Child maintenance

Child maintenance covers how your child’s living costs will be paid when one of the parents does not live with the child. It’s made when you’ve separated from the other parent or if you have never been in a relationship. 

This is a financial arrangement between you and the other parent of your child. Making arrangements (external link) to see your child happens separately. 

You must have a child maintenance arrangement if your child is under 16 (or under 20 if they are still in full-time education). 

Both parents are responsible for the costs of raising their children, even if they do not see them. 


Your child needs to be under 16, or under 20 if they are in full-time education, up to and including A level or equivalent. 

You need to live in the UK as your main home and have the right to live here. You can apply if you are: 

  • either parent (you do not need to live with the child) 
  • a grandparent with main day-to-day care of the child 
  • the child’s guardian 
  • a child over 12 living in Scotland 

How to apply 

Before you can apply to the Child Maintenance Service, you must use the Get help arranging child maintenance service (external link)

You will get information about your options for paying or getting support for your child, including making a private arrangement. 

If you cannot use the online Get help arranging child maintenance service, call the Child Maintenance Service (external link)