If you can’t reach agreement with the other parent and make a child maintenance arrangement by yourselves, the Government runs a statutory service that can arrange child maintenance on your behalf.
If you currently have a Child Maintenance Service case or Child Support Agency case and you have a question about it, you need to call the number that will be on any letter you’ve received from them.
Child Maintenance Options cannot help with individual statutory service cases.
What is the statutory child maintenance service?
The Child Maintenance Service opened in 2012 and now manages all new applications for a statutory arrangement. It uses slightly different rules to the Child Support Agency. The Child Support Agency is closed to new applications but still manages many statutory arrangements set up before December 2013.
The Government introduced application fees, collection fees and enforcement charges in 2014 for parents using the Child Maintenance Service.
What can the statutory child maintenance service do?
The statutory child maintenance service will decide how much the paying parent (referred to in legislation as the non-resident parent) should pay the receiving parent (referred to in legislation as the parent with care). This amount is based on a standard formula.
The statutory service can work out a legally enforceable child maintenance amount, then collect child maintenance payments from the paying parent and pass them on to the receiving parent. Parents can also choose to arrange payments directly between themselves once child maintenance has been worked out, which is quicker.
The statutory service can also:
- try to find the other parent if you don’t know where they live
- help to sort out any disagreements about parentage
Once your case has been opened, the service will:
- look again at child maintenance payments when changes in parents’ circumstances are reported
- take action if payments are not made
In the Child Maintenance Service (the 2012 child maintenance scheme), cases are reviewed every year to make sure the right amount of child maintenance is being paid.
Using a statutory child maintenance service
There are no laws that say how parents should arrange child maintenance. This means that all parents, including those receiving benefits, can set up a family-based child maintenance arrangement if they both agree to it. The Child Maintenance Service will only get involved if a parent asks them to.
You can apply to the Child Maintenance Service if you are:
- a parent with main day-to-day care of the child (also known as the receiving parent and referred to in child maintenance legislation as the parent or person with care)
- a parent without main day-to-day care of the child (also known as the paying parent and referred to in child maintenance legislation as the non-resident parent)
- a grandparent or other guardian of the child needing child maintenance
- a child over the age of 12 living in Scotland
A person can make a statutory child maintenance arrangement as long as:
- The person asking to receive child maintenance has the main day-to-day care of the child and lives in the UK.
- the parent without the main day-to-day care lives in the UK, or works in the civil service, the armed forces or for a UK-based company abroad
- there is no court order in place from before 2003, or there is a court order from after April 2003 but it was set up more than 12 months before the application.
- The child named in the application is:
- under the age of 16, or
- between 16 and their 20th birthday and undertaking full-time, non-advanced education, or
- between 16 and their 20th birthday, registered with certain types of government-approved training courses, and child benefit is in payment.
Previously the upper age limit was the 19th birthday, but this changed in late 2012 to bring the age limits in line with those of Child Benefit. This change applies to all the child maintenance schemes.
The child must live in the UK. They must also live with the receiving parent, although there are some exceptions to this rule. Children at boarding school or who are hospitalised long-term are still classed as qualifying children. This is different to the 1993 and 2003 schemes.
If you want to apply to the statutory service
If you want to use the Child Maintenance Service you will need to contact us first. You can call us on 0800 988 0988
For more information you can read about statutory child maintenance arrangements
You can also get information about how the statutory child maintenance services calculate child maintenance at gov.uk