Skip to content

Child maintenance reviews and appeals

If you think that your child maintenance decision is wrong, you can ask for the decision to be looked at again. If you are still not satisfied after the decision has been reviewed, you can appeal to an independent tribunal.

Asking for a review of your child maintenance decision

If either parent has information which they think would affect the amount of their child maintenance, they can ask the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to explain their decision or to look at the case again.

This is not a formal process and is often a quicker and better way of correcting a decision that you think seems to have overlooked some important facts.

If you think your decision is wrong

If you think that your child maintenance decision is wrong, or that some important facts or evidence have been overlooked, you should contact the CMS.

The address and phone number are on the front page of the letter telling you the decision. You should have the letter with you when you phone. You can also ask someone else to contact CMS on your behalf but you must inform the CMS in writing that someone else has your permission to represent you before CMS can discuss your case with them.

You should do this within one month of the date of the letter that tells you about the decision.You should say why you think the decision is wrong and ask for it to be looked at again.

If the decision is changed, you will receive a letter to confirm the new decision.

Some important points about changing your decision:

  • if a new decision is made, it may either increase or reduce the amount of child maintenance due
  • while a decision is being looked at again or appealed against, it will stay in force. The non-resident parent must still pay child maintenance until the issue is sorted out

  • Child Maintenance Service (contacts section)

After the decision has been reviewed

You, and the other people involved in your case, can appeal against this new decision. If you want to do so, you must appeal within one month of the date of the letter that tells you about the new decision.

Your appeal is a formal process where an independent tribunal organised by the Appeals Service will take another look at the decision. It may take some time for the tribunal to reach a decision about your appeal.

Decisions that can't be appealed against

Parents cannot appeal against administrative decisions about collecting and enforcing child maintenance payments. For example, a paying parent can’t appeal against a decision to use a compulsory deduction from earnings order to collect unpaid child maintenance. However, they may be able to go to court to challenge such decisions.

You cannot appeal against a decision because you are denying that they are the child's parent. A separate process is used to manage disputes over this.

The Appeals Service may also decide not to proceed with the appeal if it has no reasonable prospect of success because it is against something that is set out in law, such as the way child maintenance is worked out.

More useful links