This section explains how child maintenance enforcement works in the United Kingdom. You can also find out how to get enforcement action of child maintenance if a parent lives abroad.
The court can take 'enforcement action' against someone who fails to pay their child maintenance. They can also change an existing decision on child maintenance or you can ask the court to make a new one.
There are several ways to enforce, change, or make a new decision. As a rule, it would depend most on:
REMO stands for the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders. The United Kingdom has a REMO agreement with various other countries. So, the courts in a REMO country can enforce a child maintenance decision made by a UK court.
Note: A different section explains how to arrange child maintenance by yourself. But, you must make that type of arrangement legally binding before you can enforce it.
The process differs for enforcing child maintenance if the decision was 'originally' made in Scotland or in Northern Ireland. Contact the most relevant organisation for further information and advice.
The Scottish Government Justice Directorate
Central Authority and International Law Team
St Andrew's House
Edinburgh EH1 3DG
Telephone: 0131 244 3570 or 0131 244 4829
Fax: 0131 244 4848
Business Development and Services Division
Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service
23 – 27 Oxford Street
Belfast BT1 3LA
Telephone: 02890 408 888
Fax: 02890 728 945
You need to know whether your ex-partner is living inside or outside of the European Union. The country in which they live will determine how to enforce a child maintenance decision.
The government has a list of countries where parents can apply to enforce a child maintenance decision made in United Kingdom courts. If the parent lives in one of the REMO countries you should contact the family court that made the child maintenance decision.
You may still be able to get a decision enforced even if your ex-partner does not live in a REMO country. It would be best to seek legal advice in that particular country (e.g. from a solicitor).
There is a specific process to apply to get a child maintenance order recognised abroad. You will need to download 'form REMO 7' and fill in the details.
The same form is also used to enforce a decision made by the Child Maintenance Service or the CSA. It would apply to a period of time when you and your ex-partner both lived in the United Kingdom.
You should use a different form to apply to get a new maintenance decision (or change one). Instead, download 'form REMO 8' if you want to change an existing decision or make a new one.
Note: EU countries are unable to force an ex-partner to pay money that they should have paid after leaving the UK.
Send in the completed form to your nearest Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre. Remember to include any supporting documentation needed. They will forward the application to the REMO Unit on your behalf.
Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre Bury St Edmunds
St Andrews Street North
Bury St Edmunds
Suffolk IP33 1TR
Telephone: 0300 123 3034
Fax: 01284 829 518
Current phone call rates.
Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre London
Central Family Court
First Avenue House
42-49 High Holborn
London WC1V 6NP
Telephone: 020 7421 8657
Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre Wales
Port Talbot Justice Centre
South Wales SA13 1SB
Telephone: 01639 642267
The REMO Unit helps to register and enforce child maintenance orders internationally. You can contact them if you would prefer your ex-partner not to see your private information (e.g. your postal address).
Official Solicitor and Public Trustee
London WC2B 6EX
Telephone: 020 3681 2757
Outside UK: +44 (0)20 3681 2757
Fax: 020 3681 2764
If your documents need translating the REMO Unit do it for you and there is no fee for this service. They will then send the papers to the REMO body in the relevant country (within 4 weeks). They will then pass them on to the relevant court in that country.
Note: The overseas court may take several months to decide whether to enforce the maintenance decision - or not.
Your ex-partner might live in the UK and you may be living in another country. In this case, you would still be able to enforce a child maintenance decision. But, the method to use would depend on where the original decision took place.
You would need to contact the court that made the original decision in the United Kingdom. Living in a REMO country means you can ask a court from where you live. You can get further advice from the body responsible for REMO.
You need to download and fill in form REMO 7 (to get a decision recognised or enforced) and form REMO 8 (to change an existing decision or make a new one).
You might be able to fill in the forms online. If so, print them off and sign them after filling in the details. Send them with any supporting documents to the REMO body where you live. They will forward the application on to the relevant court in the United Kingdom.
Contact the body responsible if you live in a REMO country. They will confirm whether you can still enforce a decision even if you do not live in a REMO country. You may need to get legal advice from a solicitor.
In some cases, it may be possible to make a new child maintenance claim instead. Often, this procedure is less complex than trying to enforce an existing one. It may apply to your ex-partner if they work overseas for a British organisation, such as:
You should contact Child Maintenance Options to help you make a new arrangement. They will explain the process to you and help you apply to the Child Maintenance Service.
Child Maintenance Options
Telephone: 0800 988 0988
Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm
Saturdays: 9am to 4pm
Welsh language: 0800 408 0308
Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm
There will be charges for using this service, including:
Note: You should contact the service that deals with your case for further advice if you already made a claim.
Child Maintenance if One Parent Lives Abroad of the United Kingdom