Goodbye CSA, Hello Child Maintenance Service
23 May 2014 by Lisa Tuckwell
…. BUT IS IT PENALISING SINGLE PARENTS AND CHILDREN?
The introduction of the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is designed to encourage parents to reach an agreement about child support. But what if it is not possible for an agreement to be reached? What happens where the parent with care of a child is or has been a victim of domestic abuse and cannot reach an agreement with the other parent? 45% of those who applied to the CSA were victims of domestic abuse and 95% of single parents are mothers.
Previously the Child Support Agency dealt with claims in respect of child support where parents could not agree.
The new changes mean that if parents cannot agree about child support then the parent with care can apply to the CMS for a calculation to be carried out as to how much child support should be paid. There is a charge of £20 for this service. The CMS then informs the other parent and tells them to pay the amount calculated direct to the parent with care.
This would involve the other parent being told of the parent with care’s bank details to enable payment to be made. In cases where there is domestic abuse and the parent with care wishes to keep their location confidential from the other parent there is a risk that they will be able to find them via the bank details.
If the payer doesn’t make payment within 72 hours then the parent with care can then ask the CMS to collect the money directly from the payer. A charge of 20% is added to the maintenance payment payable by the payer for the collection service (which the CMS receive) and 4% is deducted from the amount that the parent with care will receive (again received by the CMS).
Concern has been raised that the parent with care and the children, who may be already struggling financially because of separation, are being penalised for difficulties which parents have in reaching agreement, which is not an uncommon feature when relationships breakdown.
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