As more and more jobs and businesses are impacted by the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic, payers and recipients of child and spousal maintenance will undoubtedly be worried about how they will manage to meet their financial commitments.

If you find yourself in the situation of your normal income having been significantly reduced for reasons beyond your control such as losing your job or illness it is important that you consider how any child or spousal maintenance will be paid.

Child Maintenance

If this is being paid via the Child Maintenance Service it will be essential that you contact them as soon as possible so that they can reassess your liability.

If you and the other parent have previously come to a voluntary agreement you should contact them as soon as possible to explain the situation. Being honest and transparent and keeping your communication open at these uncertain times will be key.  Be clear that as soon as your income returns to normal the original payments will resume.

If you are currently paying child maintenance in accordance with a court order that was made less than 12 months ago then you will be in breach if you don’t continue to pay.  If you have no option but to stop paying or reduce your payments without your ex’s agreement you would be at risk of enforcement action being taken. However, if arrears accrue in circumstances which are entirely genuine e.g. if someone were to lose their job and their income, the court can remit i.e. wipe off some or all of any arrears which may accrue depending on the circumstances you find yourself in.  Again, speaking to the other parent if you can (or if not, an email/letter) will be key but if you are unable to come to an agreement together you will have to make an application to the court for a downward variation.

Spousal Maintenance

If you are making voluntary maintenance payments to your ex then again communication is key. Speak to them. Be prepared to show that you are making changes to your own lifestyle and are making budget cuts. Provide evidence to support your income reduction and any changes you are making. Remember the impact will be felt by you and your former partner and you will both be trying to do the best for yourself and those dependent upon you.

If the payments are in accordance with a court order then you will be in breach unless there is agreement to stop paying or you obtain an order varying your liability through the court  (you can use arbitration for this process as well).  If you are in breach you are at risk of enforcement.  If you are unable to reach an agreement with your former spouse then it is essential that you make an application to the court to have the order varied.

Reaching an agreement

If you are able to reach a temporary agreement with your former spouse/other parent then get it in writing so that you have a clear record of the new arrangements. Make sure you keep the correspondence confirming the agreement and any paperwork which was shared leading to the agreement. You may wish to convert this into a court order (a consent order) so there is formality around the arrangements.  However, the correspondence should be more than sufficient provided there is no subsequent arguments that the other person was misled or made to agree out of duress or undue influence.

Court applications

If you do find yourself in the situation of needing to apply to the court for a variation of an existing order, or indeed you wish to enforce an existing order that is not being adhered to, it will be important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.  At the moment the courts are doing all they can to undertake hearings via telephone or video.  However, there is no doubt that the courts are also struggling with staff reductions and so they will be having to prioritise cases which is unlikely to be maintenance cases.  Therefore, we are expecting significant delays before variation and/or enforcement applications can be dealt with.

The application is made by lodging form A1. The court fee for this application is £255 and you will need to have attended a mediation information assessment meeting (MIAM) (which will incur further costs), unless certain exemptions apply. There are circumstances in which you can be exempt from paying the fee.

We are currently living in very uncertain economic times.  Payers and recipients will be equally worried.  Communication, understanding and building or maintaining trust will be crucial in ensuring that you work together for the benefit of your children.

If you need any advice or assistance on these issues please get in touch with us.  We are able to offer appointments by telephone or video.

Practical tips:

  1. Share any evidence you have to show how your income has been reduced. Don’t just assume you saying it has happened will be believed.
  2. Keep you ex up to date with any changes, whatever they may be.
  3. Don’t bury you head in the sand – act and react quickly.
  4. Consider finding a mediator who can meet virtually to help resolve the issue and don’t just use the MIAM as a means to getting the application form signed (which is the requirement unless the exemptions apply); genuinely try to use mediation to resolve matters.
  5. Empathise – this will impact on you and your ex and it is a very worrying time for all.
  6. Pay what you can e.g. if your income has been reduced but you can still afford something when having cut out any costs you can reduce.
  7. See going to court as a last resort and consider the process of arbitration for a swifter and more focused resolution.
  8. Recognise that if your separation was difficult it is likely to be very hard for your ex to accept the change is genuine so you will need to be as open and transparent as you can be.
  9. Be conscious of the fact that if an application is made that has no merit when it is clear maintenance is affordable, you may be at risk of an application for costs.
  10. Given the unique circumstances, as part of the conversation about how to manage think about how you and your ex would be able to use any savings you may have to meet any shortfall in maintenance and be imaginative as to how you are able to assist one another, especially for the sake of your children.

115 responses to “Impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19) on child and spousal maintenance payments

  1. I am a high earner on a self employed basis – over £150k per annum on an appropriately high divorce court oder settlement for child maintenance, and also spousal maintenance – I calculate my income will fall to £100 k per annum maybe less – is it reasonable to reduce payments as a percentage similar drop ? That is to say reduce them by about 33% – I am very happy to disclose monthly income figures to my ex and vary the monthly fall

    1. Thank you for sharing your question with us.

      From what you’re saying, it would be really important for you to get advice to ensure that matters are positioned quickly and sensitively given the impact events have had on your income and the resulting impact it would have on your ex/child’s financial position. Communication will be really important as you evidence the change in your circumstances. Equally, there will need to be reassurances in relation to how payments will return to “normal” once your income recovers. The challenge will be how long that may take and the uncertainty this creates for your ex. Nevertheless, given it is a court based order, unless you agree with your ex to reduce matters on a voluntary basis you will be in breach of the court order and at risk of enforcement action if you unilaterally reduce payments. You will need to consider making application to the court for variation given there has been a significant change in circumstances. The key will be to position this as sensitively as you can. Please let us know if we can assist with this so that we can look at the matter in the round, recommend a specific course of action to address the changes that need to be made and if not, assist you in preparing an application to the court. As part of trying to resolve this, you should also consider a referral to mediation to talk through the issues, explain the impact that it has had on you and evidence this and to discuss how to resolve matters as quickly as possible.

  2. I’m getting put on furlough leave as from Friday the 3rd April and will be on 80% pay does this mean I can lower my child maintenance payments by 20% ??

    1. Dear Mark. First of all, we hope your employer is able to ensure that you return to work as quickly as possible. Thank you for reading our blog and for commenting.

      It is not clear whether or not your payment is through the CMS, through a court order or by voluntary agreement. You will need to speak to your ex to explain your situation, and to explain the difficulty you face. If necessary, it’s vital you contact the CMS to explain what has happened and if payments are through a court order you may need to make an application to the court if matters cannot be dealt with on a voluntary basis. Communication will be key. As much as you rely on your own salary, your ex will no doubt be dependent upon child maintenance for meeting their/your child’s needs. It is a worrying time for everybody. If you cannot easily communicate with your ex then think about writing to them with evidence to show what your position is, confirming why you are unable to afford payments and reassuring them that you will reinstate payments as quickly as possible. Of course, this presupposes that your reduction in income justifies you saying you are unable to continue to make payments. We should also stress that where payments are made through the CMS or by court order you should make sure you do not do anything that would put you in breach of an assessment or court order which could then be enforced against you. You may need to get some advice to look at the position to see the best way to proceed and it may well be worth suggesting to your ex that you attend mediation to discuss how events have impacted upon you, how they will impact upon them/your child and how best to resolve it from everyone’s perspective.

      We wish you all very best in resolving this issue and returning to work as quickly as possible.

  3. My ex says that my daughter in y13 has finished education now that schools have closed early so has stopped paying maintenance. She is technically still in school and cannot find work due to coronavirus. Should he continue paying and for how long? He is financially secure

    1. Thank you for your question. You would need to confirm whether payments are by way of voluntary agreement, under the CSA/CMS or through a court order. The temporary closure of schools is quite clearly not the same as education finishing and would not be a terminating event in itself. You will need to contact your ex to request that he reinstates the payments and if not you will need to consider enforcement action (or letting the CMS know he is in arrears). We can assist if you need legal support with this so please do contact us if you do. In the meantime, we hope this helps.

  4. my boyfriend currently pays maintenance for his son who is currently at college. This is through a voluntary agreement. His son is already 18. As colleges have cancelled exams can my boyfriend now stop the payments or does he have to continue until the date the exams should have taken place?

