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Non-Payment and Visitation / Penalties

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 15 Jul 2018 |
 
Maintenance Child Non-payment Csa

When a non-resident parent is not paying maintenance towards his or her children it can be very tempting to withhold contact with the child as a means of punishment. Sometimes this non-payment can be justified, for example if a non-resident parent has been made redundant, and in other circumstances there is no good reason for the non-payment.

If a non-resident parent is not paying but still wants to see the children, it can be hard to know what to do. Your feelings of anger may be mixed with the desire of your child to see his or her parent. In legal terms, there’s no ‘right’ to see a child or to withhold contact with a child from a non-resident parent. Parents with care often struggle to understand this. It can certainly seem unfair that a non-resident parent can pay little or no money towards a child’s upkeep, but then is able to take the child abroad on holiday for two weeks, for example.

On other occasions, the CSA may have made a calculation that seems to be far below that which you expected, or seems not to be based on the non-resident’s actual income. However, it is never right to withhold contact, no matter what the situation.

The Child's Best Interests

The courts, social services and other public authorities look at what is in the best interests of the child, rather than one or both parents. If you are withholding contact from a non-resident parent, remember that time spent with a child is not a commodity that can be ‘sold’. It may be the child who will suffer, and they may blame themselves for the non-contact or non-payment. Despite their differences, this is obviously not what either parent wants!

Contact Orders

A contact order is usually made when parents are not able to agree terms upon which a non-resident parent can see his or her child. It essentially means that the parent with care must allow the non-resident parent access to the child, whether that means allowing the child to stay with them, or simply letting the child keep in touch with their non-resident parent by phone or letter. An interim contact order can be made while the final details of the contact order are being arranged.

An order details the type of contact that has been agreed between the parties and can mean a number of different things:

  • Direct contact (physical meetings with the parent, who either visits or is allowed to have the child stay with them.)
  • Visiting contact (non-resident parent visits the child)
  • Staying contact (child allowed to stay with the non-resident parent)
  • Defined contact ( the parents agree to specific timetables)
  • Supervised contact (access given in a supervised contact centre)
  • Indirect contact (no direct contact, but letters, phone calls, emails etc. allowed)

Breaching the Contact Order

The parent with care sometimes withholds contact that is agreed under the order. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. In these circumstances the parent with care may be brought back to court but it is a sad fact that it can mean extensive legal wrangling and increasing bitterness simply because a non-resident parent wishes to see his or her child.

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Hi I have emailed my child’s father a parenting agreement which is fair for him to sign, I have also asked my child’s father to take me to court to arrange set days and set maintenance payments if he doesn’t want to sign and keep to it. I am currently pregnant with his second child and he refuses to maintain payments towards the costs of his children and is inconsistent when it comes to seeing his daughter. He doesn’t have her overnight and never takes her anywhere. I want consistancey and it laid out legally so there is stability and no confusion. He has said if I go csa he can avoid it , he is rude to me in front of her and has no respect for my home. This is why I have stopped contact until a plan is in place .I don’t know what else to do as he thinks he can do what he wants and have it all on his terms .
2under2 - 15-Jul-18 @ 6:37 PM
CJF - Your Question:
My ex husband (separated 2yrs, we were married 13yrs, have 3 children) constantly lets me down when it comes to having the children. My son wants to live with him but he has said no, this has caused no end of problems for me at home and with his siblings.Can I make my ex have regular contact? Our children miss their father, they need to keep the relationship with him. He's now said that because he works wk on wk off fri-fri that the wkend he has off he can only have them on a Sunday every other wk over night? Bearing in mind he gets fri-fri off. I work full time that include wkends. I want to know where I stand getting something in place that gives our children the regular quality time they deserve and for him to step up and take responsibility.

