Child maintenance service a change for the better

Last year the Government announced plans to replace the Child Support Agency (CSA) with the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). The CMS is currently being rolled out on a gradual basis amid concerns that, unlike the old CSA, use of the new Child Maintenance Service is not free.

The Government has stated that the old system “took away responsibility from parents and encouraged conflict and hostility at huge expense to the taxpayer”. It claims the new system is designed as a “backstop” for parents (rather than the rule) hoping to force parents into reaching agreement about child support between themselves. However, some critics are concerned single parents will be forced into unstable child support arrangements, which could significantly impact on the child and place pressure on single parents.

In a letter sent out this week to 50,000 separated parents who currently pay and receive child maintenance, the DWP has indicated parents should agree child support or face being charged if they wish to rely on the new system.

Under the new rules, if agreement isn’t reached between parents, the absent parent will face the addition of a 20% fee to their maintenance payment, while the parent receiving child support will have to pay 4% of the payment.

Furthermore, all single parents who register a claim with the CMS will be required to pay an upfront fee of £20 for making a claim. These charges are to be introduced later this year. Our concern is that faced with such charges, single parents may be deterred from making new claims to the CMS, which could result in children losing out on vital child support. For help and advice about child support, please contact Lee Binns or any member of our Family Law Team.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.