In Focus – Changes to child maintenance
Major changes are being made to the process of giving and receiving child maintenance.
The Child Support Agency (CSA) is closing and a new agency is being introduced called the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). Fees are also being introduced for making an application to receive child maintenance. Read on if you are a parent and want to know more about these changes and how they may affect you.
Child Support Agency is closing
The Child Support Agency (CSA) is closing and will no longer be taking on new cases.
Instead, parents will be asked to apply to the new agency dealing with child maintenance, called the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
What is different about the Child Maintenance Service?
- Registration Charge
One of the main changes is that a registration fee of £20 is being introduced for parents to use the Child Maintenance Service.
However, this fee is not expected to come into effect until the summer 2014 so if you apply now you may not have to pay to register.
- Collection Charges
Under the new system there will be additional charges if the Child Maintenance Service has to collect money from your child’s other parent and pay it to you. The paying parent will have to pay an additional 20 per cent on top of the usual child maintenance amount, and you will have that child maintenance amount reduced by four per cent.
If your child’s other parent pays the money directly to you, neither of you will have to pay these additional charges.
The desired effect of these charges is that it will be in both parent’s interest to agree and pay child maintenance on time. It was thought that the old system was costing the taxpayer too much money and that there was no incentive for parents to come to amicable agreements about paying child maintenance. A spokesman for the government explained that the old maintenance system “took responsibility away from parents, encouraging conflict and hostility at huge expense to the taxpayer”.
- Calculation Method
The CMS will use a different method to calculate child maintenance than that of the CSA.
The new calculation will be based on information provided by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) which will include the income of your child’s other parent.
This information will be checked with HMRC every year to make sure the calculation is still correct. Adjustments will be made if necessary.
Need more information?
The Child Maintenance Service website:
The single parent charity Gingerbread has created a very useful interactive tool to help you understand what charges are applicable to you. The tool can be found here:
Gingerbread also provide a wealth of general information for single parents on their main website: