Child maintenance

Both parents are responsible for contributing to a child’s living costs, even if one doesn’t have any contact with the child.

Child contact arrangements are treated as a completely separate matter from child maintenance, which is usually dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service rather than the courts.

You can, if it’s safe and appropriate, come to an agreement with the other parent about how much they pay and when.

However, if you’re leaving an abusive relationship, you may not want to be in touch with the other parent.

Instead, you can use the Child Maintenance Service, which will make the necessary arrangements for you.

Child Maintenance Service

The Child Maintenance Service will work out how much the other parent should be paying and when. They’ll take action if the other parent doesn’t pay.

It’s important that you tell the Child Maintenance Service that you’ve experienced domestic abuse and that you don’t want to share your contact details or personal information with the other parent.

You don’t have to pay the application fee if you’ve experienced domestic abuse.

Getting payments safely

There are two ways the Child Maintenance Service can arrange for you to get your payments:

  • directly from the other parent (Direct Pay)
  • from the other parent via the Child Maintenance Service (Collect and Pay)

If you’re being paid directly, the Child Maintenance Service can help you get a bank account to receive payments which won’t reveal your location to the other parent. This is called a non-geographical bank account.

Another option is to use a prepaid card, which isn’t linked to a bank account. The other parent can pay directly to your prepaid card without knowing your personal information. Some prepaid cards have fees attached, so shop around.

There’s a fee for using the Collect and Pay service, but the Child Maintenance Service will make sure you get your payments.

If the other parent skips or stop payments, the service can issue an enforcement order and take the money directly from their wages.

If you're on Direct Pay and are having problems, you can switch to Collect and Pay.

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