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The 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme: the Collect & Pay Service

Both parents are legally responsible for the financial costs of bringing up the children. If you split up and you don’t have day-to-day care of  the children, you may have to pay child maintenance to the other parent.

If the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) arranges maintenance under the 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme, they will calculate how much maintenance has to be paid.

There are two ways to arrange payment to the parent who gets maintenance. You can have the money paid to you directly from the other parent. This is called the Direct Pay scheme. Or you can ask the CMS to collect the payments from the other parent and then pay you through the Collect & Pay service.

This page tells you more about how the Collect & Pay service works.

In Northern Ireland, you can arrange maintenance through the Northern Ireland Child Maintenance Service.

If you want more information about the different ways you can arrange child maintenance, go to Child Maintenance Choices at www.nidirect.gov.uk.

Therefore, when the page refers to the Child Support Agency (CSA) or the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), in Northern Ireland this means the Northern Ireland Child Maintenance Service. When the page refers to Child Maintenance Options, in Northern Ireland this means Child Maintenance Choices.

What is the Collect & Pay service?

In some cases, it might not be possible to ask the other parent to pay you maintenance directly. This might be because:

  • the other parent has failed to pay maintenance to you directly
  • you don’t want the other parent to know any of your personal details
  • the other parent has asked to make payments this way.

In these cases, the CMS can collect payments of child maintenance and pass them on to the parent with day-to-day care of the children. If you’re getting maintenance you can’t ask for this option unless the other parent has failed to keep to a Direct Pay arrangement. However, the parent paying maintenance can ask to make payments this way.

Fees for using the Collect & Pay service

From 11 August 2014, the CMS will charge you for using the Collect & Pay service.

Paying parents must pay a 20 per cent collection fee on top of their usual child maintenance amount. Receiving parents must pay a 4 per cent collection fee deducted from their usual child maintenance amount.

You can avoid collection fees by moving to Direct Pay.

Paying fees if you’re working

If you’re working, you can choose to have the money taken from your wages, which you can arrange through your employer. You’ll have to pay an extra administrative fee for this.

Paying fees if you get benefits

If you get benefits and use the Collect & Pay scheme, you’ll have to pay the fee on top of the flat rate of maintenance. The flat rate is currently set at £7 per week, so you would have to pay an extra £1.40 as a fee. The money will usually be taken directly from the benefits you’re getting.

When will you get the money if the Collect & Pay service is used

The parent who must pay maintenance will usually pay the CMS each month. You’ll should get your first payment within six weeks of when the payment schedule was first made. After that, it should be paid to you within one week of when it’s paid to the CMS.

How is maintenance paid to you?

Child maintenance using the Collect & Pay service will usually be paid to you through your bank account.

However if you can’t or don’t want to open a bank account, you’ll be able to use a new scheme called Simple Payment to get your maintenance payments.

Moving back to Direct Pay

If you're paying maintenance and have been brought into the Collect & Pay service because you missed a payment under the Direct Pay scheme, you may want to move back to Direct Pay. You'll only be allowed to do this if the CMS is satisfied you’re unlikely to miss payments.

If you're the parent getting maintenance, you'll have to agree to this. If the relationship was violent, no personal contact will be needed for this agreement. The CMS will arrange the transfer for you.

Other useful information

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