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Child maintenance - what happens if you’re already on the 1993 or 2003 Child Support schemes?

If you’re already getting or paying Child Support that was arranged by the Child Support Agency (CSA), it’s likely to be either under the 1993 or 2003 Schemes.

These Schemes will eventually close and be replaced by the 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme, which started in December 2012 and is run by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

If you’re already in either the 1993 or 2003 Scheme, in most cases, your current arrangements will continue.  However in some cases, the 2012 Scheme might apply to you. This page tells you more about what will happen to the 1993 and 2003 Schemes and when you may be asked to join the 2012 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.

The three Child Maintenance Schemes

Currently, there are three statutory child maintenance schemes being used to work out maintenance payments. They are run by either the Child Support Agency (CSA) or the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

These are:

  • the 1993 Scheme, run by the CSA
  • the 2003 Scheme, run by the CSA
  • the 2012 Scheme, run by CMS.

The 2012 Scheme is open to all new applicants and will gradually replace the 1993 and 2003 Schemes.

When will the 1993 and 2003 Schemes be closed?

It’s estimated that the three schemes will run alongside each other until around the end of 2017/18. If you’re already on the 1993 or 2003 Schemes, you should carry on paying and getting the maintenance that has already been calculated under your scheme.

The Child Support Agency has started to end child maintenance arrangements under the 1993 and 2003 Schemes. If you’re already on one of these schemes, you’ll be given six months’ notice of when the scheme is going to end and be told that your case will be closed. You will be encouraged to think about making a family-based arrangement. This is an arrangement for maintenance payments that you make yourself with the other parent, without the involvement of the CMS. If you can’t do this, you’ll have to make a new application to the CMS under the rules of the 2012 Scheme.

Maintenance arrears under the 1993 and 2003 Schemes

Even when your existing case is closed, the CSA can continue to take action to collect arrears of maintenance that they arranged. If you’re the parent with day-to-day care of the children, they will ask you if you want them to take enforcement action.

If a child reaches the age of 20 before your scheme is closed

If your youngest child will reach the age of 20 before your scheme is closed, you’ll continue on your existing scheme until it ends naturally.

The maximum age of a qualifying child has changed from 19 to 20 if they're in full-time non-advanced education, such as sixth form college. This means that if a child reached the age of 19 on or after 10 December 2012, maintenance will continue to be paid automatically until the child reaches 20 or until Child Benefit stops, whichever is sooner.

If the CSA closes your case before this date, you should contact them and ask them to review their decision to close the case. You must do this within one month of when you are told of the decision.

If the case was closed because a child reached the age of 19 between 19 November 2012 and 9 December 2012, both parents should have been contacted. Either of you can ask for the case to be re-opened.

If the case was closed because the child reached 19 before 19 November 2012, it will stay closed.

Old cases which may be dealt with under the 2012 Scheme

Even if you're paying maintenance under the 1993 or 2003 Schemes, you may now be dealt with under the 2012 Scheme. This may happen when:

  • you also become liable to pay maintenance under the 2012 Scheme for children with a different partner, or
  • your current partner who lives with you becomes liable to pay child maintenance under the 2012 Scheme, and either you or your partner are getting certain benefits, such as Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit or state pension.

Examples

You had a maintenance arrangement using the 1993 Scheme which closed before 3 March 2003. If you make a new application more than 13 weeks after the your old scheme closes, the rules of the 2012 Scheme will be used. However, you’ll still have to be eligible to qualify for the 2012 Scheme.
You’re getting child support from your ex-husband John under the 2003 Scheme for children from this relationship. You now have two children with a new partner, Steve, and this relationship breaks up. You now apply for child support from Steve, under the rules of the 2012 Scheme. The calculation of child support from John could be brought into this scheme.
You’re already paying child support for your son David under the 2003 Scheme. You have two more children with a new partner who is now applying for child maintenance under the 2012 Scheme. Your old child support calculation will be brought into the 2012 Scheme and will include the two new children and David.

Next steps

Other useful information

  • More about choosing a new arrangement when your Child Support Agency case closes: www.cmoptions.org
  • More about the 1993 and 2003 Schemes, including collection of arrears and how to ask for a review: www.cmoptions.org
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