-By Helen Phillips
As from the 30th June 2014 charges have been introduced for people applying to the Child Maintenance Service. All new applicants will be charged a one off application fee of £20.00. There are some exceptions to this. The fee will not be charged to applicants who are victims of domestic violence and have reported this to an appropriate person or organisation or the applicant is aged under 19.
Collection charges are also being introduced from the 11th August 2014 in relation to all cases which are in the Child Maintenance Service Collect and Pay system on or after that date. The parent with care will have 4% deducted from the child maintenance payments and 20% will be added on to the child maintenance liability for the non-resident parent.
If you are already in the Collect & Pay system it is possible to avoid paying collection charges from the 11th August either by coming to an arrangement with the other party yourself or by using the free direct pay system. If the non-resident parent is in arrears with their payments, but there is no enforcement action as yet, they will be given up until 5th August 2014 to clear the arrears. If the arrears are cleared by that date they will be able to opt for the direct pay arrangement instead.
Enforcement charges will also apply against paying parents within the Child Maintenance Service where enforcement action is taken in the collect and pay system after the 30th June 2014. The charges will not apply to existing enforcement action commenced before the 30th June.
Letters are also being sent out to Child Support Agency (CSA) clients about ending their current child maintenance arrangements. All affected parents will be contacted between now and 2017 notifying them that their arrangement will come to an end. It is envisaged that most people will get 6 months notice to enable them to put a new arrangement in place. When the CSA arrangements come to an end, parents have the option to make a family based arrangement where they arrange between themselves what to pay and when, or an application can be made to the Child Maintenance Service, but, of course, the new charges will apply. Whilst your case remains managed by the Child Support Agency as opposed to the Child Maintenance Service you will not be charged for using the service.
If you require any further advice or assistance regarding child maintenance issues, then please feel free to contact us for an initial free half hour appointment.