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Who needs to pay child maintenance

You need a child maintenance arrangement if:

  • one parent does not live with the child, or the parents do not equally share care
  • your child is under 16, or under 20 and in full-time education, up to and including SCQF level 6

SCQF level 6 includes Scottish Highers, Modern Apprenticeships, and National Certificates. Check if your child is studying at level 6 or below on

View more information about eligibility on GOV.UK

When payments will stop

Child maintenance payments usually continue until the child:

  • turns 16, if they’re not in full-time education
  • turns 20, if they're in full-time education up to and including SCQF level 6
  • is 16 or over and leaves full-time education
  • is 16 or over and starts full-time study at SCQF level 7 and above

If the child leaves and later returns to full-time education, the payments will need to be started again until the child either:

  • leaves full-time education again
  • studies at SCQF level 7 or higher
  • turns 20

SCQF level 7 includes Scottish Advanced Highers, Higher National Certificates (HNCs), and Certificates of Higher Education. If your child studies above this level, child maintenance payments will usually stop. Check if your child is studying at level 7 or above on

If your circumstances change, you may need to re-visit your arrangement. If you’ve used the Child Maintenance Service, you must report any changes in circumstance to them.

If one parent lives outside the UK

You may be able to arrange or enforce child maintenance if one parent lives outside the UK. This depends on where the parent lives and who they work for.

Get more information on if one parent lives outside the UK.

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