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Court Procedures for Obtaining Child Support

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 14 Jun 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Court Parent With Care Non Resident

The way in which child support is assessed, calculated, collected and distributed to parents with care varies around the world.

In the UK legal intervention is not always required as some parents are able to commit to a private agreement, regarding the paying of regular maintenance. Recognising parental responsibility is generally sufficient to ensure child support payments are made periodically by the non-resident parent. However, in some cases legal intervention is the only option.

The First Step

Before being able to seek court assistance, in collecting maintenance payments from a non-resident parent, the parent with care must attempt to collect child maintenance from the absent parent. Making an application for child support, through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is usually the last resort for parents who are unable to trace non-resident parents who are not interested in making a financial commitment to their child’s upbringing. Or where the non-resident parent is consistently unreliable with financial support.

Having applied to the CMS parents with care will have to wait whilst the agency collates information, regarding income and living circumstances of the non-resident parent. The whole process will take a number of weeks, and if the non-resident parent must be traced this will increase the waiting period considerably.

Court Procedures

When a couple divorce, child maintenance arrangements are usually determined as part of the divorce settlement, which may also include alimony and visitation agreements. If a parent with care requires help from the courts, in order to secure maintenance from a non-resident parent, there are certain procedures to follow.

The parent with care, or a legal representative, must appear at the local magistrate court in order to file an application for the establishment of child support. The identifying information they provide must include details of both parents, and documents must all be produced to prove parentage of the child or children.

Receiving A Court Summons

Once the non resident parent has been located a process server will issue them a court summons. This summons states that the absent parent is being sued for child support. The non-resident parent must then attend a mandatory court hearing to explain why they have failed to comply and to determine responsibility for the payment of child support.

In some cases establishment of paternity is also required. If DNA testing is required, in contested cases, the child’s birth certificate may be amended after proof of paternity. After all relevant questions are answered, to the courts satisfaction, the court will order the non-resident parent to make periodic child support payments, including outstanding arrears.

The Best Possible Solution

Shared care is generally acknowledged as being in the best interests of the child or children, after divorce or separation. This requires the child to split their time between both parents and households. Having legal custody of a child gives the parent with care the right to make decisions over the child’s welfare, education and health.

Acknowledging some form of parental responsibility – by paying maintenance – enables the non-resident parent to also maintain an interest in their child’s life.

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Dom - Your Question:
I have three children that I have had shared care for the past 9 years and have been paying child maintenance for during this period. This was agreed via a family arrangement. I was having my children 6 nights out of 14. In Jan 2017 my ex applied o the CMS for them to calculate the maintenance being paid, which happened to be less that what she was originally receiving. I got remarried late 2016, and the hostile relationship I had with mx ex, got worse. In May 2017 she denied me access to my children. The CMS contacted me because she had made a further application to them to increase the payment. I contested this and still am. Why should I be forced to pay more when she is denying me access. The CMS were unsympathetic and advised that I had to obtain a court order for them to reconsider the amount due. I duly did this and the order was granted in Nov17. With no argument from my ex. I saw my children once, and haven’t seen them since, being told that they do not wish to see me!! I have now received a summons to attend court because she wants the money she feel is due for the period she denied access. Interestingly she has not applied to vary the court order. She just wants the money.

