ie her mother has committed fraud using my name and bank details in the past and has lied about things before. My daughter doesn't even live with her mother she lives with her grandmother
Chris - 14-Oct-20 @ 9:20 PM
My 18 year old son now lives with myself and has done since April. He is in his final year at college. Myself and my ex wife made an agreement for her to pay maintenance rather than go through CMS but as my son has getn his self a part time job working 12hrs on a weekend his mother is threatening to stop paying maintenance for him... Is she required to still pay maintenance to support him until he finishes his final year at college???
Harry - 14-Oct-20 @ 8:51 AM
My son left school in March he is 16 and because his mum is claiming child benefit I still have to pay child maintenance. How do I prove he is not in Education so his mum can stop fraudulently claiming child benefit? Child maintenance are not interested.
Steve - 13-Oct-20 @ 9:01 PM
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