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CMS Complaints, Appeals and Tribunals

By: Mary Williams BA (hons) - Updated: 19 Feb 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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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
@Bp - it's generally taken from your taxable earnings from the year previous. So yes, you'll take a bigger hit next year if your earning more this. CMS aren't interested that you're wanting to save up for a house. They just see the B&W figures.
FB - 6-Nov-17 @ 10:24 AM
This week I was informed that I would have to start paying my ex more money and that from now on every year the CMS will reassess my payments using HMRC. At the moment I am working a lot of extra days in order to save for a mortgage deposit.Does this mean that when they reassess my case in a year time they will think this is now my usual yearly earnings?If so will I be able to appeal against it if I have proof that I am earning less ??
Bp - 5-Nov-17 @ 8:20 AM
Mag - Your Question:
I separated with my ex in 2013 and we had agreed in writing that my ex will contribute 50% financial contribution towards upkeep of the child. Since the signing of the contract he has not made any payment on the grounds that he was not informed of how much he was supposed to pay. All he has been paying so far is school dinner money, monthly bus card and his daughter's phone bill and some few school related costs. I stay with the child 95% of the time. I have not received any Monet directly from him towards food costs and provision of shelter costs.His argument is you did not provide me with figures but my response was it is not my duty to inform you of yr moral duty as a parent of the child. Can I be assisted to claim all arrears back to 5th of October 2013 when we officially agreed. Please advise me what I should get. My ex is a difficult person to discuss with him. Please respond to my email as soon as is practical for me to take further steps

Our Response:
If you have a family-based arrangement, then you can not legally enforce your ex to pay any arrears. All you can really do is ask him to pay arrears for the weeks he has missed. Alternatively, if your ex is 'difficult', you can request payment through the Child Maintenance Service. This way, CMS would collect arrears on your behalf should he fall behind. Another option would be to discuss an agreement through mediation. However, again you would not be able to claim arrears if he falls behind as it would not be enforceable. But what you could do is specify that if any point he falls behind on an agreed payment made via mediation, you will go immediately to CMS.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Oct-17 @ 10:07 AM
I separated with my ex in 2013 and we had agreed in writing that my ex will contribute 50% financial contribution towards upkeep of the child. Since the signing of the contract he has not made any payment on the grounds that he was not informed of how much he was supposed to pay. All he has been paying so far is school dinner money, monthly bus card and his daughter's phone bill and some few school related costs.I stay with the child 95% of the time.I have not received any Monet directly from him towards food costs and provision of shelter costs.His argument is you did not provide me with figures but my response was it is not my duty to inform you of yr moral duty as a parent of the child. Can I be assisted to claim all arrears back to 5th of October 2013 when we officially agreed. Please advise me what I should get. My ex is a difficult person to discuss with him. Please respond to my email as soon as is practical for me to take further steps
Mag - 16-Oct-17 @ 6:53 AM
Tee - Your Question:
Iv asked my exs payment to be reviewed as I know he's is earning more than 500 per week. I was told cms wrote a letter to my ex and his employer and got no response this had been going on a year and a half. In Aug 17 I was told they put a tax check on his earning but they only have information from 2015 tax year. This is completely unfair as he does pay tax and does work and earn loads but he has been told by yourself a that he only needs to pay 20 per week for 3 kids due to him earning less than 100 a week. This is all false information from 2 years ago! What can I do I asked for this to be reconsidered but no one really seems in the slightest bit interested? Please help

Our Response:
You can complain via the gov.uk link here . If your ex's wages have risen above 20%, then your ex should inform CMS, as when the next tax year comes he could be subject to arrears, please see link here. As CMS work on HMRC figures, it can only take taxable earnings from the year previous, meaning it is always working a year in arrears.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Oct-17 @ 12:25 PM
GodlyG - Your Question:
Hi, I have written to the CMS on the 26/06/2017 in relation to my detailed dispute. They never even looked at my letter until I'd called them back on 25/08/2017. When I'd questioned them they claim that I had no case, they never went through the letter, when they did call me back the following day 26/08/2017 the case worker threatened to add 20% charge to the account and slammed the phone within 4 minutes and 29 seconds of the conversation beginning. I know of a certainty that I have a case that needs to be heard and I find that the CMS want to think that they can bully me into paying something that I will never, ever be doing. What Is the way forwards for me? what is the next step in the process? what would you advise?

