Using the Child Maintenance Service

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is the government’s statutory child maintenance service. The CMS can calculate and collect child maintenance for you, and can act as a trusted third party if you don’t want any contact with the other parent of your child.

The CMS can:

  • find the other parent, even if you don’t know their address
  • collect and enforce payments
  • protect both parents' privacy if they don't want contact

Either parent can apply to the CMS. The arrangements are legally binding but aren’t as flexible as a private agreement. For example it can take a while to change your payments if either of your circumstances change.  It is important to seek specialist advice on all of the options before deciding what arrangement is best for your family. Find a Resolution member to discuss your circumstances. 

Where can I get information about my options?

Child Maintenance Options is a free service providing information and support for separating parents. To speak to someone today, call 0800 988 0988 or visit the Options website. For specialist legal advice see our directory to find a Resolution member.

You can also visit our FAQs section for more information.

The CMS provide a calculation-only service called Maintenance Direct. This means that the CMS works out the amount of child maintenance due, but you pay each other directly, rather than through the CMS. Maintenance Direct is only suitable if you are happy to agree between yourselves when and how the money will be paid.

The CMS will be on hand to give guidance if you need a new calculation because something has changed, and they can step in if the non resident parent doesn’t make the payments.

It is important to seek specialist advice to understand how the different arrangements work and what happens if the arrangements you make break down.  To get information and advice, find a Resolution member.

Find a Resolution member
A trusted lawyer can play a big part in helping to sort out issues involving the care of the children, the home and the finances. Wherever you are, there is a Resolution member near you ready to help and able to talk you through the law and ways of dealing with it including mediation, collaborative law and the different processes you can use to sort things out.