Child Maintenance Service - What you need to know

Both parents have a responsibility to meet the costs of raising their child and this does not end when the relationship ends. Even if a parent is not spending time with their child, they have a legal obligation to provide financial assistance in the form of child maintenance.

Child maintenance can either be agreed privately between you and the other parent or alternatively it can be set through the Child Maintenance Service which is a government scheme. Additionally, some parents may have entered into an agreement about child maintenance through a court document known as a ‘consent order’.

This short article will focus on the Child Maintenance Service.

The estimated cost of raising a child in the UK is now a staggering £229,000. For many single parent families, the financial strain that a relationship breakdown can cause can be significant and ensuring you receive child maintenance payments is therefore crucial.

Child maintenance should be paid for any child under the age of 16, or under the age of 20 if they are in ‘approved’ education or training (e.g. A-levels, NVQ’s, traineeships etc).

If you are unable to reach a fair agreement with the other parent then the Child Maintenance Service can carry out a calculation to decide what the payments should be.

Any arrangement made through the Child Maintenance Service is legally binding which means that if the parent who should be paying fails to pay, enforcement action can be taken by the service which includes the following:

  • Taking money directly from the non-payers wages (known as ‘deduction of earnings’)
  • Taking money from the non-payers bank account (known as a ‘deduction order’)
  • Applying to the Court for a charging order against a property (which could result in the property having to be sold to pay any child maintenance arrears)
  • Applying to the Court for a liability order (which if granted means that bailiffs can be instructed to remove and sell property)
  • Applying to the Court for a disqualification from driving or to be sent to prison
  • Disqualifying a non-resident parent from holding or obtaining a passport

The Child Maintenance Service therefore has a range of extensive powers to try and ensure payments are made.

You can get an idea of what you are likely to have to pay/what the other parent should be paying by going to the .gov website where there is an online calculator:

For a 60 minute preliminary advice meeting, tailored to meet your specific needs, followed up in writing, contact Dominic Lee on 0115 941 1469 or
email on

 0800 542 4245