Our Response:
The courts will not force an unwilling parent to have their children. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the children in question. The court will always put the children’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Mar-18 @ 11:55 AM
My ex husband (separated 2yrs, we were married 13yrs, have 3 children) constantly lets me down when it comes to having the children. My son wants to live with him but he has said no, this has caused no end of problems for me at home and with his siblings. Can I make my ex have regular contact? Our children miss their father, they need to keep the relationship with him. He's now said that because he works wk on wk off fri-fri that the wkend he has off he can only have them on a Sunday every other wk over night? Bearing in mind he gets fri-fri off. I work full time that include wkends. I want to know where I stand getting something in place that gives our children the regular quality time they deserve and for him to step up and take responsibility.
CJF - 19-Mar-18 @ 9:25 AM
Kay - Your Question:
Hello, I have been separated from my ex husband for about 6 years and ever since we have been separated he has not made any efforts to contact or see our son. I recently filed for divorce and only after I did this he is now wanting to see our son, after 6 years. He was violent and abusive towards me, whilst also taking drugs and used to threaten me, so I do not trust him.I do not mind allowing him access to see our son but I do not know what is the best way to approach this. I do not want a informal agreement between both of us, which he may not live up to.I want a law abiding agreement without going to court, of which will ensure that he will not step out of line and enable me to trust him, is this possible?Thank youKay

Our Response:
Your only option would be to either draw up an agreement via a solicitor, or through mediation. It is a formal negotiation and courts can accept the agreement of the mediation instead of having to go through the court process, although it is subject to final court approval. However, it is not a court order. You would not be able to apply to court unless mediation has been explored first. There is no agreement that can ensure your ex does not 'step out of line', you can only come to a mutual agreement between yourselves while considering what you both think is in the best interests of your son and hope that it works.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Jan-18 @ 11:31 AM
Hello, I have been separated from my ex husband for about 6 years and ever since we have been separated he has not made any efforts to contact or see our son. I recently filed for divorce and only after I did this he is now wanting to see our son, after 6 years. He was violent and abusive towards me, whilst also taking drugs and used to threaten me, so I do not trust him. I do not mind allowing him access to see our son but I do not know what is the best way to approach this. I do not want a informal agreement between both of us, which hemay not live up to. I want a law abiding agreement without going to court, of which will ensure that he will not step out of line and enable me to trust him, is this possible? Thank you Kay
Kay - 15-Jan-18 @ 2:31 PM
Terminator - Your Question:
Dear , sir/madam.I have a court order to bring my son from Italy to Uk , in order to visit his dad. When I used to live in London , his dad used to collect our son from our house. Now I keep bringing our son to Uk , London and he doesn’t want to collect him.Dad is asking me ( all on my expenses ) to put him on bus and travel to Dorset alone in any weather etc. I refused to put him on bus but asked my sons dad to collect our son. He said , he is not going to ,, busy ,, ! Spring holidays he told us instead of our trip to Uk , he will arrive to Italy , last minute he decided to go to Spain. Well I can’t whole my life running around his wishes , I brought child to UK , he has to pick him up or meet him at the airport or from where we r in London. I am not obliged to run to the bus station or go to Spain if he is there. How to deal with it ? I buy tickets 6 months in advance , he knows the days well but blackmailing me that I am breaching the Order. My sons dad doesn’t pay a penny. REMO takes 2 years to look in our case. What can I do ? Am I breaching the order if I keep bringing the child to uk but not putting him alone on the bus ?How else I can apply for maintenance if we live abroad and REMO takes years.Thank u