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access are two completely different issues and dealt with separately. Please note there is no crossover. If your ex denied access after the court order, then you would have had the option to refer the matter back to court for a breach of the court order. If you did not do this and you no longer saw your children, then CMS will calculate the child maintenance you pay based upon the number of nights you have your children overnight. If you did not/do not see your children, then child maintenance will be calculated accordingly. Your comment: 'Why should I be forced to pay more when she is denying me access?' Does not apply. All non-resident parents are by law seen as responsible for paying towards the day-to-day care of their children whether they see them or not. The court deals with access issues separately.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Jun-18 @ 2:48 PM
I have three children that I have had shared care for the past 9 years and have beenpaying child maintenance for during this period. This was agreed via a family arrangement. I was having my children 6 nights out of 14. In Jan 2017 my ex applied o the CMS for them to calculate the maintenance being paid, which happened to be less that what she was originally receiving. I got remarried late 2016, and the hostile relationship I had with mx ex, got worse. In May 2017 she denied me access to my children. The CMS contacted me because she had made a further application to them to increase the payment. I contested this and still am. Why should I be forced to pay more when she is denying me access. The CMS were unsympathetic and advised that I had to obtain a court order for them to reconsider the amount due. I duly did this and the order was granted in Nov17. With no argument from my ex. I saw my children once, and haven’t seen them since, being told that they do not wish to see me!!I have now received a summons to attend court because she wants the money she feel is due for the period she denied access. Interestingly she has not applied to vary the court order. She just wants the money.
Dom - 14-Jun-18 @ 9:01 PM
I have 2 boys now over 18 and I have been trying to go through the CSA and CMS for a number of years.Their father has managed to avoid payment and I have correspondence that tells me he owes me £11.5k as he has failed to respond to them and jumped employers.I have asked the CSA and CMS to help me get this payment but now the father has signed on for benefits with the job centre allowing him to work 20 hours a week and not get touched.He is a self employed lorry driver and I have seen hi working more than this. He is allowed to have a brand new car and holidays to America but I have struggled.When can I make it a legal matter that he owes me this money as I have it in writing from the CSA and CMS that he does.
Dimples73uk - 27-Apr-18 @ 2:48 PM
Jimmy - Your Question:
Hi there ok I have a son now aged 13, both me and his mum separated a long time ago, there was a case open back in 07 where I started paying, however I lost my job an eventually found a job overseas for a 3 year period, then I come back and had shared care for a few years which we both had the kid equally and family arranged agreement, few years lapsed without a cms case opened ,she then went back to the cms a few years on and wanted back payments for the whole period ? Could you please tell me where I stand here ? Surely this can't be right?

Our Response:
Much depends upon when the original claim was opened and if a case was opened whether CSA/CMS were informed to close the case when you agreed to shared care. Have they been chasing you for payment? Have you ignored letters? Have you proof you had shared-care? There are certain circumstances you should inform child maintenance about, please see link here . You don't say whether you have received letters to ask for payment. If you have, then your option would be to complain or appeal via the link here . We can't state whether CMS are right or wrong as we do not have the full details of your CSA/CMS history. However, if a claim had been closed with CSA and no new claim has since been opened with CMS, then your ex cannot chase you for retrospective payments.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Nov-17 @ 9:53 AM
Hi there ok I have a son now aged 13, both me and his mum separated a long time ago, there was a case open back in 07 where I started paying, however I lost my job an eventually found a job overseas for a 3 year period, then I come back and had shared care for a few years which we both had the kid equally and family arranged agreement, few years lapsed without a cms case opened ,she then went back to the cms a few years on and wanted back payments for the whole period ? Could you please tell me where I stand here ? Surely this can't be right?
Jimmy - 27-Nov-17 @ 12:03 AM
Chrissy - Your Question:
I have a 8 year old daughter that I am struggling financially to even support because I have absolutely no help from my daughter's dad he was extremely abusive in a four year relationship to put myself and my daughter in harms way my daughter was on a child protection plan because of him we went through quotes for him to get visitation rights we asked him to do anger management we asking to see when a contact centre he refused to do all of this it didn't even turn up at court and he works cash in hand so nothing is on the books to say that he is getting a bigger income and if I do child support all I would be entitled to is £2.50 at the end of each month because someone else is already claiming on his child maintenance I don't know what to do I think it's an absolute joke and it's absolutely disgusting the way that parents are allowed to just disregard their responsibilities I think it's absolutely appalling that they don't have to pay for anything and they don't have to do anything it's disgusting and makes my stomach turn I myself have been severely depressed for the last six months because of this issue and I can't seem to get out of it and I don't know what else to do to try and get some form of financial support I can't contact the father directly or indirectly because I actually have an injunction out on him for him not to be able to have contact with myself or my daughter so I don't actually know what I'm supposed to do very much would like to take him to court but I understand that necessarily won't do nothing would it be any purpose in the hiring a private investigator to prove that he is getting cash in hand

