Manage your Child Maintenance Service case

If a parent does not pay

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

When a payment is missed, the paying parent will be contacted to:

  • find out why they have not paid
  • arrange for them to pay what they owe
  • warn them about action that might be taken if they do not pay

If the paying parent does not respond, the Child Maintenance Service will take action to get the child maintenance owed.

Enforcement charges

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

What action is taken

The Child Maintenance Service will take action immediately if the paying parent pays through them.

If the paying parent used the 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 paying parent’s employer is told how much to take from their wages. If the employer does not pass on the money the service can take them to court.

If the paying parent gets benefits, a State Pension or a 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 does not need permission to do this. They can tell the bank or building society to take either regular or one-off payments.

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.