- Alcester Office +44 (0)1789 765522
- Bedford Office +44 (0)1234 400000
- Cardiff Office +44 (0)2920 291 704
- Evesham Office +44 (0)1386 425300
- Hindley Office +44 (0)1942 257930
- Leicester Office +44 (0)116 255 9911
- Leigh Office +44 (0)1942 673311
- Lichfield Office +44 (0)1543 414426
- London Office +44 (0)20 7293 0998
- Luton Office +44 (0)1582 720175
- Northampton Office +44 (0)1604 233 200
- Redditch Office +44 (0)1527 406363
- Solihull Office +44 (0)121 705 2255
- Stopsley Office +44 (0)1582 453 366
- Stratford-upon-Avon Office +44 (0)1789 270 452
- Sutton Coldfield Office +44 (0)121 355 6118
- Tunbridge Wells Office +44 (0)844 556 3525
- Walkden Office +44 (0)161 790 1411
- Walsall Office +44 (0)1922 720000
- Walsall Office - Crime Dept +44 (0)1922 647 797
- Warrington Office +44 (0)1925 632267
- Westhoughton Office +44 (0)1942 816515
- Whitefield Office +44 (0)161 796 7920
- Wigan Office +44 (0)1942 244294
Child Maintenance Explained
The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) – a statutory non-departmental public body – was established in 2008 to take on the work of the Child Support Agency. At the same time, the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 (CMOPA) removed the obligation for new claimants who are on benefits to use the CSA..
In October 2008, the obligation for existing CSA clients claiming benefits to continue to use the Agency was removed. All parents can now choose the child maintenance arrangements that best suit their individual circumstances. This could be a private arrangement or the statutory maintenance arrangements. A new Child Maintenance Options Service has been established to provide information and support to help parents reach a decision.
Since April 2010, all child maintenance has been fully disregarded when calculating out-of-work benefits.
In November 2008, the CMEC took over responsibility for the work of the CSA. In 2012, this was closed and the responsibility was transferred to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
During 2009/2010, new enforcement powers were introduced under the CMOPA to ensure that parents meet their child maintenance responsibilities. These include allowing the CMEC to seize the passport and/or driving licence of parents who fail to pay, without the need to involve the courts as is currently the case. Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell says that the Government is keen to support parents in these tough times, but for those who choose not to support their own children, “we will not stand by and do nothing. If a parent refuses to pay up then we will stop them travelling abroad or even using their car.” The Commission can also seize money from bank accounts, where a parent has failed in their financial obligations toward their child, without having to go through the courts. The CMEC will also be able to apply for a curfew or to recover money from a dead person’s estate.
In late 2012, a new child maintenance scheme was introduced, claimed to be fairer and faster than the current system. It includes annual reviews of maintenance assessment, an increase in the ‘flat rate’ child maintenance deduction from state benefits and the removal of the necessity for parents who share child care equally to pay maintenance through the statutory scheme. Couples wishing to make their own agreement can use the 'family-based arrangement form' available from the Child Maintenance Options website.
The new system bases the maintenance payable on a flat rate per child with the rate varying depending on:
- the gross income of the payee;
- the number of nights the child spends with each parent on average; and
- other factors related to the family circumstances.
From 30 June 2014, all new applicants using the Child Maintenance Service have been charged an application fee of £20, unless they qualify for exceptions from the charge under one of the qualifying categories and a collection charge applies for users of the Child Maintenance Service's 'Collect and Pay' system.
The charges are 4 per cent, made by way of deduction from the payments received by the parent with caring responsibility for the children and an addition of 20 per cent to the child maintenance liability for the parent who does not have caring responsibility for the children.