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The 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme - information you must give if you’re asked to pay maintenance

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

Both parents are legally responsible for the financial costs of bringing up any 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.

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

This page tells you what information the CMS will need from you if you’re the parent who has been asked to pay maintenance.

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 you’ll be contacted if you’re asked to pay maintenance

By phone

Once the CMS has got as much information as possible from the parent with day-to-day care of the children, they’ll usually try to phone you first.

They’ll tell you that the parent with day-to-day care of the children has made an application for child maintenance and has declared that you’re the other parent. They will also ask for your personal and financial details.

In writing

If you agree you’re the parent of the children, and the CMS can’t get hold of you on the phone, they may send you an enquiry form to fill in with your personal and financial details. You’ll usually have up to 14 days to send the form back.

Face-to-face interview

The CMS will try to arrange a face-to-face interview with you if:

  • you didn’t know you’re the parent of the children, or
  • you’re not named on the birth certificate.

If you agree that you’re the parent of the child

If you agree that you’re the parent of the child, the CMS will work with you to collect information to work out how much maintenance should be paid.

Personal details you have to give

You will have to tell the CMS:

  • your name
  • your date of birth
  • your national insurance number
  • if you accept you’re the parent of the named children
  • if the children stay overnight with you and if so, how often. The information the CMS needs about this is very detailed. You should keep a diary about when the children stay with you so can answer their questions
  • if there are already any maintenance arrangements in place for the children, including any court orders
  • if you pay maintenance for any other children not named in the application form
  • your preferred method of payment
  • if you want to use the CMS Collect and Pay service to pay the maintenance because you don’t want to pay maintenance directly to the other parent.

Financial details you have to give

You have to give full details of your financial situation.

The CMS will also get financial information about you directly from HM Revenue and Customs and will usually use this information to make the maintenance calculation.

You have to give details of:

  • the name and address of your employer
  • your business if you’re self-employed
  • evidence of earnings, including gross pay, and any bonuses. You’ll have to send in your pay slips
  • of any benefits you get (except for Child Benefit)
  • any maintenance you’re getting
  • other income, such as a student grant or rent from a lodger
  • bank or building society accounts.

If you have a new partner

You’ll have to give the same personal and financial information about your new partner if they are:

  • eligible for Child Benefit for any children living with them, or
  • getting Income Support, or
  • getting income-based JSA.

If you provide false information

It’s a criminal offence if you refuse to provide information to the CMS or give false information. If you do this, you could be prosecuted.

If you aren’t the parent of the child

If the CMS get in touch with you for maintenance and you aren’t the parent of the children, you should give them your reasons why this isn’t the case. Try to provide any available information as evidence.

If the CMS has made a mistake and you aren’t the person named as the parent by the person who wants maintenance, you can complain to the CMS. You can also claim compensation for the upset and inconvenience this has caused.

Next steps

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