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Dealing With Maintenance Arrears

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 22 Jul 2017 | 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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Hi, Wondering if anyone knows the answer to my query. My child maintenance agreement with the CMS is due to come to an end in August this year with my twins having turned 18 and exiting further education. A small amount of arrears are in place (£1000) as a result of delays in calculations when my case was with the CSA not as a result of any payments that I have missed. My questions re my situation are as follows: 1. Do the CMS have any jurisdiction over me once the children no longer qualify for maintenance? 2. Can I choose to pay the children directly? 3. Am I in a position to dictate the monthly amount the I pay towards the arrears. Thanks for any help in advance.
STOC - 22-Jul-17 @ 12:13 PM
othersideofthepictur - Your Question:
As a non resident parent I pay my maintenance each month directly to the parent with carry, due to errors made by the csa I accrued arrears ( they never changed my calculation when I was made redundant and was unemployed for 9 months even though they had a copy of the redundancy letter) but managed to get this resolved which took about 3 years and endless phone calls. since my case has moved over to the supposedly better maintenance service ( they still took 26weeks to do a calculation when my wages changed) they have now decided my arrears are back to amount before it was resolved and are refusing to look into it. in my eyes they are as bad as the initial incarnation of the csa and will most likely resort to the same under handed tactics that cause unnecessary tension between separated parents.

Our Response:
If you feel you have been treated unfairly, your only recourse is to complain, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Jun-17 @ 3:48 PM
as a non resident parent I pay my maintenance each month directly to the parent with carry, due to errors made by thecsa I accrued arrears ( they never changed my calculation when I was made redundant and was unemployed for 9 months even though they had a copy of the redundancy letter) but managed to get this resolved which took about 3 years and endless phone calls . since my case has moved over to the supposedly better maintenanceservice ( they still took 26weeks to do a calculation when my wages changed) they have now decided my arrears are back to amount before it was resolved and are refusing to look into it. in my eyes they are as bad as the initial incarnation of the csa and will most likely resort to the same under handed tactics that cause unnecessary tension between separated parents.
othersideofthepictur - 6-Jun-17 @ 8:23 PM
My ex-husband has avoided paying full maintenance for his only (disabled) son sine we divorced 11 years ago.He even lied to the judge about how many properties he owns. The CSA finally acceoted my variation while doing their final accounts. They picked a random date to backdate to. How far can I get the maintenance back dated and will I be able to add interest?
Jenny - 5-Jun-17 @ 3:11 PM
Jane- Your Question:
Hi I am owed over £7000 from two NRP and have been for 4 years now! One of my cases was with the child support agency and they were getting regular maintenance every month for me via deductions of earnings, they were also quite good at getting some of the arrears for me,now that case has gone over to the CMS and the NRP is refusing to pay the £2800 he owes in arrears, he has an income of over £55000 a year but doesn't own anything i.e.: house, car that's worth anything, my other NRP owes £4800 and is also refusing to pay! I have been to my MP the citizens advice and also rang bailiff companies up today to get some help from somewhere! Nobody can help collect the arrears for me! I'm owed over £7000 how am I going to get my money?? Please help! I'm getting really stressed with it all

Our Response:
If you think you are being treated unfairly, your only recourse is to complain, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-May-17 @ 12:42 PM
Hi I am owed over £7000 from two NRP and have been for 4 years now! One of my cases was with the child support agency and they were getting regular maintenance every month for me via deductions of earnings, they were also quite good at getting some of the arrears for me,now that case has gone over to the CMS and the NRP is refusing to pay the £2800 he owes in arrears, he has an income of over £55000 a year but doesn't own anything i.e.: house, car that's worth anything, my other NRP owes £4800 and is also refusing to pay! I have been to my MP the citizens advice and also rang bailiff companies up today to get some help from somewhere! Nobody can help collect the arrears for me! I'm owed over £7000 how am I going to get my money?? Please help! I'm getting really stressed with it all
Jane - 8-May-17 @ 7:46 PM
PatriciaParker- Your Question:
My daughters dad left us when she was 1 years old and he saw her on and off until she was 2 and half then we heard nothing. He never contribute toward the cost of up bringing and csa never did anything about it even though they had all his information. My daughter managed to find her dad via Facebook when she turned 16 and sent him a message it took him a year later to reply. They met up 3 times after my daughter begged him to and asked him for £30a week for cost of living. He replied with insults and bad language. She's now 19 years old and hasn't heard from him for 1 and half years now. Child meateance is now trying to claim money from him but are struggling even with the attachment to earnings Warren. Is there anyway of getting any back payments from him for all the years he hasn't contributedone?