    1. Thank you for your post. Although exams may be cancelled the school year has not ended and the school should be asked to confirm when the year officially completes. Furthermore, much will depend on the wording/terms of the voluntary agreement. This should be checked before any action is taken. The other issue to bear in mind is that the mother of your boyfriend’s son may be dependent upon that money, she is still looking after him and the impact upon their ability to meet living costs should be considered as well as the impact on your boyfriend’s son if he thinks support has been ended early which is then negatively impacted upon his mother. That might affect the father and son dynamic and this might be worth thinking about as well.

    2. Hello, my ex husband has cut my 2 daughters child support payments in half, as sheltering due to covid. He has now returned to work this month but not changed the payment back to what was agreed on the voluntary arrangement. He is still pleading poverty but having a holiday abroad later this year and I feel he won’t now put the money back to what it was again. I don’t know what he earns as he won’t tell me and hasn’t for years. I think I am being taken for a ride here. I am struggling financially. I don’t want to have to ask him for the money but he should be paying more. It was £200 per month now is £100,since April. How do I approach him about this? I have tried to keep things amicable for years but this is making me resentful that he could well be just not paying because he just doesn’t want to a nd has this big holiday planned.

    3. Dear Katherine, thank you for your comment. We would recommend contacting your children’s father so that you are better able to understand why the payments have not returned to normal. It may be that you are able to reach a compromise during this difficult time. We would also recommend seeking the help of a Mediator if you are unable to communicate directly with each other. Many mediators are able to offer online/remote meetings. Alternatively you can contact the Child Maintenance Service and ask them to carry out a formal assessment of your children’s father’s child maintenance liability which will be based on his income and the number of nights your daughters stay with him.

  5. Hello,
    I recieve child maintenance through the CMS . This the second week that I haven’t recieved any payment . I have a letter from the CMS that from a certain date my payments are slightly reduced which is ok but I have yet to receive anything at all .
    I have tried phoning the CMS, they are only taking specific calls with certain questions .
    Should I continue to phone

    1. Dear Sasha, thank you for your question. I’m afraid we are unable to assist. You will need to speak to the CMS who are, understandably, very busy at the current time. We can only advise that you keep trying.

  6. My husband has had his wages cut by 40%. Will the government make up his wages to 100% or up to £2,500? CM payments were put in place, whereby I am paid directly by my husband. Should he still pay the full amount of CM, as I am financially dependant upon him?

    1. Thank you for your enquiry. It must be a very worrying time. We are not the right people to be asking what the impact on your husband’s wages are and what his entitlement to support from one of the government schemes would be and we suggest you make further enquiries in this respect. Realistically, if there is a reduction in the paying party’s income then there is the potential that that will impact upon their ability to meet their maintenance obligations. Without knowing the specifics we could not comment, but there will need to be a dialogue and, as hard as this is to hear, the realisation that if income has dropped then may need to be a reduction in what is being paid. We are finding that the challenge for two households is the impact that the reduction in one person’s income has on those dependent upon them and transparent communication and compromise will be vital if sensible solutions are to be obtained. The reality is that the pandemic is impacting on every aspect of our lives and our ability to provide for ourselves and our families and adjustments are having to be made. If necessary, and if there are challenges in agreeing what should be paid, see if you can use online mediation to help you resolve matters. In the first instance, try and resolve it between yourselves but for that to work there will need to be an open and honest conversation about what is being earned, what is affordable et cetera. Good luck in trying to resolve it.

  7. Hello, thank you for this interesting article. My step daughter who used to stay every other weekend is now with us full time during lockdown, can my husband stop paying child maintenance during this time due to the situation?

    1. Thank you for your comments. Although we are not able to give advice we hope the following will be of assistance. If it is a private agreement then there is no reason why arrangements could not altered to take into account the change that has occurred. However, given your husband‘s daughters mother may depend on the amount she gets from him for support to reduce it may have quite a prejudicial impact. It would be a really good idea to have a sensible conversation to explain why it needs to change, when it will change and to try and ensure that that is managed as sensitively as possible. If it’s on a temporary basis then think about how that can be positioned so that there is some certainty over what will happen if the arrangements return to how they were.

    2. Hii my ex has a property which he has not DECLARED what are the steps I should take as this is effecting my child maintenance

    3. Dear Anna, thank you for your comment. I am not aware that undeclared property would have any impact on any child maintenance liability unless it provides an income which has not been declared. My suggestion would be to contact the CMS directly to discuss your concerns.

  8. Hello there I am living in Italy, but my children’s are in UK.
    I am paying my children’s maintenance every month and never missed a payment.
    Know my shop its been closed fir the last 5 weeks, I had enough money to pay for this month, but next month its a struggle, what shall I do,. I am not pay tought a court order or an agency but its an agreement between me and my ex wife

    1. Thank you for reading our blog. It must be very challenging living in Italy and we hope you are safe and well.

      If payments are made on a voluntary basis then we would recommend that you contact your ex-wife to explain your situation and to make arrangements until you are in a position to start earning again. It seems as though you have done well to continue with payments even though you have not been working.

      If payments are voluntary then you would be entitled to stop them and that would leave your ex-wife having to apply to the court if she wanted to pursue you for child maintenance. That process would take time and you have to have income from which to pay maintenance before you would be ordered to do so. Of course, this presupposes that there is no other income from other sources. Communication will be the key. We hope these observations help and wish you all the best in maintaining your health and getting through this difficult period.

  9. My daughter is 17 and stays 4 nights with her mother. I pay child maintenance for this. Due to schools currently closed and she is no longer attending at least 12 hours per week of teaching, do I still need to pay this maintenance

    1. Thank you for your post. Although schools have closed the school year has not ended. Assuming there has been no reduction in your income which needs to be considered then you are obliged to continue paying. The other issue to bear in mind is that the mother of your daughter may be dependent upon that money, she is still looking after her and the impact upon her ability to meet living costs should be considered as well.

  10. Hi. My son is a paying parent. As a result of the virus his salary as dropped to £2500. He is in touch with the CMA but they do not seem to understand this limit. They are insisting he is earning 80% of his salary.

    What can be done about this?

    1. Thank you for reading our blog and for your enquiry. We cannot offer advice but as a general observation, it would be really important to formally record the change in your son’s income with the CMS. The obligation to report rests with your son. Please bear in mind that the CMS are also coming to terms with the impact of changes and, furthermore, he needs to try and communicate with the parent of his child to explain his predicament and the impact this may have. He should keep pressing the CMS but he should make sure he sets out his position in writing with the relevant evidence. http://www.nacsa.co.uk is a helpful resource and they have a dedicated page which will provide guidance as to how to report. We hope this helps.

  11. Hi.
    My ex pays child maintenance on the 1st of every month although he said he can’t do this anymore as he is self employed and not working due to the Coronavirus. I obviously understand these are scary times for the economy but surely it doesn’t mean he can just not pay anything towards the children as I’m sure he will now be receiving universal credit? I have also emailed him and text him but he will not respond?

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read our post at such a challenging time. If your ex is receiving universal credit then he should pay a flat rate of £7 pounds. Even though he may not be working he may be entitled to assistance under one of the schemes set up by the government to combat the financial impact on those self-employed people affected by coronavirus. This would not apply if he had a limited company from which he took dividends and would also be subject to the limits set under the scheme. You may need to contact the CMS if you do not hear from him. We wish you well in trying to resolve matters but suggest you keep trying to get a response. As stressful a time as this will be for you, it will also be a stressful time for him if he is suddenly no longer working and we should all not lose sight of the impact this is having on everybody. We think communication is the key but we are equally realistic that that is not always possible between former partners.

  12. Hi I made an agreement through cms and now my ex pays £122 a month, (due the 1st of every month we agreed he pays on 11th as that’s his pay day) last month he put 50 into my bank on the 11th and made me wait till the 28th for the other 70 now he’s stating because he’s been furloughed he can’t and doesn’t need to pay as he has contacted yous I have heard nothing it is a voluntary payment which I don’t think is working any more he’s had t text and 1 call of contact with his children in 3 weeks which it was my daughter that called him and the other text was asking after them in a previous conversation with me regarding cms

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read our post at such a challenging time. If your ex has been furloughed it is likely that he is still receiving 80% of his normal salary. You should contact the CMS and ask them to assess his liability.

