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How the CSA Works

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 24 Aug 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Csa Child Support Agency Payments

It is the Child Support Agency’s aim to reduce child poverty in the UK. The CSA provides a means by which parents with care can collect maintenance payments, for their child or children, from the non resident parent. As part of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission the CSA is able to trace non resident parents and enforce financial responsibility.

What The CSA Does

By collecting information, regarding income and circumstances, from the parent with care, the Child Support Agency can assess and process a maintenance claim, collect periodic payments and distribute the funds to the parent with care. The agency’s aim is to support the main carer of the child, or children, throughout the maintenance set-up process. This is done by calculating the amount of payable maintenance and handling the payments from the non resident parent.

The CSA also has the power to track down absent parents who avoid paying child support maintenance. Tracking is done by accessing information held by government departments like HM Revenue & Customs, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and agencies like Jobcentre Plus. Specialist tracing companies are also used by the CSA, and the agency has the power to take someone to court and impose a fine of up to £1,000 for failure to provide information.

Child Support Agency Activities

The CSA maintains contact with parents with care and non resident parents in order to facilitate the maintenance process. The CSA will discuss the amount of maintenance that is payable and provide payment options for the parents to consider. The agency also ensures that the suggested periodic payments are continually made by monitoring maintenance and taking any necessary action to re-establish payments and recovery of child support maintenance arrears.

When enforcement action has to be taken the CSA will continue to provide information regarding the individual case, to the parent with care, so that they are able to consider all options and update claim application details.

The Action The CSA Take

Having collected relevant information from the parent with care the Child Support Agency then processes the application and requests maintenance payment from the non resident parent. The payment can be taken directly from the parent’s wages, if they refuse to pay maintenance. The CSA can also use the courts to claim the payment, and can freeze accounts, register the parent’s debt, force the sale of property, confiscate a driving licence or send the parent to prison.

How Parents Can Take Action

An increasing amount of liability orders are granted each year. Appealing against a CSA decision is a simple process that requires the parent contacting the agency and requesting an explanation of the decision. A formal appeal can also be requested by submitting the appeal to the Social Security Child Support Appeals Tribunal. Around half of the appeals currently made are resolved directly within the CSA.

CSA Improvements

It is expected that by Spring 2010 the CSA will have introduced a policy of disregard concerning payments received in conjunction with housing, council tax or out-of-work benefits. A new system of calculation is also planned.

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Joe - Your Question:
I'm very dispointed with the way the CSA works. My daughter used to get her £146 every mouth from last mouth. Now he's saying he's keeping 3 other children wish are not his. And her we money has been cut. I don't think that's fair that after all this time and within a mouth you can just ring or write and say this and make your real child suffer. I'm looking for proof but has anybody else every went through this. Thanks

Our Response:
If your daughter's ex has other children that live with him, then this will make a difference, as specified in the article. Your daughter can see how much he should be paying by the CMS calculator link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Aug-16 @ 2:53 PM
I'm very dispointed with the way the CSA works. My daughter used to get her £146 every mouth from last mouth. Now he's saying he's keeping 3 other children wish are not his. And her we money has been cut. I don't think that's fair that after all this time and within a mouth you can just ring or write and say this and make your real child suffer. I'm looking for proof but has anybody else every went through this. Thanks
Joe - 24-Aug-16 @ 8:56 AM
My case dates back to 2008. My children are 23 and 19. My ex owes arrears of £9000 according to CSA. He was once supposed to go to court. He never did! He is now marrying again, and although I know partners income is not included in assessment, his circumstances have changed, as he's marrying a woman who has money, so no rent etc. I've been in contact again, as my daughter starts university and I need to help her. The CSA need his address!!! Can't they find this out themselves? It is just not fair, he has told the CSA that he paid cash at one time to me. This is not true at all, otherwise why would I use the CSA. I have had payment schedules over the years but nothing. I'm fed up with having to provide the CSA with information they are supposed to know!
Don - 14-Jun-16 @ 1:01 PM
My case has been transferred from CSA to CMS but they will not accept any employer details unless directly from HMRC or the father. My daughters dad will not provide the details to them, even though the CSA have them and prior to my case being transferred the CSA were calculating unpaid child maintenance. CMS say that they cannot take the employer details from the CSA despite them both being formal organisation, so I am therefore now in a position where my daughters dad is working full time and refusing to give any details and CMS are declaring he should pay 'zero'. Should I just cut out these agencies and deal with this myself - cam I summons him to court to force him to provide his employment details?
Max - 11-Apr-16 @ 10:03 AM
katie - Your Question:
What are the minimum details required of an absent parent in order for them to be traced?

