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CMS Complaints, Appeals and Tribunals

By: Mary Williams BA (hons) - Updated: 9 Aug 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Child Support Agency Csa Maintenance

Many lone parent families rely on periodic maintenance support in order to be able to provide all the necessary things a growing child requires.

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) can assess and distribute maintenance payments to the parent with care, from the non-resident parent and this regular payment is used to cover the costs of raising a child.

However, sometimes collecting child maintenance payments might prove difficult or an award may be thought to be wrongly calculated. On these occasions disputing, complaining or appealing a decision may be required.

How to Complain

If either parent wants to complain, dispute or appeal against a decision made by the CMS or Child Support Agency they must get in touch directly with the agency in question. The first thing they should do is contact the the team that normally handles the case. Hopefully, the team will be able to deal with and resolve the issue immediately (the majority of cases are concluded this way).

If the issue cannot be resolved immediately, the office managing the case will contact the Complaints Resolution Team who will attempt to sort the matter within 15 working days. The individual making the complaint will be kept updated with regards to progress. If it is anticipated the matter may take longer, the team will agree a timetable with the parent.

Parents should also be aware that the amount of maintenance that is expected to be paid may increase, as well as decrease, as a result of an any dispute, complaint or appeal.

Independent Case Examiner

If the complaints Resolution Team is unable to deal with an issue, the parent can ask the Complaints Review Team to look at it. Once the parent who has lodged the dispute has been though the full complaints process and if the issue remains unresolved, the parent can request the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) looks into the complaint. In order to get to this stage, the parent must have been issued with the final response from CMS or CSA and have been given permission to contact the ICE. The Independent Case Examiner acts as an independent referee in any onward decision making process.

Mandatory Considerations

If a parent wishes to complain about a child maintenance payment decision because they disagree with it and think they have a case, the parent can ask for it to be looked at again. This is termed a mandatory reconsideration. If there is a disagreement with a decision, the parent should ask CMS to look at the matter within one month of the date on the decision letter. Where any mistake is made by CMS, the decision will be rectified as soon as possible.

Appeals

Appeals also have to be lodged within one month after CMS has looked at a decision again and informed there is no change to the original decision. If appeal hearings are not resolved prior to the tribunal-stage, they will be heard in front of a judge and by a First-Tier Tribunal of the Social Entitlement Chamber. An appeal can take nine months or more to get to this stage. The 'paying parent' must continue paying child maintenance payments until the case is resolved. The ICE is legally bound to adhere to the decision the tribunal reaches. If the ICE feels the original decision was wrong - it will inform CMS/CSA what it should do to rectify the decision.

