5. Non-payment

The Child Maintenance Service and the CSA will take action if child maintenance isn’t paid.

When a payment is missed, the service you’re using will contact the ‘paying’ parent to:

  • find out why they haven’t paid
  • arrange for them to pay what they owe
  • warn them about action that might be taken if they don’t pay

The paying parent has a week to respond. If they don’t, the Child Maintenance Service or CSA can take action to get the child maintenance owed.

Enforcement charges

The Child Maintenance Service introduced enforcement charges for non-payment on 30 June 2014.

Action taken by Child Maintenance Service Charge
Liability order £300
Lump sum deduction order £200
Regular deduction order £50
Deduction from earnings request or order £50

What the services can do

The service you’re using can take action immediately if the paying parent pays through them.

If the paying parent used the CSA or Child Maintenance Service to calculate child maintenance but pays directly, the receiving parent needs to ask the service to take action.

Unpaid child maintenance can be collected in 3 different ways.

Take money from a paying parent’s earnings or benefits

The service you’re using can tell the paying parent’s employer how much to take from their wages. The employer must then pass this to the service - if they don’t, the service can take them to court.

If the paying parent gets benefits, a State Pension or War Pension, the amount owed can usually be taken from these payments.

Take money from a bank or building society account

The Child Maintenance Service or CSA don’t need permission to do this. They can tell the bank or building society to take either:

  • regular payments
  • a one-off payment

Take court action

A paying parent can be taken to court over unpaid child maintenance. Things the courts can do include:

  • sending bailiffs (Sheriff Officers in Scotland) to a paying parent’s home to take and sell their belongings to get the child maintenance owed
  • sending a paying parent to prison
  • collecting money that’s owed to the paying parent by someone else and using this to pay the child maintenance owed
  • forcing the sale of a property and using the money to pay the child maintenance owed

If a paying parent tries to avoid paying by selling property or transferring it to someone else, the service managing their case can ask the courts to stop them.

The service can also ask the courts to reverse any sale or transfer that’s already happened.

If action is taken through the courts, the paying parent may have to pay the service’s legal costs as well as their own.