Child maintenance payments usually stop when the child reaches 16 (or 20 if they’re in full-time education not higher than A-level or equivalent). But there are some situations in which they’ll stop sooner.


Child maintenance can stop sooner if, for example:

  • the child is 16 or over and getting certain state benefits - including Income Support
  • the child stops being eligible for Child Benefit for any other reason
  • the parent receiving the payment stops being the main carer of the child
  • the parent receiving the payment doesn’t want it anymore
  • either parent dies
  • the parent paying the maintenance goes to prison - payments are reduced to zero but may increase when they’re released

Read about other situations in which payment is reduced to zero (this is called ‘nil rate’).

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