Child Maintenance Service collection fees

For Child Maintenance Service clients with Collect & Pay cases, the Child Maintenance Service works out a child maintenance amount, collects it from the paying parent and then passes it on to the receiving parent.

• Paying parents will pay a 20% fee on top of each regular child maintenance payment.
• Receiving parents will have a 4% fee deducted from each regular child maintenance payment.

These ‘collection fees’ are in addition to the £20 application fee which is charged when the child maintenance application is first made.

How to avoid collection fees

You can avoid collection fees by using Direct Pay. With Direct Pay, the Child Maintenance Service works out a child maintenance amount and then parents arrange payment of that amount between themselves. A Direct Pay arrangement is still legally binding, and the Child Maintenance Service can step in if payments are not made.

Another way to avoid any fees or charges is to make a family-based arrangement – where you sort out child maintenance with your child’s other parent. A family-based arrangement isn’t legally binding, but many parents find it the most flexible way to support their children after separation as no one else needs to get involved and you both decide what’s best for your child.

Help with sorting out child maintenance

We know that reaching agreement with your child’s other parent can be hard – which is why Child Maintenance Options are here to help. Our tools, guides and information can help you have those difficult conversations, and our child maintenance calculator can give you a starting point for your negotiations. And, if you decide a family-based arrangement isn’t right for you, we can talk you through your other options too.

The Child Maintenance Service is completely free to use. So, visit our website or talk to us online or call us on 0800 988 0988 today.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Child Maintenance Service fees and charges – what it means for you

The Child Maintenance Service has introduced fees and charges for using the service. We want to explain what the charges are and how you can avoid them.

Applicants to the Child Maintenance Service will pay a £20 application fee

If you apply for a Child Maintenance Service case, you will have to pay a £20 application fee. There are certain circumstances when you don’t have to pay, for example if you are under the age of 19, a victim of domestic violence, or you apply from Northern Ireland.

Paying parents will also have to pay enforcement charges if they miss child maintenance payments.

Collection fees for Collect & Pay arrangements

If you have a ‘Collect & Pay’ arrangement with the Child Maintenance Service, then from 11 August, you will be charged collection fees.

With Collect & Pay’, the Child Maintenance Service works out a child maintenance amount, collects the money from the paying parent and passes it on the receiving parent.

If you are the receiving parent, a 4% fee will be deducted from each child maintenance payment you receive. If you’re a paying parent, you’ll be charged an additional 20% on top of each payment you make.

Avoid collection fees with a family-based arrangement or Direct Pay

You can avoid all fees and charges by making a family-based arrangement – where you sort out child maintenance with your child’s other parent and no-one else has to get involved.

If you can’t make a Family-based arrangement, you can avoid collection fees with a Direct Pay arrangement. Direct Pay is where the Child Maintenance Service calculates a child maintenance amount, but you agree with the other parent how and when money is paid.

Help and support for separated families

We want to help you make the best child maintenance arrangement for your separated family. Contact us now to have a confidential chat, or see our guidance on the Child Maintenance Service and family-based arrangements on our website.

Sorting out Separation has information, videos and other tools to help you work through a range of separation issues, such as legal rights and mediation.

We are also working with other organisations to provide support for separated parents. The “Help and Support for Separated Families” (HSSF) initiative has funded training for helplines run by Relate and Family Lives, plus parenting classes, counselling and mediation.

Do you have any questions about the introduction of charging that we can answer here on the Talking Child Maintenance blog?

Posted in General | 2 Comments

Are you a military family affected by relationship breakdown?

Are you living ‘on the patch’, perhaps a long way from the support that family members can provide? It’s Armed Forces Day tomorrow, so we thought we’d focus on military familes affected by relationship breakdown, and what support is available to them.

Facing separation is never easy and at times it can seem hard to know where to turn or what to do next, but there are many sources of support available to help you.

Contact your nearest HIVE (Army, Navy or RAF) for details of local arrangements and other sources of help such as:
• “The Guide to Help Service Families During Relationship Breakdown”
• Sources of support that best meet your needs, including mediation, counselling and reconciliation.
• Local Unit Welfare Team contacts who can help you regarding housing needs for those living in Service Families Accommodation (SFA). They can also help you to find support such as mediation, counselling or reconciliation where appropriate.
• Contact details for organisations such as SSAFA who can also provide a wide range of support, including temporary supported accommodation for separating service and ex-service families.

For help and support with wider separation issues not specific to military families, visit the Sorting Out Separation online service. You’ll find information, tools and videos on a wide range of topics such as legal matters, finances and homelessness. You can also create a personalised list of links to other organisations that could help you.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Direct Pay – your questions answered

Growing numbers of separated parents are choosing to make a “Direct Pay” arrangement with the Child Maintenance Service, according to a report issued recently. We thought we’d answer some common questions about Direct Pay.

What is Direct Pay?

With a Direct Pay arrangement, the Child Maintenance Service will calculate a child maintenance amount, and then leave parents to manage payments direct between themselves. The Child Maintenance Service can step in again if payments are missed.

Is it different from a family-based arrangement?

