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Enforcement of CSA Payments

Author: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 2 August 2015 |
Csa Maintenance Payments Arrears Child

Once the CSA has made a calculation for child maintenance, it has discretion to stipulate the method by which payments are made, to whom, when and how much should be paid towards any arrears. Notifications of any CSA decisions relating to payments must be made in writing, and should allow the non-resident parent as well as the person with care to make representations about them.

Payments to the CSA

In the majority of cases, the CSA prefer payments to be made directly from the non-resident parent to the person with care – save for when the person with care is on either Income Support or Job Seeker’s Allowance. In this situation, payments are made using ‘the collection service.’ In other cases (i.e. where the person with care is not on benefits) the collection service can be used if one or both of the parties request it. If there are problems with payments, it is possible to request the intervention of the collection service later on.

Under the new rules for child maintenance calculations, if a non-resident parent is on benefits Jobcentre Plus may make deductions at source of flat rate payments, at the request of the CSA.

When Payments Fall into Arrears

The CSA only intervenes in cases where payments have fallen into arrears if the collections service is being used. However, it is important to note that by the time the first calculation is made there are always arrears to be paid (because the calculation isn’t made until after the date when payments are due).

When a calculation is first made, the CSA will telephone the non-resident parent and tell them how the payments should be made, including the arrears. It is during this conversation that the non-resident parent should negotiate if they feel that they are not satisfied with the proposed schedule: this may be particularly pertinent given that the CSA always request that the initial arrears are cleared by way of a lump sum. (Any voluntary payments that have been made after the effective date can be deducted from the initial arrears.) The arrears are also notified in writing. If they are not paid within seven days of the written notification, the non-resident parent could face fines and enforcement action.

Enforcement Action

If a payment that is due directly to the person with care is missed, they must inform the CSA so that they can make enquiries as to why the payment has been missed. If a payment that is due to be paid via the CSA is missed, the CSA will follow this up of its own volition. In other cases, a person with care who is on certain benefits may request an increase based on the fact that child maintenance has not been paid.

In these circumstances the CSA will telephone the non-resident parent to find out whether there is a problem (e.g. a change in circumstances.) If the non-resident parent anticipates that they may find themselves in difficulty over payments, such as an impending redundancy, they should contact the CSA in good time to negotiate a reduction. There may be a suspension of arrears temporarily if the non-resident parent is ill, unemployed or incarcerated.

Deductions From Earnings

A Deduction from Earnings Order (DEO) is where payments are deducted from the non-resident parent’s earnings and paid to the CSA. Voluntary DEOs are available if the non-resident parent requests it: however if they persistently default, fail to keep to arrears arrangements and do not respond to enquiries, a DEO may be imposed. However it is possible to appeal a DEO to a magistrates’ court within 28 days of its imposition, either on the basis that it is defective or that the payments being made to the non-resident parent do not qualify as ‘earnings.’

If a DEO is inappropriate for whatever reason the CSA can apply to the magistrates court for a liability order. The CSA has to provide the non-resident parent with 7 days written notice of their intention to apply for this order. Once granted, the CSA can arrange for a county court to enter the order into its register like a judgment debt. This means that the CSA can pursue a charging order against land, property or other assets, a third party debt order against bank accounts or debts owed to the non-resident parent by a third party.

Disqualification From Driving and Imprisonment

In extreme circumstances, the CSA may take action to disqualify a non-resident parent from driving and can fix a term of imprisonment (up to six weeks) that is usually postponed to enable regular payments to be made.