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@BBB - thank you for your reply bbb however you are definetely not correct about that. The cms eventually closed the case down too because They eventually believed she was living abroad. They Also confirmed to me that CM is not claimable for abroad however there are certain exceptions, none of which my ex meets. That information is easily available via a google search... also, my post was advice on the best way forward to deal with my complaint which you haven’t helped with at all but thanks for your input.
Law - 9-Aug-18 @ 10:44 PM
@Law - your ex is entitled to claim child maintenance from you while living abroad. You still have to pay towards your child regardless of where your child is living. That's why CMS were possibly not that bothered what address she was living or that she was lying at as you'd still be required to pay. Basically, at the end of the day you have to pay child maintenance. If you think you don't (for whatever reason) you're fighting a losing battle, just saying. It sounds like what you are doing is picking out discrepancies in order to get out of paying. Trust me, CMS or anyone else is not interested in this. You have to pay, they get the money, full stop.
BBB - 9-Aug-18 @ 2:59 PM
i have been through the cms complaints procedure and am not satisfied with their response and I’m now unsure whether I need to ask the independent case examiner to look at it or go straight to tribunal. My complaint involves them forcing me to pay cm whilst child and mum were habitually living abroad even after I provided the sufficient evidence, they were happy that when mum rang them she confirmed an English address through security and that was sufficient for them. Mum has now admitted to them she was lying and they’ve taken no action which is another part of my complaint. I’m also disagreeing the closure date and their failure to create an overpayment even with the date they have closed the case from. mum also didn’t provide them with the documents they requested ie; letter from sons school to say he was attending yet after admitting she was lying has opened a new claim still without those supporting documents which I now have to pay, again another part of my complaint. Their response basically says they’ve done everything correct... wondered if I need to use ICE first or if tribunal will accept my case to appeal those specific decisions? Any advice will be appreciated ??
Law - 7-Aug-18 @ 10:16 PM
i have been through the cms complaints procedure and am not satisfied with their response and I’m now unsure whether I need to ask the independent case examiner to look at it or go straight to tribunal. My complaint involves them forcing me to pay cm whilst child and mum were habitually living abroad even after I provided the sufficient evidence, they were happy that when mum rang them she confirmed an English address through security and that was sufficient for them. Mum has now admitted to them she was lying and they’ve taken no action which is another part of my complaint. I’m also disagreeing the closure date and their failure to create an overpayment even with the date they have closed the case from. mum also didn’t provide them with the documents they requested ie; letter from sons school to say he was attending yet after admitting she was lying has opened a new claim still without those supporting documents which I now have to pay, again another part of my complaint. Their response basically says they’ve done everything correct... wondered if I need to use ICE first or if tribunal will accept my case to appeal those specific decisions? Any advice will be appreciated ??
Law - 7-Aug-18 @ 4:55 PM
Nate - Your Question:
Hi there, I was divorced in 2012 and re-married in 2014. My ex-wife has not allowed my children to see me since early 2014 though my family and I have tried everything we can to maintain contact and provide for their upbringing. Unfortunately I lost my job in 2013 but managed to secure a little freelance work - 3 to 4 months a year in 2014, 2015 and 2016. I've since been unable to secure any work since June 2016, and still unemployed, largely due to depression but also a shrinking industry. My wife is in full-time employment and kindly helps with a small contribution to CMS each month. However CMS have been claiming more than £12k in unpaid arrears since 2016/17 based on HMRC data from 2013 - when I was last employed. Despite my sending them a letter in July 2016 informing them of my unemployed status (followed by phone calls and additional letters), and several Mandatory Reconsiderations since then, the CMS has continued to insist that I owe them these arrears, which are based on 2013 income. For 2017/18 the CMS issued a 'nil rate' calculation, but have just issued the 2018/19 calculation with roughly £41 a week due during 2018/19 - which I don't understand and have requested a Mandatory Reconsideration (here we go again). I am now taking the CMS to tribunal for the £12k arrears. I am very very anxious and depression is at its worst ever. Is there anything you can advise to help me with presenting my case, in addition to the information provided above in your article? With many thanks in advance.

Our Response:
Unfortunately, we cannot issue anything that will help your case as we are not specialists and cannot give personal advice. The CAB link here should help answer your question.
ChildSupportLaws - 31-Jul-18 @ 10:07 AM
Hi there,I was divorced in 2012 and re-married in 2014.My ex-wife has not allowed my children to see me since early 2014 though my family and I have tried everything we can to maintain contact and provide for their upbringing.Unfortunately I lost my job in 2013 but managed to secure a little freelance work - 3 to 4 months a year in 2014, 2015 and 2016.I've since been unable to secure any work since June 2016, and still unemployed, largely due to depression but also a shrinking industry.My wife is in full-time employment and kindly helps with a small contribution to CMS each month. However CMS have been claiming more than £12k in unpaid arrears since 2016/17 based on HMRC data from 2013 - when I was last employed.Despite my sending them a letter in July 2016 informing them of my unemployed status (followed by phone calls and additional letters), and several Mandatory Reconsiderations since then, the CMS has continued to insist that I owe them these arrears, which are based on 2013 income. For 2017/18 the CMS issued a 'nil rate' calculation, but have just issued the 2018/19 calculation with roughly £41 a week due during 2018/19 - which I don't understand and have requested a Mandatory Reconsideration (here we go again). I am now taking the CMS to tribunal for the £12k arrears.I am very very anxious and depression is at its worst ever. Is there anything you can advise to help me with presenting my case, in addition to the information provided above in your article?With many thanks in advance.
Nate - 30-Jul-18 @ 12:12 PM
Broken - Your Question:
My ex wife and I had an arrangement through the CSA which later defaulted to a private payment. This has run well for some years until she contacted the CMS. The CMS have just walloped me with a 70% increase in payments with no justification, admittedly there has been about an 11% increase in salary over this period so I expected some increase. The application was made to the CMS without any reference or contact requesting an increase through the existing agreement. The previous arrangement is documented in the consent order to the divorce. During intial contact with the CMS I was told "not to worry", before being hit with the 70% increase which now causes financial hardship and has the potential to destroy my second marriage.I have complained to the CMS in writing four times since April 2018. None of my letters are responded to, and they continue to terminate my calls or refuse to put me through to the complaints resolution team. In desparation, I contacted my MP and the CMS provided the wrong date to the MP in relation to my original complaint.This is an organisation that applies broken policy and broken procedures with total disregard to what is affordable, and its staff hide behind these. As background I provide for three step children through my second marriage with no significant financial contribution from their father. Something is wrong.

