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Apply to the Child Maintenance Service

Making a new claim for child support means applying to the Child Maintenance Service. Check what information they need about you and your family, the fees, and how long the process takes.

How to Make a New Arrangement with CMS

The first part of the process is contacting Child Maintenance Options.

Child Maintenance Service
Telephone: 0800 171 2345
Monday to Friday: 8am to 4pm

Welsh language: 0800 232 1979
Monday to Friday: 8am to 4pm

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

Based on their advice you may then decide to use the Child Maintenance Service. The CMS now deals with all new claims for child support. You will get a reference number and further details on how to apply.

Note: Child Maintenance Options cannot discuss the details on any existing cases. The Child Support Agency only handles existing cases.

Information Required to Apply to the CMS

The Child Maintenance Service will need some information about you and your family. The information that CMS requires includes:

  • Details concerning the child that you are applying for (e.g. the full names of the mother and the father).
  • Your National Insurance number and bank account details. The Child Maintenance Service would need it to collect and pass on the child support payments.

Child Maintenance Service Application Fees

The fee for applying to the Child Maintenance Service is £20. Certain applicants do not need to pay the fee, such as if you are:

  • A victim of domestic violence.
  • Under the age of nineteen (19).
  • Living in Northern Ireland.

How CMS Use Your Information

They use the information to set up and to manage child maintenance payments. The same details are sometimes used to try and locate the whereabouts of the paying parent.

The CMS will not give your name and address to anyone unless ordered to by a court. But, they may share some of the information with other government organisations, the courts, or debt collection agencies.

The Child Maintenance Service or the CSA may not get all the required information from either of the parents. In this case, they might ask other people or organisations for it, such as:

  • The employer of the ‘paying’ parent.
  • The bank or the building society of the ‘paying’ parent.
  • Similar government organisations (e.g. the Jobcentre Plus).
  • Local council authorities or the prison services.

You can read about more on the personal information charter (or
privacy policy) containing the standards that you can expect to receive from the DWP.

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.


How to Use Child Maintenance Service | Guide for parents who cannot agree on child support payments.

Child Maintenance Service Eligibility | Who can use their services and when child support payments stop.

How Long Child Maintenance Cases Take

As a rule, it takes less than a month to set up a child maintenance case. There can be problems trying to contact the paying parent. If so, the process may take a little longer to complete.

The CMS will need to set up the payment arrangements first. Once they have done it, you should get the first of the child maintenance payments within six (6) weeks.

The staff will try to find the contact details for the paying parent if their whereabouts are unknown. But, if they cannot trace them, the receiving parent will not be able to open a case.

How to Apply to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS)