Recent Changes to Child Maintenance

Amanda Crowe Cropped

Various changes have recently been announced in the press in relation to child maintenance. The new Child Maintenance Service, which focuses on encouraging separated parents to come to their own arrangements on child maintenance, has now replaced the old Child Support Agency. Child maintenance is usually money that the parent without the main day-to-day care of a child pays to the other parent. The CMS can provide parents with a wealth of information and support in order for the parties to reach their own agreement.

If the parents cannot agree, however, either party can make an application to the CMS for a formal assessment. The CMS is now going to charge £20 for this application. Once the assessment has been carried out and the information provided to both parties, they can then hopefully agree on how payments should be made and the paying parent will make a direct payment to the other parent.

If the parties need to use the CMS to collect money from one parent and make the payments to the parent who has the main day-to-day care of the child, the CMS will now be charging for this service as well. It will charge 20 per cent on top of the money it collects from the paying parent, and will deduct 4 per cent from the money it gives to the other parent. For example, if the paying parent is making child maintenance payments of £200 a month, they will be charged an additional 20 per cent fee by the CMS of £40. The CMS will then make a payment of £192 to the other parent, having also deducted a 4 per cent fee of £8.

The general message to separating parents is that, where at all possible, they should try to come to their own arrangements with regard to child maintenance and how this should be paid. If no agreement can be reached, the CMS is there to help, but will now make charges for its services.

Amanda Crowe is a divorce solicitor at Barker GoteleeSolicitors in Ipswich.

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