Stephen Lawson, Partner and Child Maintenance dispute expert at FDR Law provides an update on Child Support in the UK.
“The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) took over responsibility for all new Child Support claims opened after December 2013. The Child Support Agency (the CSA) continues to run earlier cases but they will be gradually closed or transferred to the latest CMS scheme over the next few years.
“The Government has however now introduced charges for the CMS Scheme - £20.00 paid by the applicant when a case is opened and 20% on top of maintenance paid by the non resident parent and 4% on maintenance received by the parent with care.
"Every three months the Government produces statistics showing the performance of both the CSA and CMS. The new CMS cases opened each month dropped from a high of 11,600 in January 2014 to a low of only 6000 new cases this August – after the introduction of fees. These statistics could be interpreted in two different ways – it may be a sign that the Government policy of encouraging parents to make a sensible private agreement is successful, alternatively it could be a sign that fees are discouraging parents with legitimate claims from making them – unfortunately no research or statistics are yet available to show which version is correct. The latest statistics fail to give any information about enforcement action – i.e. where an assessment has been carried out but not paid the Government has not yet shown the steps it is taking to recover arrears.
We will continue to scrutinise the performance of the Child Maintenance Service and pay tribute where credit is due but be critical where it is not.”