Home > Ask Our Experts > Should we Still Pay Maintenance?

Should we Still Pay Maintenance?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 18 Sep 2020 | 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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
hi my doughter turned 18 in January 3 2020 in March her mum said i should stop paying the child maintenance and just pay the arrears i had witch was £15 a week witch I thought was great so I agreed to pay £25 aweek to her instead so i could finish my arrears faster but during the lock down i failed to pay her the arrears and she has reported me to csa who are threatening to take it out my salary and there are telling me i owe her 3 months of full child maintenance as i was only meant to stop once they close the case even though the mother had told me to stop and have evidence on my phone of her texts i have also read it is up to the mother to provide evidence of the father not paying and the father to provide as she is the one claiming i didn't pay Please any help would be appreciated
Erine - 18-Sep-20 @ 10:33 PM
Hopefully someone can help me out. I have been paying my ex partner weekly maintenance by a standing order since he was 2yrs old. This was a mutual agreement. My son is now 16 and finished school in March 2020 when covid lock down came in. He has NOT returned to any further education as he has got himself a part time job working a maximum of 16 hrs per week because of his age. I have asked my son if he has to attend any college or school for education or is it an apprenticeship involving any further learning, he has told me its learning on the job. Now i cant find much else out about this as his mum wont tell me. Im still paying her atm,. So my question is, can i tell her that given the situation I will now stop his weekly maintenance? Or am I in the wrong. I just need some clarification before acting and starting ww3? Many thanks.
Bob the duck - 17-Sep-20 @ 6:48 AM
Hi my 18yr old Stepson had dropped out of college in Feb as he couldnt find a apprentiship. He then claimed universal credit, and came to live with us for a few months. He has since moved back to his Mum and has started back at college on a new course. Extended certificate level 2 and Gcse English and Maths. 3 days a wk. He has also told me that he has a cash in hand job the days he isnt at college. Should My husband still be paying child maintenance. He will be 19 at the end of the year.?
Moody Bum - 15-Sep-20 @ 4:36 PM
I have to boys one 13 and one is 18 and 19 in November. Do I still need to be paying CM for my 18 year old who is at college 2 days a week. Thanks Laurence
LAURENCE - 7-Sep-20 @ 10:23 AM
My daughter is 18 in March 21, however she starts at University this week. Do I still pay maintenance? I have not seen her since she was 3 but i have always paid what CMS has asked me to.The law is very confusing and as much as I think I should continue some sort of payment to her I dont believe it is right that it should be through her mother. Both her and her husband earn significantly more than I do and the amounts asked for by CMS have always put a strain on my finances. Can someone please advise.
Paddy - 7-Sep-20 @ 7:39 AM
My son is now 18 he has studied level 1-3 at college, I have kept my payments upto date, only to be informed he is now studying level 1 in a totally different subject to keep benefits and CMS payments for the mother. The Csa have responded saying there is no limits to the amount of courses he can study even though he now has a level 3 college certification. They haven’t even requested proof of his enrolment or hours at college. Am I wrong in saying this is an abuse of the system and the age in place within the system is for children is so they can study level 1-3 and then go onto higher education or get a job?
Justme - 3-Sep-20 @ 11:28 PM
My son left school during lockdown 16yrs old. He is going to college to do a Electrician course, two days a week. Waiting for a official apprenticeship. He does have a job, working for friends of his mother, for the other 3 or 4 days, earning up to £300/400 a month. I have told his mother that I am ceasing monthly payments to her from 31/08/20, I have offered to give my son, an amount directly to his bank account each month. Only to be told, I can’t stop paying because he is still in full time education. I don’t know how to prove he has a job the other 3 days. How am I supposed to resolve this problem?
Rich - 2-Sep-20 @ 6:06 PM
Hi wonder if you can help my son turning 20 29th aug I just received a message by text that my payments monthly have decreased from 280 a month to 48 a month from november I wanted to just pay the 280 for august and not have to worry again about any payments again but seems that 48 quid gonna come out my account every month till makes up 280 I just want shot of the csa payments they should stop now can I phone up csa and tell them to take the last payment of 280 in full and that's me finished with them .
Eaton - 29-Aug-20 @ 11:16 AM
Hi my son is 19 he left collage last year and is looking for work and he doesn’t sign on..... do I still pay maintenance for him
Stu - 28-Aug-20 @ 6:50 PM
Hi my son (17 in October 2020) has just started a Traineeship for Automotive Engineering with ACT (Associated Community Training Limited) Company No. 02292330. It is classed as a Level 1 which is equivalent to GCSE D-G. I don't know if this makes any difference but he will be getting paid £50 per week and travelling expenses. So my question is - is this classed as full time education (from a CSA / Child Maintenance Perspective) and will this mean that Child Maintenance will still need to be paid?
Hoppo - 27-Aug-20 @ 9:52 AM
hi my son in no fault of his own left school through lockdown he 16 years old looking for a job does his dad still need to pay maintenance
kat - 24-Aug-20 @ 3:08 PM
hi my estranged son is 18 now do I still need to pay child maintenance as I ihave no way of finding out if he's in employment further education etc..
dunk - 24-Aug-20 @ 2:26 PM
My son is now 16 left school and going to college to do carpentry course (not A level) And is also looking for a part time job. Would I still have to pay X for him or dose it stop as it's not A level education.