Our Response:
Firstly, the fact your step-children's other parent does not provide for his children has no bearing on your case. This is a completely separate issue that will be disregarded by CMS as it is between your wife and her ex. Child maintenance has a uniform approach to all non-resident parents. On the basic rate, if you’re paying for one child, you’ll pay 12% of your gross weekly income, two children 16% and for three or more children, you’ll pay 19% of your gross weekly income. There is no negotiation here, unless you and your ex come to a family-based child maintenance arrangement. CMS does not calculate for outgoings only taxable earnings. The fact your award went through court may be applicable to the 12-month rule. It means consent orders made after March 2003 are only valid for one year. Once the year is up, the resident parent can go to CMS for a reappraisal. This is because many court orders did not keep in line with inflation or wage rises meaning resident parents received less money as time went on (in relative terms). I don't wish to be the harbinger of bad news, I am merely stating facts which relate to the questions you have asked. This may be why CMS is not responding i.e you do not have a case for complaint. The fact your ex has not been to CMS previously means you have had an arrangement for years that falls short of the child maintenance calculator (which can be found online) and which estimates the amount of child maintenance you should be paying. It could be looked at that you have been underpaying for years and in fact have gained through your previous agreement. Likewise, your ex does not have to consult you if she wishes to apply via CMS. The reason why CMS does not look at what is affordable from the NRP, is that many NRP's would bump up their outgoings deliberately in order to avoid paying child maintenance. Likewise, it was changed from calculating on net income to gross income because many NRP's were sidelining earnings into private pensions to avoid paying. This is possibly not the answer you wish to hear. My aim is to clarify the situation. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Jul-18 @ 12:04 PM
My ex wife and I had an arrangement through the CSA which later defaulted to a private payment.This has run well for some years until she contacted the CMS.The CMS have justwalloped me with a 70% increase in payments with no justification, admittedly there has been about an 11% increase in salary over this period so I expected some increase.The application was made to the CMS without any reference or contact requesting an increase through the existing agreement.The previous arrangement is documented in the consent order to the divorce.During intial contact with the CMS I was told "not to worry", before being hit with the 70% increase which now causes financial hardship and has the potential to destroy my second marriage. I have complained to the CMS in writing four times since April 2018.None of my letters are responded to, and they continue to terminate my calls or refuse to put me through to the complaints resolution team.In desparation, I contacted my MP and the CMS provided the wrong date to the MP in relation to my original complaint. This is an organisation that applies broken policy and broken procedures with total disregard to what is affordable, and its staff hide behind these.As background I provide for three step children through my second marriage with no significant financial contribution from their father.Something is wrong.
Broken - 16-Jul-18 @ 3:51 PM
my wifes ex parner has been re aveluated since changing from css to cms he has appealed new amount but she has recieved no money for last 3 months is this right or should she be recieving some money whilst appeal is going on ? not getting any straight answers of cms
pob - 15-Jun-18 @ 8:01 AM
I wonder if someone can advise me on the below. Was working full time earning £30,000.00 per annum and paying my dues. I left in march 2017. I FORGOT to tell the CSA that i had left this job. Worked 3 months over summer 2017 and earned just over £10,000.00. (Was setting up my now active business in the meantime.) CSA are saying that because is did not tell them that I had left my job in march 2017 that I am liable for the £5,000.00+ bill that landed on my doorstep. Surely not? I understand that I did not inform them but why can it not be rectified on the system... I'm under the impression, and have seen examples in these forums, that they can change individuals claims from 10+ years ago when it is in their favour but cannot when it is against. (I can prove that I left employment in 2017 march as I took employer to court and received settlement agreements showing the specific date. I have offered this evidence but they do not seem to care.) Any advice would be to appreciated... Brief notes: -LEFT EMPLOYMENT MARCH 17 -EARNED 10,000.00 TOTAL DURING APR 17 - APR 18 -FORGOT TO TELL CSA CHANGE IN EARNING BUT CAN PROOVE -THEY SENT ME A BILL FOR £5,000.00 ARREARS BASED ON THE INCORRECT INCOME -EXPLAINED AND OFFERED EVIDENCE BUT TO NO AVAIL
Tom - 25-May-18 @ 7:41 PM
@Jaime-lea - you should benefit from your ex's rise in wages, when child maintenance is reviewed again.
Pete - 22-May-18 @ 3:09 PM
Iv recently rang csa and my ex has been told he has to pay £34 a month due to them going off his earnings over the past 12 month but he’s now working full time earning £250+ a week and has been doing for the past 4 month.. is this right?
Jaime-lea - 22-May-18 @ 2:46 PM
Johnmack1 - Your Question:
Hi, since CMS has taken over from CSA payments gone way up, no issues with making payments, have done so the last 18 years, but the figures they have are outdated. I’ve spoken to them and sent in payslips and they tell me that there is only 24% difference, not the 25%. My pay has reduced further, im going to sent these new payslips in, what can I do, if anything?