Our Response:
A claim for child maintenance can only be backdated from the date you first made the claim.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Mar-17 @ 1:44 PM
Jo - Your Question:
I opened a CSA claim when it first started operating over 23 years ago for my two sons my youngest just 6 mths old. My now husband adopted then about 9 years ago at which point their natural fathers obligations ended other than for outstanding arrears. CSA Failed to collect any money from their father in 23 years not a single penny. I rang numerous times over the years with promises of calls back but I never received a single call ever. I constantly complained about this whenever I called but still it kept happening. I was passed between systems over the years due to being such a long standing case and even told they could not trace the full amount owed to me because I was an old case and arrears only calculated over a certain period of time. When my husband adopted my children I was given an outstanding amount owed by their father and that this would incur interest until paid. Over the years no enforcement of any kind was ever taken by CSA. Although I was told many things from bailiffs, deducting from benefits, earnings etc and then told this had now changed and they could not take action. I even asked to take him to court myself but they told me I could not. When CSA first started and with teething problems their father easily manipulated the system and jumped between benefits and employment in order to avoid CSA deductions although he remained at the same address and is self employed and has 4 other children with is new partner that lives he has managed to financially support. I am owed over £30,000 not including interest and have not heard from CSA since they last promised to look into my case again over 5 years ago. It seems no one knew how to handle my case so did nothing to try and enforcement payment from him over 23 years. Surely this is neglegent on the part of CSA and they should be held accountable for their failings. I struggled for many years as. Single parent and as a result have no savings for my sons as I could not afford to save as I had no financial assistance from their father. I would like the money outstanding to me to give to my sons towards a deposit on a home for them, what action can I now take???

Our Response:
In 2008, the government published a consultation document stating that it was unable to bring to account a percentage of uncollected child maintenance arrears legacy and where it saw no way of being able to collect the money, the arrears would have to be written off. Your only recourse would be either to complain again, or seek legal advice about taking the matter to court. However, in order to take the matter to court you would have to have a strong case otherwise it could end up costing you a great deal of money if you lose. If your ex has managed to abuse the system through avoidance methods i.e being self-employed and not declaring his full income etc, it is very difficult to prove and this, and this type of avoidance still goes on today. As collections are based on HMRC figures of tax paid, the CMS still finds it impossible to try to collect money where a self-employed NRP only declares a certain income etc. Therefore, you would need to seek legal advice to see whether you have a case.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Mar-17 @ 11:07 AM
My daughters dad left us when she was 1 years old and he saw her on and off until she was 2 and half then we heard nothing. He never contribute toward the cost of up bringing and csa never did anything about it even though they had all his information. My daughter managed to find her dad via Facebook when she turned 16 and sent him a message it took him a year later to reply. They met up 3 times after my daughter begged him to and asked him for £30a week for cost of living. He replied with insults and bad language. She's now 19 years old and hasn't heard from him for 1 and half years now. Child meateance is now trying to claim money from him but are struggling even with the attachment to earnings Warren. Is there anyway of getting any back payments from him for all the years he hasn't contributedone?
Patricia - 24-Mar-17 @ 6:14 AM
I opened a CSA claim when it first started operating over 23 years ago for my two sons my youngest just 6 mths old. My now husband adopted then about 9 years ago at which point their natural fathers obligations ended other than for outstanding arrears. CSA Failed to collect any money from their father in 23 years not a single penny. I rang numerous times over the years with promises of calls back but I never received a single call ever. I constantly complained about this whenever I called but still it kept happening. I was passed between systems over the years due to being such a long standing case and even told they could not trace the full amount owed to me because I was an old case and arrears only calculated over a certain period of time. When my husband adopted my children I was given an outstanding amount owed by their father and that this would incur interest until paid. Over the years no enforcement of any kind was ever taken by CSA. Although I was told many things from bailiffs, deducting from benefits, earnings etc and then told this had now changed and they could not take action. I even asked to take him to court myself but they told me I could not. When CSA first started and with teething problems their father easily manipulated the system and jumped between benefits and employment in order to avoid CSA deductions although he remained at the same address and is self employed and has 4 other children with is new partner that lives he has managed to financially support. I am owed over £30,000 not including interest and have not heard from CSA since they last promised to look into my case again over 5 years ago.It seems no one knew how to handle my case so did nothing to try and enforcement payment from him over 23 years. Surely this is neglegent on the part of CSA and they should be held accountable for their failings. I struggled for many years as. Single parent and as a result have no savings for my sons as I could not afford to save as I had no financial assistance from their father. I would like the money outstanding to me to give to my sons towards a deposit on a home for them, what action can I now take???
Jo - 23-Mar-17 @ 7:10 PM
I've been through the test of time with CSA even though my EX-Girlfriend whom I did have relationships with some time ago and did the un-thinkable of a Dear john while away on tour whilst in the Military, I've paid through enforcement payments through my pay for years and now that it coming too a different methods of payments, I carried out a loan too pay off the so called Debt to the secatery of state to witch I was told by CSA, after months of paying my maintenance on time and checking that I wasn't outstanding and further payments and requested proof cause this isn't the only time they have done this too me, too get a phone called a be told I'm outstanding £500, so my question how can this be when I've been told by numerous of personal from CSA team I owed nothing. To owing money now and the ten other people got it all wrong and I was told the wrong information and Sorry, however this doesn't work for me cause it's out of hand they why some men get treated, I've served my country 23years and feel like a victim of constant and huter problems of a set incompatant people.what I'm I able to do cause this isn't right surely.
RRK - 6-Mar-17 @ 11:20 PM
jj - Your Question:
I have been fighting for years to get maintenance tracking and tracing my ex he now after 18 years still owes me £23,742 I may get £140 every now and again I want to know can I get a liability order out on him I will never get this money I have a right to this and have worked all my life to provide for my children he works I want to escalate this how can I do this

