New fees for parents requiring state support when agreeing child maintenance payments after a divorce

Year Published: 2011

The government has announced plans to look at charging for using the CSA. The coalition government’s plans are set out in a Green Paper.

The aim of the proposed changes is reportedly to support families in making their own arrangements. Whilst this in itself may be a laudable aim, it is a real cause for concern that those most in need may be put off using the system and will therefore be left with no financial support from former partners. No final decision has been made on the level of charges to be levied but the initial indication is that it will be between £20 and £100 depending on the level of CSA involvement.

It is also proposed to put in place a wider range of support services for separating couples. It seems likely that the voluntary sector will be expected to provide much of this support. It is to be hoped that sufficient investment is made in providing such services to ensure that they are available locally to all who need them.

One other issue to consider – if a couple enters into a private arrangement and therefore bypasses the CSA, will that agreement be enforceable? Even if it is, how easy will it be to enforce and how much will it cost?

There is a risk that the proposals will make life much easier for the parent seeking to dodge his or her responsibility, and much harder for the parent with care of the children.

The consultation period runs until 7 April 2011. You can provide a formal response to the consultant by email to [email protected], but feel free to post your comments here if you wish.

For further information please contact a member of our Private Client team on 01625 442100.

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