How to work out how much child maintenance you’ll get

by Nadine de Souza

When you get divorced, you want to know how much child maintenance you’ll receive from your spouse. Here’s a guide to how the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) works out the amount. 

The CMS uses six steps to work out how much child maintenance you should get.

Step 1 – Work out the paying parent’s income

The CMS finds out the paying parent’s annual gross income by using information from HM Revenue & Customs. The CMS will also find out if the paying parent is receiving any benefits.

Step 2 – Is there anything that could alter the amount of child maintenance?

The CMS will see if there is anything that could change the paying parent’s gross income amount, such as pension payments or other children to support. It will then convert the annual gross income amount into a weekly figure.

Step 3 – Child maintenance rate

There are five rates of child maintenance:

Gross Weekly IncomeRate
Below £7Nil
£7 - £100 or if the paying parent is on benefitsFlat
£100.01 - £199.99Reduced
£200 - £800Basic
£800.01 - £3,000Basic plus










In a nutshell, for the basic rate and basic plus the paying parent pays 12 per cent gross income for one child; 16 per cent of gross income for two children; and 19 per cent of gross income for three children or more.

If the paying parent earns over £800 per week, then they pay: nine per cent of their gross income for one child; 12 per cent of their gross income for two children; and 15 per cent of their gross income for three children or more. 

This means that if a paying parent earns in excess of £41,600, then the two calculations have to be made and added together to arrive at the correct calculation.

For more detailed information, you should go to Gov.uk's webpage How we work out child maintenance

Step 4 - Other children

The CMS will take into account any other children that the paying parent has to pay child maintenance for, including any children living with them.

Step 5 – Weekly amount of child maintenance

With the information gathered in the first four steps the CMS works out the amount of child maintenance.

Step 6 – Shared care

The CMS takes into account the number of nights when a child stays overnight with the paying parent and will make a deduction to the child maintenance.

To work out the exact amount of your child maintenance you can also use the government’s child maintenance calculator to work out how much child maintenance you will receive.

Help from Lawpack

All the divorce forms you need – and expert guidance on how to use them – can be found in Lawpack’s Separation & DIY Divorce Kit.

If you need assistance in completing the forms, then you can use our DIY Divorce Service who will complete them for you. With our Managed Divorce Service they will complete them and also file them at court for you.

If you want more in-depth information from a divorce lawyer about all aspects of divorce law then read our guide, How to Get a Divorce by Punam Denley. Packed with tips and expert advice to ensure that you get through the divorce process smoothly.

Other information


External links


Published on: January 20, 2015

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