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Child maintenance when parents live abroad

Find out how child maintenance works when the paying parent lives outside the UK.

When parents live outside the UK

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) in Northern Ireland and the Child Support Agency in GB can only deal with an application for child maintenance when both parents and the child live in the UK.

The only exceptions to this are when the paying parent:

  • is working abroad in the service of the Crown, for example, is a civil servant or works within Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service or within Her Majesty's overseas civil service
  • is a member of the Armed Forces
  • works abroad for a UK based company, for example, it employs people to work outside the UK but makes payments via a UK payroll; and the company is registered under the Companies Act 1985 (England, Wales and Scotland) or the Companies (Northern Ireland) Order 1986
  • works abroad on secondment for a prescribed body, for example, from an NHS trust, regional health authority, primary care trust or local Council

You can get more advice about whether these rules apply to you from Child Maintenance Choices

If the rules do not apply

If one parent lives abroad and does not fall into one of the categories above, then the receiving parent can apply to the courts for child maintenance. If you need help in collecting the money awarded under the court order for maintenance, you can contact the Northern Ireland Court Services who handle Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders (REMO).

REMO is the process by which maintenance orders made by UK courts on behalf of UK residents, can be registered and enforced by the courts or other authorities in other countries.

REMO also allows UK courts to enforce maintenance orders against UK residents that were set up by individuals living in other countries.

When the paying parent lives in Australia

If you are the paying parent and you live in Australia and the receiving parent lives in the UK, then the Australian Child Support Agency may be able to accept an application to assess maintenance.

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