Our Response:
Unfortunately, even if you prove to CMS that your ex is working cash-in-hand, there is nothing they can do to extract child maintenance from this undeclared money. Child maintenance payments are based upon tax paid via HMRC and assessed on how much tax the non-resident parent is paying. There may be other benefits you can claim as a single parent which can go towards helping you bring your child up alone, please see link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Nov-17 @ 2:27 PM
I have a 8 year old daughter that I am struggling financially to even support because I have absolutely no help from my daughter's dad he was extremely abusive in a four year relationship to put myself and my daughter in harms way my daughter was on a child protection plan because of him we went through quotes for him to get visitation rights we asked him to do anger management we asking to see when a contact centre he refused to do all of this it didn't even turn up at court and he works cash in hand so nothing is on the books to say that he is getting a bigger income and if I do child support all I would be entitled to is £2.50 at the end of each month because someone else is already claiming on his child maintenance I don't know what to do I think it's an absolute joke and it's absolutely disgusting the way that parents are allowed to just disregard their responsibilities I think it's absolutely appalling that they don't have to pay for anything and they don't have to do anything it's disgusting and makes my stomach turn I myself have been severely depressed for the last six months because of this issue and I can't seem to get out of it and I don't know what else to do to try and get some form of financial support I can't contact the father directly or indirectly because I actually have an injunction out on him for him not to be able to have contact with myself or my daughter so I don't actually know what I'm supposed to do very much would like to take him to court but I understand that necessarily won't do nothing would it be any purpose in the hiring a private investigator to prove that he is getting cash in hand
Chrissy - 4-Nov-17 @ 10:01 AM
CSA gave me no support and basically told me to forget it! They missed opportunity to do an attachment of earnings more than once. I have been promised the world if I transfer onto the new system however this has consisted of a 13 week period "that they will not backdate" so there goes another 3 months free to the NRP who has chosen to avade the CSA. There are no consequences at all for not paying child support if you work cash in hand. CSA will tell you there is nothing they can do they are "not private investigators" no one enforces the child maintance laws
LC100 - 10-Sep-15 @ 10:24 PM
@Bobbys - if you feel you have been unfairly treated, you can complain to the CSA via the link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Jun-15 @ 1:00 PM
After a year and a half someone has made a claim I'm a father to her baby I only found out by il opening up my wage slip to find out that out of £1031 I deducted £811.63 from CSA in big capital letters I have now been on the phone to them 5-7 times a day for the past two and a half months trying to sort it been fobbed off every time the mother is denying I'm the father and a DNA test yet there goin to take over £4000 off me for apparently what I own more to the point it's come to my attention that at a cost of £422 a month she actually only would get £50 odd pound as the Csa get the rest!!! WTF! I thought I was paying for the child not a service?!! And more to the point I've read over the gov web site and the Csa web site AND consulted a solicitor, the way they have gone about it a DNA has not been done I got no court order! And apparently they have been trying to contact me for over a year at an address I have not lived at and ringing me on a number thatnis not mine they said they applied for the detachment of earnings order as they couldn't get hold of me.....well you won't if I'm a marine and been fighting a war for the last 11 years!!!! The absolute cheek of it. They are a joke and need to be diapause a thale fact any woman could ring up and name a man a father and then they can help there selves to your bank account is absoloutly disgusting.
Bobbys - 20-Jun-15 @ 7:31 PM
why should aNRP who becomes unemployed - in this case the mum, have to pay a parent with care for a 18 yr old son who she never sees because the dad has alienated him, and the Dad earns 50k plus as a university lecturer in Lincoln , 100 miles away from the mum. The fact that contact is not linked to CSA payments stinks!! and the government should do a rake through of this CSA and the variations that exist instead under the present ruls the parent with care earning 50k can persue the unemployed mum just because "HE CAN" and is spiteful - nothing to do with fairness or needing the money. The parent with care and his teenage son have had 19k from the mum before she became unemployed - where is the justice ?
JJ - 11-Aug-14 @ 8:19 PM
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