Maintenance when you and your children’s other parent share their care

Last updated: 06/02/2020

Shared care is where a child stays overnight with the parent who pays maintenance. This reduces the amount of maintenance payable to you.

The more nights that the child or children stay overnight with their other parent the more the weekly amount of child maintenance is reduced:

If care of a child is shared equally, neither parent has to pay child maintenance.


Number of nights of shared care each year

Reduction to child maintenance


52 to 103 nights

Reduction = 1/7th


104 to 155 nights

Reduction = 2/7ths


156 to 174 nights

Reduction = 3/7ths


More than 175 nights

Reduction = Half *

* Plus, an additional £7 a week reduction for each child in this band.

If there is a dispute about the number of nights the children stay with their other parent, and no agreement is in place, the Child Maintenance Service will assume one night per week, resulting in a reduction of one-seventh in the maintenance payment.


If you do not agree with the child maintenance calculation

In certain circumstances you can ask for child maintenance to be recalculated if you have reason to believe it is not correct. This is called a variation. In most cases an application for a variation can be made over the phone, but if the application is complicated the Child Maintenance Service may ask you to apply in writing.

When you think you are not receiving enough maintenance

You can apply for a variation if you think the parent paying maintenance has other taxable income that wasn’t considered in the calculation. If the Child Maintenance Service can identify this extra income, it will be added to the other parent’s gross income and used to make a new calculation.

When maintenance can be reduced

The paying parent can apply for a variation to have their maintenance payments reduced if he/she has certain special expenses. These can include:

  • Contact costs
  • Costs of a long-term disability or illness of a “relevant child”
  • Debts of the relationship
  • Boarding school fees

If the paying parent lives abroad

If your child’s other parent lives abroad, you can’t use the Child Maintenance Service to arrange child maintenance unless your child’s other parent is:

  • A UK civil servant or works within Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service
  • A member of the armed forces
  • Working for a company that is based and registered in the UK
  • Working on secondment for a UK regional health authority or local council.