Family Law

Eighth edition

by Kate Standley

Updates for Chapter 12: Financial provision for children

May 2014 update

12.1 Child maintenance

The new Child Maintenance Service (CMS): payment of fees

The Child Maintenance Service (the CMS) opened in 2012 and now manages all new applications for a statutory arrangement. It uses slightly different rules to the Child Support Agency (the CSA), which is closed to new applications but still manages many statutory arrangements set up before December 2013.

The Government plans to introduce application fees, collection fees and enforcement charges in 2014 for parents using the CMS. Thus, parents who are unable to reach child maintenance agreements between themselves will therefore be charged fees. There are, however, no plans to introduce charges for any parents with cases managed by the CSA.

The Government wishes to encourage more parents to think about working together to arrange child maintenance instead of using the CMS or the courts. These plans are not yet law but under the current proposals there will be:
  • A £20 application fee for applying to the statutory scheme;
  • A 20% collection fee on top of their usual child maintenance amount for paying parents using the Collect & Pay service;
  • A 4% collection fee deducted from their usual child maintenance amount for receiving parents using the Collect & Pay service;
  • A range of enforcement charges for paying parents who don’t pay child maintenance in full and on time.
(For more on child maintenance, see the Child Maintenance Options website: http://www.cmoptions.org/).



January 2014 update

12.1 Child maintenance

The new Child Maintenance Service

On 29 July 2013 the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) announced the opening of the new Child Maintenance Service to new applicants with two or more children. This was a part of the staged replacement of the Child Support Agency. On 25 November 2013 the DWP announced that the Child Maintenance Service was now open to all new applicants for child maintenance. Existing cases being dealt with by the Child Support Agency still have to be transferred to the Child Maintenance Service and the Government has indicated that it will not begin charging until it is fully up and running and judged to be working successfully.

Existing claims will continue under the Child Support Agency for the time being. The gradual transfer of all child support claims to the new service will continue until 2017.

On 5 November 2013 the DWP published a response to its consultation on child maintenance charges (Supporting Separated Families; Securing Children’s Futures, Cm 8742, DWP). The DWP confirmed that it intends to deduct a proportion of child maintenance from families who need to use the new child maintenance collection service. The government said that the 4 per cent collection charge for single parent families, as well as a 20 per cent charge for the paying parent if they will not pay voluntarily, will act as an incentive to both parents to collaborate and arrange maintenance payments between themselves. However, the 4 per cent charge will only be applied in cases where the Child Maintenance Service itself decides that the non-resident parent is unlikely to pay maintenance, and collection is needed.

For new and updated resource materials on the Child Maintenance Service (the successor to the Child Support Agency), see the Child Maintenance Options website www.cmoptions.org.


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