If you have a family based arrangement (i.e. you have reached an agreement with your ex-partner concerning child maintenance) then the child maintenance payments continue in line with that agreement. One parent might have agreed for example that they will continue to provide maintenance until the child concerned finds full time employment and leaves home, meaning that child could be well into their 20’s before the maintenance comes to an end. Bear in mind that the agreement might break down in which case the receiving parent might have to ask for a statutory arrangement to be put in place.

If a statutory child maintenance arrangement is in place then the child maintenance will cease to be payable when the child reaches 16 or if they remain in full time education or approved training when they reach 20. Full time education is education that is more than an average of 12 hours per week supervised study or course related work experience and can include:

  • A level’s or similar.
  • Scottish Highers
  • NVQ’s and other vocational qualifications up to level 3.
  • Home education (provided that commenced before the child turned 16).
  • Traineeships in England.

Approved training should be unpaid (i.e. not part of a job contract) and can include:

  • Access to Apprenticeships in England.
  • Foundation Apprenticeships or Traineeships in Wales.
  • Employability Fund Programmes or Get Ready for Work (provided it started before 1 April 2013) in Scotland.
  • Training for Success, Pathways to Success or Collaboration and Innovation Programme in Northern Ireland.

Child maintenance will also stop if:

  • The child is 16 or over and getting certain state benefits in their own right.
  • The child stops being eligible for child benefit.
  • The parent receiving the payment stops being the main carer of the child.
  • The parent receiving the payment no longer wants to receive it.
  • Either parent dies.
  • The parent paying the maintenance is imprisoned.
  • The payment is assessed as being zero or ‘nil rate’.


If your child maintenance is payable under the terms of a Court order as opposed to being dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service then you must abide by the terms of that Order for as long as it remains in force.

Source: Child Maintenance Options and www.gov.uk.