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Using the CSA to arrange child maintenance
The CSA runs the current statutory child maintenance schemes. If you or the other parent opens a CSA case, it will work out how much child maintenance should be paid. It can also collect and pass on child maintenance payments. Find out about using the CSA, including how to apply.
Who is eligible to use the CSA
You can apply to the Child Support Agency (CSA) if you are a:
- parent with care
- non-resident parent
- grandparent or other guardian of the children needing child maintenance
- child living in Scotland
The parent or person with care is the parent or carer who the child normally lives with. The non-resident parent is the parent who the child does not normally live with.
Download the following leaflet for more information about applying to the CSA if you are a child in Scotland.
Who isn’t eligible to use the CSA?
The CSA can’t accept applications if the parent with care or the children live outside of the UK.
It also can’t accept applications if the non-resident parent lives outside of the UK, unless they:
- work for a UK-based employer
- work for the civil service
- work for a ‘prescribed body’, for example the NHS
- are in the armed forces
In addition, the CSA can’t accept applications when certain child maintenance agreements are already in place. This includes:
- court orders covering child maintenance that were made before 3 March 2003
- court orders covering child maintenance which are less than 12 months old
- written maintenance agreements made before 5 April 1993
If you want to change one of the above arrangements you need to ask the court that made the arrangement.
Use the following link for more information about child maintenance for parents living abroad.
What the CSA can help you with
If you decide to use the CSA it can help you to:
- try to find the other parent if you don’t know where they live
- help to sort out any disagreements about parentage
- work out how much child maintenance should be paid
Once your case has been opened, the CSA can:
- arrange for non-resident parents to pay child maintenance
- pass payments on to the parent with care
- look again at your child maintenance payments when changes in parents’ circumstances are reported
- take action if payments are not made
Use the following link for more information about paying child maintenance through the CSA.
Applying to use the CSA
You can apply to use the CSA using the following link.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you should apply to the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Division (CMED). You can get more information about CMED on the NI Direct website.
How long it takes the CSA to arrange child maintenance
The CSA aims to get child maintenance payments to parents with care as soon as possible. In most cases a payment should be made to parent's with care within six weeks of the CSA making an arrangement with the non-resident parent.
How the CSA works out child maintenance
To work out child maintenance amounts, the CSA uses information about the non-resident parent’s circumstances. This information includes:
- the non-resident parent’s income
- the number of children they need to pay child maintenance for
- how often the child or children stays overnight with them
- the number of other children the non-resident parent (or their partner) gets child benefit for
Use the following link for more information on how the CSA work out child maintenance.
Further information about your child maintenance options
You can find more information about all the options for arranging child maintenance, on the Child Maintenance Options website.