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Should we Still Pay Maintenance?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 3 Dec 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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My 16yr old son has a paid apprentership as an electrion.£200 a week and goes village one week in 4. Do I stop csa to his married mum? Thanks
Mark - 3-Dec-19 @ 11:17 AM
Hi, my Son will be 18 on the 13th of August 2020 and has been doing a Mechanics Course at The Institute, since leaving School.When do I finish paying Child Maintenance.He is likely to continue on with a 3rd Year doing Mechanic Diagnose Course. Many Thanks Molly
Molly - 1-Dec-19 @ 10:58 PM
My daughter was 18 in June 2019. At the age of 17 she was taking ALevels at school and completed her first year but dropped out of the school and went to a college and started ALevels from year one again so her ALevels will not finish until June 2020 (when she is 19) By law, do I need to make payments until she is complete the course in June 2020 or should the payments have stopped the September after her 18th?
GONK098 - 1-Dec-19 @ 10:28 PM
My daughter turns 16 next November, I receive maintenance from my ex partner rather than through CMS/CSA. Because she will leave school and go into college, will I still be entitled to maintenance until she finishes college? I need to be sure before contacting my ex partner and discussing this with him. Thank you
Deb - 26-Nov-19 @ 9:06 AM
Hi my husband has been paying maintenance for his son he turned 19 in November 2019,we have found out he started full time employment in September 2019 when should maintenance stop for him?
Pauly - 26-Nov-19 @ 9:01 AM
Hi My son will be 18 in March he is due to go and study in Denmark for 1 year in August when he is in Denmark do I have to still Pay maintenance for him ?
idontknow - 26-Nov-19 @ 7:39 AM
If you 18 year old daughter becomes pregnant but still in full time education. Do I still need to pay.
Camster18 - 19-Nov-19 @ 5:29 PM
Hi, I'm currently paying maintenance 4 my 18yr old son , how do I find out if he is still in full time education,I think he has a part time job , can't ask my ex wife as we are no longer on speaking terms & got no way 2 contact my son , thanks in ad
Spud - 11-Nov-19 @ 11:27 AM
Hi.My partners son is 18.He decided to leave full time education and is now doing 10 hours a week on a part time college course to be an electrician.The mother works part time.Is my partner still liable for CSA payments?? As it states that for payments he needs to be in school at least 12 hours per week?? And is the mother still entitled to claim CHB?
Angry - 11-Nov-19 @ 11:26 AM
My friend is still living with her husband but they are estranged and she is planning to issue divorce papers. They have 4 children at primary school. Her husband works but she doesn’t as youngest only just started school. Her husband was giving my friend (his wife) money to provide for the children every month but he has now stopped giving her money so she is struggling to feed and support the children. Where does she stand legally with this and how can she get help? Is her husband legally required to support his children even though they are not divorced yet? My friend wants a divorce but doesn’t think her husband will sign the papers or leave the family home. Any advice greatly appreciated
CF - 7-Nov-19 @ 2:31 PM
Hi, I'm currently paying maintenance 4 my 18yr old son , how do I find out if he is still in full time education,I think he has a part time job , can't ask my ex husband as we are no longer on speaking terms & got no way 2 contact my son , thanks in advance
Angela - 2-Nov-19 @ 1:29 PM
Hi there. Just received a text from ex-wife (ex 15 years) stating that second oldest son (18 years old) started uni and that she thought that I should still be paying maintenance. I haven't actually stopped paying and he started uni in September. Everything I have read points towards me no longer being obliged to pay (legally). Is this correct? Thanks for any advice you can give. Regards Mark
Cycli Gert - 28-Oct-19 @ 8:53 PM
Is my partner required to pay maintenance for a 17 year old who has left school and studying at college. His son also has a part time job, earning £150 weekly. Thanks for any help.
Lou - 26-Oct-19 @ 11:23 AM
Hi all....my daughter is 16 and has started a college course in September...I have spoken with her mother and I am on the understanding that my payments to her finish when my daughter turns 18 ?....my daughter currently has a part time job and wants to keep in it whilst going through college....do my payments stop when she turns 18 please ?
Stodge - 23-Oct-19 @ 5:43 PM
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
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