Maintenance payments

Legally enforceable maintenance payments

Legally enforceable maintenance payments are:

  • payments you receive from a former partner under:
    • a court order
    • a deed of separation
    • any other legal commitment (such as a covenant).
  • periodic (annual, monthly, weekly).

If the payment does not meet the criteria above, it will be treated as a voluntary maintenance payment.

Your former partner may be legally required to regularly pay an amount on your behalf (such as a mortgage payment). This is treated as a legally enforceable maintenance payment to you.

Payments can also be made in advance of the termination of your relationship being finalised if it is legally enforceable.

If you make maintenance payments rather than receive them, please see Overview page for more information. 

Tax treatment of legally enforceable maintenance payments

Legally enforceable maintenance payments must be paid in full. Your former partner cannot deduct an amount from the payment.

You will pay the following on each payment you receive for your own benefit: 

You will not pay taxes on any amount paid for the benefit for your children.

How to pay

If you have income taxed under the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system, it is possible to pay the tax due on your maintenance payments during the year. This can be done by reducing your tax credits and rate band on your Tax Credit Certificate (TCC).

If you have no PAYE income, you must pay the tax and USC due under self-assessment.

Your former partner's tax treatment

Your former partner can claim tax relief on the amount they have paid for your benefit.

They cannot claim relief for maintenance payments made for the benefit of children.


You and your former partner must not be taxed as a married couple for this treatment to apply.

If you are taxed as a married couple, all legally enforceable maintenance payments will be ignored for Income Tax purposes.

Next: Voluntary maintenance payments