  13. I’m paying my – to be ex wife – about 600 per month for my son. She stays in the family house, has a job and there is no mortgage on the house. I live in another house for which I pay mortgage, and have now lost my job due to Corona. Can I stop paying the child maintenance that was calculated based on my salary in 2018/19 ?. I’ve told ex that I’ve lost the job.

    1. Thank you for your post. What a stressful time for you. Has there been any reaction from your ex? It is not clear upon what basis you are making payments i.e. is it through a court order, via the child maintenance service or on a voluntary basis? On the face of it there has been a change in circumstances which would justify a downward variation and it would be important to try and agree some interim arrangements with your ex until you are back at work. How this is dealt with formally will depend on the basis upon which the payments are made but we would strongly recommending considering mediation in the first instance.

  14. Hi my ex pays child maintenance for our 3 children. He didn’t tell me my payments would be less, an has reduced payments without letting me know. He’s still getting pay from work (not sure how much) and his girlfriend he lives with is still getting paid full from her job as she’s still working from home. I live on my own an rely on the money to provide for the kids as I can only work part time due to him not wanting to help me any extra through this pandemic. Where do I stand with this?

    1. Thank you for your post. It really wasn’t helpful that you were not told the payments would reduce and that may say something about your respective ability to communicate. Communication over this issue will be important. It’s not clear upon what basis maintenance has been paid. If through the CMS then you would need to contact them. If a court order then, technically, arrears would be accruing which you could look to enforce, although if you did, and his income had reduced, he could apply to vary the payments. If by voluntary agreement, you may need to take this matter to the CMS for a formal assessment. However, from a practical perspective we would suggest you make contact with your ex whether directly yourself or, for example, by using mediation to try and have a sensible dialogue. His income may have reduced and if that is the case, there may be a perfectly reasonable argument as to why there needs to be a temporary adjustment. Although his partner will be able to pay her share of expenses to the home, she has no liability to maintain the children and her income is only relevant insofar as she can pay towards 50% of the housing costs etc which would reduce what he needs to pay to those costs. That would only be relevant in court base proceedings. The assessment by the CMS would be formulaic and there is a tool on our web site which you can use to calculate this if you know his income. If you think that it will be impossible to resolve between you then you may need to get some advice as to the best way to progress matters. It sounds as though it is a really difficult time for you and we wish you well in trying to resolve this.

  15. Their is a court order in place where my kids father pays maintenance. He’s informed me that his salary has been cut by 20% and that he will be reflecting this in the kids maintenance payments. Would the courts enforce the order or would they see it in his favour?

    1. Thank you for your post. As unhelpful as it may sound, the answer is probably “it depends”. We would not be able to advise without seeing the order nor without having an understanding of your respective financial positions. A 20% cut in pay may have a material impact on your children’s father’s ability to meet his own expenses and it may not. It would not automatically mean that just because someone’s salary was cut their maintenance would reduce, but it is likely to have an impact if it has impacted on his ability to pay when taking into account his own living costs. There has been a change in circumstances which would potentially give him the ability to trigger an application to vary maintenance. Communicating about this issue – as hard as that may be – would be the sensible way to proceed to avoid this issue escalating in what are already challenging circumstances. Online mediation may be helpful if you need some third-party support. If there were arrears you could apply to enforce (assuming there is an order as you say) but equally, were you to do that, he could apply for a downward variation of the payments. This could blow out of all proportion as the impact on his income may be temporary. If you would like some more formal guidance then please get in contact so that we can understand more about your circumstances.

  16. My husband pays child maintenance to his ex wife voluntry.His son is 18 and would have finished college this September but due to covid ,it is now closed for the rest of the year.
    Can he stop payments now ordoes he have to wait till sept.

    1. Thank you for your post. Although schools/colleges have closed the school/college year has not ended. Assuming there has been no reduction in your husband’s income which needs to be considered then he should continue paying.

    2. I have an agreement with my ex wife to pay maintenance with her i usually have my kids for about 60-65 nights a year. but due to lockdown i ve not been able to see them since the start of March as they are isolating for 12 weeks so im not going to be able to see them till roughly June. My ex is asking for more money now as i wont be able to see them the agreed time and this drops me under the 52-103 nights a year. Do i have to pay her more ? i know this is not my fault or hers.

    3. Thank you for your question and for reading our blog. If on a review you are penalised as a result of the number of nights reducing because of the fact that the children’s mother is in isolation and you are not therefore seeing the children, were that to impact upon any assessment by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), you may need to go through the CMS’s mandatory reconsideration process and, if that were not to be successful, appeal the decision. It is not clear what the position will be but the fact that you were not caring for the children overnight, through no fault of your own but because of the national crisis, would be a factor that any tribunal would need to give consideration to. If this becomes an issue organisations such as NACSA may well be able to assist you. You should ensure that you keep a careful note of the number of nights the children stay with you, practically speaking you should continue to have FaceTime contact with them and you may consider agreeing to make some additional voluntary payments during this period if you are in a position to do so financially to assist the children/their mother. We wish all the very best in resolving matters.

  17. I pay regular direct maintenance to my ex partner for my 3 children including a contribution towards arrears. This has been calculated by the CMS. I have had to fight very hard through the courts for the contact I have with my children. Currently my ex partner has been advised to isolate for 12 weeks due to be classed as a vulnerable person and has taken it upon herself to keep the 3 children with her which I find very difficult. Can she apply for extra maintenance?. Also my current partner has been put on furlough due to covid 19 and now has a reduced income. Furthermore my current partner has two existing children from a previous relationship and her ex partner was paying regular maintenance to her but stopped nearly 6 months ago due to redundancy and even though he has found new work still hasn’t started paying any maintenance again. My current partners existing two children live with us the majority of the time. So I feel as though I am supporting everybody all round here and although I am ‘at the moment’ holding on to ,my job I feel under pressure all round and affordability all round is under question. I should add me and my current partner have a child between us. Any advice welcomed. Thanks

    1. Dear Michael, thank you for your comment. It sounds like it is a very difficult time for you and your family at the moment. With regard to your 3 children not being able to see you during their mother’s 12 week isolation I would recommend that you read my colleagues’ blogs here https://www.familylawpartners.co.uk/blog/child-arrangement-orders-in-light-of-the-coronavirus-covid-19/ and https://www.familylawpartners.co.uk/blog/co-parenting-compromise-during-covid19-pandemic/. If she were to seek additional maintenance she will need to do so via the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). If they contact you, you will need to explain the situation to them and emphasise that the current arrangements are temporary and are likely to return to normal after the 12 weeks isolation if not before. You may have to go through the mandatory reconsideration process and potentially appeal the decision if it is not in your favour. It would be sensible to let the CMS know that you are not presently seeing the children because of the need for their mother to self isolate. With regard to your current partner she should contact the Child Maintenance Service so that the father of her children can be assessed now that he has returned to work. Your partner’s reduction in income will not affect your liability or the liability of the father of her children. It appears that you facing challenges from every angle and you will not be alone from the enquiries we have had with people who are experiencing the financial impact of the health crisis. There are organisations like Gingerbread and NACSA who can help in relation to child support issues were there to be any changes as a result of a situation that has been forced upon you.

  18. My children are 10yr and 5yr I resigned my job to start a new job however before my final day at the old job I was informed that there is no longer a position available for me at the new job due to the coronavirus outbreak, now I’m left unemployed as my previous job would/could not retract my resignation. I have spoken to manament and he at my old job in regards to some of the furlough schemes I’ve heard about but to no avail, as such I’m am now unable to afford to pay child support and my children’s mother is refusing to let me see them even after an offer of a lesser amount being able to be paid, what do I do?

    1. Dear Mark, thank you for reading our blog. It is not clear whether or not your payment is through the CMS, through a court order or by voluntary agreement. You will need to speak to your children’s mother to explain your situation, and to explain the difficulty you face.If necessary, it’s vital you contact the CMS to explain what has happened and if payments are through a court order you may need to make an application to the court if matters cannot be dealt with on a voluntary basis.Communication will be key. We should also stress that where payments are made through the CMS or by court order you should make sure you do not do anything that would put you in breach of an assessment or court order which could then be enforced against you. With regard to your children’s mother restricting the time that the children are able to spend with you, it is important to note that children spending time with their parents is not connected to whether maintenance is paid or not. You may find this factsheet helpful https://1gu3xt3qq8id2mr6f51sklsr-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/FLP_Factsheet_-_Arrangements_for_the_children_following_relationship_breakdown.pdf

  19. My ex husband and I have a financial order in place that states how much child maintenance he will pay.
    He has contacted me and told me his wage has been cut by 20% and the payments will follow suit.
    When we divorced he was earning over £100,000 a year, and I can imagine this has only increased. He is a very wealthy man, and as is usually the case, I’m no where near what would be classified as wealthy, or even financially stable for that matter.
    I have emailed back to say I can not agree to a reduced payment, but have the feeling he will go ahead with it anyway.
    Is there anything I can do to stop him?

