Child Maintenance Explained

child maintenance explained
Child Maintenance Explained

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) was founded in 2008 as a statutory non-departmental public body to take over the duties of the Child Support Agency. At the same time, the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act of 2008 (CMOPA) abolished the requirement for new benefit claimants to use the CSA.

The obligation for existing CSA clients receiving benefits to continue using the agency was eliminated in October 2008. All parents can now select the child support options that best suit their unique circumstances. This could be a private arrangement or statutory maintenance provisions. A new Child Maintenance Options Service has been established to assist parents with information and support as they make their decision.

Since April 2010, all child maintenance payments have been completely ignored when calculating out-of-work benefits.

The CMEC took over responsibility for the CSA’s work in November 2008. This was closed down in 2012, and the role was given to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

New enforcement powers were implemented under the CMOPA in 2009/2010 to ensure that parents satisfy their child maintenance responsibilities. Allowing the CMEC to seize the passport and/or driving licence of parents who do not pay without involving the courts, as is now the case,. The government, according to Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell, is eager to assist parents through these difficult times, but for those who choose not to support their own children, “we will not stand by and do nothing.” If a parent refuses to pay, we would prevent them from flying abroad or using their car.” Without having to go through the courts, the Commission can also remove money from bank accounts where a parent has failed to meet their financial obligations to their child. The CMEC will also be able to ask for a curfew or recover money from the estate of a deceased person.

A new child maintenance programme was announced in late 2012, claiming to be fairer and speedier than the current system. It includes annual maintenance assessment reviews, a rise in the ‘flat rate’ child maintenance deduction from state payments, and the elimination of the requirement for parents who share child care equally to pay maintenance through the statutory programme. Couples who want to construct their own agreement can do so by filling out the ‘family-based arrangement form’ available on the Child Maintenance Options website.

The new system bases the maintenance payable on a flat rate per child, with the rate varying depending on:

  • the gross income of the payee;
  • the number of nights the child spends with each parent on average; and
  • other factors related to the family circumstances.

For more information, consult the CSA website, which features a child support calculator.

Since 30, 2014, all new applicants utilising the Child Maintenance Service have been charged a £20 application fee, unless they qualify for an exemption under one of the qualifying categories, and a collection fee applies to users of the ‘Collect and Pay’ system.

The charges are 4% deducted from the payments received by the parent with primary caregiving responsibilities for the children and 20% added to the child support obligation of the parent who does not have primary caregiving responsibilities for the children.

Avatar of DLS Solicitors by DLS Solicitors
3rd October 2023
Avatar of DLS Solicitors
DLS Solicitors

Our team of professionals are based in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. We offer clear, specialist legal advice in all matters relating to Family Law, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney and Court of Protection.

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