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Wow, can't believe the ignorance of some of these comments- don't you think if mothers could get financial support from the fathers of their children without involving outside agencies they'd have thought of that all by themselves!! My child's 'father' owes in excess of £20,000 now, just keeps hopping from job to job, and cos csa take sooooo long to process cases, by the time they catch upwith him and decide how much he should pay,he's moved on and the whole process starts all over again; been going on for 8years + now. if I owed that in rent, me and my child would have been out on the street a long time back, and if I owed that in council tax I'd be in prison! But because I am just an individual doing my best to bring up a child, no-one seems to give a whatsit!
Sarah - 2-Aug-15 @ 10:22 PM
I have had over five years experience dealing wit hthe CSA, as a Dad without care paying to the CSA and more significantly, acting on behalfa mother in the CSA system. I have complained and progressed through various CSA processes mainly to dfo with mum getting payments. The main issues i have dealt with are - father changes job from employed to employed, employed to unemployed, unemployed to employed as a temp, unemployed to self employed. Arrears building up, assessing level of dads payments, deductions of earnings order set up and operation, when child gets to adulthood and there are arrears with the CSA. The CSA take their time.3 months for almost any change in circumstances for paying parent. So until/if the paying parent is settled in a job/self -employment / unemployment it is almost an exercise in futility to pursue. Let CSA know, keep them informed but dont expect much.Chase the CSA up vigorously when they miss their own deadlines to take action. They say 3 months to do X .. chase them on 3 months.Be very patient with dealing with front line, insist of talkign to case worker when/if one is assigned, keep on top of the case worker, escalate to a complaint when necessary.Be polite, dont get fobbed off, try to understand CSA processes and limitations of what each employee can do for you. When a parent is moving jobs you want to have the CSA trying to call him and getting ignored / palmed off. Get what you can from them by way of voluntary payment- even if its that £5 a week min payment. You need to do the work for the CSA on tracking them down. Where do they work ? The CSA can it seems, just call a suspected employer and get those details, pay slips etc. THE CSA give payers a lot of opportunity to pay and mess up.Once Deduction of Earnings etc applied once you have a better chance of them doing it in the future, so push for one (nicely) at every opportunity wit ha bad payer. The CSA have to prioritise debt (AFAIK) so debt and ongoing payments for a child are priority, lower but still priority are debts for children now adults.They will go after easier to get debt / payments. So put effort in NOW not when your kids left home, but keep pressure on whilst they are young adults. CSA want to hit their targets for debt. As a paying parent ...if you are willing to move jobs regularly or become self employed / unemployed you can (or could) lead the CSA a merry dance for years and years. They dont chase up their own letters initially / until parent with care goes to some extra oridinary length to pursue their owed payments.You get plenty of opportunities to pay something and build credibility.Your kids will find out what you are doing / did.Once CSA do get hold of you they will ask for and get large payments direct from your employer.40% of net. No matter what HR depts say about confidentiality, word can get around and you risk losingcareer opportunity in that
Stan - 1-Aug-15 @ 1:31 PM
There's been so many crap child support systems over the years the government has went from extreme 30% income (old rules) to 15% new rules and now pay it yourself or we will charge admin, One day the shambles of the past government csa and the ill treatment of paying fathers will be addressed in court.
moved-on - 1-Aug-15 @ 2:45 AM
@Dawn - if your partner is not happy with the way he has been treated by the CSA, he can complain via the link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 30-Jul-15 @ 12:45 PM
Csa one big con, not interested in father's andwhen they need help because amounts r wrong they just get ignored. I have four children don't get much money from.my x husband ,but don't care cause my kids don't go without, I will not involve csa after the way my new partner is treated, csa r a joke. More parents should try to sort out between selves and hopefully csa will have no use one day.
Dawn - 28-Jul-15 @ 2:44 PM
Hi, jut wondering how CSA you go about collecting maintenance from my sons dad if he's getting paid cash in Hand from his job. He point blank refuses to pay for his son. So collect and pay would be the only option but I don't see how it's possible if he's getting paid cash.
Sm07 - 19-Jul-15 @ 6:05 PM
Please I've waited and waited and persevered and I'm still waiting but if your disgruntled with an agreement that's either for you to receive or pay go to your m.p!!They will help you get it sorted either at a better rate or in a smaller time....I'm still waiting but I'm hopeful just remember c.s.a is government run always ask your m.p!!It's there job to make sure you've got the right deal gridlock all of you!!
dolly - 17-Jul-15 @ 8:26 PM
Hi, please help. My partner is being forced to sell out flat. His ex partner has lied to the CSa about his earnings. She has basically said he earns 3x the amount . Which is a lie. He has paid her cash in the past and there arebank transfer to her. He has tried to have meeting with the CSa to disclose his actual earnings but they are not interested. They have now slapped him with a bill of 100k which should not be that amount. He has 5 kids with her and they used to have a lavish lifestyle which has now changed. Two of his children live with us. The judge has made an order for the sale of the property! We don't know what to now do as this whole case has been based on lies. Please help