    1. Dear Trezea, thank you for reading our blog at what must be a very stressful time. It’s not clear upon what basis payments have been made i.e. are they through a court order or through the CMS? Of course, a 20% reduction in salary would not necessarily mean that maintenance had to be reduced by the same percentage. It may be an issue upon which you need to obtain some advice but in the first instance you need to request evidence of the reduction in income, and evidence of why this automatically means that what you receive should be reduced. Much will depend on the basis upon which the payment is made and you should review this.

      We hope this helps but if you need any specific advice then please do get in contact.

  20. I pay my ex near on £800 a month in Maintenance under normal circumstances. I would normally have the boys over night every Thursday, and then every over weekend including the Sunday night. I also split all school holidays with her 50/50.

    Given Covid-19 we are now sharing boys one week with me, one week with her, so in effect for the forseeable we have 50/50 shared custody. To my mind, I should not continue paying her £800 a month? Surely I should pay nothing until the boys go back to school?

    What i have also learnt, her new boyfriend, who does not officially live with her, has been with her during the lockdown. I read somewhere that if she he is not officially living with her, then they should be adopting the social distancing rules?

    This also opens up another question, if her boyfriend is officially living there, and inputting finance into the house (he earns over £500k PA according to my ex, then surely my maintenance should reduce / stop entirely?

    Seems wholly unfair on me?

    1. Dear Mark, thank you for reading our blog and for your comment. You don’t say whether the maintenance you are paying is child maintenance, spousal maintenance or both. Nor is it clear whether you are paying by way of a court order, via the CMS or by voluntary agreement. This makes a difference as to your options. The change in circumstances may be reasonable justification to reduce the maintenance. However, communicating about this issue with your children’s mother – as hard as that may be – would be the sensible way to proceed to avoid this issue escalating in what are already challenging circumstances. It is important to consider that she may be may be dependent upon the money, she is still looking after your children and the impact upon her ability to meet living costs should be considered. Online mediation may be helpful if you need some third-party support.

  21. My husband has a private arrangement with his ex to pay child maintenance. My husband is self employed and has paid maintenance to her through their own arrangement for around 8 years, he pays fortnightly. Due to the coronavirus he has been out of work for 4 weeks with no income at all. He got in touch with her to explain he would only be paying £10 a fortnight and once hes back to work the payments would resume. She has since been in touch to ask if she will receive back payments for what’s been missed. Does he have to pay this back? I am on furlough so only getting 80% and we have deferred everything we can to get by. We have applied for universal credit but nothing back yet but she believes he will get a lump sum in June as he is self employed and she thinks he should give her a lump sum back. Does he have to pay back what’s missed??

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read our post at such a challenging time. If your husband were to receive universal credit then he will probably be assessed by the CMS to pay a flat rate of £7 per week. However, even though your husband may not be working he may be entitled to assistance under one of the schemes set up by the government to combat the financial impact on those self-employed people affected by coronavirus. This would not apply if he has a limited company from which he took dividends and would also be subject to the limits set under the scheme. Given that there is a voluntary agreement in place there is no formal mechanism for your husband’s ex to seek reimbursement of any arrears. However, she may contact the CMS and request a formal assessment of your husband. Once an assessment is made the clock starts ticking and if the payments are not made the CMS can enforce payment of any arrears. We wish you well in trying to resolve matters but suggest that you keep communicating with your husband’s ex.

  22. My ex was paying me maintenance throgh the cms and this was being deducted ftom hs wages from cms. This month i have not received any maintenance and have not been notified of any changes. My ex is dtill working and want to know if it is possible for them to stop collecting the money without notifying me . I really rely on that money

    1. Dear Chell, thank you for reading our blog. I am sure this must be a stressful time for you. You will need to contact the CMS directly given they have been collecting the maintenance from your ex. I hope you manage to resolve things.

    2. Hi, I am in the same boat and have not had a payment since March. Now missing April and May payments and my ex has shown me the wage slips showing the money is being deducted from his wages. I contacted CMS last month with no luck. Have you managed to receive any payments?

  23. I currently pay my ex based on shared care. It’s a mutual agreement we made when we split. Currently he is still out working as he is a key worker, so as I’m working from home I’m taking daughter the majority of time now. It’s role reversal basically. I was planning on speaking to him about not paying maintenance money next month, but I wouldn’t expect anything in return. Would this seem reasonable?

    1. Dear Kay, thank you reading our blog and for your query. As you will have read if it is a private agreement then there is no reason why arrangements could not altered to take into account the change that has occurred. However, given your ex may depend on the amount he gets from you for support to reduce it may have quite a prejudicial impact. It would be a really good idea to have a sensible conversation to explain why it needs to change, when it will change and to try and ensure that that is managed as sensitively as possible. If it’s on a temporary basis then think about how that can be positioned so that there is some certainty over what will happen if the arrangements return to how they were.

  24. Thank you for your helpful article.
    My ex-husband has a restaurant with his current wife that is closed due to Covid. The company is successful and pays him and his wife a salary of around £40k each. He also takes dividends, but I don’t know how much. He set it up this way to keep his income low before our court case. In court I was awarded £900 per month joint lives, which just covers the mortgage, on a flat that he has a charge on as I couldn’t afford to buy him out. We share 3 children, and he pays £200 each child maintenance. They were supposed to be with him 6/14 days but now he has them approx 2/14 days due to his business travel. The child maintenance has never been increased to reflect this.
    I am now working full time but have a low income. He has asked me to take a mortgage holiday and says he can’t pay spousal maintenance until the business reopens. He has a history of trying to hide income, when in the years before our financial court case his then employer gave him a £40k pay rise he said his income had reduced, amongst other things.
    While I accept this is a trying time for him, I’m worried that he is going to try to use this situation to stop paying spousal maintenance, which I heavily rely on. Should I allow the mortgage holiday? He says it is easier for me to get one than him and his wife. He is quite domineering and persuasive and does not take no for an answer.
    I have not remarried and do not have a partner. The spousal maintenance is a court order and the child maintenance is a private arrangement.

    1. Thank you for your comments. We are not able to provide advice in relation to specific circumstances. However, we would express caution in agreeing to a mortgage holiday. As there is a private arrangement in relation to child maintenance you could contact the CMS and ask them to assess your former husband’s child maintenance liability separately. With regard to the spousal maintenance order you can take steps to enforce it if he were to stop paying. You may find this article helpful https://www.familylawpartners.co.uk/blog/what-happens-if-my-ex-stops-paying-spousal-maintenance/. However, we think communication is the key and so it is really important to continue to speak with your former husband to see how it could be resolved. You may want to consider using a mediator to help with your discussions before thinking about court proceedings.

  25. My ex husband and I are currently in court proceedings for reduced global maintenance and a separate hearing for child arrangements. Both have been postponed until later in the year. His pub has closed because of Covid-19 and he now says he cannot pay anything. From the existing proceedings we know he pays the global maintenance through his business and that he has over £60,000 in his current accounts. He is pleading poverty even though he has zero outgoings and has furlowed himself and his staff. He was supposed to pay the global maintenance today and hasn’t done so.

    I am self employed and have zero income because of this situation and have no savings. I am having to sell my house to fund the legal fees and he is swanning around in a new £75,000 car and designer clothes. Seeing as I can prove he has plenty of money which route should I take to get this enforced.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I am sure this must be a very stressful time for you. If there is already an order in place and it is over 12 months old you could contact the CMS and ask them to assess his child maintenance liability separately. With regard to the spousal maintenance element of the order (and the child maintenance element if the order is less than 12 months old) you can take steps to enforce it. You may find this article helpful https://www.familylawpartners.co.uk/blog/what-happens-if-my-ex-stops-paying-spousal-maintenance/ If we can assist on a formal basis please get in touch.

