Child Support Agency

How to make sure that a parent pays?

The Child Support Agency (CSA) set up under the Child Support Act of 1991 ensures that parents who live apart meet their financial responsibilities to their children. It is part of the Department for Work and Pensions.  

What the CSA does

The Child Support Agency calculates the amount that ‘non-resident’ parents (the parents who do not have active care of the children) should pay towards the maintenance of their children. It also collects the maintenance payments and passes them on to the parents who have care for the children. If, in case, parents share care, the parent who has the children for the shorter period is counted as the non-resident parent.

Powers to Investigate

The Child Support Agency has investigative powers to trace and contact a non-resident parent, as well as power to obtain detailed information about the parent’s income and capital.

When parents do not pay, the Child Support Agency can have payments deducted from their wages. Where parents receive social security benefits, it works with other branches of government to ensure correct payments and to protect against fraud. The Child Support Agency can also resolve paternity disputes if a man believes that he is not a child’s father. 

How Payments are Calculated

  • Payments are based on a percentage of the non-resident parent’s net income. It is fifteen per cent of net income for one child, twenty per cent for two children, and twenty-five per cent for three children or more. 

  • For non-resident parents with net incomes of less than £100 a week, or those receiving benefits such as income support and jobseeker’s Allowance, child maintenance is set at a flat rate of £5 a week.

  • Cases dealt with by the Child Support Agency before the simple percentage calculation was introduced in March 2003 will be transferred to the new system only when the government is confident that it is working well.  


Family Abandoned with No Funds

  • You are worried because your partner has left you and your children. He has also left you with no money to support the children. 

  • Please rest assured, you former partner has a duty to provide financial support to his children. There are a number of things you can do: 

  • If you are married, but do not want a divorce, you may apply to the court for financial provision for both you and your children. 

  • If you want to divorce, you may apply as part of the divorce proceedings for financial provision for both yourself and the children. This will probably consist of a combination of lump sum and regular payments. You can also apply for a share of any pension.

  • If you are unmarried, your former partner has no duty to maintain you.  But because he is the father of your children, he can be required under the Children Act 1989 to provide for the children through regular payments, a lump sum or property. In this case, the Child Support Agency can decide how much your partner should provide. The Child Support Agency will also collect the regular payments from your former partner and pass them on to you.

Liability to Support someone else’s Children

    You are in the process of seeking a divorce and a friend has warned you that you will have to pay maintenance for your wife’s children by a previous marriage as well as your own children.   He is possibly right, if the court decides that your stepchildren have been treated as part of the family. When you divorce, child maintenance will be dealt with by the Child Support Agency. If the children of your marriage are still in full-time education (excluding university education) and are unmarried, the Child Support Agency can oblige you to pay maintenance.

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For more information on:

  • Father Wishes to Cut Maintenance