How to pay

Child maintenance can be paid:

  • between parents
  • directly from the paying parent’s earnings - arranged with their employer
  • by Direct Debit
  • by reducing the paying parent’s benefits

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

The receiving parent has main day-to-day care of the child. The paying parent does not have main day-to-day care.

Contact the Child Maintenance Service if you’re having problems paying.

If you can agree on making payments

Once the Child Maintenance Service has worked out an amount, you can make the payments yourself (if you both agree).

This is called Direct Pay.

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.

The Child Maintenance Service can still enforce missed payments. Keep a record of payments in case there are any problems in the future.

Either parent can choose Direct Pay without needing the other’s consent, unless there’s evidence that the paying parent is unlikely to pay.

When payments are managed for you

If you’re using the 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.

This is called Collect and Pay.

You must tell the Child Maintenance Service about any Direct Pay transactions you make or receive while you’re signed up to the Collect and Pay service.

Collection fees

You have to pay a fee each time you make or receive a regular child maintenance payment. The fee is:

  • 20% (which is added to the payment) for paying parents
  • 4% (which is taken off the payment) for receiving parents

You cannot avoid collection fees by making payments in advance.

You will not have to pay:

Collection and payment schedules

If you’re the paying parent you’ll be sent a letter explaining how much you need to pay and when. This is called a payment plan.

If you’re the receiving parent, you’ll be sent a letter telling you what payments will be made and when. This is called an expected payment plan.

Paying off child maintenance arrears

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 arrears in instalments.

The Child Maintenance Service will take action if child maintenance is not being paid.