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Sometimes it just isn’t possible for parents to come to a private agreement. There may still be bad feelings between you, or there may be a good reason for one of you not to trust the other. Or you may prefer the security of a CSA arrangement.

To put a CSA arrangement in place, here are some key things you need to think about.

Who can ask for one?

Applications to the CSA can be made by:

  • the parent or person with the main day-to-day care of the child, or
  • the parent without the main day-to-day care of the child, or
  • qualifying children (in Scotland).
  • A person can ask the CSA for an arrangement as long as:
    • the child is under 16 (or under 19 and in full-time education – not higher than A-level equivalent), and
    • the person asking to receive child maintenance has the main day-to-day care of the child and lives in the UK, and
    • the parent without the main day-to-day care lives in the UK, or works in the civil service, the armed forces or for a UK-based company, and
    • no court order is in place from before 2003, or there is a court order from after April 2003 but it was set up more than 12 months before the application.

If you are not the child’s parent but you do provide the child’s main day-to-day care, you may be able to apply to the CSA.

If your child is aged 12 or over and lives in Scotland, he or she can make their own claim for child maintenance from a parent they don’t live with. All the conditions shown above must be met, and also:

  • no one else can be receiving child maintenance payments for the child (such as the other parent or guardian)
  • there must be no registered ‘minute of agreement’ made within the past year or before 3 March 2003
  • the child must be in full-time education (but not higher or advanced higher education such as university)
  • the child must live apart from one or both parents.

How much does a CSA arrangement cost?

Nothing. The CSA provides its services free.

Working out the right figure

The CSA will work out for you how much child maintenance you should pay or be paid. The CSA will look at the income of the parent who should be paying child maintenance, including their salary, benefits and tax credits. The CSA then uses a formula to work out child maintenance payments.

However if you look at our Options Calculator then this will give you an estimate of the Child Maintenance payments.

The CSA also takes into account things like:

  • the number of ‘relevant other’ children (children living with either parent but not the subject of maintenance arrangements
  • whether the parent paying child maintenance has to pay maintenance for other qualifying children
  • whether the qualifying child • stays with the parent paying child maintenance at least 52 nights a year.

The CSA can also take into account any special circumstances, such as whether:

  • the parent paying child maintenance is caring for a disabled child, or
  • keeping in contact with the child involves exceptionally high travel costs, or
  • the parent paying maintenance has substantial assets (money or property).

Helpful Hints

To put a CSA arrangement in place, it’s a good idea to have the following information when you contact the CSA:

  • your contact details, such as address, daytime and mobile telephone numbers, and the child’s date of birth
  • your National Insurance number, and the other parent’s if you have it
  • your bank details – where you’d like child maintenance payments paid from or sent to
  • personal information and contact details of the other parent if you have it, such as their full name, date of birth and place of work.

Remember if you have any concerns or questions then please ring the Options helpline on 0800 988 0988 or look at the Options Website for more information