Our Response:
If you bring your child to the UK, as to the terms of the order and are making your son available to your ex, then you are not in breach of the order. You may wish to ask a solicitor to write a letter to your ex outlining the terms of the order and what you are and not expected to do. With regards to your REMO claim, this is the only avenue open in which to try to collect child maintenance from your ex. Much depends upon your ex's financial circumstances regarding why REMO is unable to collect it.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Jan-18 @ 12:37 PM
Dear , sir/madam .I have a court order to bring my son from Italy to Uk , in order to visit his dad . When I used to live in London , his dad used to collect our son from our house . Now I keep bringingour son to Uk , London and he doesn’t want to collect him .Dad is asking me ( all on my expenses ) to put him on bus and travel to Dorset alone in any weather etc . I refused to put him on bus but asked my sons dad to collect our son . He said , he is not going to ,, busy ,, ! Spring holidays he told us instead of our trip to Uk , he will arriveto Italy , last minutehe decided to go to Spain . Well I can’t whole my life running around his wishes , I brought child to UK , he has to pick him up or meet him at the airport or from where we r in London . I am not obliged to run to the bus station or go to Spain if he is there . How to deal with it ? I buy tickets 6 months in advance , he knows the days well but blackmailing me that I am breaching the Order. My sons dad doesn’tpay a penny.REMO takes 2 years to look in our case . What can I do ? Am I breaching the order if I keep bringing the child to uk but not putting him alone on the bus ?How else I can apply for maintenance if we live abroad and REMO takes years .Thank u
Terminator - 2-Jan-18 @ 11:20 PM
Hi I wonder if you could help, my daughter split from her ex partner when my grandson was 5 weeks old as he was violent and mentally abusive towards her ( which I did not know about ) she set up supervised visits where I would go to the other nans house and let them see him then after 4 months my daughter allowed her ex to be there with me present ( which was very hard) my grandson is just coming 2 years old and eventually it has been worked out that he has been going every Monday all day , handed over to his other grandmother and picked back up by me at a agreed place. My daughter has changed the day 3 times prior to this agreement and lost a job because of her ex wanting other days due to him changing jobs. Now they are saying they want to see my grandson on a weekend as he is changing his job again. My daughter is now working in a job she loves and has said no as she feels her son needs to stick to his routine and that she has been more than fair. Now he is threatening to go to court, the harassment is making her ill as she is still scared of him herself, we have pictures and recordings of his mom admitting what he has done so we have proof. Where does my daughter stand with this please?
Me1 - 13-May-17 @ 1:58 PM
Hi I wonder if you could help, my daughter split from her ex partner when my grandson was 5 weeks old as he was violent and mentally abusive towards her ( which I did not know about ) she set up supervised visits where I would go to the other nans house and let them see him then after 4 months my daughter allowed her ex to be there with me present ( which was very hard) my grandson is just coming 2 years old and eventually it has been worked out that he has been going every Monday all day , handed over to his other grandmother and picked back up by me at a agreed place. My daughter has changed the day 3 times prior to this agreement and lost a job because of her ex wanting other days due to him changing jobs. Now they are saying they want to see my grandson on a weekend as he is changing his job again. My daughter is now working in a job she loves and has said no as she feels her son needs to stick to his routine and that she has been more than fair. Now he is threatening to go to court, the harassment is making her ill as she is still scared of him herself, we have pictures and recordings of his mom admitting what he has done so we have proof. Where does my daughter stand with this please?
Me1 - 13-May-17 @ 1:46 PM
Me n my husband split after 12 years of physical n mental abuse I had decided it wasn't how I want my son to grow up seeing it he is 4 n when his dad shouted he would hide behind me scared his dad beat me n dragged me around the living room by my hair pulling it out of my head infront of 4 Year old I tried calling women's aid but they had no advisor to talk I phoned a friend n left with my son but I was stupid after moving to Manchester I agreed to let husband visit son cause he begged me not to take him court I never reported it to the police but when he took my soon was only met to be for a few hours he never bought him bk but got a order against me saying he was concerned for welfare of child the order is a Scottish one saying I can't remove him from Scotland I can't find a solicitor to fight Scottish law in England I need help please when I asked why he lied to get order he said he needed more time my husband made out he has cared for child all the time I was working but my son used to live on sweets until I came home n made his dinner despite the late finishes my husband had never bathed my child didn't toilet train him please I need help
Lou - 7-Mar-17 @ 12:42 AM
Rolls- Your Question:
My ex is pregnant with my baby girl due in 2 weeks she is bipolar an epileptic an can be unconscious for 3 hours after having a ep, she's now stating to me I can't see my daughter at all until I have got an agreement in place but I don't feel she is cable of looking after a new born when she has 2 sons that are out if control already, I didn't wanna go full I wanted joint custody for the reasons of medical conditions but what do you recommend,