  26. Since corona virus lockdown 5 weeks ago my 16yo has been staying with me 7 days a week (used to be 2-3 days) and is not seeing his mother at all. In this current situation which may go on for many weeks possibly months I think it very unfair that I continue with CM monthly payments. My child would not benefit from these payments at all as he is living with me. This is a private arrangement and my intention is not make any further payments until he returns home to his mother. Do you think this is reasonable? If roles were reversed I would not expect anything. You could argue that the mother should be paying me cm. Thank You.

    1. Thank you for your post. We cannot offer advice, but the following guidance may be of assistance. First of all, whatever the source, we are all reliant upon what “income” we receive and when that changes it can have a very real impact upon our ability to meet the liabilities that we have and budget for. It is not uncommon for people to utilise most of their income to meet their needs unless they’re in the fortunate position of earning sufficient to enable them to save. You will have a better idea of the financial position of your child’s mother. She will still have to run the home, pay the bills, pay rent or mortgage, pay all the other expenses that need to be met and which child maintenance would be used for. Child maintenance is not simply money to spend on the child. That said, it’s probably sensible for you to speak to your child’s mother to explain that you think there should be a change in the arrangements during the period your child lives with you and to hear what she may have to say and then come to a compromise as to how you both deal with this. What may be reasonable from your perspective, may not be from your child’s mother’s perspective. Furthermore, it may be worth asking whether not she agrees with you that there should be a suspension until the arrangements are back to normal (were that to happen). Communication is going to be critical because you also don’t want to put yourself in the position where your impact upon your child’s mother’s financial position may risk resentment from your child. We hope this helps.

  27. I have an agreement that was set up by the CSA over 16 years ago to pay my ex wife a specified amount each month, It is not, or was ever collected by the CSA, It is paid directly into my ex’s account from me.
    I work freelance and from March, had all my work cancelled for the remainder of the year, which means I have no income coming in. I have managed to find some work this month, so will pay my ex what I should pay her, but from next month I have no work. If I have no income how do I pay my ex, If I receive anything from a govenment scheme I will give her a fair share, but as I have stated from May I will have no income.

    1. Dear Andrew, thank you for reading our blog and for commenting. The change in your circumstances may be reasonable justification to reduce the maintenance. However, communicating about this issue with your child’s mother – as hard as that may be – would be the sensible way to proceed to avoid this issue escalating in what are already challenging circumstances. It is important to consider that she may be may be dependent upon the money, she is still looking after your child and the impact upon her ability to meet living costs should be considered. Online mediation may be helpful if you need some third-party support.

  28. Hi there I have been paying for my child & I believe that Child Benefit is going to stop after August as my child will be going to University.
    So in theory my payments to my ex should also stop, but I have been informed that because of Coronavirus, the start date for University is now mid October instead of early September. My child is due a grant from her chosen University, will this be held back? Will The Child Benefit department pay an extra 6 weeks and will I have to pay an additional 6 weeks Child Support?

    1. Dear Andrew, thank you for reading the blog and for your comment. We are not the right people to be asking what the impact of the deferred start date for your daughter’s university is in terms of the child benefit. We suggest you make further enquiries in this respect. The challenge is that the reduction in child support (and spousal payment if you are paying that as well) will likely have a significant impact on your child’s mother if she is living with her and being supported by her. Communicating with her is our recommendation. You should also speak to the CMS for advice.

  29. My ex has stopped his payment for maintenance that was made by court order 8 years ago. I had one spousal payment left and child maintenance for my daughter has two more years to go. He owns several business and has a lot of property and assets and I believe significant savings. He has claimed he will only have a minimal income but hasn’t proved it. I will have to use my savings to supplement my income without the maintenance. What is my best course of action to get him to pay? Is he likely to get the arrears written off?

    1. Thank you for your comment. I am sure this must be a very stressful time for you. As there is already an order in place and it is over 12 months old you could contact the CMS and ask them to assess your ex’s child maintenance liability separately. With regard to the spousal maintenance element of the order you can take steps to enforce it. However, I would recommend you get advice from a Resolution lawyer as, depending on what the arrears are, it may not be cost effective to commence enforcement proceedings. You may find this article helpful https://www.familylawpartners.co.uk/blog/what-happens-if-my-ex-stops-paying-spousal-maintenance/. However, we think communication is the key and so it is really important to continue to speak with your ex to see how it could be resolved. You may want to consider using a mediator to help with your discussions before thinking about court proceedings.

  30. Found out biological son who I’ve never been allowed to meet and who I pay maintenance for isn’t living with the mother but step dad and before this was staying with him every weekend. Is it right for me still to be paying to the mother

    1. Dear Mike, thank you for your comment. If you are the biological father of the child you will have a liability for child maintenance. If the child is not living with the other parent, then it may be that she also has a liability for child maintenance. I would advise you to contact the Child Maintenance Service to explain the situation: https://childmaintenanceservice.direct.gov.uk/onlinerevive/public/landing-screen I would also recommend seeking advice from a Resolution lawyer if you wish to consider how you can have a relationship with your son going forward and I would strong recommend inviting your son’s mother to engage in mediation with you about this. If we can assist on a formal basis please get in touch.

  31. I’m not in any financial difficulties however due to COVID 19 I have had my 3 daughters a lot more, than the regular every other weekend, as my Ex Wife is a key worker and I didnt want the girls to go to school. As I’m in the forces I have been able to provide the extra care, although this has been beneficial for me spending time I have had to pay extra interms of feeding and household utilies. The Child Maint is stipulated in a finacial court order would I be in the right to pay less CM, if the Ex wife did not agree to a lower payment what would the court think? I pay £663 per month and normally only have the girls 4 days a month, however I have had them 21days this month. I just feel it be an injustice if I have to pay the normal CM amount when the girls have been in my care for the majority of the month.

    1. Dear Michael, thank you for reading our blog and for commenting. We cannot offer advice, but the following guidance may be of assistance. If the agreement is subject to a court order which is less than 12 months old then you should not unilaterally cease paying as you will then be in breach of the order. If the order is more than 12 months old you could contact the CMS and ask them to assess your liability in light of the change of circumstances. However, it is important to consider that, whatever the source, we are all reliant upon what “income” we receive and when that changes it can have a very real impact upon our ability to meet the liabilities that we have and budget for. You will have a better idea of the financial position of your children’s mother. She will still have to run the home and pay bills as well as all the other expenses that need to be met and which child maintenance would be used for. That said, it’s probably sensible for you to speak to your children’s mother to explain that you think there should be a change in the arrangements during the period your children live with you and to hear what she may have to say and then come to a compromise as to how you both deal with this. Communication is going to be critical. Online mediation may be helpful if you need some third-party support.

  32. My sons father has cancelled the standing order and I am now in a worrying situation as I rely a lot on that money. He has not contacted me to advise it was stopping or even tried to talk it over. I know it’s a hard time for all and it’s left me in a anxious situation! It’s a mutual agreement so I feel there is nothing I can do and no one to advise where I stand. My son is under 16.

    1. Dear Kelly, thank you for your comment. We would recommend contacting your son’s father so that you are better able to understand why the payments have stopped. It may be that you are able to reach a compromise during this difficult time. We would also recommend seeking the help of a Mediator if you are unable to communicate directly with each other. Alternatively you can contact the Child Maintenance Service and ask them to carry out a formal assessment of your son’s father’s child maintenance liability which will be based on his income and the number of nights your son stays with him.

