Child Maintenance Service and domestic abuse


The following measures are being introduced to protect parents, who use the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), from abusive ex-partners:-

  1. Victims of domestic abuse will be given the choice to allow the CMS to collect and make child maintenance payments on their behalf, without the consent of an abusive ex-partner.  This will be beneficial so that a parent does not have to have any contact with their abusive ex-partner about child maintenance payments, if there is evidence of domestic abuse.
  2. The CMS will have new powers to report suspected cases of financial coercion to the Crown Prosecution Service to help bring abusers to justice.
  3. One-to-one support for survivors of domestic abuse will be piloted and domestic abuse training for staff improved. All those who use the CMS will be asked if they have experienced or witnessed domestic abuse. If a parent feels that their claim for child maintenance will put them in danger, they will be signposted to support: for example, a referral can be made to the National Domestic Violence helpline. Further, if a parent is in immediate danger, the CMS will advise about contacting the Police: in fact, a parent can ask the CMS to contact the Police on their behalf, if they feel that they are not able to do so.

These changes come after the Department for Work and Pensions commissioned Dr Samantha Callan, a leading expert on domestic abuse, in the autumn of 2021 to review how the CMS can support for parents who have experienced domestic abuse in setting up a child maintenance arrangement. This followed the death of Emma Day, who had previously tried to use the CMS to claim child maintenance from her former partner, who had repeatedly threatened Emma and eventually killed her.

Katherine Parker is a solicitor in the Family Department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich.

Suffolk Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email bg@barkergotelee.co.uk