Our Response:
I assume name and possibly the last address the person was known at. However, if the courts or CMS/CSA are organising a trace, they will request as much information as possible that may lead to that person's whereabouts.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Apr-16 @ 12:57 PM
What are the minimum details required of an absent parent in order for them to be traced?
katie - 4-Apr-16 @ 4:15 PM
How do the payments work if both parents are absent? I have always been the absent parent and always paid and had contact with my daughter. For a number of reasons my daughter now lives with her grandmother and has done for many years. I have been paying her grandmother the payments for the last 5 years. My daughters mother in this situation is now also the absent parent has she doesn't have care of her. The grandmother used to have a residency order in place for my daughter being there but it is no longer in place, however she lives with her grandmother permanently. Essentially what I am asking is, should it be just myself paying maintenance or should her mother be paying as well? If so, how would her paying impact my payments? Would they be split, as in, what she pays would be taken off what I would usually pay? Many thanks.
SRH13 - 1-Apr-16 @ 9:37 PM
stepmum84 - Your Question:
I have two children that live with me, my biological daughter and her older half brother my step son who is ten. My step son has lived with me solidly for more than three years and I have always worked and paid for them both and have been happy to do so, but recently I have become resentful of the fact his mother doesn't pay for him there have been school trips and he's had growth spurts which means new clothes and shoes not to mention all the food he eats! He's also at an age when pocket money is necessary and I just think she needs to help. He does see her but it isn't consistent and he hasn't stayed at her house for the night for three years, he doesn't get invited to! The problem is that she is pregnant and lives with her new partner and another child from a different relationship, she doesn't work and I assume she is supported by her new partner, I think they receive tax credits but other than that she has no income of her own. I cannot ask her directly for child support I know we wouldn't see or hear from her for a long time, she hasn't bought her son a thing in all the time he's lived with me and I know that she would dismiss my request, I did briefly discuss child support with her once when she made it clear that she was under the impression only absent fathers needed to pay for their children, I am really confused and am totally unsure about what if anything I can do, any advice would be great, thanks

Our Response:
You don't say whether the father is around or not. However, in addition, the mother is also financially reposnsible for her child until aged 16+.I suggest giving CMS a call and speaking with someone directly in order to find out your options, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Mar-16 @ 12:13 PM
I have two children that live with me, my biological daughter and her older half brother my step son who is ten. My step son has lived with me solidly for more than three years and I have always worked and paid for them both and have been happy to do so, but recently I have become resentful of the fact his mother doesn't pay for him there have been school trips and he's had growth spurts which means new clothes and shoes not to mention all the food he eats! He's also at an age when pocket money is necessary and I just think she needs to help. He does see her but it isn't consistent and he hasn't stayed at her house for the night for three years, he doesn't get invited to! The problem is that she is pregnant and lives with her new partner and another child from a different relationship, she doesn't work and I assume she is supported by her new partner, I think they receive tax credits but other than that she has no income of her own. I cannot ask her directly for child support I know we wouldn't see or hear from her for a long time, she hasn't bought her son a thing in all the time he's lived with me and I know that she would dismiss my request, I did briefly discuss child support with her once when she made it clear that she was under the impression only absent fathers needed to pay for their children, I am really confused and am totally unsure about what if anything I can do, any advice would be great, thanks
stepmum84 - 21-Mar-16 @ 8:35 PM
Ollybear - Your Question:
Please help: The father of my daughter is now 65, he is still working full time: He is far better of now, not only does he get his state pension and several other pensions but he also gets payed for full time work (due to him claiming his state pension he does not pay any insurance contributions):However, he was told that due to him getting his state pension he does not have to continue paying child maintenance for his daughter (she is 16 and going to continue her education - A levels). This is grossly unfair: Is there some loop hole: I cant believe that this is the Law??