Direct Pay is different from a family-based arrangement. With a family-based arrangement no-one else gets involved and you can agree between you how much child maintenance payments are. You can also decide what counts as child maintenance – for example you could agree to share childcare instead of monetary payments.

Will I be charged for a Direct Pay arrangement?

Later this summer, separated parents will have to pay fees for using the Child Maintenance Service. This includes an application fee and collection fees if you want the Child Maintenance Service to manage payments for you. But, if you use Direct Pay, you will not have to pay collection fees.

(Of course, the best way to avoid any fees and charges is to set up a family-based arrangement and not use the Child Maintenance Service at all.)

What if the other parent doesn’t want to use Direct Pay?

At the moment, both parents need to agree to Direct Pay in order to use it.

But, when charges and fees are introduced, the law will change so that you can choose Direct Pay without needing the other parent to agree, unless there’s evidence that the paying parent is unlikely to pay.

What about CSA cases?
If you have a CSA case, there is a similar service to Direct Pay called Maintenance Direct. If you want to know more about switching to Maintenance Direct, call the office managing your case.

Where can I get more information?

For more information about the different types of child maintenance arrangement, see our guide to comparing your options. Or, you can chat online or call us on 0800 988 0988 to speak to us in confidence.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

International Families Day – what it means to be a separated family

Today marks the 20th anniversary of International Families Day, which aims to celebrate the importance of families throughout the world. But, when you’re separated or going through separation, it’s easy to feel like the traditional definition of a “family unit” just doesn’t apply to you.

Things may have worked out differently than you planned, but it can still be possible to be a family after you’re separated, if you can work together for the sake of your children. That’s why we thought today would be a good time to revisit the idea of “separated families”.

Separated families come in all shapes and sizes

These days, families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – step-families, adopted families…and separated families. You could have a separated family, whether you have recently separated or if you’ve been separated for a few years. You may even have a step-family as well as a separated family! You could have never lived with your child’s other parent or been in a family situation together.

Working together as a separated family

Whatever shape your separated family comes in, it’s still important to work out how your child can be supported by both parents.

That’s because being a separated family is about working together, rather than fitting into the traditional family shape. In fact, research shows that the way a family works together has more effect on a child’s life than the family’s structure itself.

Of course, one of the ways you can support your child is to make a family-based child maintenance arrangement. Child Maintenance Options can help you put a child maintenance arrangement in place – call us now on 0800 988 0988 to talk through your options.

It would also be great if you would share your experiences of working together with your child’s other parent here on Talking Child Maintenance…

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Changes to mediation laws for divorcing or separating parents

As of yesterday, separated parents will need to show that they have considered mediation before going to court to make arrangements for children.

From the 22nd April 2014, before you can make an application to court, you will need to show that you have considered mediation by going to a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

Find out more about Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings

What is mediation anyway?

First of all, let’s remind ourselves about what mediation isn’t. Mediation is not about trying to get you back together. It’s about helping you sort out a range of family problems after you have decided to separate. It can also help when you have already separated and need to sort out new issues that crop up.
Mediation is a process that involves an independent third person, who will help you reach agreement with your child’s other parent. It could even help sort things out with other family members – for example, making sure that the children spend time with their grandparents.

What about the costs of mediation?

The cost of mediation differs depending on how many sessions you need. But, the good news is, you may be able to get legal aid for family mediation.
And, if you are eligible for legal aid for family mediation, you will also qualify for some legal support once you start the process (as long as your circumstances don’t change in the meantime).

Find out more about funding for mediation

If you can’t attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting

If mediation is not suitable for your situation – for example, if there are domestic abuse issues – you will need to provide the court with a completed FM1 form to show that you have considered it. A mediator can complete the form or you can do it yourself.

Still not sure if mediation is for you? Come back tomorrow to hear a real-life story of someone who made mediation work for them.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Do you know how you can save money on your child maintenance arrangement?

When you have children and separate from their other parent, having enough money to support them is probably one of your main concerns. Child maintenance can make a big difference. A Q&A from was posted last week, which tells you how you can save money AND still support your child financially.

Child maintenance is changing

In the past, parents could apply to the CSA, who worked out and collected child maintenance from the paying parent and passed it on to the receiving parent.   Times are changing though – the CSA no longer accepts new applications and the government has introduced the Child Maintenance Service as its replacement.

The Child Maintenance Service works differently to the CSA.  For a start, later this year there will be a fee of £20 for making an application. Both parents will also pay a fee if they choose to use the Collect & Pay service. have worked with DWP to answer questions posted by real parents.  This Q&A tells you how fees and charges will work, but more importantly how you can avoid them by making a family-based arrangement or choosing Direct Pay if you do apply to the Child Maintenance Service.

Talk to your ex now to avoid the charges

Family-based arrangements are where both parents work together and agree what should be included in the child maintenance arrangement between themselves – avoiding both the application fee and any collection charges.

Direct Pay is where the Child Maintenance Service works out how much child maintenance a paying parent must pay.  Both parents then agree between themselves how and when payments are made – avoiding the collection fees.

Read’s Q&A today and save yourself time and money in the future.

Posted in General | Leave a comment