  33. My ex pays through a mutual agreement £350 every month. However since he was stopped from working he offered/I suggested he might like the children a bit more so we split the month in half so this month he hasn’t paid any maintenance saying we have joint custody however I have bills to be paid and brought clothing for the children and food to pay for. However he says I receive other benefits and he pays half their food so as joint custody he doesn’t have to pay. However I didn’t agree this and he didn’t tell me this before. Also this month I set out a monthly rota again and he has changed it and asking for them on days that don’t work for me. He has said he won’t pay nest month also. I spoke to my children and asked them to answer honestly and if they want to continue seeing him more than the original 2
    Days/nights a week and they both has said they don’t want to. He has said it’s not up to them they are 11 and 13. So I spoke to cab and they said obtain income and check what is due and refer to cms if no Payment made. He won’t listen to me mediation won’t work he thinks I will have all this money, however it’s only £350 and covers food and bills and clothing and extra costs like this month I have brought them extra things whilst home art pads and pens and microphones and clothes. Please advise, thank you

    1. Thank you for your post. It must be a very worrying time for you on many levels. Unfortunately, we cannot advise in this forum but we can provide you with some information which we hope will be of assistance. First, custody has not existed as a legal concept since 1991. You both have parental responsibility. If you were to apply to the CMS then they would be looking at the position over an extended period to work out how many nights your children were staying in both homes. From what you are saying, the number of nights they are staying with their father may result in there being an adjustment but it would not, when looking at the 12 month period for example, be equal. You can create a CMS calculation here which you could share with him. Were that to be the case i.e. an equal number of nights, that may justify there being no payments. I think you need to explain that you will be going to the CMS unless he will restart payments. It’s a bit like an argument to say that you share the Easter holidays equally and then it suggested that there is, in effect, shared care. His argument might be what the position will be going forward and there may be an argument over where the children live in due course. Mediation would be a sensible starting point. If this fails, the CMS needs to be your first port of call but only after you have explained to the children’s father what you will now need to do. You will need to move quickly. We hope this helps.

  34. My husband is self employed and not working due to Covid. He pays for his four children and his income is currently zero, we are living off my wages. Will he have to make back payments when he returns to work? How is it calculated? I saw somewhere that you had to be out of work for 12 weeks minimum, otherwise you have to pay all missed payments. Is this correct?

    1. Dear Leia. We are not aware of there being an expectation to pay back payments but it will be important to advise the CMS of your husband’s current situation so that he can be reassessed, assuming that he is making child maintenance payments via the CMS. We understand that the standard 12-week period for any change in circumstances to be considered will temporarily be reduced to 2 weeks at the current time. However, the 12-week period will be reinstated as soon as possible and so it is important that you husband makes contact with the CMS as soon as possible to report his change in circumstances.

  35. My ex wife sent me a link to this page I believe, in order to prove some sort of point to me, however, reading the content makes me believe I’ve been more than fair and reasonable.

    My wife has been furloughed. We have a joint mortgage on a house she continues to reside in with our children. She immediately asked if I would agree to a 3 month mortgage break. I said I wasn’t keen as it wasn’t in my interest to do so. I said that if we had no mortgage to pay, I could see that with her 80% salary and benefits she receives, she would be financially ok, actually slightly better off.

    I am in rented accommodation now. Happy with a new partner and 4 children between us. We have lived here for over a year and all 4 children are happy staying with us on a weekly basis. This is their second home. My partner lost their job as they are self employed. They have received some benefits but this took time and is not much.

    I advised my ex I would agree to a mortgage break if I didn’t have to pay her the ‘universal’ payment I make each month, meaning I could divert money from her, in order to cover the rent and prevent arrears and possible eviction. After a little bit of debate she agreed to this. In writing. It was very clear what had been agreed and whilst she did ask for a ‘small contribution’ I argued that she was financially better off and she agreed she could manage without my money. This was only for 3 months then back to normal.

    She instructed the mortgage company who agreed. Days later once confirmation of the suspended mortgage has been agreed, she demanded I continue to pay her. I explained that wasn’t what was agreed and she said it was, in the financial order. I agreed with this but explained we had reached and agreement in writing which was clear. I said that it wasn’t fair to make a tidy sum of money from the current situation at the detriment to me, my partner and our landlord. It didn’t seem right to have been duped into agreeing a mortgage break, only for my ex to back track on her side of the agreement in order to financially gain. It is clear she had planned this all along.

    In the end and in order to try and maintain a degree of a civil relationship, I eventually agreed to pay her 25% of my usual payment. This almost covered her loss in income due to being furloughed (93%). It meant she was quite a bit better off each month as a result and I still kept enough to cover our rent. That way, everyone should be happy.

    She isn’t, however. She has now told me she is taking me to court and has advised me that I will not see the kids again until it is resolved in court. We are both aware of the court delays. We have a child arrangement order in place separately.

    She has now sent me another text advising me that the financial order doesn’t state I can choose what I pay, however, if I pay her 50% she will agree to it. I feel totally tricked into this and the 50% doesn’t help me cover the rent, but does make her financially flush!

    If I thought I could temporarily change the financial order I would but I don’t think we should be going down that route. We had an agreement. I have offered to help them several times already if they needed it and she has always refused help. She is now blackmailing me into paying to see my kids essentially. Where do I stand?

    1. Thank you for your post. What we cannot do on this forum is to give advice. Nevertheless, we hope we can provide some information that would be of assistance.

      As a general observation, issues over money should not impact upon a child’s right to see a parent. The courts are very clear about this although it is not always easy for parents who are in the midst of their own issues (often over money) to see this.

      If there is a court order and that order is not being paid then the court can be asked to enforce the order. The parent who has not paid can look to apply to vary the order and they can look to remit, i.e. wipe off, any arrears that may have accrued. On the face of it, and without giving advice, the argument in relation to there being an agreement to vary (and that agreement then being reneged upon) would be an issue for the court to decide. You may have different views as to what may or may not have been agreed, and that would be the issue to be determined which would be supported by the communications between the two of you at the time, assuming they were in writing (even text messages).

      What we can be very clear about is that it is simply not right for any parent to stop a child seeing the other parent because that parent has not met certain financial obligations.

      To avoid this escalating – not least from the children’s perspective – it would be sensible to look at a referral to mediation (which can be dealt with online) as soon as possible. We really recommend you consider this to try and provide the two of you with a safe space to air any differences you have and to find a compromise that works for both of you. There will be a cost associated with this but you need to give some thought to the impact this may have on future arrangements and try and resolve it as quickly as possible.

  36. Hi I am owed historic arrears the money was paid weekly till 3rd April 2020 then nothing and when I contact CMS I get bog standard emails , they now saying it’s with enforcement and he appealing the amount this was done jan2020 , and court advised to pay lump sum ,which thy secured and told me about Sept 2019 , if been told so many lies all i am looking for is update which i can’t get ,are solic still working and should I get a solic to take on case . Any advice is welcomed

    1. Thank you for your comment. I can see that you have mentioned both the court and the CMS. A lawyer would need to understand exactly what you are looking to enforce and whether it is a private court order or a CMS liability order as that will depend on how best to deal with it going forward. I would suggest that you seek advice from a family lawyer who is a member of Resolution who will be able to advise you. You may also find these websites helpful:
      https://www.nacsa.co.uk/
      https://www.gingerbread.org.uk/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI45z38a-16QIVU4BQBh0qSgUDEAAYASAAEgJ7J_D_BwE

  37. My daughter needs to shield (she has received a letter) due to a health condition so as a result, she, myself and my son are not leaving the house for 12 weeks. My ex husband works in a factory so he has taken the decision not to have contact with the children. Do I ask for child maintenance payments to be increased during this time given that our children will not be having contact with their father? There has been no change to his income.

    1. Dear Steph, thank you for your comment. This is a matter for you and if you were to claim an increase in the maintenance payments you will need to do so through the CMS unless you are able to reach an agreement with your former husband. I anticipate that if a claim were made your former husband is likely to explain to the CMS that the situation is a temporary one and that the arrangements are likely to return to normal after the 12 weeks isolation if not before. Whilst the CMS may re-assess your former husband’s maintenance liability I anticipate it will take time to do so and it may be that things are back to normal by the time a decision has been made. In those circumstances you could expect that your former husband may challenge/appeal any decision made if it were not in his favour.

  38. Hello. I would be very grateful for your advice: following a ruling in family court, my child is now residing with me full-time. I would like to stop the CMS payments to the other parent as soon as possible, and have notified CMS of the change of resident parent. How long am I expected to keep paying for?

    1. Thank you for your comment. If your child is now residing with you full-time you are no longer the ‘non resident parent’. As such child maintenance will not be payable. Assuming you have been making payments voluntarily following a CMS assessment rather than under the CMS collection scheme, you may wish to consider ceasing payments from now. It is important to liaise with the CMS to ensure they are aware of your actions and the Child Arrangements Order that is now in place. However, please be aware that very often the left hand doesn’t necessarily talk to the right hand at the CMS and you may be contacted about non payment and arrears.

