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The 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme - what to do if your circumstances change

This advice applies to England

If you use the Child Maintenance Service to calculate child maintenance using the 2012 Scheme and if your circumstances change, the maintenance calculation might need to be adjusted.

Changes of circumstances that could affect the maintenance calculation include things like earning more or less money, or becoming financially responsible for other children.

This information on this page is for people who use the 2012 Scheme. If your maintenance calculations was made by the Child Support Agency using the 1993 and 2003 Schemes, there are different rules about dealing with a change of circumstances.

Reporting a change of circumstances

There are a number of changes you must report to the Child Maintenance Service.

You don’t need to report a change until it's actually happened. However, it’s a criminal offence not to report some changes of circumstances and you could be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000.

If the Child Maintenance Service wants to prosecute you for committing an offence, it has 12 months from the date of the offence to bring the case to court.

To report a change, call the Child Maintenance Service. You’ll need your 12-digit reference number when you call - you can find this on the letters the Child Maintenance Service send you.

Child Maintenance Service
Telephone: 0800 171 2345
Textphone: 0800 232 1975

Calls to this number are free.

If you’re the parent who pays maintenance

If you’re the parent who pays maintenance, you must tell the Child Maintenance Service within 7 days if you change your address.

If you pay maintenance through deductions from your earnings, you must tell the Child Maintenance Service within 7 days if you leave your job or get another job. A deduction of earnings is when money is taken from your salary to pay back money you owe. The Child Maintenance Service might have set up a deduction of earnings if you missed a maintenance payment.

If your income goes up or down by 25% or more you must tell the Child Maintenance Service within 14 days. If you're self-employed, you don’t have to tell them about a change in income.

You must also tell the Child Maintenance Service if you get a new relationship and have to support another child.

If you’re the parent getting maintenance

If you’re the parent getting maintenance and you think the calculation is no longer correct, you must report this to the Child Maintenance Service. They will then recalculate the amount you get. Changes that affect the calculation include if:

  • your child gets too old for maintenance payments
  • your child leaves full-time non-advanced education
  • you stop having day-to-day care of the children included in the maintenance calculation
  • you, the other parent or your child move abroad – this means one of you is no longer habitually resident in the UK
  • the other parent is no longer the parent of the child – for example, if the child is adopted by someone else

Reporting other changes

Either of you can call the Child Maintenance Service to tell them about changes or new information that might affect the maintenance calculation. For example:

  • if you get maintenance, you might find out that the paying parent has a second job the Child Maintenance Service don’t know about
  • you used to share care of the children equally but now one of you does more day-to-day care than the other
  • if a child or parent dies

When the new arrangement will start

If the change happened after your maintenance amount was calculated, the Child Maintenance Service will review the calculation and change it to reflect the new circumstances. The new arrangement will start on either:

  • the date when the change happened – for example, the date when a child was adopted or the date when one of the parents stopped living in the UK
  • the date when the change was reported – for example, when you told the Child Maintenance Service your income changed by at least 25%

Variations

If your circumstances change for certain reasons, you might be able to ask for your maintenance calculation to be worked out again. This is called a 'variation'.

Asking for a variation for special expenses

If you’re the paying parent and you have special expenses, you can ask for a variation to reduce the amount of maintenance you pay. For example, if you’ are paying costs to support a child with a disability or making payments on a mortgage for the home you used to share with the receiving partner.

Asking for a variation for extra income

Either parent can ask for the amount of maintenance paid to be increased because of extra income that isn’t included in the maintenance calculation. For example, income from renting out property.

Read more about variations

Other useful information

Read more information about making a child maintenance arrangement on GOV.UK. You can also work out a child maintenance amount using the calculator on GOV.UK.

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