Do you need the CSA contact number?
Do you want to apply for Child Maintenance?
Do you wish to appeal a payment?
Contact the CSA on 0843 557 3383
What is the CSA?
The Child Support Agency (CSA) is part of the Department for Work and Pensions. The CSA is responsible for arranging child maintenance. Child maintenance is a form of financial support that helps to pay towards a child’s living costs. The scheme is for children under the age of 16 or under 20 and in higher education lower than university. The parent who does not care for the child day-to-day is known as the paying parent and pays support to the person who does, the receiving parent. You can apply if you are the parent who the child lives with or not, or if you are the guardian/grandparent who is caring for the child. You can arrange payments yourself or through the CSA. The amount you get can vary, for a specific amount it is best to call the CSA contact number.
Why would I need to call the CSA contact number?
- To apply for maintenance.
- To report a non-payment.
- To organise a DNA test following a dispute about parentage.
- To report a change in circumstances.
- To report a mistake made by the CSA.
- To make a complaint about the service.
- To appeal against a decision.
- To find out more information.
Eligibility for Child Maintenance
Child maintenance is designed for children who are either under the age of 16 or under the age of 20 and in full time education, but not higher than A levels or equivalent. You can apply whether you are the parent that the child lives with, doesn’t live with, a grandparent or guardian. If you are in Scotland, you can also apply if you are a child over the age of 12. You won’t be able to apply if the receiving parent and child live outside of the UK.
Paying child maintenance
Child maintenance can be paid in a number of ways: directly between the parents, directly from the earnings of the paying parent or via Direct Debit. Payments will be deposited into the receiving parent’s bank account- this is whoever has day to day care of the child.
If you wish to pay directly, you can make your own arrangements once the CSA has worked out an amount. This is known as Maintenance Direct. The most convenient way to pay is by standing order, directly from one bank account to the other. When paying this way, the CSA can still enforce any missed payments, so it is important to keep a record of payments in case there are any issues in the future.
If the payments are managed for you, the CSA will arrange to collect them when the paying parent is paid their benefits, wages or pension. If you have issues paying, contact your local CSA office. If you are the paying parent, you’ll be sent a letter explaining how much you need to pay and when you need to pay- this is known as a collection schedule.
If the paying parent misses paying child maintenance, they will usually be asked to pay the amount in full straight away, with a credit/debit card or through the bank. In certain circumstances, you may be able to agree with the CSA to pay what you owe in installments.
If child maintenance isn’t paid, the CSA will contact the paying parent to discover why they haven’t paid, start to arrange for them to pay what they owe and warn them about any action which could be taken if they don’t pay. The CSA can take action in order to get the maintenance owed.
If the paying parent used the CSA to calculate the amount owed but pays directly, then the receiving parent will have to ask the CSA to take action. They can do this in a number of ways: taking money from earnings or benefits, taking money from a bank account or most dramatically, by taking court action. This could include sending bailiffs to the paying parent’s home to take and sell their belongings, sending the paying parent to prison, collecting money from someone else or forcing the sale of property. If a paying parent attempts to avoid paying by selling property or transferring ownership to someone else, the court can stop them. Lastly, if action is taken through the courts, the paying parent may have to pay the CSA’s legal fees as well as their own.
Disagreements regarding parentage
If someone denies that they are a parent of a child, the CSA will ask for evidence from both sides, to prove whether they are or not. If there is no evidence, the CSA can ask both of the parents to take a DNA test or ask the court to make a decision for them.
The CSA can also assume parentage. This will happen if the person named as the parent was married to the child’s mother at any time between conception and birth (unless the child was adopted). It could also occur if the parent is named on the birth certificate, has taken a DNA test which proves parentage, has legally adopted the child or is named in a court order as a parent if the child was born to a surrogate mother. If assumed parentage occurs, the person will have to pay child maintenance until they can prove that they are not the parent.
If the amount cannot be worked out, the CSA may ask for a payment until the parent can provide evidence to prove they aren’t the parent. If they are found to be the parent, child maintenance could be backdated. Equally, if they are found not to be any payments made after the date that the parent first denied they were responsible can be refunded, as well as any DNA test costs.
Changes to circumstances
There are some changes that you must report to the CSA by law.
Either parent must report:
- Changes to the income of the paying parent.
- Wishing to close the case.
- Wanting to change from using a payment service to direct pay.
- A change in the number of nights a child stays with the paying parent.
Paying parents must report:
- Moving house
- Benefits starting/stopping
- Changes to your phone number
- Stop/start working for an employer
- Stop/start being self employed.
- Becoming unemployed.
If your payments are deducted as part of your earnings, you must tell the CSA:
- The date that you left your last job.
- The name/address of your new employer.
- How much money you expect to earn.
- Your new payroll number.
If you are the receiving parent, you must report:
- A change in the number of children living with you who you receive maintenance for.
- A change in the amount of children you claim child benefit for.
- Nights that a child regularly stays with the paying parent overnight.
- A child that you get maintenance for leaves full time education or turns 20.
- You/any of the children you get maintenance for no longer reside in the UK.
- You discover the paying parent is coming off benefits.
- You are moving house or know that the other parent is.
- Your phone number (including mobile) changes.
If you fail to give the right information, you could be taken to court and fined up to £1000. This includes giving false information and also to any person who must give information to the CSA by law, such as accountants, employers and either parent.
Complaining about the CSA service
If you are unhappy with the service you have received from the CSA, you should contact them initially. They will aim to sort out your issue within 15 days, if it will take longer than this they will inform you.
If you aren’t happy with how the CSA resolved the complaint, you can contact the Independent Case Examiner. However, you shouldn’t do this until you have been through the full complaints process and received a final response from the CSA. If you are unhappy with the response from the Independent Case Examiner, you can ask the MP from the Parliamentary and Health Service ombudsman to investigate it. If your complaint is seen to be valid, the CSA will apologise and explain where they went wrong before making the necessary changes to put it right.
If you wish to appeal a decision about payment amounts, this could take several months. Before you choose to appeal, you must ask the CSA to look at the amount again. This is known as mandatory reconsideration and you will need to tell them why you disagree with the decision that has been made. You can also appeal to an independent tribunal if you are still unhappy following the review by the CSA. You need to appeal within one month of the date on your decision letter.
Contacting the CSA
To contact the CSA, use the number located on this page. You can use the number whether you have an existing case or just wish to discuss your options.