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How Do Child Support Agencies Work?

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 18 Dec 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Csa Child Maintenance Parent Guardian

Child support agencies collect information from parents and employers and assess how much child maintenance a non resident parent should pay the parent who lives with the child/children. This maintenance payment is made towards the cost of raising the child, and can also be paid to a grandparent, other family member or legal guardian if this is whom the child lives with. This person is known as the Parent (or Person) With Care.

The Government’s child maintenance service - the Child Support Agency (CSA) – works with the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission to ensure all non resident parents contribute to their child’s welfare. This is done by a standard process of assessing various factors, including the non resident parent’s income. Management and collection of the payments is also handled by the CSA.

How Information Is Collected

Applications for child support are dealt with in a confidential manner, and information is gathered from various sources, including employers, anyone the parent provides a service to, and their accountant. Banks, credit reference agencies, HM Revenue & Customs and other local councils and government organisations may also be approached to provide information.

The information collected enables the CSA to trace non resident parents, assess how much maintenance they have to pay, and to enforce payment. Collection of this important information does not require the permission of either parent.

How The Process Works

The CSA officially opens a case when a resident parent applies to set up child maintenance payments. In order to work out the correct amount of maintenance due, the CSA will gather relevant information to support the non resident parent’s income. Once the information has been assessed an agreed amount will be requested, from the non resident parent, on agreed dates. This maintenance payment can be made directly to the adult caring for the children, or via the CSA, who then forward payments on.

Sometimes a deduction from earnings order is issued. This means that the non resident parent’s employer takes responsibility for forwarding child maintenance direct from the parent’s earnings to the CSA, who then issue payment to the resident parent.

Application Exemptions

There are some circumstances which make the acceptance of an application for child maintenance payments not possible. These include:
  • The parent with care (or resident parent) or the children live abroad.
  • The non resident parent does not live in the UK, and does not work for a UK-based employer.
  • There are outstanding court orders or a written maintenance agreement already in place.

What Happens If Maintenance Is Not Paid

The CSA is able to take legal action if the correct maintenance payment is not made, by the allocated time.

Child Maintenance Options

Some parents may decide they would rather make private maintenance arrangements, instead of having to go through the Child Support Agency channels or through the courts. If there are disputes and difficulties however, the CSA is able to put a payment arrangement in place for the resident parent at their request.

It is also worth remembering that in England and Wales the courts can turn a private agreement into a Consent Order, which is legally binding.

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I had a problem too. And If I can think back, I don't think they paid me for my two boys. When I had applied to this C.S.A I had been receiving benefits at the time. But I don't remember anything on my letters regarding payment. And where it be sent. I did not remember that I was even having this problem. I would of thought that they receive payments from their father from his work,And then it gets sent to the parent that should be be paid for her boys. But I have not got a letter of that confirmation payment to me. Only letters that regards their father from not paying and actions they are willing to take on Him too. I don't see any payment letters from them that I should of at the time had received. WOW!!... I am not sure of them to be fair and I don't know the reasons to why I was one they forgotten to pay. £4,600 If I remember rightly that he was raging about that he had too pay out or more. Where is it? Although I had given up my boys later on due to my housing rooms problem for All 3 kids at the time. And that was hard enough. But I recall non-payment by them. And if they did pay me in my benefits, why did it not show that it was from them and not just the benefits office. Some communication was not applied to another. Crazy that. So I think I should make a call. And see if they remember my case.
Roses4567 - 18-Dec-17 @ 2:27 PM
Hoppy 33 - Your Question:
I have been working with the CSA to obtain payments for my two children from my Ex partners since approx 2013/14. The CSA always tell me 'it's being looked into' etc but nothing seems to be happening. When I have asked them about their policies and timescales relating to each supposed change in the case they basically tell me there isn't one. For example, they chased him (wrote letters/calls) for 6 months, then had bailiffs going to his house etc for another 6 months and now it's with investigations team? It has been with investigations team since the beginning of this year but still nothing appears to be happening. They say it takes time to get information from other people but can't understand why it's still taking so long and why there is no time scale in place. My Ex works cash in hand and has done for a number of years apparently so looking for earning, money into bank accounts etc is unlikely to be unsuccessful (I would imagine). I asked them if they are going to look into his finances etc are they then going to question how he can afford to live, run a car etc if he doesn't claim benefits to supplement his income? I struggle to believe that CSA have no policies and no timescales that they aim to work too when dealing with cases!! Is this the case or am I being fobbed off when I ask? Is there anything else I can do to get some support for my children because I have little faith in The system and am running out of ideas on how to get financial support for them. Thanks you

Our Response:
Unfortunately, it will take time to process a claim such as this as the CSA will need proof that your ex is working 'cash-in-hand' and where that cash is coming from. Even if they prove your ex is working in this manner, he could stop, then you still would not be able to claim child maintenance. Proof is the most difficult aspect of any claim such as this - especially if no money is going through a bank account.
ChildSupportLaws - 31-Mar-16 @ 12:37 PM
I have been working with the CSA to obtain payments for my two children from my Ex partners since approx 2013/14. The CSA always tell me 'it's being looked into' etc but nothing seems to be happening. When I have asked them about their policies and timescales relating to each supposed change in the case they basically tell me there isn't one. For example, they chased him (wrote letters/calls) for 6 months, then had bailiffs going to his house etc for another 6 months and now it's with investigations team? It has been with investigations team since thebeginning of this year but still nothing appears to be happening. They say it takes time to get information from other people but can't understand why it's still taking so long and why there is no time scale in place. My Ex works cash in hand and has done for a number of years apparently so looking for earning, money into bank accounts etc is unlikely to be unsuccessful (I would imagine). I asked them if they are going to look into his finances etc are they then going to question how he can afford to live, run a car etc if he doesn't claim benefits to supplement his income? I struggle to believe that CSA have no policies and no timescales that they aim to work too when dealing with cases!! Is this the case or am I being fobbed off when I ask? Is there anything else I can do to get some support for my children because I have little faith in The system and am running out of ideas on how to get financial support for them. Thanks you
Hoppy 33 - 30-Mar-16 @ 12:45 PM
Has no one noticed that your MP has no interest in fairness or addressing a failing government Agency that is costing the Tax Payer more money than it saves. Fails everyone including the children. Steals money from peoples wages to balance it books and MP's turn a blind eye to reported theft. Protested and challenged CSA and government for 20 years and the CSA admit they took £2500 from my wages they shouldn't have , reported to my MP who says he can do nothing ( does not want to do anything) . Lost all faith in any Member of Parliament and will never vote again for people who fiddle expenses and fail to tackle admitted theft by CSA employee who laughed at me when I asked for my money back. IF YOU TOLERATE THIS THEN YOUR CHILDREN ARE NEXT
YOUSTOLEFROMME - 26-Nov-15 @ 11:48 PM
Re; WHY HAS NO COLLECTIVE/CLASS ACTION BEEN TAKEN AGAINST CSA? So many people are despairing regarding both the procedural ineptness, unfairness and lack of enforcement of decisions, why has no collective action legally been taken against CSA? Alternatively I believe that the last action to take is an application for judicial review, again collectively why have members of the pulic, Solicitors or MP's not sought to combine forces. This is affecting millions of peoples lives and a whole generation of children. There must be something more we can do or am I being idealistic?
tm - 20-Sep-14 @ 2:51 AM
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