Could failing to pay child maintenance harm your credit rating?
From March 2015, avoiding child support payments could have serious new implications for non-resident parents. Plans are in place, subject to parliamentary approval, for the Child Support Agency and its successor the Child Maintenance Service to share information about non-paying clients with credit referencing agencies.
Arrears owed to the agencies will be treated the same way as other debts for the purposes of calculating a credit score. A poor credit score can impact on a person’s ability to get loans, credit card and even mobile phone contracts.
On the flipside, if a non-resident parent is a regular payer they can ask that this positive information be shared to improve their credit rating and access to consumer credit.
Steve Webb MP, the government minister for Child Maintenance has said:
‘For too long, a minority of absent parents have got away with failing to pay maintenance, leaving families without that financial support. This government is determined to take action to tackle this kind of irresponsible behaviour and support families.
Compliance with CSA-calculated payments is currently at an all-time high of 86%. Government plans are already underway to disband the CSA and move clients over to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), with parents being encouraged to do as much as possible themselves. They are encouraged to use online calculators to work out their maintenance liability and pay it between themselves privately. If there is a dispute about the liability then CMS can calculate it. As a last resort CMS can also collect the maintenance then distribute it to the parent with care. However this last service will attract a cost to parent with care.
You can find out more about child maintenance here: www.gov.uk/child-maintenance
If you want to learn more about the change from the Child Support Agency to the Child Maintenance Service and how it might affect you, have a look at our article on the subject here.