Family Lore Clinic: At what age can I stop child maintenance payments?

Child maintenance can be paid under an agreement, pursuant to a court order or via the Child Support Agency ('CSA').

If the maintenance is paid under an agreement, then when you can stop paying depends upon the terms of the agreement. Of course, if the agreement is not in writing, then there is no record of its terms. However, bear in mind that if you stop paying then the person looking after the child may be able to seek child maintenance through the CSA or the court, for example if the child is still in full-time education.

If the maintenance is paid pursuant to a court order, then the order will specify the duration of the maintenance. A common wording will be that the maintenance should be paid until the child attains the age of seventeen years or ceases full-time secondary/tertiary education, whichever shall be the later. For details of what constitutes 'full-time education', see this post.

If the maintenance is paid via the CSA, it essentially lasts until the child finishes full-time education or reaches nineteen, whichever occurs first. Note that if the child is still in education beyond the age of nineteen, then an application could be made to a court for a maintenance order to last until the child finishes education.

As usual, if you require more details or specific advice, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.