Our Response:
If you feel you have been treated unfairly, you can appeal/complain via the link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Apr-18 @ 2:17 PM
Hi, since CMS has taken over from CSA payments gone way up, no issues with making payments, have done so the last 18 years, but the figures they have are outdated. I’ve spoken to them and sent in payslips and they tell me that there is only 24% difference, not the 25%. My pay has reduced further, im going to sent these new payslips in, what can I do, if anything?
Johnmack1 - 21-Apr-18 @ 2:26 PM
Hi Currently waiting for CMS Tribunal date. Judge has sent ex a direction to provide all audited business accounts, plus all bank statements both joint & sole within 28 days.Letter came from Tribunal service that he’d written telling the judge that he would supply the financial information the day before or on the day of the tribunal because he didn’t want me to see his finances.What happens if he ignores the judge’s direction? Personally I couldn’t give a flying fart about his finances I just want him to pay what’s fair & proportionate for his children.
Godders71 - 22-Mar-18 @ 6:30 PM
SEL - Your Question:
Following divorce 6 years ago - 2 children ages 12 & 17 Consent order states Child Maintenance is payable until age 18 - ex has gone to CMS who say only assess up to age 16 - The older Child is NOT in education Does that mean Court order still stand for older child until age 18? or is Court Order discharged?

Our Response:
Much depends upon the terms of the order and what it specified. Theoretically, if your court order contained an agreed order for child maintenance and was made before March 3, 2003 you cannot opt out after 12 months (and refer the matter to CMS). If your order was made after March 3, 2003 you can. It would be best to seek advice from a solicitor regarding whether it is advisable to refer the matter back to court for a decision.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Feb-18 @ 10:35 AM
Following divorce 6 years ago - 2 children ages 12 & 17 Consent order states Child Maintenance is payable until age 18 - ex has gone to CMS who say only assess up to age 16 - The older Child is NOT in education Does that mean Court order still stand for older child until age 18? or is Court Order discharged?
SEL - 19-Feb-18 @ 2:33 PM
Following divorce 6 years ago - 2 children 12 & 17 Consent order states Child Maintenance is payable until age 18 - ex has gone to CMS who only assess up to age 16 - The older Child is NOT is education Does that mean Court order still stand for older child until age 18? or is Court Order discharged?
SEL - 16-Feb-18 @ 4:15 PM
SEL - Your Question:
Following divorce - 2 children 12 & 17 Consent order states Child Maintenance is payable until age 18 - ex has gone to CMS who only assess up to 16 - Does that mean Court stands for older child?

