How can I arrange child maintenance?

Last updated: 17/11/2021

You have three different options on how to arrange child maintenance.

Child Maintenance Options:

Tel: 0800 953 0191

There are three 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 both parents. It has the advantage of being free, flexible and considers both parents circumstances. You will need to negotiate with your child’s other parent which could be challenging. You would decide between you how much, when and how child maintenance is paid.

It is not legally binding.

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.

It is important to note that, if you set up 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 agree a private arrangement you can use the Child Maintenance Service to arrange child maintenance.

The Child Maintenance Service deals with applications for child maintenance for children under the age of 16, and up to 19 if the child is in full-time non-advanced education. In Scotland children aged 12 and over can apply to the Child Maintenance Service themselves.


Child Maintenance Options Service

Before you can apply to use the Child Maintenance Service you first need to contact Child Maintenance Options. They will discuss the ways maintenance can be arranged and can also give you a rough idea of what maintenance payments you can expect based on the information you give them. There is no charge for this.

If you have experienced any form of domestic abuse you can use the Child Maintenance Service without talking about other options.


Child Maintenance Service

If you decide that you want to make an application to the Child Maintenance Service you will be given a reference number by the Options Service that you need to proceed with your application.

There is a £20 application fee to use the Child Maintenance Service. The fee is for access to the service and a 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 not proceed. 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, 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: