Child Maintenance - know the price of not reaching an agreement

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9 December 2014

Child Maintenance - know the price of not reaching an agreement

Every parent will have heard of the Child Support Agency (CSA) but did you know that since 2012 the CSA has been known as the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) and that from the summer of this year they have introduced new charges for using this service.

On the 30th of June 2014, the Child Maintenance Service introduced application fees and enforcement charges and from the 11th August, if you decide to use the Collect and Pay service, you will also have to pay fees for collceting and paying out child maintenance.

What does all this mean... well in short the new changes are;

  • A £20 application fee for applying to the scheme.
  • A 20% collection fee on top of usual child maintenance amount for paying parents using the collect and pay service.
  • A 4% collection fee deducted from the child maintenance sum for those receiving child maintenance.
  • A range of enforcement charges for paying parents who don't pay child maintenance in full and on time.

So is it really worth not reaching an agreement?

There is now greater emphasis on parents agreeing their own private arangements so that they will not need to use the CMS, but not all relationship breakdowns end so amicably that this can be achieved.

The CMS may be some parents only salvation and as it is legally binding it allows the service to take action if payments are not made.  A few actions that can be taken by the CMS include;

  • Force the sale of a property or sale of belongings.
  • Register child maintenance arrears as a debt.
  • Confiscate driving licences.
  • imprison parents who avoid paying.

Child Maintenance Arrangements last until the child is 20 if in full time no advanced education (up to A-level or equivalent).

Ultimately some parents will have no real alternative but to apply to the CMS, however, before doing so do consider whether you have explored all options that may assist in resolving matters without an application.  A solicitor can assist you in calculating the appropriate amount of maintenance that should be paid and can communicate with the other parent or their solicitor, on your behalf, with a view to reaching an agreement.  Alternatively an experienced mediator can assist in trying to resolve matters.

You may be entitled to legal aid for a mediator or a solicitor, and even if you are not some legal advice or assistance to try and resolve matters may well be cost effective, having regard to the charges that will have to be paid to the CMS.

If you require assistance in relation to the above, or any other Family related matter, please contact us.