Child maintenance: new laws to support parents

Child maintenance is essential for single parents to comfortably bring up their children.

Child maintenance

But many continue to struggle, thanks to an outdated system. Payments are often lower than they should be, late, or simply not made at all.

Thankfully, this looks likely to change. The government report ‘Child Maintenance: a new compliance and arrears strategy’ put forward proposals intended to improve compliance in the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). It also suggests ways of dealing with historic arrears built up under the Child Support Agency (CSA).

The report was a public consultation, inviting responses from organisations and private individuals. The overall response was positive.

What happens now?

The government has proposed new regulations which they plan to bring into force in Autumn 2018. These will change the way child maintenance calculations are carried out and enforced.

Changes include:

New powers for the Child Maintenance Service (CMS)

The body will be able to assess and thereafter vary a child maintenance liability by calculating a notional income from certain high-value assets held by a paying parent. The government has opted to proceed with an 8% proposed rate. It proposes to set the minimum aggregate value of assets at £31,250.

Extending deductions from jointly held accounts and unlimited liability partnership business accounts.

The government will carry out additional safeguarding checks to establish ownership of funds before making any deduction.

Passport confiscations

Those who repeatedly refuse to meet their child maintenance obligations could now have their passports removed. They will get it back when they make a payment on their arrears. Parents subject to this ban have 48 hours to surrender their passport.

New support from HMRC

This will help to better meet the needs of the CMS, including setting up Deduction from Earnings Orders at the point of application where the paying parent does not set up a payment method, and making better use of data-sharing powers.

The government also plans to introduce more changes at a later date. These will extend its ability to make deductions at the rate of £8.40 per week from benefits to include Universal Credit, for those liable to pay flat rate maintenance.

There are many parents with responsibility for children who are not receiving much or anything from their absent ex partners for the support of their children. By proposing these changes, the government is at last recognising that the system needs to be tightened up.

The Lester Aldridge family team deal with these and other issues on a regular basis and are frequently instructed by clients regarding divorce proceedings.

lester-aldridge-logoIf you would like to discuss any aspect of separation, arrangements for your children or wish to protect your assets prior to getting married, contact the family team on 01202 786161 or email [email protected]

Lester Aldridge LLP

About Lester Aldridge LLP

Lester Aldridge LLP is a nationally recognised law firm with offices in London, Bournemouth and Southampton. The family team are leaders in their field. Jane, Jo and Rosie are specialist family solicitors with a wealth of experience in all areas of family law from divorce to children, prenuptial agreements to the settlement of financial disputes and everything in between. These women are feisty when they need to be. But their approach is designed to reduce conflict in order to ensure the best possible outcome. They recognise that family issues can be extremely emotional and they offer access to specialist advice delivered in a friendly, approachable and understandable way designed to guide you from start to finish. If you would like an informal, no-obligation chat with Jane, Jo or Rosie please telephone 03300 539754.