Child Maintenance Service charges and how they may affect you

New charges have been introduced for using the Child Maintenance Service (formally the Child Support Agency or CSA).

From 30th June 2014 the Department of Work and Pensions has been sending letters to parents currently using the CSA about ending their current child maintenance arrangements. All parents using the CSA will be contacted between 30 June 2014 and 2017 to give them notice that the arrangement they have through the CSA will end. Whilst cases continue to be managed by the CSA, parents will not be charged for using the service.

When CSA arrangements end, parents will have the option to enter into a Family-Based Arrangement or they can make an application to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) either to use either their Direct Pay or Collect and Pay services.

There are a number of ways of dealing with child maintenance when you separate and have children:

  • If you divorce and obtain a Court Order confirming an agreement reached in relation to financial arrangements, the amount of child maintenance to be paid can be included in the Court Order.
  • In certain other circumstances, the Court still retains the power to make orders about payment of child maintenance if you are divorcing and cannot agree what should be paid e.g. if your child has special needs or disabilities.
  • Whether you are married or not and separate, you can reach an agreement about what should be paid between yourselves. This is known as a Family-Based Arrangement.
  • Direct Pay is a service offered by the CMS to bridge the gap between a Family-Based Arrangement and making use of the CMS Collect and Pay service (see below). Direct Pay is the amount of child maintenance to be paid calculated in accordance with child maintenance legislation. The level of child maintenance is the same that would be paid if an application were made to the CMS to collect the amount of maintenance, but parents pay directly to one another. Direct Pay aims to offer parents the reassurance that if payments aren't made the CMS can step in and make sure missed payments are collected. The CMS won't keep a log of what is paid and when by parents and it is therefore important that a clear record is kept if you use the Direct Pay service.
  • If you can reach agreements and you either enter into a family-based arrangement or use the Direct Pay service, the Collect and Pay service is available, but this carries a 4% charge for the receiving parent and a 20% charge for the paying parent.
  • When an application is made to the Child Maintenance Service a fee of £20.00 will be charged for administration when the application is processed.

If you would like further advice on this matter, speak to one of our Family Law experts on 0113 201 4900 or email us on family.law@emsleys.co.uk.

Gabbie  Clasper

Written by

Gabbie Clasper

Head of Family Law

Gabbie has over 20 years’ experience in family law. She has expert knowledge in complex issues including financial aspects following divorce; pre and post-nuptial agreements; cases with an international element; and civil partnerships. Gabbie is regularly instructed by clients based across the country and abroad. She...

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