The statutory child maintenance services work out child maintenance payments using a standard formula. The Government introduced application fees, collection fees and enforcement charges in 2014 for parents who use the Child Maintenance Service to collect and pass on payments. If you need to use the Child Maintenance Service, Child Maintenance Options can give you information and support that may help you avoid some fees or charges.
How the statutory services work out child maintenance
The Child Support Agency (CSA) and the Child Maintenance Service use a standard formula to work out child maintenance amounts.
This formula takes into account:
- the paying parent’s income
- the number of children who need child maintenance
- how often those children stay overnight with the paying parent
- if there are any other children who the paying parent (or their partner) get child benefit for
- if the paying parent also pays child maintenance for any other children
The formula for working out child maintenance payments is the same when the parent is self-employed, although they then have to provide evidence of their income themselves.
Our child maintenance calculator will give you an idea of how much child maintenance would be payable through the Child Maintenance Service. Child Maintenance Options can also give you a basic calculation over the phone.
Some parents find this information a helpful starting point for working out a family-based arrangement.
Fees and charges
The Government introduced application fees, collection fees and enforcement charges in 2014 for parents who use the Child Maintenance Service.
There are no charges for any parents with cases managed by the CSA.
The Government wants to encourage more parents to think about working together to arrange child maintenance instead of using the Child Maintenance Service or the courts.
The fees and charges include:
- A £20 application fee for applying to the statutory scheme
- A 20% collection fee on top of their usual child maintenance amount for paying parents using the Collect & Pay service
- A 4% collection fee deducted from their usual child maintenance amount for receiving parents using the Collect & Pay service
- A range of enforcement charges for paying parents who don’t pay child maintenance in full and on time
How collection fees will work – an example
David is a paying parent. Vicky is a receiving parent. They have a Collect & Pay arrangement.
The Child Maintenance Service work out that David must pay £50 a week in child maintenance. He must also pay a collection fee of 20% on top of his weekly payment. This fee works out at £10 for each weekly payment. This means David must pay a total of £60 a week.
If David and Vicky used Collect & Pay for 10 years and David’s weekly payment stayed the same, he would pay a total of £5,200 in fees.
Vicky is due to receive £50 a week in child maintenance. The Child Maintenance Service charge a collection fee of 4% each time David’s payment is passed onto to her. This fee works out at £2.00 for each weekly payment.
After the fee is taken away, this means the Child Maintenance Service pay out £48.00 each week to Vicky.
If David and Vicky used Collect & Pay for 10 years and David’s weekly payment stayed the same, Vicky would lose a total of £1,040 in child maintenance because of the fees.
An arrangement through the Child Support Agency or the Child Maintenance Service is legally binding. This means that the service managing your case can take action if payments are not made.
The statutory services have the power to force the sale of property or belongings, register child maintenance arrears as debt and even, through the courts, confiscate driving licences and imprison parents who avoid paying.
The Government has introduced enforcement charges to those customers using the Child Maintenance Service who fail to pay in full and on time.
There are a range of enforcement charges for paying parents who don’t pay child maintenance in full and on time:
- £200 if the Child Maintenance Service has to take out a lump sum deduction order
- £50 if the Child Maintenance Service has to take out a regular deduction order
- £50 if the Child Maintenance Service has to make a deduction from earnings request (if you are in the Armed Forces)
- £50 if the Child Maintenance Service has to take out a deduction from earnings order (for all other employers).
For more information on using the Child Maintenance Service or the Child Support you can read about the statutory child maintenance service
For more information on the different types of statutory arrangements, including Collect & Pay and Direct Pay (or Maintenance Direct if you have a CSA case) you can read about statutory child maintenance arrangements
You can also get information about how the statutory child maintenance services calculate child maintenance at gov.uk
The best way to avoid charging is to set up a family-based arrangement and not use the Child Maintenance Service at all. But if you and your child’s other parent can’t agree an arrangement between yourselves you may still be able to avoid having to pay any charges by choosing Direct Pay.