3. How to apply
The Child Support Agency (CSA) now only handles existing cases. New claims are dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service.
Make a new arrangement
Your first step is to contact Child Maintenance Options.
Child Maintenance Options
Telephone: 0800 0835 130
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturdays, 9am to 4pm
Welsh language: 0800 408 0308
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Find out about call charges
They’ll talk with you about arrangement options. If you decide to use the Child Maintenance Service, they’ll give you a reference number and explain how to apply.
Child Maintenance Options can’t discuss existing CSA or Child Maintenance Service cases.
If you apply to the Child Maintenance Service
You’ll need to give information about you and your family, for example:
- details about the child you’re applying for - including the full names of their mother and father
- your National Insurance number
- your bank account details, if the Child Maintenance Service needs to collect and pass on payments
The application fee is £20.
You won’t have to pay this if you’re:
- a victim of domestic violence
- under 19 years of age
- in Northern Ireland
How your information is used
Your information is used to set up and manage child maintenance payments, and sometimes to try and find the paying parent.
Your name and address won’t be given out to anyone unless ordered to by a court, but information might be shared with other government organisations, debt collection agencies or the courts.
If the Child Maintenance Service or CSA can’t get the information from either parent, they might ask others, for example:
- the ‘paying’ parent’s employer
- government organisations like Jobcentre Plus
- prison services or local councils
- the paying parent’s bank or building society
The receiving parent has main day-to-day care of the child. The paying parent doesn’t have main day-to-day care.
How long it takes
Most child maintenance cases are set up within a month. Sometimes this can take longer if there’s a problem with contacting the paying parent.
The first child maintenance payment is usually made within 6 weeks of making payment arrangements.
If the contact details for the paying parent aren’t known, the service will try to find them - but if they can’t, the receiving parent can’t open a case.