Our Response:
Have you complained? Please see link here, which may help further.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Oct-17 @ 11:38 AM
Iv asked my exs payment to be reviewed as I know he's is earning more than 500 per week. I was told cms wrote a letter to my ex and his employer and got no response this had been going on a year and a half. In Aug 17 I was told they put a tax check on his earning but they only have information from 2015 tax year. This is completely unfair as he does pay tax and does work and earn loads but he has been told by yourself a that he only needs to pay 20 per week for 3 kids due to him earning less than 100 a week. This is all false information from 2 years ago! What can I do I asked for this to be reconsidered but no one really seems in the slightest bit interested? Please help
Tee - 9-Oct-17 @ 6:17 PM
Hi, I have written to the CMS on the 26/06/2017 in relation to my detailed dispute. They never even looked at my letter until I'd called them back on 25/08/2017. When I'd questioned them they claim that I had no case, they never went through the letter, when they did call me back the following day 26/08/2017 the case worker threatened to add 20% charge to the account and slammed the phone within 4 minutes and 29 seconds of the conversation beginning. I know of a certainty that I have a case that needs to be heard and I find that the CMS want to think that they can bully me into paying something that I will never, ever be doing. What Is the way forwards for me? what is the next step in the process? what would you advise?
GodlyG - 9-Oct-17 @ 3:31 PM
Andy - Your Question:
Currently in dispute with CMS over pension contributions. Mine are taken out of my wage after tax and NI. They do not show on my P60 not do HMRC seem to see them. The figure CMS then get from HMRC is my gross pay before pension tax and NI is taken off. I have sent them my pay statements which show what pension I pay. But the CMS are saying the figure from HMRC is after pension contributions. And thst is the figure they must use. Toyally frustrated and out of pocket. Can anyone advise/help. Cheers

Our Response:
If you think you are being treated unfairly, you can complain, please see link here. You would need evidence from your employer regarding this.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Oct-17 @ 2:22 PM
Hi, have recently been subjected to yet more child maintenance service failings, I am a father who has paid for my children on time and the amount asked for the last 18 years. I have two children that I pay for with different mothers, my first bit of trouble occurred a couple of years ago when the cms disclosed information of one case to the other cases mother, due to the nature of what was disclosed I have had no contact with one child since then and minimal contact with the other. At the beginning of this year I requested a subject access request from the cms, this meant I received copies of papers and recorded telephone conversations that I have had over the years, on opening the rather large envelope that was delivered I found that amongst my papers were also those of a gentlemen from Scotland for which I have no connection with. If all this was not bad enough at the beginning of this year I found out that my son had left college to start work, I contacted the cms with this information and they promised to look into it, they did and phoned me back the next month to say that he was still attending college and that I would still have to pay, so I did. Two weeks ago I received a call from the cms to tell me that they had made a mistake back in January and that I should not have been paying for my son, they also informed me that as I should not have been paying for him that my other case now had arrears ( as this would have been getting more had I only been paying for one child ) to the tune of over £1,000, not a problem I said, I’ll pay that with the £2,000 that I paid for my son but shouldn’t have been, it was then that the cms informed me that I will not be getting this money refunded, due to the subject access request I have both telephone calls on cd, one in January telling them I shouldn’t have to pay for my son anymore and the reply from them in February telling me that I must continue to pay, this makes no difference, I will not be getting my money back......... how criminal is this organisation!?!
Tommy46 - 4-Oct-17 @ 6:14 PM
Currently in dispute with CMS over pension contributions. Mine are taken out of my wage after tax and NI. They do not show on my P60 not do HMRC seem to see them. The figure CMS then get from HMRC is my gross pay before pension tax and NI is taken off. I have sent them my pay statements which show what pension I pay. But the CMS are saying the figure from HMRC is after pension contributions. And thst is the figure they must use. Toyally frustrated and out of pocket. Can anyone advise/help. Cheers
Andy - 4-Oct-17 @ 3:38 PM
Hi, I am the non-resident parent and pay the ex via the CMS. She has recently come under financial difficulty and so has reduced my access with my children to gain more child maintenance from me. I have not agreed to reduce the number of nights my kids stay with me and there is no court order. It will be difficult for me to prove all of this but what can I do? Help! Thanks
Jj - 2-Oct-17 @ 10:45 PM
I made a private arrangement with my ex partner the CSA was informed of this and the arrangement was in place for 20 months the CSA did not update the system and was charging me during this period witch came to over 2500 pounds this was cash payments now I have to prove I made these payments
Scotty67 - 29-Sep-17 @ 4:57 PM
@4891 - if CMS took outgoings into consideration as well, lots of non-resident parent would be taking on high rents or mortgages and buying flash cars on HP etc to avoid paying child maintenance. The most a NRP pays (unless they are in arrears) is 19% of their income, which is supposed be be comparitive with the amount of money spent if they were living at home with them still. Dan.
SumnerD - 8-Sep-17 @ 2:53 PM
Why are my outgoings not taken into consideration? Why is my over time money put towards CSA when its not definite overtime? My company can stop over time at any point. Surely the CSA money should only be based on my regular basic pay? That way my ex knows what she is getting on a monthly basis and I know what I'm paying. I have high out goings I.E- rent, bills, travel costs per month. I'm now working 6-7 days a week to be able to afford to live. This extra money will only be taken off me again next year when my wages are looked into and CSA see I've earnt more (to provide for myself to live and put a roof over my head) why is CSA trying to bankrupt me? Surely this needs to be looked into. Fathers are being totally screwed over.
4891 - 8-Sep-17 @ 5:44 AM
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