Our Response:
If your ex is earning, then you should be able to appeal, or alternatively take the matter to court. I should seek some legal advice before you approach this to see whether you have a case. Please also see gov.uk link here regarding complaints and appeals.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Mar-16 @ 2:24 PM
Please help:The father of my daughter is now 65, he is still working full time: He is far better of now, not only does he get his state pension and several other pensions but he also gets payed for full time work (due to him claiming his state pension he does not pay any insurance contributions): However, he was told that due to him getting his state pension he does not have to continue paying child maintenance for his daughter (she is 16 and going to continue her education - A levels). This is grossly unfair: Is there some loop hole: I cant believe that this is the Law??
Ollybear - 14-Mar-16 @ 5:45 PM
Hello there, I'm now 4 months along and don't know the whereabouts of the father, All I know about him is his mobile number but when I ring the number it is inactive, can the csa help me find find the father with his inactive mobile number?Any help would be great, ta
mother2be - 25-Jan-16 @ 9:07 PM
Do the csa contact you before taking payments to discuss things or do they just take the payments without you knowing
Finob - 31-Dec-15 @ 2:00 AM
layro12 - Your Question:
I have been back and fourth ringing child maintanence since aug. They have recently been in touch after I contacted them to let them no where my ex is working where they said that his employer had more or less said that he works for them what happens now as he has been in work since aug and has still managed to avoid paying anything.

Our Response:
You would have to speak to the CMS directly regarding this.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Dec-15 @ 12:45 PM
I have been back and fourth ringing child maintanence since aug. They have recently been in touch after i contacted them to let them no where my ex is working where they said that his employer had more or less said that he works for them what happens now as he has been in work since aug and has still managed to avoid paying anything.
layro12 - 21-Dec-15 @ 8:52 PM
Tigger - Your Question:
My ex has been working but not been paying tax so therefore not on the system currently used by Cms. So according to them doesn't have to pay. I have told them where he works, which days and hours. Also that his boss who has him as self employed will not lie for him!! So tell me why I am being told his boss cannot be asked because of the data protection act, when Section 29 says: Crime and taxation.(1)Personal data processed for any of the following purposes—(a)the prevention or detection of crime,(b)the apprehension or prosecution of offenders, or(c)the assessment or collection of any tax or duty or of any imposition of a similar nature,are exempt from the first data protection principleOn direct.gov it clearly says it is a LEGAL obligation to pay for a child. And so therefore a CRIME not to.

