The Child Support Agency (CSA) will soon be abolished and nearly a million existing cases will be closed. Parents will then have no alternative but to make an application to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) and there will be a £20 application fee to access the CMS with a charge of 4% made for collection charges. Parents who fail to pay maintenance will also be charged an additional 20% collection fee and that will be on top of the maintenance they are paying for their children.
The government say that the charges are to encourage parents to swiftly reach agreements as to the amount of child maintenance payable, but many would say that the payments are being raised in order to cover the costs of the CMS. The government will retain the application fee and also the collection fee.
Sadly, the charges will end up being paid by those who are less likely to be able to afford to pay them, that is parents already dealing with separation and the financial pressures which arise at that time. It is always in the interests of separating parents to agree as many issues as they can, particularly in respect of children, whether it is payment of maintenance or living arrangements for the children.
If you need any help or advice in respect of issues arising as a result of a recent separation please contact our Family team on 0161 475 7676.