How to Pay Child Maintenance Payments

There are several ways of paying your child support payments. You can also get the Child Maintenance Service to manage your payments using the Collect and Pay system.

HOW TO PAY: You will need to choose one of these three methods to pay child maintenance:

  • Direct payments made between the two parents.
  • Taken ‘directly’ from the earnings of the ‘paying’ parent. The service would arrange this with the employer.
  • Using a direct debit payment method. The service that manages the case would be able set this up.

Child maintenance payments should always get paid into the bank account of the ‘receiving’ parent.

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

Direct Child Support Payments

The Child Maintenance Service or the CSA will work out an amount to pay. The parents will then be able to make their own payment arrangements – providing they both agree to it. The two methods of paying child maintenance ‘directly’ are:

As a rule, paying by standing order is the easiest way to pay. The payments go from the paying parent’s account direct into the account of the receiving parent.

Even so, the Child Maintenance Service or the CSA can still enforce any missed payments. So, you should always keep a record of the payments that you make. It will be useful if any problems arise in the future.

Note: Either of the parents can choose the Direct Pay method without needing consent from the other. An exception applies if evidence shows that the paying parent would be unlikely to pay.

Having Payments Managed For You

You can use the Child Maintenance Service or CSA to collect and pass on payments for you. They will arrange it to coincide with the paying parent’s wages, benefits, or pension. This is a system called:

  • Collect and Pay (if you are using the Child Maintenance Service).
  • The full collection service (if you have an existing case with the Child Support Agency).

You can contact the Child Maintenance Service using their details on any letters you received from them. If you are a paying parent, contact the nearest CSA office if you are having problems making the payment.

Payment Collection Fees

There is a fee for using the Collect and Pay service. The fees cover the service of collecting and paying out your child maintenance payments. Each time you either make or receive a payment, the fee is:

  • A 20% fee on top of the regular child maintenance payment for the paying parent.
  • A 4% fee deducted from the regular child maintenance payment for the receiving parent.

Note: Making your child support payments in advance does not mean you will avoid the service collection fees.

Choosing a family-based arrangement means you will not have to pay any of the fees. Collection fees are also not applicable if:

  • You make your own payment arrangements using the Direct Pay method.
  • The Child Support Agency (CSA) is handling your case.
Collection and Payment Schedules

The paying parent will receive a letter that explains how much you need to pay and when you must pay it. The system is otherwise known as:

  • A payment plan (for parents using the Child Maintenance Service).
  • A collection schedule (for parents still using the CSA).

The receiving parent will receive a letter that tells you what the amount is and when the payments will get paid. The system is otherwise known as:

  • An expected payment plan (if you use the Child Maintenance Service).
  • A payment schedule (if you use the CSA).
Paying Off Child Maintenance Arrears

As a paying parent, you should avoid missing any child support payments. In most cases, they would ask you to pay the full amount that you owe straight away. You can pay of any arrears through your bank or using a debit or credit card.

In some cases, it may be possible to pay off child maintenance arrears in instalments. But, you must first agree it with the service that manages your application.

Note: Child Maintenance Service and CSA have the power to take action for non-payment of child maintenance.

Different Ways of Making Child Maintenance Payments