Changes to Child Maintenance
The Child Support Agency, (CSA), is closing down and will be replaced with the Child Maintenance Service, (CMS). The CMS will use information directly from HMRC to assess the income of the paying parent. Once the rate has been calculated the CMS will then check their records every year with the HMRC to ensure that their assessment is still correct.
Over the course of the next few years all cases currently with the CSA will be closed. This will mean that parents who currently use the CSA will be given 6 months notice that their cases will close and they will have the option then to apply to the CMS should they still require assistance setting up and/or collecting maintenance. All new applications will be processed by the CMS and all parents will initially be told to contact Child Maintenance Options to get the process started in the way that best fits their circumstances.
Parents currently using the CSA and/or new parents looking to make an application will be encouraged to start up family-based arrangements rather than use the CMS if this is possible. For those that opt to use the CMS there will be an initial £20 application fee, which was implemented on the 30th June 2014.
As from the 11th August 2014, in addition to the initial application fee, the CMS will also charge both the paying parent and the receiving parent if they are unable to enter into a family-based arrangement with one another and instruct the CMS to use the Collect and Pay Service. The paying parent will have to pay 20% on top of the usual child maintenance amount to the CMS and the receiving parent will have to pay 4% of the amount they are eligible to receive to the CMS, (this will be deducted from the child maintenance by the CMS before it is paid out to the receiving parent).
The emphasis for parents really is on them reaching amicable agreements with one another so as to avoid both delays and fees.
If you are encountering difficulties with child maintenance and/or are concerned about the changes to the system and how they may affect you then contact one of our specialist family solicitors who will be able to discuss your matter with you in a confidential environment and provide you with all the information and advice you need.