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Dealing With Maintenance Arrears

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 1 Sep 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
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A parent has the financial responsibility, and obligation, to provide maintenance for their child. This child maintenance is paid to the parent the child lives with, and the amount payable can be agreed through a family-based arrangement or calculated, collected by the Child Support Agency (CSA) or the Child Maintenance Service. In cases of failure to pay, maintenance payment, via a parent’s employer will be enforced via deduction from earnings order (DEO)

How Do You Pay Maintenance?

You are expected to pay maintenance if you are the parent of a child who lives with the other parent. There are however, a number of ways in which this payment can be made:

You may be paying an agreed sum directly to the parent with care. This is a family-based agreement. The amount that is paid will take both parent’s incomes and living circumstances into consideration, and may be adjusted accordingly when required. This form of arrangement only really works well between parents who have maintained an amicable relationship.

A payable sum that is agreed by the court is referred to as 'maintenance'. This is calculated by examining details of the incomes and living circumstances of both parents, and enforced by a court order.

If the relationship between parents is strained, if a non-resident parent fails to comply with maintenance payment requirements or there are other difficulties, monies can be calculated, collected and distributed by the CSA or CMS.

Failure To Pay

Falling into arrears or failing to pay maintenance can have serious consequences. A parent with care could take court action against you. An employer could be ordered to deduct money directly from your wages. A Liability Order can be issued against you, which will result in bailiffs taking away your belongings. A Charging Order could also be issued, which will lead to your home being sold in order to pay off arrears.

What Do To If You Experience Financial Problems

If you are experiencing financial difficulties, and fear you will have problems keeping up with maintenance and child support payments, it is important to notify the CSA/CMS as soon as possible. If your financial circumstances have changed – perhaps your income has been reduced or your living costs have increased considerably – you must contact the CMS/CMS and inform them of the changes. They will then be able to recalculate the amount of maintenance that is payable. Sending them a copy of how you budget for payments will be useful in this instance.

If you get into arrears you will be contacted by the CSA/CMS. It is their job to work with you in finding a suitable way to pay off the outstanding amount of maintenance. They will follow strict guidelines and will expect you to come to some form of agreement regarding paying off the arrears. Do not ignore any letters you may receive from the Child Support Agency or Child Maintenance Service, as the matter will simply grow in severity. It is in your, and your child’s best interests, to sort out the financial difficulties as soon as possible.

If you get into arrears, the CSA or CMS may sometimes negotiate a repayment schedule with you. They aim to collect all the arrears within two years and can ask you pay up to 40 per cent of your income, depending on your circumstances and other financial commitments. So, it is important to try to confront such issues early, if and where you cannot pay, rather than it come as a shock to you later on.

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[Add a Comment]
Hi my ex arreas outstanding 1,400. Csa keeps habing issues with empoyler educting wages from him since april!! Issue still not being resolved every month employer tells them they havent resived anything from csa when csa sent more them one letter to the empolyer no fine been done towards the empolyer. So frustrating
Ree - 11-Aug-18 @ 10:47 PM
Jo - Your Question:
My ex is in arrears by nearly £13,000! Child maintenance service is involved but it doesn't seem to be going no where. Don't get regular amounts each week/month just the odd month here and there.Is there anyway I could get these arrears back? My ex clearly doesn't care about our kids as he hasn't seen them for 7 years now

