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When do I stop paying CSA / CMS?

For the vast majority of parents, paying towards the cost of their child’s upbringing in the form of child maintenance is very important. However, many parents find themselves struggling to meet payments and come to us to ask, ‘when do I stop paying CSA / CMS?’.

In this article, we’ll answer the question, ‘when do I stop paying CSA / CMS’, and explain in what circumstances this could happen.


What is the difference between paying CSA / CMS?

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is a government-run service which has replaced the Child Support Agency (CSA). All new claims for child maintenance go through the CMS. The CMS also deals with parents who used to use the CSA and whose cases have been closed.


When do I stop paying CSA / CMS?

The parent paying CSA / CMS will usually be expected to continue to pay CSA / CMS until the child reaches 16 years old (CSA / CMS stops on 31 August after/on their 16th birthday), or 20 years old if they are in approved education or training.

There are some other circumstances which could result in a parent stopping paying CSA / CMS. This could happen if, for example, one parent dies.

In addition, if the parents start cohabiting, the parent paying the CSA / CMS can stop the payments.

When do I stop paying CSA / CMS?


When do I stop paying CSA / CMS: what counts as ‘approved education’?

If your child is in approved education, you may not be able to stop paying CSA / CMS until they reach 20 years old.

Approved education must be full-time (more than 12 hours per week).

Examples of approved education include:

• A levels or similar
• home education (if it began before the child was 16 years old)
• Scottish Highers

University degrees do not count as ‘approved education’.

Stopping CSA / CMS payments when a child goes to university can result in financial hardship for the child. However, the parent or the child may be able to go to court to request that the maintenance payments do not stop and continue through university. Speak to a specialist solicitor, such as Austin Kemp, about the likelihood of stopping CSA / CMS payments when your child goes to university.


When do I stop paying CSA / CMS: what counts as ‘approved training’?

If your child is in approved training, you may not be able to stop paying CSA / CMS until they reach 20 years old.

Approved training should be unpaid.

Examples of approved training include:

• Employability Fund programmes (Scotland)
• Foundation Apprenticeships or Traineeships (Wales)


When do I stop paying CSA / CMS: what happens when approved training/education finishes?

Parents can stop paying CSA / CMS when the child leaves the approved training/education on whichever of these dates comes first: end of February, 31 May, 31 August or 30 November.


When do I stop paying CSA / CMS: is it possible to reduce the amount I’m paying?

If your circumstances change and you believe that you are paying too much child maintenance, you can contact the Child Maintenance Service to find out whether you can pay less CSA / CMS.


How can our expert divorce solicitors help you to stop CSA / CMS payments?

Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to how to stop child maintenance payments, including:


Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice on CSA / CMS payments

For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email

Our expert family law solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Halifax Office: Old Lane, Halifax, HX3 5WP

Huddersfield Office: Northumberland Street Huddersfield, HD1 1RL

Coventry Office: Warwick Road, Coventry, CV1 2DY

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

Please contact us for more details.

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01st April 2020

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