Our Response:
Once your child is born you would have to suggest mediation to your ex in order to try and resolve the issues surrounding her problems. If she refuses to attend mediation, you can then apply to court. You don't say whether your ex has a good family support network that will be able to help with your child, as it is unlikely you would be granted 50/50 custody from birth. Plus, if your ex decides not to register you as the father on the birth certificate, you would have to apply to court for parental responsibility rights and contact in the first instance and this would take time. You may wish to seek professional legal advice in order to fully explore your options.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Mar-17 @ 11:42 AM
My ex is pregnant with my baby girl due in 2 weeks she is bipolar an epileptic an can be unconscious for 3 hours after having a ep, she's now stating to me I can't see my daughter at all until I have got an agreement in place but I don't feel she is cable of looking after a new born when she has 2 sons that are out if control already, I didn't wanna go full I wanted joint custody for the reasons of medical conditions but what do you recommend,
Rolls - 28-Feb-17 @ 3:48 PM
i have been seperated and divorced from my ex for five years . He has agreed to pay 295 ( well below his earnings would suggest ) monthly for my three children .Which was also stamped by the courts . I have always paid everything out of this , recently he approached me and offered to pay for one of my daughters school trip , I accepted for the first time ,, since then he has withheld maintanance payments saying that as he's paid for that he will not be contributing this month . Surely he can't pick and choose how the maintanance money is spent . I am careful which battles I choose but I don't think this is fair , ?
devonmaid - 13-Feb-17 @ 5:10 PM
Meme - Your Question:
My ex and I split 4 years ago and he moved to Yorkshire & is now living with his partner & two children, I don't want to stop my little boy from seeing his dad because I know he loves him to bits but his inconsistency is starting to affect my son emotionally as he should be having him every other weekend as agreed but now he doesn't even have him as agreed & my son needs routine. How do I go about making him have fixed contact?