Our Response:
The CAB link here may help answer your question. You can apply directly to court. However, if CMS cannot extract the money then you would have to have a strong case that the court can. Therefore, legal advice is suggested if you are contemplating this option.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Jul-18 @ 11:07 AM
My ex is in arrears by nearly £13,000! Child maintenance service is involved but it doesn't seem to be going no where. Don't get regular amounts each week/month just the odd month here and there. Is there anyway I could get these arrears back? My ex clearly doesn't care about our kids as he hasn't seen them for 7 years now
Jo - 26-Jul-18 @ 12:51 AM
The ex hasn’t payed child maintenance for over 15 years, and owes £9561.86 mh daughter doesn’t see her dad and has no interest in seeing him how do I go about taking action with this as nothing ever seems so come of it and it isn’t good enough!
tracywilson - 20-Jul-18 @ 11:26 PM
@Macca - because you paid in cash and there is no proof you have paid. The golden rule is NEVER pay child maintenance in cash.
Chris - 8-Jun-18 @ 3:28 PM
My ex husband has always paid for our son until 12 months ago. We had an easy divorce and it was on the papers he is to pay 100pcm (£23.07p Per week) I was happy with that even when he had pay increases etc. However he has decided to have no contact with my child since an argument 12 months ago and make no payments. I have tried my best to resolve this and he refuses to even answer the phone. He is now part time as his new wife earns a lot of money and he has taken the "mother role", So my questions are: Can I get 12 months backdated through the Child maintenance service? and will they take into account the family earning's between him and his wife? (as he has dropped his hours knowing i am at the stage of going through CMS) It does not seem fair that his and her children go away on exotic holidays and i am a full time working mom of two that struggles to make ends meet!
bexxy - 5-Jun-18 @ 3:58 PM
I have been paying child maintenance for many years and arrears my question is how can my ex wife phone cms and say I haven’t paid her for a year and they believe her all because I paid her in cash and have no proof .
Macca - 5-Jun-18 @ 2:32 PM
I had a payment schedule with arrears added on. I am paid by direct pay. My ex husband rung CSA and said he couldn't afford to pay the amount ( which I know is a lie!) CMS reduced the payment schedule by £100!! This was only done by verbal agreement over the phone. I was NOT informed this was happening and was quite shocked when I was £100 short. Can CMA do this without my knowledge? Also as it was only a verbal agreement between my ex husband and CMA can I have £100 asaplease?
Finding answers - 25-May-18 @ 2:05 PM
mooP - Your Question:
Hi. my kids dad paid(on and off) directly to us since 2013, however stopped making any payments in 2016 jan. I've just called CMS who told me that they will not backdate any arrears other than last three months, because I did not get in touch with them since last year?!?

Our Response:
We cannot comment on a CMS decision. If you feel you have been treated unfairly, your only recourse is to complain, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-May-18 @ 2:18 PM
hi. my kids dad paid(on and off) directly to us since 2013, however stopped making any payments in 2016 jan. I've just called CMS who told me that they will not backdate any arrears other than last three months, because I did not get in touch with them since last year?!?
mooP - 30-Apr-18 @ 10:09 PM
I need some advice pls. My Ex was asked by the social service to child maintainers 2013, ex made three payment and stopped. Social work followedup, ex has moved away from the house. Since then, ex did not contribute anything to the child care. Pls how can I claim for this.
RO - 26-Apr-18 @ 7:05 PM
Tra - Your Question:
I did put a claim in many years ago and my ex husband then left his job and I awarded 5p per year. I don’t know if I can claim anything now

Our Response:
If you were awarded a payment (because your husband was unemployed), there is little you can do as the calculation in place was based on his not working. This would still stand.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Apr-18 @ 12:27 PM
I did put a claim in many years ago and my ex husband then left his job and I awarded 5p per year. I don’t know if I can claim anything now
Tra - 23-Apr-18 @ 8:43 PM
Tra - Your Question:
Hi my daughter is now 31 but I have never had any payments for her and have been split up from her father for over 25 years, people are saying I can still claim for all the money he never paid, us this true?

Our Response:
You would not be allowed to claim child maintenance retrospectively if you never put in an initial claim.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Apr-18 @ 12:27 PM
Hi my daughter is now 31 but I have never had any payments for her and have been split up from her father for over 25 years, people are saying I can still claim for all the money he never paid, us this true?
Tra - 23-Apr-18 @ 7:35 AM
I have always paid for my child , then cms got involved. I paid the arrears off at beginning as thought I had too , now they are saying as we do direct pay this is nothing to do with them and I shouldn’t of paid it , there’s nothing they can do .
Tel - 22-Apr-18 @ 6:23 PM
I've only asked for child maintenance for my 16 yr old in the last 2 years. I went through the child maintenance service. So far there has been no payment. My ex is self employed, so they can get the amount he should pay but can't attach his earnings. From my contact with the service, they've told me they've sent the bailiffs to him...in January..but still nothing. Is he going to get away with not contributing to my son's upkeep? I understand taking his driving license is next, the step before prison. He has been in contact with the service as has tried to say he doesn't work or says my son isn't in education, which gets proved otherwise. He also moved bank account to avoid payment. I know he his financially secure as travels to Thailand for a month each year. Thanks
Helen - 19-Apr-18 @ 7:06 AM
Becks - Your Question:
I have 2 children of 17 and 12 with my ex partner and in the 18 months since we split up he has only paid about 2 months of maintenance for them. He didn't bother to pay directly to me even when given a chance so it had to be done by collect & pay which took months and months to set up then he left his job 2 months later and since then it's taken another 5 months to be set up again with his new job though I have still got to wait till end of next month to start getting payments. Now he has gone for another job interview so it looks like I won't be any payments in the near future yet again. He currently owes me thousands and I need to know what action to take now please as I've just had enough of waiting.

Our Response:
There is little you can do if your ex is between jobs, as CMS will not try to extract the money if your ex is out of work. You can see more via the CAB link here , which should explain more.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Apr-18 @ 3:21 PM
I have 2 children of 17 and 12 with my ex partner and in the 18 months since we split up he has only paid about 2 months of maintenance for them. He didn't bother to pay directly to me even when given a chance so it had to be done by collect & pay which took months and months to set up then he left his job 2 months later and since then it's taken another 5 months to be set up again with his new job though I have still got to wait till end of next month to start getting payments. Now he has gone for another job interview so it looks like I won't be any payments in the near future yet again. He currently owes me thousands and I need to know what action to take now please as I've just had enough of waiting.
Becks - 14-Apr-18 @ 11:08 PM
Steve - Your Question:
Hi I need some advice. I have two children with my ex partner. There ages now are 16 and 18. I’ve had custody of them now for the past 10-12 years and have never asked her for a penny. Now the child maintenance want me to pay arrears from when the children were young and with her. I’ve always supported my kids since birth.Ive brought kids up on my own for last 10-12 years. Is there anyway of resolving this without paying her.

Our Response:
These are two separate issues and should be looked at as such. Yes, you have to pay arrears, if you owe arrears from when the children were young. If you wish to claim child maintenance from the child's mother that is up to you and is a completely separate case.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Apr-18 @ 11:01 AM
Hi I need some advice. I have two children with my ex partner. There ages now are 16 and 18. I’ve had custody of them now for the past 10-12 years and have never asked her for a penny. Now the child maintenance want me to pay arrears from when the children were young and with her. I’ve always supported my kids since birth.Ive brought kids up on my own for last 10-12 years. Is there anyway of resolving this without paying her.
Steve - 5-Apr-18 @ 3:08 PM
Dig - Your Question:
My ex husband hasn't been in his children's life for the last five years and hasn't paid a penny either my partner would like to adopt the children but their father said no way does anyone know if I have the tight to change their surnames at least

Our Response:
You would also have to request consent from the children's father to change their surname. If he refuses, then you would have to apply to court, please see link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Mar-18 @ 10:38 AM
My ex husband hasn't been in his children's life for the last five years and hasn't paid a penny either my partner would like to adopt the children but their father said no way does anyone know if I have the tight to change their surnames at least
Dig - 21-Mar-18 @ 2:55 PM
Bonnie2018 - Your Question:
Hi, I hope somebody can help me with this. I live with my husband and two adult children who are aged 19 and 24 years. The house does not have a mortgage as we have paid it. I am considering getting divorced because there is a number of problems in the marriage. The two kids / adults would come with me if I purchased another property. If we sold our property that we currently lived in would the amount be split 50 / 50 by law. As it does not seem fair that I would have to provide for three people as compared with my husband buying himself a place for himself. I know the kids are over 18 years old and are adults but one is in full time education at Uni but lives at home. The other is in a full time job. Thanks for your help.