Our Response:
If your ex is self-employed then he will be responsible for his own tax return which once filed, you will be able to ascertain your ex's annual earnings. As child support is based on a person's earnings, whether you have this information from his boss regarding his pay at source will make no difference as the information will need to come from his tax return via the HMRC. I hope this makes sense.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Dec-15 @ 10:52 AM
My ex has been working but not been paying tax so therefore not on the system currently used by Cms. So according to them doesn't have to pay. I have told them where he works, which days and hours. Also that his boss who has him as self employed will not lie for him!! So tell me why I am being told his boss cannot be asked because of the data protection act, when Section 29 says: Crime and taxation. (1)Personal data processed for any of the following purposes— (a)the prevention or detection of crime, (b)the apprehension or prosecution of offenders, or (c)the assessment or collection of any tax or duty or of any imposition of a similar nature, are exempt from the first data protection principle On direct.gov it clearly says it is a LEGAL obligation to pay for a child. And so therefore a CRIME not to.
Tigger - 9-Dec-15 @ 12:24 AM
Mug - Your Question:
A brief outline of my story.over 15 years ago, I lent my partner my whole savings account to go down to Liverpool to repair and sell his fishing boat. I found out while he was there, that I was pregnant. At 38, I had never contemplated having any children but he was over the moon about it. Needless to say that I never saw him again.CSA never got one single penny from him despite me contacting them many times about him working. During the handover to Child Maintenance Services, someone at the CSA actually admitted to me on the phone that they could have done more, but that it was nothing to do with them now!!!!! CMS seems to be much more switched on and although I have still not received anything, they are persuing him. So far he has denied even knowing me to them but was shown to be lying. They have all details of various types of properties he owns etc. I recently had a 'texting conversation' with him, first contact in over 15 years and coincidently on my son's birthday. He denied knowing about my son.must have conveniently forgotten me telling him and the talk of our plans.also must have forgotten my doctor phoning him when I broke down in the surgery. He is if course pleading poverty, despite showing everything of on a certain social media site over the years, and has even interviewed by BBC WALES years ago concerning one of his 'properties'. However he did say that he would give me back my savings.nope, I am definitely not holding my breath as I haven't heard anything since. The CSA, for me, may as well have never existed. Every letter I got from them saying he had paid nothing over the prev 6 months, and would be paying the same for the next 6 months, was like a kick in the teeth. All they did was make me feel worse, just rubbing my nose in how stupid I was to believe in the man.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Despite the fact your ex owns properties, if he is self-employed it can often be very difficult for the CSA/CMS to obtain money, if he is managing not to pay much tax (through having a good accountant). However, if he is salaried, then the CSA hasn't been doing its job properly and you can complain, via the link here. Please keep in mind, the only child support you can claim is on his earnings, which would need to be proved. Another angle is for you to seek legal advice to see if you have an option to take this to court. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Nov-15 @ 10:08 AM
A brief outline of my story.....over 15 years ago, I lent my partner my whole savings account to go down to Liverpool to repair and sell his fishing boat. I found out while he was there, that I was pregnant. At 38, I had never contemplated having any children but he was over the moon about it. Needless to say that I never saw him again. CSA never got one single penny from him despite me contacting them many times about him working. During the handover to Child Maintenance Services, someone at the CSA actually admitted to me on the phone that they could have done more, but that it was nothing to do with them now!!!!! CMS seems to be much more switched on and although I have still not received anything, they are persuing him. So far he has denied even knowing me to them but was shown to be lying. They have all details of various types of properties he owns etc. I recently had a 'texting conversation' with him, first contact in over 15 years and coincidently on my son's birthday. He denied knowing about my son.....must have conveniently forgotten me telling him and the talk of our plans....also must have forgotten my doctor phoning him when I broke down in the surgery. He is if course pleading poverty, despite showing everything of on a certain social media site over the years, and has even interviewed by BBC WALES years ago concerning one of his 'properties'. However he did say that he would give me back my savings.....nope, I am definitely not holding my breath as I haven't heard anything since. The CSA, for me, may as well have never existed. Every letter I got from them saying he had paid nothing over the prev 6 months, and would be paying the same for the next 6 months, was like a kick in the teeth. All they did was make me feel worse, just rubbing my nose in how stupid I was to believe in the man.
Mug - 19-Nov-15 @ 11:32 AM
I'm single mother . Which farther of my daughter contacted the csa . For money I have 50% resident order and contact order . But he has her 2 night s more then me . Shared school holiday s . I have given the csa all info of income . I fell ill last October with a spinal problem was unable to work . Had a op in May . Been on the sick told the csa the clearly don't want to know . They have now freezed my bank account . When 3 weeks I spoke to csa they assured me it get sorted . Had nothing . Then I spoke to them again after learning from my bank what they had done . I nerther got told by the csa of this I got a letter 3 days later . Spoke again I was told they had not had any info from me when this not true my accounted sent my income year 14 and 15 of this year . Even got my MP involved . They bully and shout at you . All they are doing is charging me for not paying . As I said you need to get it right the time I have with my daughter 42% of the time . And my income . When explained if I did a job for some gave them the price then increased it they would not pay . So get it right and I'll pay . But they agnore this and repeatedly they charge me . When clearly they are wrong . The csa was sent up for absent parents . I went court 7 times 17000 cost then begain I'll with it all . And I could not do it any more what fight for a child . When both parents work and provide so why dose this country not allow 50% to both parents . Crazy . But I know now as it a money making game . If parent dose not want to take direct payment why is the none parent made to pay ? This veryunfair . I'm now in and out of hospital on many medication to help me . But nothing will help until the csa a stop hounding me . I'm at lost what to do I need help . Some please help :( . Terrie .
