Child support


Child support law in the UK governs a system of child maintenance that aims to make regular, reliable financial support a reality in every child’s life following the separation of their parents. Child maintenance payments may be set either by private agreement between the parents, by the CSA, or by the courts.

Call us if you have a dispute with the CSA, or your ex-partner, in relation to child support laws, and we will be able to recommend a family law specialist who can help you negotiate a fair payment scheme.

What is child support law?

Child support laws in the UK are contained in three child support schemes from:

  • The Child Support Act 1991
  • The Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000
  • The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008

Child support laws set out responsibilities of parents to provide financially for their children via regular payments to the other parent.

Under the law, the parents of the child can come to a private agreement about who will pay what. If you cannot agree, you can apply to the Child Support Agency (CSA) to make an order.

How is child support calculated?

The CSA will assess your circumstances and make an order based upon several factors, such as:

  • Who the child is living with (the parent with care of the child)
  • The net income of the non-resident parent
  • The number of natural children they have that are not living in the household
  • The number of natural children or step-children living in the non-resident parent’s household with a new partner
  • The number of nights per week on average that the children stay with the non-resident parent

Child support laws give the CSA agency various powers in order to be able to assess and enforce payment. The CSA has powers to work with other government agencies in order to investigate your employment and financial status. It can also insist upon proof of parentage being produced.

What powers do the CSA have?

The CSA has the power to demand back payment of maintenance that has not been paid. This can often result in a large lump sum of money being demanded from the non-paying parent. The CSA can also enforce payment of maintenance by making a deduction order to your employer instructing them to deduct the cost of maintenance from your salary.

It is also possible for the CSA to take the matter to court, and the court has the power to:

  • Make an order for payment, including legal costs
  • Impose penalties

If you dispute the amount of child support assessed by the CSA, you can ask the CSA to review their assessment. If you still disagree with their reviewed decision, you can appeal against it.

Negotiating child support without the CSA

If you and your partner wish to arrange a private agreement, the CSA has various resources to provide guidance on working out how much you or your partner should pay, in accordance with the child support law in the UK.

You may vary from this figure if both of you agree. If you are going through the court system for a divorce, you may ask the court to formalise this agreement by making a consent order. This makes your agreement legally binding.

  • If your partner fails to pay the amount owing under a consent order, you can ask the court to enforce it
  • If your partner fails to pay the amount owing under a private agreement, you cannot apply to the court, and will instead need to apply to the CSA

You may choose to stop a private agreement and use the CSA if you wish. If you wish to use the CSA rather than a consent order, you can do so after one year of the order being in place. If you are in any doubt over how much child support you should be paying towards your child’s upbringing, you are highly advised to seek specialist legal advice to avoid penalties.

Are you currently in dispute with the CSA or your ex-partner regarding child support laws? Contact Law can put you in touch with a family lawyer who specialises in dealing with the CSA; this is very niche area of law but we are able to recommend experts in this field. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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