Our Response:
The best way to come to a financial separation is to agree one between you. You have three alternatives; agree amicably, agree through mediation, or continue to disagree and let the court decide. One and two mean little costs are involved and allow both you and your husband to come to a mutual decision. The third option will cost. Therefore, discussion with your husband regarding what you both think is fair is the best way forward. However, only one of your children is entitled to child maintenance payments. Again, you can come to a decision regarding this matter, based upon the child maintenance calculator here .
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Feb-18 @ 3:39 PM
Hi,I hope somebody can help me with this.I live with my husband and two adult children who are aged 19 and 24 years.The house does not have a mortgage as we have paid it.I am considering getting divorced because there is a number of problems in the marriage.The two kids / adults would come with me if I purchased another property.If we sold our property that we currently lived in would the amount be split 50 / 50 by law.As it does not seem fair that I would have to provide for three people as compared with my husband buying himself a place for himself.I know the kidsare over 18 years old and are adults but one is in full time education at Uni but lives at home.The other is in a full time job.Thanks for your help.
Bonnie2018 - 6-Feb-18 @ 12:16 PM
Am struggling to keep up to date with this one month payment to child support am very good at paying it and haven’t missed a payment and Christmas is the only time I struggle financially will they be able to work with me to set up a repayment plan
Kieran - 24-Dec-17 @ 10:36 AM
Kathy A never L - Your Question:
My ex husband has not paid for the past 2 years, he has left his job to avoid attachment of earnings, he flits back and forth to Spain to delay things, he is not on HMRC radar, he owes me £8k and is now having the cheek to contest the income and arrears!! So now he’s been given 3 weeks (extended because of Christmas) to send in payslips. yet I am still financially down and he has more time to disappear again for another few months, can I go privately via my solicitor to court and have him dealt with? he refuses to give me an address of where my children go to when he has them at very random occasions, I will not allow them to stay overnight until I have a residential address for where they will stay.

Our Response:
Unless you are convinced your ex has significant earnings and is living a lifestyle beyond what his specified income suggests, then taking the matter to court can backfire. The court can look at his accounts in depth and will do so more than CMS can. However, if his bank account is empty and he is not paying tax through HMRC or anywhere else, then there is little the courts can do. If you are convinced he has a healthy bank account derived from earnings, then you may have a case and therefore legal advice is recommended.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Dec-17 @ 11:09 AM
My ex husband has not paid for the past 2 years, he has left his job to avoid attachment of earnings, he flits back and forth to Spain to delay things, he is not on HMRC radar, he owes me £8k and is now having the cheek to contest the income and arrears!! So now he’s been given 3 weeks (extended because of Christmas) to send in payslips... yet I am still financially down and he has more time to disappear again for another few months, can Igo privately via my solicitor to court and have him dealt with? he refuses to give me an address of where my children go to when he has them at very random occasions, I will not allow them to stay overnight until I have a residential address for where they will stay.
Kathy A never L - 21-Dec-17 @ 7:58 PM
Sally - Your Question:
If the child has turned 21 can I still claim for 10 unpaid years of maintenance

Our Response:
You can claim child maintenance retrospectively, only if you have an existing child maintenance claim in already. If you have never claimed before, then you cannot claim back pay.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Dec-17 @ 3:16 PM
If the child has turned 21 can i still claim for 10 unpaid years of maintenance
Sally - 12-Dec-17 @ 1:48 PM
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