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The 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme - applying for maintenance

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

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

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) can arrange maintenance under the 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme.

This page tells you more about applying for maintenance using the 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme.

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.

How to make an application

Usually the parent who should pay maintenance makes the application to work out how much they should pay. However either parent can make an application.

If you want to make an application to the Child Maintenance Service, you must first contact the Child Maintenance Options service to discuss your choices and consider alternatives before you proceed with an application.

The Child Maintenance Options Service will give you the information you'll need to apply to the Child Maintenance Service.

Application fees for child maintenance under the 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme

The government has introduced fees and charges for parents using the 2012 statutory CMS.

Information you need to provide when you apply

When you apply to get or pay child maintenance, you’ll need to provide detailed information about yourself and your family. This will include:

  • your National Insurance number and bank account details
  • details about the children for whom you’re applying for maintenance,  including the full names of both parents.

If you're the parent who should be getting maintenance, you'll also need to give enough information for the CMS to identify and find the other parent. For example, you must give details of their name and address if you know where they’re living. If you can give as much information as possible, the CMS will be able to arrange maintenance more quickly.

If previous maintenance arrangements have broken down

If you’re the parent getting maintenance and previous arrangements have broken down, make sure you give full details of what happened when you make your application.

This is because the CMS will usually expect the parent who has to pay maintenance to pay it directly to the parent with day-to-day care of the child using the Direct Pay scheme.

However if there’s a good reason to think that Direct Pay won’t work, the CMS can collect the payments themselves and pass them on to the parent with day-to-day care of the children.

If more than one person makes an application

If more than one person makes an application for the same child, the CMS will only deal with one application. Generally this will be the application that they get first.

Next steps

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