Our Response:
As far as I am aware and as stipulated by CMS, a person can ask for a statutory child maintenance arrangement as long as: the person asking to receive child maintenance has the main day-to-day care of the child and lives in the UK, and the parent expected to pay child maintenance lives in the UK, or works in the civil service, the armed forces or for a UK-based company, and no court order is in place from before 2003, or there is a court order from after April 2003 but it was set up more than 12 months before the application. The child named in the application is: under the age of 16, or between 16 and their 20th birthday and undertaking full-time, non-advanced education, or between 16 and their 20th birthday, registered with certain types of government-approved training courses, and child benefit is in payment. Please see CMS link here. Therefore, you would have to ask CMS again directly.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Feb-18 @ 3:48 PM
Following divorce - 2 children 12 & 17 Consent order states Child Maintenance is payable until age 18 - ex has gone to CMS who only assess up to 16 - Does that mean Court stands for older child?
SEL - 16-Feb-18 @ 3:38 PM
Jacko - Your Question:
HiI have been paying for 1 child for the last 18 years through csa, CMS took over this month and the payment has more than doubled, my daughter is 18 at college and working, should I still pay if she's working as well as college, it don't seem right

Our Response:
If your daughter is working, she is working for pocket money, not full-time. Therefore, if the other parent is still eligible to claim child benefit for your daughter, then you are still eligible to pay child maintenance until your daughter finishes the course.
ChildSupportLaws - 25-Jan-18 @ 3:11 PM
Hi I have been paying for 1 child for the last 18 years through csa, CMS took over this month and the payment has more than doubled, my daughter is 18 at college and working, should I still pay if she's working as well as college, it don't seem right
Jacko - 23-Jan-18 @ 6:44 PM
Gator - Your Question:
My husband and I have paid maintenance to his daughters mother with no questions even though for the most part my husband looked after her 4 nights per week. The child’s mother has since had a daughter with another man in this country then when my step daughter was half was through her GCSE year went to America and left her with us. Although she sold a house while out of the country she refused to pay maintenance. She had another child while in America then left this husband taking the child out of the country illegally. She is now back in the UK has even housed, in recept of benefits and has her children all living with her. My step daughter has now returned to college and is 19 in May. Her mother has now gone through CMS and we are having to pay maintenance. There is no way of appealing against this and the circumstances are not taken into account. I don’t understand how this can be right can you please explain? Thank you

