Child maintenance enforcement - deductions from your bank account
Both parents are legally responsible for the financially supporting any children.
If the Child Support Agency (CSA) or the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) arranged maintenance under any of the child maintenance schemes, and you don’t pay, they can arrange to have money taken directly from your bank or building society account to pay off the arrears.
This page tells you more about when the CSA or CMS may deduct money from your bank account.
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.
When a deduction from your bank account is likely to be made
If you’ve got maintenance arrears, the Child Support Agency (CSA) or Child Maintenance Service (CMS) could make an order that means your bank or building society will deduct money from your account to pay off the arrears. This is called a deduction order.
You're most likely to have a deduction order made against you if the CSA or CMS can't take money out of your wages through a deduction of earnings order or because you don't work for an employer. This may be because:
- you’re self-employed
- you often change jobs
- you're retired.
The deductions can be made as either:
- regular payments, or
- a lump sum.
The CSA and the CMS don't need to go to court to get a deduction order. They can make it themselves.
Regular deduction orders from your bank or building society
A regular deduction order can be made to take money from your account, either monthly or weekly.
You must be left with at least 60 per cent of your net weekly income. Your net income is the money left after you've paid tax, National Insurance, and other payments taken from your gross income, such as pension contributions or season ticket loans.
When a deduction can't be made
A deduction must not be made if the amount left in your account on the date the deduction is made is less than:
- £40 for a monthly order
- £10 for a weekly order.
If you're self-employed
A regular deduction order won’t be made on an account you use entirely or partly for business purposes, except if you’re a sole trader.
The bank or building society may charge you up to £10 for each deduction they make to cover their administrative costs.
Reviews and appeals
You can apply to the CSA or CMS for a review of a regular deduction order at any time. For example, you might want to ask for a review because your gross weekly income has been reduced or there’s been a change in the amount of child maintenance you pay.
You can also appeal to a county court against a regular deduction order or against any decision the CSA or CMS makes after you’ve applied to review the order.
Ending a regular deduction order
The CSA or CMS will end a regular deduction order if, for example:
- you close the account named in the order
- another method of payment has been agreed
- you’ve appealed and the court has set aside the order
- the CSA or CMS have reviewed the order and cancelled it
- there wasn’t enough money in the account for a deduction to be made on two consecutive deduction dates, and
- the CSA or CMS have allowed the order to lapse and at least six months have passed since then.
The order will also end if you die.
Even if a regular deduction order ends, the CSA or CMS will try other methods of enforcement if you're still in arrears.
Lump sum deduction orders from your bank or building society account
A lump sum deduction order means that the bank or building society must deduct a certain amount of money from your account as a single amount, rather than at regular intervals.
If the CSA or CMS wants to make a lump sum deduction order, they will send you a copy of an interim order which sets out the details of how much money will be taken out of your account.
You have 14 days to tell them about any changes you think should be made before the final order is made. These are called representations. If you send in representations, make sure you make it clear if you need the money that the CSA or CMS wants to deduct for essential items and say what they are.
At the same time, a copy of the interim report is sent to the bank or building society. This freezes the account up to the amount of the sum set out in the order. You will still be able to access any money in the account above this amount.
The CSA or the CMS will consider your representations. Once they've done this, or after 16 days if you don’t make any representations, they'll make a final order. This instructs the bank or building society to deduct the money and transfer it to the CSA or CMS after 21 days. During this 21-day period, anyone affected by the order can appeal to the county court.
When a lump sum deduction can't be made
A lump sum deduction must not be made if there’s less than £100 in the account.
If a deduction order is made and there isn’t enough money in your account, any amount up to £110 will be deducted. However, the order will stay in place so that any money paid into the account in the future can be deducted to pay towards the arrears.
The bank or building society can charge you £55 towards their administration costs for making the deduction.
Ending a lump sum deduction order
The CSA or CMS will end a lump sum deduction order if:
- you’ve closed the account named in the order
- you’ve paid the arrears in full
- the CSA or CMS has considered your representations and has decided not to make an order
- the CSA or CMS considers that it is appropriate to do so.
The order will also end if you die.
Even if the order ends, the CSA or CMS will try other methods of enforcement if you’re still in arrears.
If you're self-employed
A lump sum deduction order won’t be made on an account you use entirely or partly for business purposes, except if you’re a sole trader.