  39. My ex partner is Self Employed, worked as a car valetor in the motor trade, the dealership has closed so no income from there. We have a 8 year old son who’s he’s seen x3 in 15 months. He’s now got no income, however us claiming covid-19 government grant to be back dated and paid by end of June. This chap does cash in hand jobs, has a flash car to reduce income & I’ve received a text from csa stating my payments are going down to £7 per month. If thry are claiming the government grant, surely this would be taken into account? Thanks

    1. Dear Stacey, thank you for your comment. I’m afraid we can’t offer you any further advice than as set out in the article. We would suggest that you raise your concerns with the CMS directly. We hope you are able to resolve matters quickly.

  40. Hi, I am in the same boat and have not had a payment since March. Now missing April and May payments and my ex has shown me the wage slips showing the money is being deducted from his wages. I contacted CMS last month with no luck. Have you managed to receive any payments?

  41. Afternoon, I have a court order in place saying that i have shared responsibility and have my 7 year old son 3 and 4 nights a week, I currently pay £155 to my ex in child maintenance over the last couple of years i have had my son overnight on more occasions than his mother, as he would rather be with me, and i wouldn’t say no to him, since covid I have had my son since 20th march, as his mother keeps saying she is ill and has sent a text saying that my son is better off with me, i contacted the CMS, however they say that i still have to pay as this is just temporary, my question is How long do they class temporary?

    1. Dear Rob, thank you for your comment. I’m afraid we don’t know the answer to that. We would suggest you continue to speak to the CMS and ask that they review your change in circumstances if you consider that this is likely to be a permanent change.

  42. Hi, thanks in advance for your reply. My partner is self employed and since lockdown has been unable to work. He has had not any income to date and been unable to pay child support. He has been accepted, yet to receive, the Self Employed Grant. Does this count as income that would count towards child support? He’s applied for universal credit would this also count? Previous to this he had been paying around 25% of his wages to his ex for his 2 children.

    1. Dear Jayne, thank you for your comment. We would recommend speaking to the child’s mother to explain the situation and see if they are able to agree a temporary change in the arrangements. If that isn’t possible we would recommend that he contact the CMS to explain the change in his circumstances and for an assessment to be undertaken. If he is in receipt of Universal Credit only it is likely he will be assessed to pay the flat rate of £7 per week.

  43. Hello. I have been paying child maintenance (mutual agreement) for my daughter who usually stays with me 3 nights a week. During lockdown she has stayed with me 100% of the time so I advised her mother that the money I would normally pay, I need at present to provide for our daughter. Her mother believes I should still be paying this. She is 16 and has now decided even after the lockdown rules are eased, to live with me the majority of the time and stay at her mum’s for 2 nights a week. Her mother is still demanding I pay Am I still classed as the ‘non-residing parent’ and therefore still be expected to pay maintenance, albeit at a reduce amount ? Looking at the maintenance calculator it states I still should pay even if my daughter stays with me over 3 nights a week ?

    1. If your daughter is now living with you permanently then you would not be expected to pay child support to the mother with whom she does not reside. It may be that you would have a claim for child maintenance from her mother if she is now the non resident parent. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your daughter’s mother we would recommend that you contact the CMS to explain the change in circumstances and that this change will be a permanent one e.g. that your daughter will be living with and you will have the day to day care of her for at least 5 days per week. They will then be able to assess what child maintenance is to be paid and by whom.

  44. My ex has had a temporary reduction in salary for 3 months due to Covid 19 starting 1st June. He wants to reduce maintenance payments by 10% too. He earns £80 000 plus. The maintenance is subject of a Consent Order made July 2019. It is global maintenance. He tells me the order is not legally enforceable and he can do what he likes. Please help.

    1. Dear Kara, thank you for your email. Without having seen the order we cannot confirm whether it is “legally enforceable” or not. Realistically, if there is a reduction in the paying party’s income then there is the potential that that will impact upon their ability to meet their maintenance obligations. Without knowing the specifics we could not comment, but there will need to be a dialogue and, as hard as this is to hear, the realisation that if income has dropped then there may need to be a reduction in what is being paid. Hopefully it will be a temporary measure but it will be important to try to reach an agreement with your ex if you can. If necessary, and if there are challenges in agreeing what should be paid, see if you can use online mediation to help you resolve matters. In the first instance, try and resolve it between yourselves but for that to work there will need to be an open and honest conversation about what is being earned, what is affordable etc. If that proves impossible then you will need to seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer as to your options through the court if necessary. Good luck in trying to resolve it.

  45. Hi there,

    My partner pays his son’s mother through the CMS. He is 17 and for the first 16 years (they seperated when the son was 4 months old) they had a voluntary agreement which worked well and things were very amicable. Unfortunately on the exact date she found out we had got engaged, she put in a claim to the CMS without discussion and cut all communication and so we have been paying through that since. She refused to confirm with the CMS that he was staying with us 3 nights a week and would only confirm 1 night and the CMS said without a court letter they would have to just accept what the mother was willing to confirm as they always go in favour of the mother. In January of this year his son essentially moved in with his girlfriend and her parents, continued to stay with us 2-3 nights a week but not stay at his mothers at all. We did not report this to the CMS as we thought it might be a temporay measure and the mother also said that she would stop him staying with us altogether if we did and given his age and the fact payments will soon end next year it seemed futile to create any issues and we continued to pay.

    In January my partner had his first annual review, his salary had reduced by 25% and payments were reduced accordingly. The first payment reduction was made from April 2020. We have now just recieved a letter stating that the mother has informed them that from 1st April 2020 his son is now staying 0 nights (maybe coincidental that this co-insides with her first payment reduction!). When we went in to lockdown, his son returned home to his mothers from his girlfriends parents house and has not stayed with us since as his mother informed us that they were self-sheilding due to her and her partner having ill health, them having a 8 year old and my partners son having asthma. We accepted that this was the correct thing to do and that it was a temporay meassure to keep them safe.

    So my question really is how do we navigate this? This is a temporary measure due to Covid 19, I have read that as it’s a temporay measure that payments should stay the same and not increase due to the reduction in nights stayed as a result of Covid – 19. Is this correct?

    We are already struggling as I was self -employed and have recieved no income for months due to falling through all of the support gaps and so we’re currently living on one salary.

    Thanks you in advance for any advice.

    1. Dear Sally,. Thank you for your post. It sounds as if it has been a challenging time and one you have tried to deal with in a measured and child focussed way. We cannot give advice in this forum and we think it may be sensible for your partner to speak to http://www.nacsa.co.co.uk to help him navigate through this situation in a cost effective way. We wish you and him well resolving this.

  46. For the past 7 years, my husband’s son has always stayed with us 6/14 nights (alternative weekends plus 2 set week days) and whilst we effectively have split custody by family arrangement, we have always paid the full calculated CSA amount (and more than that prior to his mother approaching CSA)
    The situation is not amicable and several times, she has provided false information resulting in higher payments due until we follow the appeal route and the payment amounts are corrected. We have never had a reduction to compensate for the overpayments and at one time this even resulted in enforced payments and arrears on file at one time, where we had to pay the collection fees on top for 12 months as well as increased payments, even though my husband has never missed a payment.
    We appealed and rectified this again recently and managed to get back onto a direct pay scheme.
    When lockdown came into effect, we informed her our daughter must shield due to aggravated asthma and we would be happy to have our son stay with us full time for initially the first 3 weeks of lockdown that were announced and then afterwards for as long as it may take. We felt this was very important not only for our own family unit but also for our son’s health and well-being as she is a key worker, working long hours in close contact with covid patients. She also has another son in a split partnership who is freely moving between both parents house therefore increasing the risk.
    During this time we would not have expected to cancel any payments and would have continued to pay the maintenance as arranged regardless of where he was staying.
    She declined this offer and as a result we have only seen our son once in the past 12 weeks. This has been a difficult time for us all and on top of this, contact has been very limited if existent at all.
    My husband has been furloughed and on a reduced wage and I have been made redundant so we are on the very edge of our finances as it is but we have not once suggested or actioned a reduction of csa payments and have continued to pay regular payment amount.
    We have now received a letter from the csa stating that she has informed them we no longer see our son and as we no longer have him overnight, we must submit evidence to the contrary or face a recalculation for top csa banding payments.
    We can not afford the payments that we are paying now, let alone an extra £200 a month approximately. We fully intend to resume our usual contact with our son when it is safe to do so. We have also tried to get advice about a formal court order in the past (only to solidify the arrangement we have had in place for so long already, not to increase or reduce contact) but as he is 14, we were advised this would not be likely to be approved.
    Surely the current situation should mean any recalculations can not be made at this time?
    My husband’s mental health is suffering massively and we don’t know where to turn and so any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    1. Dear Amber, thank you for your comment. It sounds like a stressful and worrying time for you and your husband. We are unable to provide specific advice within this forum. We would recommend speaking to the CMS to explain the situation. You may need to instigate an appeal if you are unable to resolves matters satisfactorily. In terms of seeking a Child Arrangements Order you should seek advice from a Resolution lawyer as to your husband’s options. Alternatively we would recommend inviting your son’s mother to mediation to discuss the arrangements in the hope of reaching an agreement. In some cases your son could also be invited to attend mediation so that he can voice his wishes and feelings. Many mediators are offering video meetings during the present pandemic. You can find a list of mediators via the Resolution website.