Our Response:
Each parent's circumstances are taken into consideration when assessing child maintenance. If your husband's ex wasn't working, then she would not have been eligible to pay child maintenance. If your husband wished to have chased her, he could have done so through the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Order (REMO) Unit. However, as circumstances have now changed, then your husband's ex has every right to attempt to claim child maintenance from the non-resident parent. Every resident parent has the right to claim from the NRP. Therefore, it depends upon the NRP's taxable income assessed at the time. Also, child maintenance is not based upon assets, but upon income alone.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Jan-18 @ 12:03 PM
We are currently contemplating appealing the payments set out by the CMS as their annual review figures don't match the monthly payment figures (and some random phantom arrears seems to have appeared). My question is - it is made clear that as a result of an appeal, payments could increase as well as decrease - when your appeal is lodged, is it worked out on the previous tax year i.e. the same as your annual review information, or is it worked out on up-to-date real time information? I would be very grateful if someone could clarify that for me. Many thanks.
FedUpOfBeingTakenFor - 21-Jan-18 @ 8:17 PM
My husband and I have paid maintenance to his daughters mother with no questions even though for the most part my husband looked after her 4 nights per week. The child’s mother has since had a daughter with another man in this country then when my step daughter was half was through her GCSE year went to America and left her with us. Although she sold a house while out of the country she refused to pay maintenance. She had another child while in America then left this husband taking the child out of the country illegally. She is now back in the UK has even housed, in recept of benefits and has her children all living with her. My step daughter has now returned to college and is 19 in May. Her mother has now gone through CMS and we are having to pay maintenance. There is no way of appealing against this and the circumstances are not taken into account. I don’t understand how this can be right can you please explain? Thank you
Gator - 21-Jan-18 @ 5:30 AM
Myself and my ex have had an self arrangement made with the advise of cms for a number of months now and has now decided that because I have a relationship all contact has been stopped I have gone from seeing them on average 4 day/nights a week to nothing does this mean I have to increase my cms payment until we've been through the courts. ???
Whoole - 20-Dec-17 @ 10:45 AM
Frustrated - Your Question:
I am the paying parent in a CMS case and have just had my annual review. The CMS take the figure of my earnings from HMRC but during the tax year I changed my employer and I am now ‘payrolled’ for the benifit in kind of my company car rather than paying for it via my tax code. The problem with this is that a notional figure is added to my earnings to make sure I pay the appropriate amount of tax and the figure received by the CMS as my earnings includes this. Therefore they effectively think I earn £450 more per month than I do and have calculated my payments according. I have contacted them and they have said there is nothing they can do as 1) its the way the legislation works & 2) the change would only be 23% anyway which is below the 25% change threshold. Do I have any avenue to get the decision to be reconsidered?

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Dec-17 @ 10:24 AM
I am the paying parent in a CMS case and have just had my annual review. The CMS take the figure of my earnings from HMRC but during the tax year I changed my employer and I am now ‘payrolled’ for the benifit in kind of my company car rather than paying for it via my tax code. The problem with this is that a notional figure is added to my earnings to make sure I pay the appropriate amount of tax and the figure received by the CMS as my earnings includes this.Therefore they effectively think I earn £450 more per month than I do and have calculated my payments according.I have contacted them and they have said there is nothing they can do as 1) its the way the legislation works & 2) the change would only be 23% anyway which is below the 25% change threshold. Do I have any avenue to get the decision to be reconsidered?
Frustrated - 14-Dec-17 @ 10:34 AM
MoneyOwing - Your Question:
Ex self employed, large amounts of money hidden, £13 a week I receive and reported to various people including child maintenance. Given all information, when I ring investigators I’m told many different stories, been nearly a year and nothing. Nobody contacts myself. The lies from child support when I contact them is disgusting. It’s hard work raising my child on little money while ex has a fantastic lifestyle. Now he has moved money from business accounts to let on he has very little, the joke of all this is I’m being threatened with court because he wants to send daughter to private school. It’s all a joke, where is the help when needed because it’s not happening for my daughter.

Our Response:
If your ex actually makes an application to the courts to send your daughter to private school and yet he doesn't pay child maintenance, then it may be a good time to apply to court for child maintenance on the basis that if he can afford a private education for your child, then he should be paying child maintenance. If your ex has a lifestyle funded by himself that does not equate to the low amount he is paying to HMRC in tax, then you may have a case to take the matter to court. Unlike CMS, the courts will look deeper into your ex's finances to see whether he is sidelining money. However, you may wish to seek legal advice as you don't want to be proved wrong as you may then be lumbered with the costs.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Nov-17 @ 12:14 PM
Ex self employed, large amounts of money hidden, £13 a week I receive and reported to various people including child maintenance. Given all information, when I ring investigators I’m told many different stories, been nearly a year and nothing. Nobody contacts myself. The lies from child support when I contact them is disgusting. It’s hard work raising my child on little money while ex has a fantastic lifestyle. Now he has moved money from business accounts to let on he has very little, the joke of all this is I’m being threatened with court because he wants to send daughter to private school. It’s all a joke, where is the help when needed because it’s not happening for my daughter.
MoneyOwing - 13-Nov-17 @ 12:24 AM
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