Ways to pay child maintenance

There are several ways to pay child maintenance, depending on what type of arrangement you have in place.

Paying child maintenance in a family-based arrangement

With a family-based arrangement, you and the other parent can decide between yourselves how and when you will both support your child.

For example, you could agree that the paying parent pays a proportion of their income, or buys items directly for the children, such as school shoes.

Learn more about family-based arrangements

Get help with talking about child maintenance

Paying by standing order

If you’ve agreed on fixed regular payments, you could set up a standing order. This is where you send money directly from your bank or building society account to another persons account.

If you’re the paying parent, standing orders can help you to:

  • keep a record of payments made
  • stop debts from building up
  • manage your finances more easily

Using a money transfer service

Another option is to use a money transfer service. As well as the advantages mentioned above, with this payment method, you don’t have to share your bank details with the other parent.

There are several different money transfer services that you can choose from, such as:

  • PayPalPayPal offers an online or "e-money" transfer service.
  • MoneyGram – With MoneyGram you can transfer money through the Post Office, or you can do it online.

Important - some of these services may charge a fee. Check with the service provider to make sure you understand if any charges will apply.

Changing your payment method if your circumstances change

With a family-based arrangement, you can agree to change your payment method if your circumstances change.

For example, if the paying parent loses their job, you could reduce their child maintenance payments temporarily and then increase them again when they're back in work.

Or, if the receiving parent has to make urgent repairs to their home, the paying parent could help with the cost by paying a lump sum, instead of their regular payments.

Paying child maintenance through a statutory child maintenance scheme

There are three main ways to pay child maintenance if you have a statutory child maintenance arrangement:

Maintenance Direct (Child Support Agency) or Direct Pay (Child Maintenance Service)

With Maintenance Direct and Direct Pay, the paying parent can pay the other parent directly, once a child maintenance amount has been calculated.

This is usually quicker and more flexible than asking for payments to collected and passed on by the statutory child maintenance service.

Direct Debit and deduction from earnings orders

If the statutory child maintenance service collects and passes on payments, the paying parent can pay:

  • by direct debit - where payments are taken straight out of their bank or building society account by the service managing their case
  • through a deduction from earnings order - where child maintenance is taken directly from their earnings

The money is then paid into the receiving parent’s bank or building society account.

Whatever method of payment you use, you should keep a record of the payments you pay or receive. This is in case there are any problems in the future.

The statutory child maintenance service may still be able to get involved if payments are missed. They can also start collecting and passing on payments, if a parent asks them to.

Keeping your payments manageable

It’s important to pay child maintenance in full and on time. For guidance on the best way to stay on top of your payments, see Keeping payments manageable.

The web links to Paypal and MoneyGram are to external websites, which are entirely independent of the Child Maintenance Options service. We have no control over the content of these sites or the services offered by the site owners. We accept no responsibility for these sites or for any loss or damage that may arise from your use of them. We have provided a link to these sites for illustration purposes only to demonstrate to you the types of organisation which are able to offer a money transfer service.