Candy - 17-Jul-15 @ 4:19 PM
@dd1017 - if you are not happy with the service you have received, you can complain via the link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Jul-15 @ 1:49 PM
@dd1017 - if you are not happy with the service you have received, you can complain via the link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Jul-15 @ 12:43 PM
I live with my partner along with her 2 young daughters aged 4 & 7, the ex husband rarely sees them & I bring them up as my own, seeing as they call me dad now I think I have proved to the girls that there are some nice dad's out there. He was working part time as a doorman last year when my partner approached child support for a financialcontribution from him. seeing as some of his work was cash in hand & him also being a sly old fox , the csa said he should pay £30 per month for his children, He has done this but not without being reminded and explaining to him that he will be losing respect from his daughters as they get wiser. We know for the last year that he has been working 5-6 days a week both night and day work on various security jobs, when my partner tells him to inform the csa he replies that they base it on last years earnings therefore he does not need to pay any more, He is 48 so not a young doorman , I too have a 13 year old daughter who lives with me 50% of the time & i contribute £80-100 a month plus buy her things as any decent parent would. My question is ' how can we make the csa aware of his change in earnings, a bit long winded I know but just fed up of being taken for a mugthank you
paddy - 15-Jul-15 @ 12:09 PM
I'd just like to share my story .My ex husband had several affairs during our short marriage then left me when my children were 2 and 5 months.He paid his maintenance on time every month.I met and married mmy now husband and as soon as he found out We were expecting a child together ,he announced he was emigrating to Bermuda to get away from the csa.Payments stopped and I had to struggle for years,in the mean time he was living in paradise doing a well paid job and flying all over the world using my children's maintenance It was calculatedwhen my kids were 16 and 18that he owed me 55,000.My kids are now in there twenties ,both have good jobs,are both very nice ,reliable,hard working young adults who live for there family and love life,my ex has now 4 failed marriages behind him and sooner or later will cheat on his 5th one too.I may have lost financially ,but I got the chance to see them turn into the wonderful young adults they are,we have all the memories and we have there future. My husband gave them everything theyv needed and they call him dad,.My ex gave them nothing.To go to such extremes to get out of paying for your children is disgusting,but as the kids haven't spoke to spoken to him for years ,I think he'll finally realise !
Josh - 14-Jul-15 @ 6:24 PM
I was receiving letters from csa for some time but didn't bother actioning it, I then got a letter to say they were closing the case, so i decided to call to see if there was ever any payments made, I was told that my ex partner did make some payments and the csa paid them to my old bank account and they bounced back to csa, and have now been added to my arrears, I tried to find out why these would have been added to my arrears if the payments were made to csa, but no explanation was given. I haver asked for a manager cto call me back, but I just think its ridiculious that csa have received payments for me and never when these payments couldn't be paid to me have added them to arrears, which I probably never get. I want to know where the payments that bounced back to have went to??
dd1017 - 13-Jul-15 @ 2:02 PM
I pay csa for my kids 16 and 17. The 17 year old works long hours in a restaurant. He gets cash in hand at a good rate. How do I prove he is working?
Loulou - 7-Jul-15 @ 1:29 PM
@Trishspider - if you feel you have been treated unfairly, you can complain via the link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 2-Jul-15 @ 11:10 AM
My new case opened in January under the new system, I'm still awaiting payment. According to the csa my case got stuck, they have now advised me that my daughters father is going into full time education in sept and will not be working, so they can not pursue any arrears he owes after this time. Any advise on claiming compensation from the csa for their error or claiming the arrears through small claims court, bear in mind he is based in Scotland.
Trishspider - 29-Jun-15 @ 3:02 PM
@Atwitsend - if you are unhappy with the service you have received from the CSA, you can complain or appeal, see link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 29-Jun-15 @ 12:07 PM
Hi. My ex husband owes me just over £10k. That's the csa's calculation. He refuses to pay anything at all, won't disclose his earnings to CSA and won't respond to their letters or phone calls. They say there's not much they can do. What can I do to get the money my children are owed?
Atwitsend - 26-Jun-15 @ 11:24 AM
Hiya, I wondered if anyone could help me? My boyfriend has a 5 year old year old son with his ex who he pays for. He pays her direct debit as gives her more than CSA require her to have as she gets every other benefit under the sun!!!! My boyfriend and I are having a baby together but don't live together just yet. Does he need to inform CSA that he has another child? Or not until he is living with me and the baby? Or does he even need to notify them at all? Help would be much appreciated!!
