In most situations, where this cannot be agreed between the parties, child support will have to be dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), who have replaced the Child Support Agency (CSA).

However, before any application can be made through them you must contact Child Maintenance Options.

If maintenance is ‘arranged’ through the CMS then they charge an administration fee.

The Court can only Order child maintenance where it has been agreed between the parties and it is possible for either party to apply to the CMS for a recalculation of maintenance after any Court Order has been in force for twelve months.

The current guideline rates for the ‘absent’ parent depend on the number of children and are based on a percentage of their gross weekly income. These being: 12% for one child; 16% for two children and 19% for three or more. These amounts may be varied if the absent parent’s gross weekly income is higher than £800 per week; or they have a very low income; and/or there is one or more ‘relevant other children’, for example one or more children from another relationship; or if the child has staying contact that equates to more than 52 nights per year there is a ‘sliding’ scale that reduces the maintenance payable depending on the total number of nights the child(ren) spend with the absent parent.

Child Maintenance Options telephone helpline number is 0800 988 0988. You may also obtain information from their website: or via – where you can obtain an estimate of the level of maintenance payable.