What child maintenance is
Child maintenance covers how your child’s living costs will be paid when one of the parents does not live with the child. It’s made when you’ve separated from the other parent or if you’ve never been in a relationship.
This is a financial arrangement between you and the other parent of your child. Making arrangements to see your child happens separately.
This guide is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).
You must have a child maintenance arrangement if your child is under 16 (or under 20 if they are still in full-time education).
Both parents are responsible for the costs of raising their children, even if they do not see them.
Sign in to your Child Maintenance Service account if you already have one.
Options for arranging child maintenance
Child maintenance can be arranged:
- privately between parents, if both parents agree
- through the Child Maintenance Service
The Child Maintenance Service can:
- work out an amount to pay
- arrange payments and take action if a parent does not pay
- sort out disagreements about parentage
- try to find the other parent if you do not know where they are
If you do not want your child’s other parent to contact you or your child
You can use the Child Maintenance Service to arrange child maintenance if you do not want your child’s other parent to know your location or personal information - for example, if you’ve experienced domestic abuse or controlling behaviour.
How it affects benefits
Child maintenance payments will not affect any benefits that you and your children get. You will not have to pay tax on them.