  47. Hi.
    I have a private agreement with my ex partner for the child maintenance payments of 2 children. He upkept payments during 12 weeks of lockdown it did not see them . Now he has them for 6 weeks and is refusing to pay any CM whilst in his care. He is aware the money is used to pay toward rent. Is he within his rights to cease payments, claiming his furloughed wage is less. He lives with a high earner and has done for 10 years. Would it be advisable to use CMS rather than private arrangement where I feel
    I’m being taken advantage of.

    1. Dear Melissa, thank you for your question. I am sure this is a very worrying time for you. We are not able to provide specific advice within this forum. We would recommend trying to speak with your ex partner with a view to reaching an agreement on this issue. If you are unable to do that directly you could invite him to Mediation. Alternatively, as you already mention you may wish to contact the CMS for their advice and/or to instigate a formal assessment.

  48. I need some advice, my ex husband has chosen to not see his kids since the end of march, he pays a certain amount every 4 weeks, he has not contributed anything extra while I have had the kids full time. I lost m y job at the end of march so could really do with the extra help. What can I do?

    1. Dear Sabrina. Thank you for your post. It is clearly a very challenging time for you and we hope things will improve very quickly. If you have asked your husband and the answer was no then your options will be to make a formal application for him to be assessed through the child maintenance service and depending on the terms of the financial side of your divorce, you may be able to make an application to the court for spousal maintenance (if you have remarried then this may not be possible depending on how your divorce petition was worded). Spousal maintenance would be based on not only your own ‘need’, but also your former husband’s ability to pay.

  49. I have an 18yo daughter that has finished her A levels early due to the covid 19, she will be attending university in September, I have had an agreement with her mother that I pay her maintenance every week and I want to know when can I stop paying that

    1. Dear John, thank you for your question. If the child maintenance has been paid under a Child Maintenance Service assessment then the rules specify that the maintenance is paid until your daughter is 16 years of age or until 20 if she continues in full time education to the end of ‘A’ levels or the equivalent. This means that once your daughter has finished ‘A’ levels, the child maintenance should end. If your daughter is planning on attending university then she can apply to the family court for maintenance from you. The court does have the power to extend child maintenance to cover the duration of higher education if you have the ability to cover the costs although these are less common now due to student loans being available. We would recommend that you speak with your daughter and her mother with a view to reaching an agreement about any ongoing support you may wish to provide for your daughter during her tertiary education.

  50. My daughter was admitted to hospital with stress induced psychosis and her ex husband has had their two children while she has been in hospital . He has now gone for custody of them and it is going through the courts at the moment . The consultant has said she will make a full recovery. She has checked her bank statement and found out he has stopped the child maintenance, it was agreed by them both not through the courts . Can he do this as she has a mortgage and bills to pay and expects her children to be returned to her in the near future . Can she claim back the money he has stopped since she was in hospital ?

    1. Thank you for your post at what must a very worrying an upsetting time for your daughter and you. If there was an informal agreement then that creates an issue. We think your daughter needs to get urgent advice form a family law specialist to review all issues, including what she can do financially and in relation to the issue as to where the children live. This will then allow your daughter to work out how best to address all issues.

  51. Hi

    Thank you for alllowing us to post a comment in this section, this is very helpful.

    Me and the ex have an informal agreement for child maintenance as I am battling through the court for a shared care arrangement 50/50. The ex has sent a malicious email to my work which has lead to me being suspended with pay, pending investigations for the last month and a half. I am being positive that I won’t be losing my job however it is a very stressful and worrying. I have paid maintenance for the last month however, I am now wondering whether I should continue paying child maintenance or do I have any grounds to stop paying maintenance due to the suspension until the suspension is lifted and I am cleared from all false allegations? It would be great if you would provide me with a little bit of advice.

    Finally, I have read and found court cases and decisions made by the court that where there is a shared care arrangement 50/50, the parent does not have to pay any child maintenance as it is all shared. Can you please confirm that this is the case?

    I look forward to your responses, and would to thank you in advance.

    Kind regards

    1. Thank you for your question. Child maintenance will continue to be payable all the time you are still earning. We cannot comment on the issues surrounding your Child Arrangements application or your suspension. What we would say is that is very important that you seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer. Child maintenance is worked out depending on the number of nights the child or children spends with the non-resident parent.

  52. Due to college closing early under coronavirus my son is now finished and has been working 5 and sometimes 6 days a week. Should I still be expected to pay maintenance as his education is done with?

    1. Dear Lenny, thank you for your comment. If the child maintenance has been paid under a Child Maintenance Service assessment then the rules specify that the maintenance is paid until your son is 16 years of age or until 20 if he continues in full time education to the end of ‘A’ levels or the equivalent. This means that once your son has finished ‘A’ levels, the child maintenance should end. If your son is planning on attending university then he can apply to the family court for maintenance from you. The court does have the power to extend child maintenance to cover the duration of higher education if you have the ability to cover the costs although these are less common now due to student loans being available.

  53. My partner has his children every other weekend and 2 weeks in the holidays. This is was reflected in CM deduction over 52 nights. Due to me being pregnant and high risk he has not had the children overnight since 14th March. His ex applied to the CM services for more money and was declined but on mandatory reconsideration was overturned ans he has lost his discount for overnight stays. This has resulted in an underpayment also so his monthly payments have dramatically increased. As this was only temporary due to COVID19 is this allowed as normal contact will resume once baby arrives and im no longer Shielding?

    1. Dear Kim. Thank you for your comment. I’m afraid we are unable to provide specific advice within this forum. Your husband should contact the CMS and explain the situation. He may need to provide evidence and set out his position in writing. http://www.nacsa.co.uk is a helpful resource and they have a dedicated page which will provide guidance as to how to report. We hope this helps.

  54. Hi. I currently pay my ex wife child support every month at an agreed rate, privately between ourselves.
    However, I have recently been put at risk of redundancy by my employer.
    If I am made redundant will i have to pay my full child support monthly agreement out of my savings? Whilst I am prepared to do this, my savings were to be a deposit on a house for me so eating into the savings means I cant afford to buy my new house!
    I have tried talking to my ex about this but she knows I have savings and says I must pay the full monthly support out if it even though she knows it’s for a house
    What do I do?

    1. Thank you for your post. On the basis that the arrangement between yourselves is entirely voluntarily, if payments were not affordable due to you losing your job, then your former wife would need to apply to the child maintenance service unless an alternative agreement can be reached between you. The court would not have jurisdiction to deal with this and, if the arrangement is voluntary, there are no arrears to recover. If you continue to be paid then there would be logic in you continuing to provide the voluntary support but if you are made redundant then there would be no expectation to pay child support out of savings. If you were to find new employment then maintenance could be reviewed but this may need to take into account any changes in your income.

      On the resources section of our website we have child maintenance calculator you can use here. The calculation in relation to child support would be based on income and not your savings (unless interest on the investments exceeds a prescribed amount : £2,500). We would recommend that you try and discuss this within an online mediation process with your former wife to ensure that the matter is resolved in a constructive way and so as to ensure that this issue does not then start to infect your ability – as parents – to resolve issues in relation to your children.

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