Apply for help arranging child maintenance

Use the Child Maintenance Service to set up a child maintenance arrangement if you and the other parent cannot agree to one yourselves.

Contact Child Maintenance Choices if you live in Northern Ireland

Before you start

You’ll need:

  • your unique reference number - you may have received this in an email or text message. If you do not have one, you can apply for it through Get Help Arranging Child Maintenance
  • your National Insurance number
  • details of the children you’re applying for
  • the other parent's name and as much other information about them as you can give – for example, where they live or their phone number
  • your bank or building society account details, if you need us to give them to the other parent

You can also speak to your bank or building society about setting up an account that will not give away your location.

We recommend being sure someone receives Child Benefit payments for your child if you're eligible - a Child Maintenance Application for a child who is not registered for Child Benefit may take at least 10-12 weeks longer to process.

Am I eligible to receive Child Benefit?

If I receive Universal credit:
Yes. Child Benefit and Universal Credit are different services - the child element of Universal Credit is not Child Benefit, and you do not need to receive Universal Credit to receive Child Benefit.

If I have more than two children:
Yes. There is no limit to how many children you can claim Child Benefit payments for.

If I'm not a UK national:
Maybe. If your visa says "no recourse to public funds" - do not apply for Child Benefit. You will be unsuccessful and this will slow your Child Maintenance application.

How do I apply to receive Child Benefit for my child?

If you are not the child's biological or adoptive parent, or your child is in local authority care, you will have to apply by phone.

How to apply by phone

Find out how to contact the Child Maintenance Service (opens in new tab).

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Fees

The application fee is £20. It does not guarantee an arrangement. You’ll need a debit or credit card to pay this.

You do not need to pay the application fee if either of these are true:

If you’re worried about contacting the other parent

We will try to contact the other parent about setting up child maintenance – you do not need to.

We will share the following details with the other parent:

  • your name
  • your child’s name and birthday
  • the number of nights your child stays with the parent who will be making payments - the other parent will need to confirm this

If you are the parent who will be paying child maintenance, we will also share the following details with the other parent:

  • your income information
  • whether any additional children are taken into account in the calculation - we will not share identifying details about these children, only how many have been taken into account
We will not share any other information with the other parent unless you ask us to.

If we cannot contact the other parent, we might not be able to set up an arrangement.

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