When parents live apart the non-resident parent is responsible for paying Child Maintenance to the parent with care. If the parent with care is also receiving benefits from the government, the government usually keeps the Child Maintenance money to offset the cost of the benefits. When a parent with care qualifies for the Child Maintenance Premium, it means that he or she can receive up to £10 a week of the Child Maintenance money in addition to the usual benefit money.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Be sure you meet the criteria. Your children must live with you for you to be eligible for the Child Maintenance Premium and you must be on a low wage and not in full-time paid work.
Contact the Social Security Agency to apply for Income Support or Income-Based Jobseeker's Allowance. Your claim will also be treated as an application for Child Maintenance.
Give the details of your Child Maintenance situation to the Social Security Agency who will pass them on to the Child Support Agency.
The Child Support Agency (CSA) will contact the non-resident parent to arrange for him/her to pay Child Maintenance (if this is not happening already). The CSA will then collect this money directly.
When you get your benefit money from the Social Security Agency, you will also receive the Child Maintenance Premium (up to £10 a week of the money paid by the non-resident parent). The rest of the Child Maintenance is kept by the government to make up for the money paid to you in benefits.
Tips & Warnings
- If you have any questions about Child Maintenance, ring the national helpline on 08456 080 022. You will be charged a local call rate.
- If you are receiving Income Support and you believe that applying for Child Maintenance would put you or your children at risk, you can ask the Child Support Agency not to contact the non-resident parent. You will have to give reasons for this, and your reasons must be accepted by the CSA.
- In situations where a grandparent or other guardian has full care of the children and is on benefits, he or she may be eligible for the Child Maintenance Premium.
- If you don't want the Child Support Agency to contact the non-resident parent and you are not able to give a good reason for this, the Social Security Agency can reduce your benefits, and you will not be eligible for the Child Maintenance Premium.
- If you are a parent with care and you claim Income Support or Income-Based Jobseeker's Allowance, this will cancel or change any court order or maintenance agreement even if you opt out of applying for Child Maintenance.