Our Response:
It is certainly worth seeking legal advice regarding this and/or talking to the CMS directly about pushing the matter forward. The difficulty in giving a reply to this question with more specific advice is you don't say whey he has managed to avoid CMS to date and owe so much money. If you take the matter to court, the court will attempt to trace your ex and look into his finances in depth. However, you would have to have a solid case as you could be issued with court costs if you lose (i.e if he can prove he is not earning enough to pay child maintenance and/or more specifically, does not have the retrievable assets for the court to access in line with the back pay he owes).
ChildSupportLaws - 2-Mar-17 @ 10:45 AM
Samx - Your Question:
My sons dad owes me 1000s in maintance, but ive heard that he is immagrating to australia with his new wife. Is there anything I can do to get my money? I know him and his wife are working they have aa few bought houses fancy cars etc! Cms not helpful they have been sending me letters for years every month to tell me they haven received money from him again but do nothing. ADVICE PLZ.

Our Response:
Your only option is to seek legal advice about taking the matter to court. A court would look more in depth into your ex's finances. However, you would have to prove he is earning this money and not his wife. Also, if he is self-employed it can be very difficult to prove. If you think you have a solid case, then I would advise you at least explore this option.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Mar-17 @ 12:46 PM
i have been fighting for years to get maintenance tracking and tracing my ex he now after 18 years still owes me £23,742 I may get £140 every now and again I want to know can I get a liability order out on him I will never get this money I have a right to this and have worked all my life to provide for my children he works I want to escalate this how can I do this
jj - 1-Mar-17 @ 11:21 AM
My sons dad owes me 1000s in maintance, but ive heard that he is immagrating to australia with his new wife. Is there anything i can do to get my money? I know him and his wife are working they have aa few bought houses fancy cars etc! Cms not helpful they have been sending me letters for years every month to tell me they haven received money from him again but do nothing. ADVICE PLZ.
Samx - 28-Feb-17 @ 10:50 PM
Lorraine Kelly - Your Question:
Hi having problem with the fact my sons father is working but not declared he is, spoken to the so called new child support agency well its a total rip off, they charged me £20 the open the case and asked me questions which had nothing to do with the case and up to date still having no joy with payments. They told me they neede to find out where he is working what we don't talk and he would never declare that info anyway I know him well, so I'm stuck because I can't afford to pay a private investigator so this country and it's law is the worst ever when it comes to single parents !!

