3. How to pay

When you use the statutory child maintenance service - the Child Maintenance Service or the Child Support Agency (CSA) - child maintenance can be paid:

  • directly to the receiving parent, if both parents agree
  • by direct debit - the service managing your case will set this up
  • directly from the paying parent’s earnings - the service arranges this with their employer

Payments are paid into the receiving parent’s bank account.

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

Paying child maintenance directly

When the service managing your case has worked out a child maintenance amount, you can make your own payment arrangements if you both agree. This is called:

  • Direct Pay if you’re using the Child Maintenance Service
  • Maintenance Direct if you’re using the CSA

The easiest way to pay is by standing order - payments go direct from the paying parent’s bank, building society or Post Office account into the receiving parent’s account.

Tell the service managing your case if you or the other parent don’t have a bank, building society or Post Office account and can’t open one.

When payments are made

If you’re using a statutory child maintenance service to collect and pass on payments, they’ll arrange this based on when the paying parent is paid their wages, pension or benefits.

Contact either the Child Maintenance Service (using the contact details on any 
letters you’ve been sent) or your local CSA office if you’re a paying parent and 
having problems paying.

Collection and payment schedules

If you’re the paying parent, the service managing your application will send you a ‘collection schedule’ - this tells you how much you need to pay and when.

If you’re the receiving parent, they’ll send you a ‘payment schedule’ - this tells you how much is due and when it’ll be collected.

Paying off child maintenance debt

If you’re a paying parent and you’ve missed paying child maintenance you’ll usually be asked to pay the full amount you owe straight away.

You can pay:

  • with a credit or debit card
  • through your bank

In some circumstances, you might be able to agree with the service managing your application to pay the debt in instalments.

The Child Maintenance Service or CSA can take action if child maintenance isn’t being paid.

Help us improve GOV.UK

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