The 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme – fees and charges and how to avoid them
The government has introduced fees and charges for parents using the 2012 statutory Child Maintenance Scheme. The fees and charges apply to parents who want to use the scheme and parents who already use it.
The government charges fees to encourage you to reach your own agreement through a private child maintenance arrangement or, to pay each other directly through Direct Pay if you use the Child Maintenance Service.
You need to pay:
- application fees
- fees for using the Collect and Pay service
- enforcement charges
The parent who applies to the Child Maintenance Service must pay a £20 application fee. Your application won’t be processed until you pay the fee in full.
You won’t have to pay the application fee if:
- you’re a victim of domestic violence or abuse and have reported it to certain organisations - for example, the police or domestic violence organisations
- you’re under 19
The Child Maintenance Service will arrange for payments to be collected from the paying partner and passed to the receiving partner. This is called 'Collect and Pay'. You have to pay a fee every time you make or get a payment using Collect and Pay.
You don’t have to pay if you have a private maintenance arrangement or you use Direct Pay.
The fee for Collect and Pay is:
- 20% for the parent making the payment
- 4% for the parent getting the payment
John is a paying parent and Beverly is a receiving parent. They have a Collect and Pay arrangement.
John must pay £100 a week in child maintenance. He must also pay a 20% collection fee on top of his weekly payment. This fee works out at £20 for each weekly payment. This means John must pay a total of £120 a week.
Beverly is due to receive £100 a week in child maintenance. She must also pay a 4% collection fee every time John’s payment is passed onto her. This fee works out at £4 for each weekly payment.
After the fee is taken away, Beverly gets £96 every week.
If you miss a child maintenance payment, the Child Maintenance Service will write to you to find out why. If you don’t reply and arrange to pay, you might have to pay an enforcement charge.
How much is charged?
|Enforcement action||Fee payable|
|Making a deduction from earnings order||£50|
|Making a regular deduction order||£50|
|Making a lump sum deduction order||£200|
|Making an application for a liability order||£300|
Waiving enforcement charges
If you miss a child maintenance payment, the Child Maintenance Service might decide you don’t have to pay the enforcement charge. This is called a ‘fee waiver’. They might waive an enforcement charge if:
- the paying parent has more than 1 employer and 2 or more deduction from earnings orders are made
- the paying parent has more than 1 bank account and 2 or more regular deduction orders or lump sum deduction orders are made
- the paying parent has changed their employer or bank account
- the collection amount has changed
- an application for a liability order is unsuccessful
- the paying parent has successfully challenged a deduction from earnings order, regular deduction order or lump sum deduction order
- the paying parent chooses to pay child maintenance from their salary
- the paying parent is in the Armed Forces and a deduction from earnings request is made.
How to avoid paying fees and charges
Both parents can avoid the application and collection fees by working together to agree a private child maintenance arrangement without using the Child Maintenance Service.
You can use the Child Maintenance Service to work out how much child maintenance to pay but agree to make and collect the payments between yourselves. This is called Direct Pay. There are no fees for paying by Direct Pay. If you miss a payment, the Child Maintenance Service can still charge you enforcement fees and you might be moved onto Collect and Pay.
If you're already on Collect and Pay, you can avoid fees by moving to Direct Pay.