2. How to apply

Contact Child Maintenance Options to discuss your options and apply to the statutory Child Maintenance Service.

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

Details you must give the Child Maintenance Service

You need to provide information about you and your family, eg:

  • your National Insurance number and bank account details
  • details about the child you’re applying for - including the full names of their mother and father

How your information is used

Your information is used to set up and manage child maintenance payments, and sometimes to find the paying parent.

The Child Maintenance Service won’t give out names and addresses unless ordered to by a court, but information might be shared with other government organisations, debt collection agencies or the courts.

If the services can’t get the information from either parent, they might ask other people or organisations, eg:

  • the paying parent’s employer
  • government organisations like Jobcentre Plus
  • prison services or local councils
  • the paying parent’s bank or building society

Contact the Child Maintenance Service for information about how they use your information - their contact details will be on any letters you’ve received.

How long it takes

You’ll usually get a response from the service managing your application within 6 weeks - sometimes it can take up to 26 weeks, eg if there’s a problem with contact details for the paying parent.

The first child maintenance payment is usually made within 6 weeks of making payment arrangements with the paying parent.

The parent the child doesn’t live with is called the ‘paying parent’. The parent or carer they live with is called the ‘receiving parent’.

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.

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