Terrie - 15-Jul-15 @ 1:09 AM
@Danny - I'm afraid child maintenance does not pay to children directly and children cannot claim. You don't say how old you are, but if you are over 20 years old, your mother would have had to have applied directly. If you are under 20, then she may be able to still apply if you are either at school, or studying full-time for a qualification up to A'Levels..
ChildSupportLaws - 29-Apr-15 @ 2:09 PM
So my father has paid no child maintince since birth how do I go about getting what is owed ?
Danny - 27-Apr-15 @ 7:01 AM
@mm - this is not really something I can advise on. You are going to have to let the CSA decide I'm afraid.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Feb-15 @ 12:15 PM
Hi my daughter has been ill and unable to attend college due to anxiety disorder and OCD caused from myex-husbands violence. He has decided that as she was not attending further education then he should not have paid child support. He has contacted the CSA about this and they are looking into it. As far as I am aware she was not withdrawn from her college course but she did not attend enough t gain a qualification. He is saying to the CSA if they do not agree with his decision he will take them to court. I did not consider CSA payments at the time (this was 2013) as I was dealing with a daughter who was unable to leave the house, was spending 8 hours plus doing her OCD rituals and lost her hair due to anxiety. My ex refused to be involved during this time. I have provided some proof needed but I was not aware that I could have received child benefit for her, something that is now being held against me. I would have claimed if i knew i could. I am worried about if i am made to pay back any payments he made during that time (my daughter now is on medication and has had therapy and now in college thankfully)
mm - 17-Feb-15 @ 8:49 PM
I had 1 or 2 payments at the turn of the millennium and then he dissapeared .. Moving around and generally NOT BEING PURSUED BY THE CSA.15 years later they've reassessed our case because my eldest has hit 20.The contact I made with them about 8 years ago is not recorded and they can only look at attempting to collect arrears from late last year.Its clear they've not actually contacted him and I'm not confident that they'll attempt to. My daughters have been failed.
Mygirlsmum - 5-Feb-15 @ 9:09 PM
I have been a single parent for 16 yrs I have raised 3 children the youngest will be turning 16 at the end of the year. The children's father has never paid anymaintenance but for the first years he built up a debt with theCSA from which a charging order was placed on the jointly owned house we own,which he has also never contributed too. To say it has been a struggle to bring the children up and paying the mortgage and up keep of a house,with no help financially or otherwise is a huge understatement. My ex has always worked but avoids any payment by working cash in hand. I feel frustrated that his debt isn't growing as I would be able to collect any debt from his share from our home. That I will have to buy him out off after paying for it and brining up his children. Any help on this matter would be fantastic!!!
Forthekids - 29-Sep-14 @ 9:05 PM
My son turned 18 in June when should I hear from the csa that my payments stop.
Kettle - 22-Aug-14 @ 2:43 PM
HiIve just read all the comments and have to add some of my own.I met my current partner some 5 yrs ag o and at the start of our relationhsip he was npot able to see his child as his ex wife decided this. Througho9ut our relationship I have supported him in locating his daughter until now we are seeing her. However each weekend we have to pick up the pieces of a weeks worth of brasin washing from her mother and physical/emotional abuse from her adult sisters: I have been to social services, the police and sought legal advice. I am a psychiatric childrens nurse and my partner also works so we are entitled to nothing. Her mother starts and stops access when & if it suits her with no regard what imappct this may have on her child, she stopped a hoilday once it had been paid for and informed her child that her dad was in prison!! Just before xmas her mother allowed us to see her again, prior to this wer have always paid for her and my partner had an agreement that no maintence was needed but to pay for the things their child needs.I am unable to have children but we have now been given a bill from the csa for £12800 with a monthly payment of £567. MY wages have been taken into account as the csa state that he has not paid and has a financial obligation to his child.while I agree with this I also think mothers have far too much jurisdiction and power to abuse their own children as a way of getting bacvk at the ex partners. we are allowed to see their child when & if she sees fit.within these times if we make any contact she calls the police. She lives ina 3 bed house paid for by tax payers, while I pay £750 per month, and we are also expected to pay for their child when we are not allowed to have any contacthow is this fair?????
mcbabe - 9-Jun-14 @ 6:46 PM
The whole csa system is a joke. I've coped bringing my son up on my own with no financial help from his father ever!!! I have always worked to provide for my child...yet now I have a husband and a daughter to him...We both work full time to provide for our family and he has a son to a previous relationship whom he pays csa for...what I don't get is how the system can justify taking all this money from us to pay to her when she is not working and the government are so called giving her and her son enough to live on? Because that's what the social do isn't it? So why are we having to give her extra money for her to go on holiday and not even take her son? We pay csa and have to pay 100 pound a trip to see his son just because she moved hundreds of miles away where does this leave my children? We have to work to live and to try to give our children what we can including my husbands son as he gets treated the exact same as my children yet we are left with nothing every month because csa take the money we would of had spare to treat our children.A new system needs putting into place to ensure the children are getting what they need out of it like turning the money from the father into food and clothing vouchers for the child's age!
jodan - 11-Mar-14 @ 4:50 PM
I have bin split up from my partner for 8 or so munth . and Im bringing up my son ho is naw three . on my own . and I olso have a residence order for my son to stay lifing with me . how wood I go abwt claming csa . my mobil number 07930039564
ste - 13-Dec-13 @ 9:58 PM
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