How can I arrange child maintenance?

Last updated: 05/04/2022

You can arrange child maintenance 3 different ways.

For help to arrange child maintenance see:

Get help arranging child maintenance

The 3 ways to arrange child maintenance are:

  • a private arrangement
  • using a solicitor
  • using the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

Making a private arrangement

A private arrangement is an informal agreement made between you and your child’s other parent. It has the advantage of being free, flexible and considers both parent’s circumstances.

You and your child’s other parent would decide between you how much, when and how child maintenance is paid. There is no right or wrong. This arangement works best if you can both agree on how much should be paid. A private agreement is not legally binding so, if circumstances change, you and your child’s other parent can make new arrangements.

If you or your child’s other parent are not willing or able to do this you may need to use a solicitor or the Child Maintenance Service to help.


Arranging child maintenance through a solicitor

In Scotland child maintenance can be included in a Minute of Agreement. The terms are agreed between both parents with the help of their solicitors. Once a Minute of Agreement is registered in the Books of Council and Session, sheriff officers can take action if maintenance payments stop.

There will be a cost involved in setting up a Minute of Agreement and it is not as flexible as a private agreement.

If you have a Minute of Agreement you cannot use the Child Maintenance Service for the next 12 months.

Using the Child Maintenance Service

If you are unable to make a private child maintenance arrangement you can use the Child Maintenance Service.

The Child Maintenance Service can help you arrange child maintenance payments for children up to, and including, 19 if you still get Child Benefit for them.

In Scotland children aged 12 and over can apply to the Child Maintenance Service themselves.


Child Maintenance Service

There is a £20 application fee to use the Child Maintenance Service. The fee is for access to the service and a formal child maintenance calculation based on information from the parent who will pay maintenance. The fee must be paid upfront within 14 days of the application otherwise the case will be closed. There is no application fee if you are under 18 or have suffered domestic abuse and reported it to:

  • police or the courts
  • medical professionals
  • social services
  • domestic violence organisations
  • employers
  • educational services
  • a local authority
  • a legal professional, or
  • specialist support services

Child maintenance self-service website

Once you have a case open with the Child Maintenance Service you can use their website to manage it. The online service is available for parents and employers. You will need your customer reference number, a PIN and national insurance number to log in.

You can:

  • view statements and make payments
  • update personal details
  • view letters and send messages

For more information and to view your online account visit: