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2 October 2013

New Child Support Agency Rules have taken effect

The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 (Commencement No 11 and Transitional Provisions) Order 2013 (SI 2013/1860) came into force on 29 July 2013.

The Order brings into force provisions of the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008, which apply new rules for calculating child support maintenance to certain applications made on or after 29 July 2013.  Therefore, the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS) opened on 29 July 2013 to new applicants with two or more children.

The new and improved statutory service, which calculates and arranges financial support for children living in separated families, will gradually replace the Child Support Agency (CSA).  The CMS is designed to be a safety net for difficult cases where parents are unable to work things out between themselves.

Once the CMS is fully up and running, all separated families currently in the CSA will be given a fresh start as their cases are gradually closed.  They will be offered help and support to come to their own financial arrangements.

The CMS is designed to target the most difficult cases.  It will be able to use new enforcement fines to encourage parents to pay what they owe.  The new service will also charge a small upfront fee and have ongoing collection charges for both parents to encourage collaboration.  Parents can avoid the ongoing collection charges altogether by opting to use a service called Direct Pay.

CSA will gradually close from next year over three years, as parents are given the chance to work things out between themselves.

Under the Government’s proposals, the CMS will begin to charge a £20 application fee, once the service is fully up and running.  There will also be a 20% collection charge for non-resident parents on top of their calculation and a 4% charge on payments for parents with care of the child.  These ongoing charges can be avoided if parents opt for Direct Pay, where parents pay each other directly at arms-length from the CMS.  If payments stop, the CMS will step in and enforce payments.

For further information on children matters please contact our family team.

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