For the Receiving Parent/PWC
Not all Parents with Care (PWC), or Receiving Parents as they are known under Child Maintenance Service are fortunate enough to have ex partners who are willingly pay child maintenance. Although the Child Support Act was created to secure child maintenance for such parents, the sad reality is that Receiving Parents are often left without financial support from their ex partners/spouse.
The following are some basic principles that a Receiving Parent should consider when dealing with the Agency.
- Always keep a record of communication with CSA/CMS, , in particular secure details of the case officer and ask that the content of any conversation is recorded in their Freetext log.
- If you write to them, be sure to send letters recorded delivery and keep copies of the letter together with the postage receipt.
- Do not allow too much time to pass in between contacts. Aim to be calling them every 2-3 weeks for a progress report.
- If you are not receiving sufficient responses, escalate your query through the complaints process. Involving your MP in any complaint is always beneficial.
Securing Regular Maintenance:
- You must now undergo a mandatory Gateway Conversation with CMOptions before you can make an application to the Statutory Scheme.. CMOptions will discuss various child maintenance arrangements, including a Family Based Arrangement, or application to Child Maintenance Service.
- You will be given a reference number to verify that the Gateway conversation has taken place.
- Should you wish to proceed with an application to Child Maintenance Service, you will be required to pay the application fee (certain exemptions apply)
- CMS will then secure income information direct from HMRC before notifying the Paying Parent of their proposed maintenance. After approximately 14 days, the final calculation is completed, and notifications are issued to both the Paying Parent and the Receiving Parent.
- The Final Calculation will include a pay schedule outlining payments and their due date, upto the next Annual Review.
- If either parent disputes any of the information used, a Mandatory Reconsideration request must be made within one month.
- If you believe the Paying Parent has income that has not been declared, or not included within the calculation, you may want to consider an application to the variation scheme.
- Variations can look at other aspects of the Paying Parent's finances that are not automatically considered within the formula. A variation may result in a Tribunal hearing.
- The use of Variation scheme is particularly important if the Paying Parent receives Dividends, or is believed to be Diverting Income.
- Grounds for variations differ between CS1/CS2/CS3 - see our variation/departure page for more information
- It’s important to ensure that any alleged debt is accurate. Do not budget or expect to receive any stated amount of arrears as CSA/CMS can not guarantee payments.
- The current Arrears Strategy will see billions of oustanding historical child support arrears being deemed uncollectible. Others will be collected as a very low priority.
- Notify CMS as soon as payments begin to differ from the pay schedule to prevent large arrears accruing. Request that the case is moved to Collect and Pay scheme if persistent non payment/short payments are received.
- There are a range of enforcement powers to collect arrears, including deducting money from salaries and money direct from bank accounts. Bailiffs can be instructed to recover arrears and in cases involving more substantial debt, a charge may be placed against the Paying Parent's home (or other property) and if necessary, a sale of the property can be forced.
- As a subscriber to NACSA you can discuss your case with one of our team and secure more case specific guidance to help you deal with CMS.