Kbrennan - 23-Jun-15 @ 3:48 PM
@This is ridiculous - I can only suggest that if she is unhappy with this decision, then she can complain/appeal via the link here. She can also check how much she should be paying via the link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Jun-15 @ 10:39 AM
@kasb67 - if you are not happy with the system, you can complain, via the link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Jun-15 @ 2:50 PM
I have a friend. 4 kids from 1st husband. She left him and did not receive any child support. She remarried had 2 more kids. She is now separated from 2nd husband.1 child left to go back to live with father (1st hub) and now he is claiming for child support and he is not working. My friend works part time and still has 4 kids at home (the eldest is now 18 and has left her home). She has a bill slapped on her for now of over £2000 to pay ...with her other kids still at home to look after....and he only has one of them. How is it that she has to pay and he gets away with paying nothing??? When he should've been paying for the 3 that lived with her???
This is ridiculous - 17-Jun-15 @ 9:23 AM
Ok to collect payments from PAYE employees but it doesn't tell you that if absent parent is self employed total different story...and if it gets as far as enforcement and Force of sale team, don't get too excited. My ex could afford the whole £21000 arrears but I have to settle for £400 for however many years, he has properties, car lot, vapour smokin cafes, drives around in flash motors, takes 6wk long trips to Thailand and around the world and Force of Sale team decided to not to make him sell one property....now is that fair. To get to the final hurdle after years of chasing him down and court processes they said no they didn't like to make people sell assets if possible....what about the fact that I have struggled through the years and it could give my family a better standard of living if I had £21000 in a lump sum!!!! CSA made promises they couldn't keep and let my drug lord ex carry on his sweet life....all a sham.
kasb67 - 16-Jun-15 @ 4:34 PM
I would love to know how come the payments made by absent parent to CSA by standing order on 1st of mth takes so long to get to parent with care. Had excuses for bank holidays etc, but this month it was paid on the first and yet on 16th no money has appeared In bank...absolutely disgusting how long they take to "clear" payments. I never received a full payment for arrears. It's all a wasted process that gets you down in the end and mine is all arrears too.
kasb67 - 16-Jun-15 @ 4:23 PM
Hi, I have a son who split from his partner sometime ago. Together they had one daughter. He has always made regular maintenance payments, at first privately, then through the CSA after bitterness between them both made it impossible to communicate. He had been unemployed up until November last year when he started a self employed position. Up until this point maintenance was being deducted from his benefit. However his job didn't last long and just before Christmas he found himself out of work due to change in business requirements for the company he was working for. This threw him into a serious state of depression and since then he hasn't claimed benefits or been working and has been helped and supported by myself and a couple of other members of my family. It simply got to the point where he couldn't face returning to the Jobcentre after being so glad to be "out the system" regarding benefits. He has informed the CSA that he isn't working or claiming benefits at present and continues to seek employment. My question is, will arrears have built up since the start of this year even though he hasn't worked or claimed benefits up to now? Since he wrote explaining the situation there hasn't been any further communication via the CSA regarding a new payment plan or how things stand debt wise.
Martha - 11-Jun-15 @ 8:35 PM
@Harriet - you may be able to get the payment enforced through the courts.
Bee - 11-Jun-15 @ 12:34 PM
Hi, I have been involved in my sons life since birth. I have had an agreement with my ex to pay quite a substantial amount each month and I have my some a quarter of the time. I would like him more but I work. My ex is now threatening to go through the CSA for no reason. She has just split with her new boyfriend and she is due him money. I can't help but feel she is doing this to repay Her debt when there was no issue before about our agreement. This has come out of no where and I feel she is using the money to pay off her debts and not to benefit my son when all has been done for 7 years? What can I do?
Iain - 11-Jun-15 @ 9:26 AM
@Gee - you an contact Child Maintenance Options via the link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Jun-15 @ 2:57 PM
@Nikki b - Every parent has the basic responsibility to provide for their child up until the age of 16, when they are legally allowed to leave school and get a job. After this age, it depends what your child chooses to do. If they continue in full-time non-advanced education not higher than A-level equivalent, for at least 12 hours a week, then your maintenance payments will continue until your child finishes or until they turn 20. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Jun-15 @ 10:11 AM
Hey I'm 21 and my biological father is still paying the arrears but he has stopped paying it via csa, I am aware the debt will always be there but is there any private ways or methods I can force the payment? He has attempted to avoid paying all my life so I know he's not paying it because he doesn't want to and not that he can't. He is not working so it can not be deducted from that, but have read they can have driving licences /passport taken off them Thankyou
Harriet - 9-Jun-15 @ 10:09 PM
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