Child Maintenance Service Eligibility UK

There are rules and an eligibility criteria for using the Child Maintenance Service. Check who can and cannot use their services and when child maintenance payments stop.

Age When Child Support Payments Stop

The money paid by a ‘paying’ parent in the form of child maintenance is to help support children who are:

  • Below the age of sixteen (16).
  • Under the age of twenty (20) if they are in full-time education (not studying any higher than A Level or an equivalent).
  • Under the age of twenty (20) if they are living with a parent who has registered for Child Benefit for them.

In some cases, child maintenance payments will also stop for certain circumstances.

Other Situations when Payment Stops

As a rule, the payments end when your child reaches 16 years old (children age 16 to 19 in full-time education). But, there are several other situations when the income could finish even sooner, such as if:

  • The child becomes ineligible for you to claim Child Benefit any longer.
  • The ‘receiving’ parent stops being the main carer for the child.
  • The ‘receiving’ parent chooses not to receive the payments any longer.
  • The ‘paying’ parent qualifies for ‘nil rate child maintenance‘ (e.g. as a student or as a prisoner).
  • Either one of the child’s parent dies.

The receiving parent would not need to re-apply if the paying parent no longer qualifies for the ‘nil rate’. The child maintenance payments would begin again by automatic process.

Note: You would still need to pay any unpaid ‘arrears’ up to the point when child maintenance payments stop.

Who Can Use the Child Maintenance Service

You will be able to apply to use the Child Maintenance Service providing you are:

  • One of the parents, no matter whether the child lives with you or not.
  • A grandparent of the child (or other guardian).
  • A child over the age twelve (12) if you are living in Scotland.

Who Cannot Use Child Maintenance Service

If the child and the ‘receiving’ parent live outside the United Kingdom you would not be able to apply. The Child Maintenance Service can only help in certain cases of child maintenance if one parent lives abroad.

You can get free impartial information and support from Child Maintenance Options. They can help parents make informed choices about child maintenance arrangements.

Advisory: The parent with main day-to-day care of the child is the ‘receiving’ parent. Whereas, the parent who does not have main day-to-day care is the ‘paying’ parent.


Using the Child Maintenance Service | A guide for parents who cannot agree on child support payments.

How to Arrange Child Maintenance Yourself | Check some advantages of using family-based arrangements.

Child Maintenance Service Eligibility and When Payments Stop