1. Overview

Child maintenance is financial support that helps towards a child’s everyday living costs when the parents have separated.

It’s for children who are either:

  • under 16
  • under 20 and in full-time education (but not higher than A-Level or equivalent)
  • under 20 and the parent they live with gets Child Benefit for them

There are also other situations when child maintenance payments stop.

The parent who doesn’t have day-to-day care of the child (the ‘paying parent’) pays child maintenance to the parent or person who does (the ‘receiving parent’).

The ‘receiving parent’ could be a grandparent or guardian, as well as a parent.

The Child Maintenance Service

You can arrange child maintenance yourself or apply for child maintenance through the Child Maintenance Service.

From 25 November 2013, the Child Support Agency (CSA) no longer takes on new cases but still handles existing cases.

The Child Maintenance Service is a statutory child maintenance service. It will work out how much should be paid, and can also collect the payments for you.

You can use the child maintenance calculator to get an idea of what payments might be.

Who can use the service

You can apply if you’re:

  • the parent the child lives with
  • the parent the child doesn’t live with
  • a grandparent or other guardian of the child
  • a child living in Scotland

Who can’t use the service

You can’t apply if the receiving parent or the child lives outside the UK.

The statutory service can only help in certain circumstances if the paying parent lives abroad.

Get help from Child Maintenance Options if you can’t use the statutory service.

What the statutory child maintenance service can help with

It can help you:

Help us improve GOV.UK

Please don't include any personal or financial information, for example your National Insurance or credit card numbers.