Legal Eagle: Major Changes to Child Maintenance
For many years the Child Support Agency (CSA) has dealt with the issue of child maintenance between parents. However, the CSA is now to be abolished. Here’s what you need to know.
What will replace the CSA?
The CSA will be replaced by a new entity called Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
What will change?
Under the new rules, the parent who doesn't live with the child will now have to pay a 20% fee on their payments for using the service and the other parent will lose 4% of the money they receive. A non-resident parent using the CMS will therefore pay £20 on top of every £100 of child support, while the parent living with the child will only get £96 of that sum. There will also be a £20 charge levied by the CMS for set-up costs.
When will these changes happen?
Parents who currently use the CSA will receive letters anytime between now and 2017 explaining the changes and when they will be implemented in relation their case. Parents will then have the choice to either move over to the CSM or deal with each directly.
Can I avoid the fees?
The short answer is yes and government is actually encouraging this. Parents can avoid the charges by agreeing to pay each other directly, bypassing the state-run system.
What about existing arrears?
If arrears have built up whilst a case was with the CSA and the parents choose to use the CSM, the arrears will still stand and can be enforced. This will also be the case where parents decide to come to a family-based arrangement.
Are there any changes to how maintenance is calculated?
Yes. For those that earn less than £800 gross weekly income it will be: 12% of gross income for one child, 16% gross income for two children and 19% gross income for three or more children. For those that earn more than £800 gross weekly income it will be: 12% gross income for the first £800 and 9% of the gross income on the remainder, 16% of gross income on the first £800 and 12% of gross income on the remainder for two children and 19% of gross income for the first £800 of gross income and 15% of the gross income on the remainder for three or more children.
For more information visit Dean’s website www.consumeruk.co.uk @deandunham