Child maintenance and benefits

If you’re on benefits, you may have some questions about how child maintenance affects the benefits you receive.

The main thing to understand is:

All parents, including those receiving benefits, are free to choose the type of child maintenance arrangement that suits their circumstances best. You don’t have to use the statutory child maintenance service if you can sort out child maintenance between yourselves.

Get more information about family-based arrangements

If you’re the paying parent

If you’re the parent who is expected to pay child maintenance, you may be wondering how receiving benefits affects how much child maintenance you have to pay.

The answer depends on what type of child maintenance arrangement you choose to make.

If you have a family-based arrangement, you and the other parent can agree between you how much child maintenance you pay.

If you use a statutory child maintenance service and you receive benefits, you will be expected to pay a flat rate of child maintenance. If you have a Child Support Agency case, the flat rate is £5 a week. If you have a Child Maintenance Service case, the flat rate is £7 a week.

For more information about how the statutory child maintenance service works, visit www.gov.uk (external website).

If you’re the receiving parent

If you’re the parent who receives child maintenance, you may be wondering if child maintenance affects the benefits you claim.

Your child maintenance payments should not affect any claims you make for benefits such as housing benefit and council tax benefit.

This applies to all kinds of child maintenance payments, including family-based arrangements, statutory child maintenance arrangements and court orders.

Some kinds of contributions made "in kind" as part of a family-based arrangement can sometimes affect benefit claims, such as if your child's other parent is paying part or all of your mortgage.

If you’re making a benefit claim, you should always report your child maintenance arrangements to your Jobcentre Plus Office, even if you don’t think it will affect your claim.