To many kids lol - 20-Aug-20 @ 11:29 PM
Hi. My son finished school and has enrolled at military college until next June when he can join the Army full time. I believe it is classed as full time education but not for A levels. Does this still apply?
Dre - 20-Aug-20 @ 5:15 PM
Daughter is 16 left schoolI've been paying x for years no problem she not going to go college looking for job do I need still pay cheers
Andyrob - 11-Aug-20 @ 6:06 PM
My son was 18 in May and finished college in mid July. He now has a full time job since the end of July. I have paid maintenance up to the end of August. Can I now cancel all maintenance payments?
JP - 4-Aug-20 @ 1:13 PM
Hi my sons father has said he is to stop paying maintenance for his son as he has finished collegeI fully understand this but how is finished college defined? Is this the september or when he has taken his last exam? Also my ex has not provided earnings evidence since 2011 despite requests to provide. He is a police officer and I believe his salary has increased in that time and that he has earnt quite a bit in overtime. He has not paid any since 2011. How can I navigate this issue to ensure that my children receive this money? NB I work so I do not rely for this for my living costs.He and i have a written private agreement that he would pay 20% of his take home for the two children. 15% since 2018 as it reduced to just the one child.
Joanna Heller - 20-Jul-20 @ 6:47 PM
My son is 18 years old and has left college but he's now doing army training. Do I still have to pay maintenance to his mum? Thank you
Andy - 18-Jul-20 @ 6:01 PM
Hi, My son is leaving school this month and is 18 and is not persuing further education. When should I stop paying maintenance for him. My ex wife is saying I need to pay until end of August even though he is leaving school end of July??
j - 18-Jul-20 @ 4:36 PM
I have a Maintenance Order under the Family Law Act 1976, issued to me from an Irish Court in 2011. It states that payments be made until the child reaches 16 OR 21 if in full time education. My son lives in Ireland with his mother, and turned 21 in March 2020. He has now decided to live and study full time back in the UK as of Sept 2020. Has the Maintenance Order ceased? I can’t seem to find any information to clarify this. The courts haven’t returned any emails and his mother is demanding money.
AL - 18-Jul-20 @ 12:15 PM
Hi my son has recently left school and started work full time as an apprentice , so do I still have to pay for child maintenance.
Dave - 14-Jul-20 @ 5:49 PM
Himy partner currently pays child maintenance for hes daughter who is 15. She has decided to drop outof school to which the birth mother really clearly doesn't care.We have tried many ways to get her back into school but she does not care about her education.Does he still have to pay maintenance for his daughter ?
Bonnie - 6-Jul-20 @ 1:14 PM
Hi - my 15 year old son has recently gone to live with his Father, I don't know how long for, he may chose to go to college there and he may not, he is still deciding!My ex-partner contacted me a couple of days ago with his bank details so I can send him child maintenance, do I have to do that immediately?He has only been there a matter of weeks, and whereas his Father does pay me child maintenance (which clearly has stopped now), it was incredibly hard to get that processed and receive it regularly and I effectively had to write off £2500.Any advice would be fantastic, thank you.
Charlie - 3-Jul-20 @ 11:48 AM
Hi, my 19 year old son is apparently doing a level 3 Nvq (dont get any answers from my ex about course/when he started etc) and was just wondering where I stand on maintenance payments? Do they stop this august? on his 20th birthday? or do I have to pay until he finishes his course in full? Many thanks.
Darius - 30-Jun-20 @ 7:09 AM
Hi, My Daughter is 18 this month and due to having a baby early in August. She is intending to continue with college after the Baby is born. am I still liable to pay maintenance?
H - 29-Jun-20 @ 12:34 PM
My stepdaughter turns 19next month and starts a btech level 3 at college in September. Does my husband stop paying maintenance next month, There is so much conflicting answers to this, thanks in advance for any replys
Janet - 29-Jun-20 @ 10:33 AM
My husband is paying child maintence for his son whom turns 18 tomorrow, He is wondering when the child maintence payments for him would stop as he will be going to Musical Thertre college in September and was told of the CMS that they do not class Musical Thertre as further education any help would be greatly appreciated before he gets in touch with them, Thank you very much
Chicken - 26-Jun-20 @ 2:40 PM
I have been paying maintenance for my two boys for years. The eldest is not far off 18. He attended college which I believe he was played for by the college. He stopped going back in March probably due to the coronovirus.I found out today that he works part time. Should I still be paying for him? My other son is 15.
Dravey - 24-Jun-20 @ 5:31 PM
Hi, My son is leaving college this month and is 18 when should I stop paying maintenance for him. Thanks in advance
Johnny Sellers - 20-Jun-20 @ 8:14 PM
My Son is in further education but his course finished in May and he turns 19 in August.Should I have stopped paying CSA in May or continue until August?
Watto - 17-Jun-20 @ 11:42 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments