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The 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme - the residence rules

This advice applies to Wales

Both parents are legally responsible for the financial costs of bringing up children. If you separate, you may have to pay maintenance if you don’t have day-to-day care of any children you have.

The Child Maintenance Service can arrange maintenance under the 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme.

This page tells you about the residence rules for the 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme.

The residence rules

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) can usually only arrange maintenance if both parents and the children are all habitually resident in the UK. This means that you are allowed to live in the UK, have made it your home and intend to live here for the time being.

If the parent who should pay maintenance works overseas

If the parent who has to pay maintenance doesn’t usually live in the UK, you can still apply for child maintenance under the 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme if they’re working overseas for:

  • the civil service
  • the armed forces
  • a local authority
  • the NHS (HPSS in Northern Ireland).

If a parent usually works overseas but their company pays them in the UK, the CMS could assess them for child maintenance. This is because the CMS has the legal power to deduct money for child maintenance from their earnings.

If the parent who should pay maintenance has other children who live overseas

The children who live overseas could be taken into account when the CMS calculate how much maintenance should be paid.


Juan has two children in Spain that he pays maintenance for under a voluntary arrangement. He is now habitually resident in the UK and so is his ex-partner Mary and their four children. Mary can apply to the CMS for maintenance for their four children. However, the CMS will take into account the two children living in Spain when they work out how much maintenance Juan must pay.

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