Child Maintenance

Under the 2012 Gross Income Scheme, parents can make their own child support arrangements without involvement from the Statutory Scheme. Parents who are considering an application to the Statutory Scheme must access the online application form.

For parents in Northern Ireland, you must first contact
Child Maintenance Choices on 0800 028 7439.

The options for making child maintenance arrangements include:

Family Based Arrangement (FBA)

These are informal arrangements made between parents with no involvement from outside sources.

They can be written or verbal

They can promote good parenting as parents work together to decide what is best for them and their children.

FBA’s can cover all elements of raising your children, and not restricted to monetary arrangements.

They can be flexible and change as and when necessary.

They incur no cost and are easy to set up.

Consent Orders or Minutes of Agreement

These are informal arrangements made between parents with no involvement from outside sources.

Consent orders are only applicable in England and Wales. In Scotland, arrangements can be registered as a Minute of Agreement in Books of Council and Sessions

Consent Orders and Minutes of Agreement are both legally binding and can be enforced by the courts in the event of a default in payment

These are often arranged during divorce and separation proceedings, but can be arranged at any time if parties agree.

Although legally binding, a Consent Order or Minute of Agreement will only prevent an application to Child Maintenance Service (CMS) for the first 12 months. After 12 months, either parent can apply to CMS.

Statutory Scheme – CMS

If a Family Based Arrangement or Consent Order/Minute of Agreement is not appropriate or an existing order has broken down, parents will need to apply to the Statutory Scheme managed by Child Maintenance Service.

The applicant parent will need to apply using the online ‘Get Help with Child Maintenance’  Once all options have been reviewed, should the parent wish to proceed with an application, they are provided with a 12 digit reference number.  This reference number must be supplied when continuing with the application.

An application fee will be charged (currently £20).

CMS will calculate maintenance based on information provided, usually by HMRC but it can also be from an employer, Accountant or paying parent.

The default method of payment will be Direct Pay. No charges are applied if a case is managed on Direct Pay.

Child Maintenance is reviewed annually so should always be up to date.

Key Facts:

  • Child Maintenance is based on the Gross Income of the Paying Parent, which is the income paid before any deductions for tax and national insurance.
  • A fee is charged for making an application to Child Maintenance Service., although certain situations, including cases where domestic violence has been reported, the fee is waivered, or where a parent is under the age of 18.
  • Income information is sourced directly from HMRC.
  • Tax credits are no longer included as income.
  • Parents are encouraged to make their own arrangements for child maintenance where possible.
  • The default position is a ‘Direct Pay’ arrangement, where no fee is charged.  But non-payment will result in a move to the ‘Collect and Pay’ service and fees will be charged.
  • There is a two tier percentage rate applied against the Paying Parents income. See our help sheet for more details
  • Allowances are given for:
    • children living with the Paying Parent,
    • children for whom maintenance is payable under other private arrangements,
    • pensions
    • shared care arrangements.
  • Equal shared care arrangements may result in no maintenance liability under the CMS scheme.  For more details see our Equal Shared Care page.

Contact Us

If you need help with any Child Maintenance Service decision or threats of legal enforcement against child maintenance arrears, contact us now.