The Child Maintenance Service – What You Need to Know


As of December 2013, all applications for child maintenance are being dealt with by the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS), rather than the Child Support Agency (CSA). Over time all older assessments dealt with by CSA are being transferred to the new system.

With this new system, comes the added change of how maintenance payments are calculated.

How Were They Calculated?

Previously, child maintenance was calculated using your net income (after tax and national insurance (NI)). Now, gross income (before tax and NI, but after pension contributions) is used to calculate maintenance payments. This removes any doubt in what you pay to the CMS, with further calculations thereafter.

Child Maintenance Infographic

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Six Stage Process

Six steps are followed when working out weekly child maintenance payments. Payments will be reviewed annually, with any changes in circumstances being taken into account.

The steps are detailed in the accompanying infographic.

Stage 1 – HMRC will work with the CMS to find out what the paying parent's yearly gross income is.

Stage 2 – The CMS will look at what things could change that amount of gross income (e.g. other children they may support). They will then convert this figure into a weekly sum instead of a yearly sum.

Stage 3 – Based on that gross weekly income, 1 of 5 rates will be applied to the paying parent. These vary from nil and flat rates to basic and basic plus.

Stage 4 – Any other children that the paying parent already has to pay maintenance for will be taken into account. This includes children living with them and any provisions made for them with an ex- partner.

Stage 5 – the CMS will now make a decision on how much child maintenance will be payable using the information gained in stage 4.

Stage 6 – If the paying parent has the child to stay with them overnight, the CMS will deduct this from their weekly payments based on the average amount of 'shared care' nights.

How Can I Use This Information?

The website, Child Maintenance Options, has a helpful calculator you can use to figure out how much maintenance the paying parent should be paying on a weekly basis. This can be helpful if you are negotiating how much should be paid or if the paying parent wants to get an idea of how much they should be paying.

Please see our infographic and the online calculator for further information and if you have any questions your solicitor will be able to help.

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