You may decide to make an arrangement through the statutory child maintenance service. If so, you will pay a £20 application fee and the statutory service will calculate how much child maintenance should be paid. You can choose whether to use the full collection service Collect & Pay, which incurs further costs, or manage payments between yourselves through Direct Pay.
Either parent is able to choose Direct Pay without needing the other’s consent, except where there is evidence that suggests the paying parent will be unlikely to pay.
If you currently have a Child Maintenance Service or Child Support Agency case and you have a question about it, you should call the number on any letter you have received. Child Maintenance Options cannot help with individual statutory service cases.
Collect & Pay
With a Collect & Pay arrangement, the service managing your case will collect payments from the paying parent and pass them on to the receiving parent. Both parents will have to pay collection fees.
- an additional 20% collection fee for paying parents on top of their usual child maintenance amount, and
- a 4% collection fee for receiving parents deducted from their usual child maintenance amount
With Collect & Pay the Child Maintenance Service will manage the maintenance payments and can take enforcement action if the paying parent doesn’t keep up with regular payments. The paying parent may have to pay enforcement charges if this happens.
The Government introduced fees and charges to encourage more parents to consider working together to arrange child maintenance, and because it believes both parents should contribute to the statutory service’s running costs
If you need help deciding which type of arrangement is best for you, see comparing your options.
Or, you can call us in confidence on 0800 988 0988 to discuss your options.
For more information about the different ways you can arrange payments, see ways to pay child maintenance.
Direct Pay (Child Maintenance Service) and Maintenance Direct (Child Support Agency)
With Direct Pay and Maintenance Direct arrangements, the service managing your case calculates child maintenance but doesn’t collect it. The paying parent makes payments directly to the receiving parent. Neither parent will have to pay collection fees.
Once the statutory service has calculated the amount, it’s up to you to agree with the other parent how and when money is paid. It’s a good idea to keep a record and receipts of your payments, in case there are any problems in the future.
The main difference between a Direct Pay or Maintenance Direct arrangement and a family-based arrangement is that the statutory service decides on the amount – and this means it’s legally binding. If the paying parent doesn’t keep up with payments the receiving parent can ask the service managing their case to take action to enforce payment.
In the Child Maintenance Service:
- either parent can choose to move to Direct Pay without needing the other’s consent, except where there is evidence that suggests the paying parent may be unlikely to pay using Direct Pay. Most parents should be able to use Direct Pay safely and securely. If you want to know more about how you can do this, please contact us.
- enforcing payments would mean changing the case to Collect & Pay. If this happens, both parents would have to pay collection fees and the paying parent may have to pay enforcement charges as well.
In the Child Support Agency:
- both parents must agree to use Maintenance Direct before it can be set up.
- there are no collection fees or enforcement charges if your case moves to the collection service.
How long will a statutory arrangement last?
Statutory child maintenance arrangements can last until your child is 20 if they’re in full-time, non-advanced education (up to A-level or equivalent in England and Wales, and up to Higher or Advanced Higher in Scotland).
If you have opened a Child Support Agency or Child Maintenance Service case you can close it at any time and make your own arrangements instead, if you decide that a family-based arrangement is better for you and your family.