Log in to Gingerbread

You need to be logged in to save pages.

Forgotten your password?

Not registered yet?

Our community membership is open to all single parents in England and Wales and gives you access to local and online support, news and events.

Register now

Claiming child maintenance safely when there’s been domestic abuse

If you or your children have experienced domestic abuse, you may be worried about being able to claim for child maintenance safely. The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) will take your situation seriously. They’ll do all they can to protect you and keep your personal information private. This page explains how to use the CMS to get child maintenance safely if you’ve experienced domestic abuse.

How the CMS will protect you

A guide to claiming safely

If you’re still at risk of domestic abuse, help is out there

How the CMS will protect you

It’s important to know that if you’ve experienced domestic abuse from your child’s other parent, you can make a child maintenance claim without having contact of any kind with them. The CMS will keep your identity, location and other information secret throughout the entire process. 

The CMS can also:

  • Try and trace the child’s other parent if you don’t know where they live
  • Make contact with your child’s other parent to arrange child maintenance
  • Write to your child’s other parent and tell them how much child maintenance they should pay you and how often
  • Share your bank details safely without revealing any other information about you
  • Tell you how you can use a safe option to get paid securely
  • Collect child maintenance and pay it to you if your child’s other parent doesn’t pay

A guide to claiming safely

This guide explains how to prepare to make a claim and make sure you’re getting all the protection you should from the CMS. 

If you’re not offered the options set out here, you can specifically ask the CMS for them – and make a complaint if necessary.

You and your child’s safety is the most important thing. You might want to think about how the child’s other parent might react to a claim for child maintenance. Women’s Aid has useful advice for people of any gender about leaving a relationship safely.

Step 1 – Use the Get help arranging child maintenance service

Before you can apply to the CMS, you have to use the Get help arranging child maintenance service. This has been designed with people who have experienced domestic abuse in mind.

  • There’s a big red ‘hide this page’ button on every page in case you need to keep what you’re doing private. Clicking this changes the page to BBC Weather.
  • There’s also a link that says Get help if you have experienced domestic abuse – this takes you through to the gov.uk page with lots of support options.
  • The page explains what to do if you’re worried about contacting the child’s other parent.

When asked what type of arrangement you want to make, choose ‘Use the Child Maintenance Service’. This will mean you don’t have to contact the child’s other parent yourself. You’ll be given a reference number to use in your application to the CMS. 

Step 2 – Apply to the CMS

Most people make an application to the CMS online – it’s usually quicker than by phone. You’ll need to use the reference number you got in step 1.

If you don’t want to apply online, you’ll need to call the CMS. When you call, you should be asked if you’ve experienced domestic abuse. If you think making a claim will put you in danger, the adviser will direct you to free, confidential help and support. You’ll also be offered help in contacting the police.

The CMS adviser should give you specific advice and options for making a claim safely. Let them know it’s not safe for the other parent to know your name (if you’ve changed it) or your location.

Step 3 – Set up direct pay

The CMS should offer you a way to get paid called direct pay. This means you won’t need to have any contact at all with your child’s other parent. The CMS will contact them and share your bank details so you don’t have to. They’ll keep your identity and location confidential at all times. 

Step 4 – Keep your location safe

The CMS should send you information about how to set up a ‘non-geographic’ bank account for the child maintenance payments. This kind of bank account can’t be traced to help protect your identity and location. 



Date last updated: 24 April 2024

New Report