With approximately 2.9 million single parents residing in the UK in 2019, child maintenance is more important than ever, acting as a necessary income in order to help single mothers and fathers look after their children. In 2019, Gov.uk national data[1] shows that in 561,300 cases of those due to pay child maintenance, on average, only 67.5% were compliant. Of course, there are many instances where separate family payment plans are arranged, but the same data set also highlights that more than 400,000 paying parents (registered with the CMS) made no child support payments at all in 2019.

With the most common child maintenance payment sitting at between £40 and £59.99 per week (as of March 2020), this can be tough on single parents caring for one or more children if they’re not receiving the necessary financial support.

What Is the Process To Pay Child Maintenance if Self-Employed?

The short answer is that paying child maintenance if you are self-employed is similar to the process for those who are employed. To find out how much child maintenance is, the CMS (child maintenance service) will identify what you are required to pay based on your earnings, which is worked out by looking at average weekly earnings based on the most recent tax year and the paying parent’s tax return. 

If you are looking to quickly determine how much you should pay or want to know roughly what you may expect to receive, we have a child maintenance calculator which can help.

Potential Problems With Paying Child Maintenance When Self-Employed

Common issues you may encounter if due to receive child maintenance:

  • The paying parent does not provide all information about their income
  • A company owner may be paying themselves a minimum wage, on which the amount would be calculated
  • Information is taken from the latest tax return, of which the paying parent may not have declared their earnings correctly.

If you believe that any of the above problems are relevant to you personally, you can speak to the CMS and apply for a variation. You can do so on the grounds that the other parent has not declared all their income, and there is more to take into account. Find out more about challenging your CMS calculation.

It is also important to remember that there may also be other reasons as to why the self-employed paying parent does not contribute or feels they cannot contribute. In 2015, the Department for Work & Pensions conducted a study on attitudes and behaviours of self-employed child maintenance clients, and this uncovered some interesting insights into what barriers surround making payments. Some of those cited in the study include:

  • They’d rather be in debt with the CMS as opposed to their landlord or credit card
  • There are no proper planning systems in place
  • The payments are seen not to benefit the child and are for the ex-partner
  • Running out of cash is deemed as inevitable and paying bills is a priority

There are further behaviour barriers highlighted on page 26 of the report.

Can I Pay Child Maintenance Directly to My Child?

When it comes to paying child maintenance directly to your child, this is possible when both parents are in agreement. If both parents do not agree, then the standard route through the CMS would need to be arranged, or a private payment to the parent living with the child.

If I Don’t See My Child, Do I Still Have To Pay Child Maintenance?

You do still need to pay child maintenance whether you see your child or not, although the amount you are required to pay does fluctuate depending on how often your child is in your care. Our child maintenance calculator will help you to determine how much you should pay.

[1] National tables: Child Maintenance Service statistics: data to March 2020