Step 3 Dealing with your priority debts

​Child maintenance

Extra advice:

the Child Maintenance Service

The CSA scheme is changing. Some child maintenance cases are now dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service. This is gradually replacing the CSA over a three-year period. This means some of the rules will be different when you apply for maintenance and there may be extra powers to make you pay. Contact us for advice.

You can be ordered to pay maintenance either by the court, as part of the separation or divorce process, or by the Child Support  Agency (CSA) or the Child Maintenance Service (CMS)

 
 

Maintenance through the court

If the court has ordered you to make regular payments, you can apply to reduce the payments if you cannot afford them.

Extra advice:

maintenance arrears

If you are behind with your maintenance, contact the court immediately. Take a copy of Your budget to any court hearings and explain why you cannot pay the full amount. The court may reduce the amount you have to pay.

If you do not pay, the court can order you to go to a hearing to explain why you have not paid.

If the court decides that you are deliberately not paying, they may try to:

  • use bailiffs to seize goods and sell them;
  • take payments direct from your wages; or
  • order you to be sent to prison.

Maintenance through the Child Support Agency or the Child Maintenance Service

If you have a child or children who do not live with you, the CSA may ask you to pay child maintenance. The CSA will decide the amount you have to pay by using a set formula. If you do not pay, the CSA can collect it directly from your wages, or from benefits without a court order.

The CSA can apply for a deduction order to take payments out of your bank account. This can be for regular payments or for a lump sum, but there are rules about how much money the CSA is allowed to take out of your account.

If they cannot do any of these things, the CSA can ask the magistrates’ court for a ‘liability order’. If they do this, they may try to take further action. Contact us for advice.