Child maintenance payments usually stop when the child reaches 16 (or 20 if they’re in full-time education up to A-level or equivalent).

Child maintenance can also stop if, for example:

  • the child stops being eligible for Child Benefit
  • the parent being paid stops being the child’s main carer
  • the parent being paid doesn’t want it any more
  • either parent dies
  • the paying parent is eligible for the ‘nil rate’, eg because they’re a student or a prisoner

If the paying parent stops being eligible for the ‘nil rate’, payments start again automatically. The receiving parent doesn’t need to re-apply for child maintenance.

When child maintenance stops any unpaid amounts up to that point must still be paid. These are known as ‘arrears’.