Child maintenance information for advisers

This information is intended for specialists and professional bodies.

Advisory bodies and professional advisers

The Child Maintenance Outreach team is available to provide advisory bodies and other professional advisers such as MPs and MLAs accurate and detailed information about the Child Maintenance Service.

Our outreach team would be happy to come out to give talks to MP / MLA offices and other Advisory groups across Northern Ireland. You can e-mail the outreach service at

Through research and consultation we are constantly developing the level of service advisers and professionals can expect from us. This allows us to focus our resources in the most efficient way to get the best results for our clients.

Our aims are to:

  • use the information from your feedback to improve the service we supply to you
  • create an organisation that understands its business and the business of advisers' to help us achieve the best for those who need our help the most
  • provide pro-active and co-ordinated information to advisers to ensure you have relevant and up to date information

Child Support Scheme

New child maintenance rules have now been introduced for all new applications since November 2013.  All child maintenance cases now governed by the new rules.

Changes to payment agreement actions

Changes to how Child Maintenance Service (CMS) calculate maintenance payments due from parents with complex earnings and changes to the deductions process for parents holding a joint or unlimited partnership type bank account.

Changes to the child maintenance calculation for complex income

CMS works with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to gather information on a parent’s earnings.

This information includes:

  • earnings from work
  • earnings from property
  • savings and investments

This information is used to assess how much a paying parent should pay in child maintenance to the receiving parent.

There are some parents who are complex earners and it is more difficult to calculate how much they should pay in child maintenance. Complex earners are people who earn money through various channels, including for example company directors and the self-employed.

Complex earners have some control over the way in which their income is paid to them, and are required by HMRC to complete a self-assessment tax return.

CMS will now include other types of income in the child maintenance calculation, as per below:

  • assets such as coins, gold and property (not including the paying parent’s home)
  • income generated from an asset over time such as property or land, or income generated from a sale
  • foreign income
  • any unearned income, such as inheritance, rental income and interest on bank accounts
  • the paying parent will not be expected to pay more child maintenance if they have to sell their home or the property where they do their business.

How CMS deals with complex earners

  • the Financial Investigations Unit (FIU) can decide to change a child maintenance calculation if their investigations show that a parent is deliberately hiding their income.
  • the FIU can also order the parent to pay child maintenance that they have previously avoided.
  • deductions from joint and unlimited partnership accounts
  • CMS can now make deductions from joint accounts and unlimited partnership accounts.

Joint accounts

CMS always tries to make child maintenance deductions from a paying parent’s individual account first. If there is not enough money in their individual account, CMS will try to make deductions from their joint account if they have one.

Unlimited partnership accounts

If there is not enough money in the paying parent’s individual account or joint account, CMS will try to make deductions from their unlimited partnership account if they have one.

To make sure CMS protects other people who may also have access to the unlimited partnership account, it will not make deductions if the account balance is less than £2000.

Challenge a decision about deductions from a joint or unlimited partnership account

All of the account holders have the right to ask CMS to review a decision about deductions from the joint or unlimited partnership account. They must provide information about the amount each person contributes to the account and if applicable, how the business uses the account.

If it’s not clear how much of the account funds belong to the paying parent, the amount will be split by the number of account holders. For example, if there are 2 account holders including the paying parent, CMS will make the deduction based on a 50 percent share of the income.

Review of the Child Support (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2018

As required by legislation, the Department has completed a comprehensive review of the Child Support (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2018 to ensure it is delivering as intended. 

Annual reports

Decision Making Annual Reports - Child Maintenance Service


If you require a copy of any of our leaflets please contact Child Maintenance Service

2012 Child Maintenance Scheme leaflets

Leaflet number Leaflet name
CMSB003NI Getting someone to manage your child maintenance case
CMSB004NI Changes you need to tell us about
CMSB005NI What happens if you don’t pay child maintenance?
CMSB006NI What happens if a paying parent doesn’t pay child maintenance?
CMSB007NI How we work out child maintenance
CMSB008NI The Annual Review - how it works
CMSB009NI Paying child maintenance
CMSB010NI What happens if someone denies they are the parent of a child?
CMSB011NI What to do if you're unhappy with the Child Maintenance Service
CMSB013NI Receiving child maintenance
CMSB042NI Understanding your child maintenance statement - a guide for paying parents
CMSB043NI Understanding your child maintenance statement - a guide for receiving parents



Related to Child maintenance information for advisers

Access to information

How to request information from the Department for Communities including Freedom of Information (FOI) and the use of our Publication Scheme. You may also request your own personal information, via a Right of Access Request.

Back to top