Charges for using the Child Maintenance Service

Despite warnings against the measure from the House of Lords, a plan to start charging parents for using the new Child Maintenance Service (replacing the Child Support Agency) have now been approved by Parliament.

The Government appears to be of the view that by imposing these charges they will encourage people to resolve matters without the use of an outside agency. From our experience this is unlikely. We would always encourage separating parents to resolve all issues, including that of child maintenance, by agreement but ultimately if the absent parent refuses to co-operate then the remaining parent needs to have some way of making them pay.

The other major issue will be the efficiency of the new service. We have spoken to a client who has spent many years trying to secure maintenance payments for her child via the CSA. The service has as yet failed to deliver consistently. When asked her opinions of the new scheme our client pointed out that in her view, “a single parent makes a desperate decision to go to [an agency] to claim child maintenance.” She explained to us that a cost implication, even of £20 as is suggested, is likely to put parents off because they simply will not have the money to spend. She also could not understand why administration costs should be taken out of maintenance payments pointing out that whether or not a referral was made it would be, “the child who misses out.”

We are very concerned to note that these changes are to become law and would urge all clients to do their best to resolve this issue by agreement.

If you need advice on finances following separation or divorce then please contact us.


February 10, 2014

Children Disputes, Finance