Our Response:
I'm afraid you cannot force your ex to have contact. If you cannot agree between yourselves and your ex is being awkward, the only option you have is to suggest mediation and say you wish to get an agreement set-out that needs to be kept to. As mediation is a formal negotiation and subject to final court approval it may give the arrangement the gravitas it needs, meaning your ex may feel more inclined to stick to it.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Feb-17 @ 10:34 AM
My ex and I split 4 years ago and he moved to Yorkshire & is now living with his partner & two children, I don't want to stop my little boy from seeing his dad because I know he loves him to bits but his inconsistency is starting to affect my son emotionally as he should be having him every other weekend as agreed but now he doesn't even have him as agreed & my son needs routine. How do I go about making him have fixed contact?
Meme - 31-Jan-17 @ 3:16 PM
When we split and now divorce we agreed him to have the kids every other weekend but now he only has themade on Saturday to sunday.we agreed that he would help at Christmas with child care but now change his mind and can't get any more time off work. Where do I stand with him messing me around with fix dates .
Me - 9-Oct-16 @ 6:02 PM
I pay csa each week. The ex is not letting me see my daughters. I'm the father of both daughters and on both birth certificates. Lives together etc. Broke up and she uses the girls as weapons towards me to not see them. What can I do to see them
Chris - 10-Sep-16 @ 1:28 PM
Hello, can You tell me, what rights my exboyfriend have to his daughter( to take her away from me. He left us for his new girlfrend, 10 month ago. I live with my daughter. He coming every two weeks to see her, stay with her for day and going back. I asking, becouse he told me that if i will have any relationship with another man he will come and smasch me home, will take my daughter and not will give me back. And his joke was" what you will do if one day you coming back home and not find her? If i not will answer to you, what you will do then?". He scary me.
Lin - 26-Aug-16 @ 10:37 AM
I would like to know where I stand I had been having regular contact every second weekend from fri to Sunday teatime but because my ex thought I had moved on she stopped contact , she asked me to move back in to our joint tenancy house that I was asked to leave when we split. Which I did but turns out it was just a ploy to get her over Christmas money worries then I was out again, for the last 6 weeks I've been taking him all day Saturday as she works but this is the second time in 2 weeks when I've went to collect him she's said he's not getting to come or he doesn't want to, I never say anything to my son about his mum but she tells him things like don't kiss your dad you'll get germs and lots worse, when I had him last week we went swimming and the bairn asked why he doesn't get to stay over with me now as just through the day on Saturday is not good I told him to ask his mum. Today I went to collect him and because she thought I was out on Thursday night which I wasn't I'm not getting the bairn I had to watch as she dragged him down the street shouting at me that I'm not getting him and go to court in a very colourful vocabulary, she smokes can ibis and she abuses me every day and nigh with sick texts trying to get me to retaliate I am getting worried about the phsycological impact on my son who is 8. She gets 50 a week the reason she doesn't let him stay over is because she said she gets less CSA and has actually said she's not letting him stay because she's not entitled to the same maintanance money, I buy the bairn clothes shoes toys ect on top of the payments I feel like taking him and keeping him so I can get this sorted out quicker as I've been paying for a lawyer since October she gets legal aid I've also been signed of my work due to the stress of her mental abuse but because we thought it was resolved and agreed the lawyer didn't take it to court so I'm back to square one 1 have stayed with her 12 years and have PR named on birth born after 2003
Worried Dad - 12-Mar-16 @ 10:38 AM
ow may i add that he was given contact and acess once id recd payment plan it was not long and i didnt want to stop him seeing the kids.i just was sickened by his selfishness
limbert - 1-Nov-14 @ 5:31 AM
so unfair,my ex left me for a woman he'd bin having an affair. when wecdid splut up ut wasn't gardly 4weeks nd he announced he had moved in with her. after two weeks of living with her he stopped paying money to me which was an agreement between ourselves of £50. this stopped, now this was bk in may we split up in january and by may hed stopped paying .i got intouch with csm in april after i seen his nee car new trainers new clothes. it upset me and angered me so much i put a stop to his visits. but soon enuth i recd in june may payment plan of csm,as my ex had made himself self employed although he works as a construction engineer for a major construction company. For tax reasons this us aloud. in the plan it stated mrc ferris is onlt recievubg wages of 100-199£ a week . Although i new he was earning a minimum if arnd£600 min weekley, i found out he was not declaring to be in fulltime work and he is.i also found out he recieves tax credits to boost his income. wen i wrote to hmr tax fraud they did nythun i told csm the wring info has been given ,but there was nothing thwy could do they had to use info given ti them by hmr.. worst of it is he missed first eva payment of csm due on the 23rd july. theyvissued a letter nd fibally got him to communicate nd it was paid in the11th Aug usin a one of payment procedure nd was warned it wiuld onlt be used once. he mussed next payment due on the 23rd august. he rang csm on the 2cnd of sept to say he would pay on the 1st of every month,but becausr it was past sept 01st i was told id gave to wait till october the o1st. in the mean time im stuck on beniefits paying for new uniform,extra carriculum activities and my daughters bday party.And he enjoys treating kids and fun days out while i get all living costs to provide for r means for them to be fed clothedamd juggalung a budget on less thrn wat beniefit amount the law sez wr jav to live on. i have also got extra cost of finding a top up to ny rent because of the area i live in and have not been awarded full housing cost at a short fall of £100 pcm/. Then to discover his new partner claims single parent beniefits iv reported them both but they yet again got away with nd are still continuing to do do. my ex refusess me the adress of wear the kids stay and i helieve there is nothing i can do by law to get that inf. we are now on the 01st of november and iv been told same thing a lerrer has to be issued on the 06thbefore anything elsr it could ve another month of a wait before the enfircment team are on to him so how is this fair iv got no rights to stop him seeing our children, he keeps managing to get away with nit contributing and here me nd children live on the poverty line. iw yeah and my ex bought an even newer more expensive car two weejs ago and im struggaling for any item bar basics and even there at a squeeze. i have to account for every penny . we live on food items that are always cheap past the sell by date, or it has to come from the extra val