Our Response:
I'm afraid it is not the fault of CMS here, it is the fact your ex is working and not declaring his earnings. This makes it impossible for the CMS to enforce this, as calculations are based on HMRC figures. If your ex is working illegally (which is of course, against the law) your only recourse to report him. However, this does not help you when applying for child maintenance.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Feb-17 @ 11:05 AM
Hi having problem with the fact my sons father is working but not declared he is, spoken to the so called new child support agency well its a total rip off, they charged me £20 the open the case and asked me questions which had nothing to do with the case and up to date still having no joy with payments.They told me they neede to find out where he is working what we don't talk and he would never declare that info anyway I know him well, so I'm stuck because I can't afford to pay a private investigator so this country and it's law is the worst ever when it comes to single parents !!
Lorraine Kelly - 27-Feb-17 @ 1:33 PM
divorcedmom - Your Question:
I am currently having a problem with my ex paying maintenance every month he pays in drips and drags and I always have to force him or nag him for it, he is 2 mnths behind I know he has a drinking problem and prob a gambling problem aswell. He decided on the mainenance amount himself when we divorced. Now he's threatening me if I take him to maintenance court he will make sure he gets full custody of my son can this happen? Also would they make the amount less? I need the money as my son will be starting grade R soon and school stuff and fees are expensive?

Our Response:
If you take the matter to court,your child/children will not be taken from you. You can see how much your ex should be paying via the CMS calculator here. You may also wish to speak to the CMS directly (if you and your ex have a family-based child maintenance arrangement). You don't say how long you have been divorced for, but many divorce agreements regarding child maintenance payments do not take into consideration inflation. Therefore, it may be that you could be entitled to more money, not less.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Jan-17 @ 12:37 PM
I am currently having a problem with my ex paying maintenance every month he pays in drips and drags and I always have to force him or nag him for it,he is 2 mnths behind I know he has a drinking problem and prob a gambling problem aswell. He decided on the mainenance amount himself when we divorced. Now he's threatening me if I take him to maintenance court he will make sure he gets full custody of my son can this happen? Also would they make the amount less? I need the money as my son will be starting grade R soon and school stuff and fees are expensive?
divorcedmom - 2-Jan-17 @ 7:01 PM
Ckt407 - Your Question:
I divorced from my wife in 1991 and one child remained with me and tmourbother child with my ex. I gave the house To my ex wife and she sold this and moved on21 years later the Csa has transferred something to the child maintenance service which I had no knowledge about stating my ex started a csa claim in 1995 (now 2016) and they now want arrears of 27,000.00 from meI had no knowledgeLetters allegedly sent went to addresses I've never resided atMy ex and I have not spoken for 21 yearsWas equal split

Our Response:
You would have to take this up directly with the appeal/complaints panel. Please see gov.uk link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Dec-16 @ 12:18 PM
I divorced from my wife in 1991 and one child remained with me and tmourbother child with my ex. I gave the house To my ex wife and she sold this and moved on 21 years later the Csa has transferred something to the child maintenance service which I had no knowledge about stating my ex started a csa claim in 1995 (now 2016) and they now want arrears of 27,000.00 from me I had no knowledge Letters allegedly sent went to addresses I've never resided at My ex and I have not spoken for 21 years Was equal split
Ckt407 - 6-Dec-16 @ 8:27 PM
My ex husband has not paid for his 2 children since we broke up.i set my claim for child maintance up in march 16.a deduction of earnings order was set up andthe 1st payment was suppose to be 31st august.i dont no his exact address,and he transfered to another branch but with the same company at work.he is suppose to pay about £40 a week and the arrears has mounted up.i have found out his new work address and no that he works at this company 100%! My problem is that hmrc havent been able to find him or the company! (Although when the deduction of earnings was set up they did)this seems to b since he transfured branch.im told may be the company has changed name,or there is a problem at hmrc.would some 1 b able to shed a bit more light on this for me? would also like to no if the fact i claim income support affect the arrears that i am owed? Thank u
Krissy - 10-Nov-16 @ 12:49 PM
Bebe - Your Question:
Hi father of my child has not paid maintaince since June. This is not the first time, previously owed 1000£. I have gone through CSA on all occasions including this one to know avail. I even at one point contacted my local MP, I do not know where he lives and he has had no contact with his son for 3 years. I'm wondering if I can sue him through my own solicitor.

