Home > Children & Money > Child Maintenance Service and How It Might Affect You

Child Maintenance Service and How It Might Affect You

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 4 Aug 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Csa Cms Child Support Child Maintenance

The Child Maintenance Service ["CMS"] opened on 29 July 2013. CMS is designed to take over from The Child Support Agency ["CSA"].

The Change Over
Similar to the CSA, CMS will assist single parent families to obtain child maintenance payments from the child's other , non-resident parent. CMS will carry out calculations to determine a suitable level of child maintenance to be paid, monitor cases and take action if payments are missed.

A gradual three year process for CMS to replace CSA began in July 2013. Eventually all CSA cases will close and all new cases will be opened with CMS. If you have a case with CSA, you will receive a letter confirming the date that your case will be closed at least 6 months before the file closure. The first CSA cases will close in January 2015. The first cases to close will be those that do not receive any child maintenance payments ("nil-assessments"). You can choose to re-open your closed CSA case under the CMS scheme.

Positive outcomes of the changes

The new CMS system should benefit around 50,000 children according to Liberal Democrat Child Maintenance Minister Steve Webb MP. This is because every new case accepted by CMS (even if it was formerly a CSA case) will be reassessed. Parents who previously did not have to pay any child maintenance (for example due to them being full-time students) may have had a change in circumstances and so should now be making payments. The review will assess this and update the calculation.

Further, the new system will review cases annually to make sure that the calculation is constantly updated to reflect a parent's changing circumstances. This should prevent a temporary exclusion from payment becoming a permanent method of payment avoidance.

Monitoring payments (and any missed payments) will become easier due to a new online payment tracker. Any arrears built up whilst a case was with CSA will still be enforceable under the CMS scheme. In addition, CMS will have more robust procedures for collecting any rental arrears, including applying for attachment to earnings orders and financial penalties. These enforcement procedures are subject to a further charge to the receiving parent, though this can be passed on to the non-paying parent.

Concerns about the changes

After 30 June 2014, CMS have imposed a £20 application fee for them to investigate cases. And carry out a child maintenance calculation. (There is no application fee for those single parents who have previously experienced domestic violence at the hands of the child's other parent.)

A survey of those who received payments via CSA, found that half thought that they could come to their own private arrangement over the payment of child maintenance with the right help and support. The £20 application fee is designed to encourage parents to reach a private arrangement that works for their individual needs, and so in the long-term reduces the amount of government involvement in private family life.

Gingerbread, a charity supporting single parents, states that this is not a realistic aim for many following a relationship breakdown. Gingerbread say that the real effect of the application fee is not to encourage amicable parent relationships, but that 38% fewer applications have been made since the fee was introduced. This is three times the reduction in applications anticipated by The Department of Work and Pensions when they announced the new fee.

It is however still early days in monitoring the effect of the new application fee, which only came into force at the end of June 2014. Gingerbread Chief Executive Fiona Weir recently stated that 'We don't know whether the parents put off by the £20 charge are going on to make arrangements of their own, or are just giving up.' It is therefore a case of watching this space!

Further information

For further information about the new CMS scheme and the changeover process for former CSA cases go to:
  • www.gingerbread.org.uk
  • www.gov.uk/child-maintenance/overview
  • your local Citizens Advice Bureau

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Dad paying CMS - Your Question:
Hi,I'm paying child maintenance through CMS. I live in London, ex and my daughter live in Windsor. I catch a train every week to see my daughter from London to Windsor. It's cost over £20 per week, so comes around £90 per week for travel to see my daughter. I'm paying 12% of gross income to my ex, would the CMS take into considerations of the expenses I spend on travel to see my daughter? Obviously, CMS can't take into account of the things I buy for my daughter, but I really want to know if if travel counts. I've been told if I open a private pension, then I will pay less child maintenance, but how about travel to see her?

Our Response:
Travel expenses are not usually a factor when Child maintenance is being calculated unfortunately. See this leaflet on how child maintenance is worked out
LawAndParents - 5-Aug-16 @ 2:02 PM
Hi, I'm paying child maintenance through CMS. I live in London, ex and my daughter live in Windsor. I catch a train every week to see my daughter from London to Windsor. It's cost over £20 per week, so comes around £90 per week for travel to see my daughter. I'm paying 12% of gross income to my ex, would the CMS take into considerations of the expenses I spend on travel to see my daughter? Obviously, CMS can't take into account of the things I buy for my daughter, but I really want to know if if travel counts. I've been told if I open a private pension, then I will pay less child maintenance, but how about travel to see her?
Dad paying CMS - 4-Aug-16 @ 4:39 PM
@Frustratedmyum. Have you already applied to the CSA? If there's an existing arrangement in place, they will chase the payments. If not, then you may need to finalise something using the CMS to ensure payments are made. Consult CM Options for individual advice
LawAndParents - 14-Apr-15 @ 2:37 PM
Advice please :do not share story . Husband left due to addiction d problem which meant council tax and mortgage arrears .I have resolved arrears for mortgage and now a year left on monthly payment I make t resolve council tax arrears as well as paying current years council tax . He earns £7000 after tax a month and has not paid a single penny towards up keep of our three girls who live here in family home with me .He rents a flat for 1800 and wears Hugo Boss clothing .He pays mortgage and refuses any other support since the mortgage is 800 because he borrowed against house and set up without my knowledge on interest only .I cannot help fact that it's so high but the children still need money for food and clothing and tutors (which I am trying to cover thro extra hours at work .) Each time I approach him he gets angry and simply replies via text " approach your parents /familyor pull your finger out and get more permanent hours at work ! "Each month we r short and I go for a food shop with parents or have dinner at theirs .I am so frustrated at his lack of responsibility .I pay council tax ,home insurance ,utility bills ,clothes ,toiletries,educational costs (books for qualification exams/tutors),car tax /insurance/petrol ,wifi /phones,TV licence ,food. CSA suggest approx 25% of his salary as maintenancefor kids -that's £1700! But he refuses any payment of maintenance at all .He says ultimately he needs to reduce total payment to £500to me and has started sending texts saying I have to pay the other £ 300to mortgage on top of everything else .His last message stated that his disposable income was way less than mine ???? and I was to stop whining .I think it's digraceful that he is not taking care of his financial commitments to his children and ex wife before he has any disposable income .Why does he think he can walk away and expect me to support 4 and have NO disposable income at all .I feel like I am living on a slippery slope -if I push he'll stop paying mortgage and only pay 500 and let the mortgage go into arrears again .Children are all with me by choice and have seen him twice in my company over a year because he scares them . Can you clarify plain and simple -what payments are we entitled to from him ?
Frustrated Mum - 13-Apr-15 @ 12:07 AM
I applied for child maintanance through the CSA & was getting around £250 for my daughter.He then went and had a baby with a woman living who lives in germany which meant a reduction in the money my daughter gets.My ex works full time for the NHS and was contracted to work 44hrs (4nights/week) He then went and reduced his permanent hours to 30/week. He registrered with the NHS bank system and tops up his hours that way. The CSA will only calculate my daughters maintanance from his permanent hours which means that at times my daughter receives about £70/month. My ex does not contribute to her clothing,extra curricuulm activities, nothing at all.I fork out for everything else. I complained to the CSA and they wrote back saying they are only allowd to take a certain percentage from him..its so unfair!
BELL - 19-Mar-15 @ 1:40 PM
@MEARSIE. He will need to continue with child support payments until your daughter finishes higher education (e.g. no higher than A levels etc) this can be up until she is 20 years of age. You cannot be forced to sell a property against your wishes. You should seek impartial help to negotiate a date when this will be mutually acceptable...a mediator or solicitor would be a good choice.
LawAndParents - 8-Dec-14 @ 11:14 AM
when does a father legally have the right to stop caring for providing for their child as my daughter is 18 in October and she would have just started her second year at college ,her father wants to sell the home that my two daughters and myself have lived in for 15 years of which he only lived in for 1 year and we both pay half the mortgage each ,can he do this while his daughter has 3 more years in education ? yours sincerely miss k mears .
MEARSIE - 5-Dec-14 @ 11:50 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the LawAndParents website. Please read our Disclaimer.