Child maintenance is available through the Child Maintenance Service (“CMS”) (formally Child Support Agency) for children who are either under 16 years old, under 20 years old and in full time education or under 20 years old and living with a parent who has registered Child Benefit for them. The CMS will decide how much the paying parent should pay to the receiving parent. The CMS can also arrange for the paying parent to pay and pass payments on to the receiving parent (this incurs extra costs.)
There is a common misconception that a parent can only claim child maintenance up until a child is 18 years old. However, there are two ways in which a parent can claim maintenance payments for a child over 18 years old, either via the court (seeking a court order for periodical payments) or via the CMS.
In the very few cases where the court has jurisdiction to make an order for periodical payments in favour of a child, the order will usually terminate on the child’s 17th birthday unless it is in the child’s best interest it to continue until the child’s 18th birthday. However, maintenance may continue beyond a child’s 18th birthday only if the following circumstances in s29(3) Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 apply:-
To note, special circumstances are recognised as including physical or other disabilities.
If a child is 18 years old or over and suffers from physical or other disabilities then that child is still entitled to child maintenance. If the child does not have sufficient capacity to apply to the court themselves then a parent may do this on their behalf.
If a child is 18 years old and intends to continue their education in one of the above forms then that child is still entitled to child maintenance. A parent can either make an application to the court or make an application with the CMS.
If you would like to discuss child maintenance, or any other matter relating to family law, please do get in touch with our Family Department who will be happy to help: firstname.lastname@example.org.