Our Response:
The CMS/CSA can enforce this as specified in the article. If you are unhappy with the service you have received, you can also complain, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Oct-16 @ 12:16 PM
Hi father of my child has not paid maintaince since June. This is not the first time, previously owed 1000£.I have gone through CSA on all occasions including this one to know avail. I even at one point contacted my local MP, I do not know where he lives and he has had no contact with his son for 3 years. I'm wondering if I can sue him through my own solicitor.
Bebe - 12-Oct-16 @ 4:07 PM
Hi ive arrears built up on my case of 9000. My ex works all cash in hand and is recieving child tax credits and child benefit for his other son he has custody off also income support and carers allowance. I recieve £10 a month. Can more of this not be deducted from his benefits. Im currently paying back CTC 50 a week for an overpayment. Why can amounts like this not be taken from benefits for child maintence??
tree - 25-Aug-16 @ 1:30 PM
Kiki - Your Question:
Hi my daughters father owes nine thousand in arrears. He has not paid. Now the original case is closing, can I make a new claim without it effecting the arrears of the old case. Which still need to be paid?

Our Response:
You would need to seek legal advice regarding this to see whether you would have a case to claim through the courts.
ChildSupportLaws - 30-Jun-16 @ 11:17 AM
Hi my daughters father owes nine thousand in arrears. He has not paid. Now the original case is closing, can I make a new claim without it effecting the arrears of the old case. Which still need to be paid?
Kiki - 29-Jun-16 @ 1:36 PM
l.march - Your Question:
My sons father works full time and lives with his new partner in rented accomadation. his payments are sporadic and very late (7months missing and amounts not fulfilled in full) he refuses to pay the stated £168 a month. can I take him to court or pursue the money. he has never contributed to school uniform holidays or extra curricular for his son. i am married and my husband pays for the care of his step son. his father holidays 4 and 5times a year and drives a newcar every 6months. what do I do as we can not communicate without him being abusive

Our Response:
You don't say whether this is a family-based arrangement or organised through the CSA/CMS. If it is family based it is unlikely you will be able to take the matter to court. However, if it is collected through an agency then an enforcement order can be issued. Therefore, as specified in the article you should inform the CMS/CSA.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Jun-16 @ 12:45 PM
my sons father works full time and lives with his new partner in rented accomadation. his payments are sporadic and very late (7months missing and amounts not fulfilled in full) he refuses to pay the stated £168 a month. can i take him to court or pursue the money. he has never contributed to school uniform holidays or extra curricular for his son. i am married and my husband pays for the care of his step son. his father holidays 4 and 5times a year and drives a newcar every 6months. what do i do as we can not communicate without him being abusive
l.march - 22-Jun-16 @ 8:47 PM
Vikkiw - Your Question:
My ex-husband and I have a voluntary arrangement of £40 per week paid to me for our son. His payments have become very sporadic - sometimes 6/7 weeks between. He has recently married an Australian woman, to enable her to move to the UK after all other attempts to secure a visa failed, and from this I understand that his declared income has to be of a certain level for HM Immigration services to grant a visa. He is self employed and has always assured me that going through CMS (CSA) would result in a lower weekly amount because he earns so little (he forgets we were married for 7 years and I am well aware of the cash payments he can hid away) This declared annual income that he needs to ensure his new wife can remain in the UK would result in a CMS (? new CSA) payment to me of approximately the same £40 a week - his new spouse could have her visa revoked if his income is all of a sudden below this amount so I guess he has to decide between her and paying for his son!My question is, can I now pursue the £780 arrears he owes me through the governments Money Claim Online service, whilst applying for all future maintenance payments through the CMS?

Our Response:
This is a interesting question. But unfortunately family-based child maintenance agreements are not legally binding or enforceable. This means that if your ex has stopped paying then he can’t be forced to do so through the courts. However, I suggest you contact the CMS directly to see whether it has a differing opinion.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Jun-16 @ 10:41 AM
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