limbert - 1-Nov-14 @ 5:24 AM
@Jane 337, you are well within your rights to ask for an address where your son is staying and if you are not happy with this you are also well within your rights to refuse the contact. Your ex cannot take the child with out your consent and his child maintenance payments don't equate to contact so you should contact the CSA if he is refusing to pay.
Laurie - 4-Sep-14 @ 12:16 PM
Hi, My partner has left me I have agreed for him to see our son on saturdays but wants him overnight which in first i didn't have a problem with until he refused to give me an address as to where he will be staying. I have advised him he cannot take him overnight due to this he now is saying he will not pay the Child Support Maintenance amount that has been agreed which has put me in a very bad situation. What rights does he have in regards to overnight contact as he is getting contact on Saturdays anyway ? can he take our son with out me knowing where he is sleeping, we are not married either if that makes a difference.
jane337 - 4-Sep-14 @ 11:35 AM
I have parental responsibility - which is being denied - and I'm expected to 'sit back' and respect that my children (aged 9 and 12) don't want to come to mine. I pay maintenance regularly through the CSA. My ex is always stating that I have the children too much (every other weekend), and tried to use the school counsellor to say that the children don't get up for school after they come to us (they go home between 6 and 7pm on Sunday evening). I am concerned for my children's emotional and educational welfare - there have been school issues and my son has been on report twice this year and is allowed to play out and therefore doesn't complete his homework across his core subjects. I see that he isn't getting the most out of school. I have several school letters (by request) - as he has been on report twice this year for not completing his homework across his core subjects. His mum left school on the advice of her parents without sitting any O' levels - being told that she wouldn't pass them anyway, so just get a job... I fear that there isn't any value placed on education in their family. This can affect a person's self esteem, confidence, job prospects and relationships for the rest of their lives. In January, I booked a week's holiday giving my ex the dates 7 months in advance. My ex subsequently booked the same week off and took my daughter away - giving me a week's notice. The children have visited A&E several times in recent years - in every case, I found out days later from the children. I make all of the telephoning to their mobiles as there isn't a landline or broadband. I do all of the transport as they live a number of miles away. In order to address my parental concerns and issues, I sought mediation, paid, and had my initial consultation. I received a letter a month later stating that my ex 'doesn't wish to use the service at this time'. My ex's parents are very influential and spoil the children rotten. My daughter didn't even come to us to celebrate her birthday - her presents and cards are still here a month later. She is reluctant to leave her mum, and I feel that there is some kind of co-dependence in play. I feel powerless and am not treated with any respect - which isn't teaching the children to show respect. I feel totally powerless and am drained by all of this... What should I do?
Al - 2-Sep-14 @ 9:17 PM
I have parental responsibility - which is being denied - and I'm expected to 'sit back' and respect that my children (aged 9 and 12) don't want to come to mine. I pay maintenance regularly through the CSA. My ex is always stating that I have the children too much (every other weekend), and tried to use the school counsellor to say that the children don't get up for school after they come to us (they go home between 6 and 7pm on Sunday evening). I am concerned for my children's emotional and educational welfare - there have been school issues and my son has been on report twice this year and is allowed to play out and therefore doesn't complete his homework across his core subjects. I see that he isn't getting the most out of school. I have several school letters (by request) - as he has been on report twice this year for not completing his homework across his core subjects. His mum left school on the advice of her parents without sitting any O' levels - being told that she wouldn't pass them anyway, so just get a job... I fear that there isn't any value placed on education in their family. This can affect a person's self esteem, confidence, job prospects and relationships for the rest of their lives. In January, I booked a week's holiday giving my ex the dates 7 months in advance. My ex subsequently booked the same week off and took my daughter away - giving me a week's notice. The children have visited A&E several times in recent years - in every case, I found out days later from the children. I make all of the telephoning to their mobiles as there isn't a landline or broadband. I do all of the transport as they live a number of miles away. In order to address my parental concerns and issues, I sought mediation, paid, and had my initial consultation. I received a letter a month later stating that my ex 'doesn't wish to use the service at this time'. My ex's parents are very influential and spoil the children rotten. My daughter didn't even come to us to celebrate her birthday - her presents and cards are still here a month later. She is reluctant to leave her mum, and I feel that there is some kind of co-dependence in play. I feel powerless and am not treated with any respect - which isn't teaching the children to show respect. I feel totally powerless and am drained by all of this... What should I do?
Al - 2-Sep-14 @ 9:03 PM
Hi, on reading this I am horrified to see that if I were to separate from my partner and arrange contacts and then he refuses to bring my children back, he can keep them; we are not together but he was at the signing of the birth certificate??? Things are really bad in my relationship and I am thinking of leaving, but he has threatened to take the children from me so many times if I leave I am really stressed. I cannot believe he could do this its terrible..
tilly - 12-Jun-14 @ 3:57 PM
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