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Non-Payment and Visitation / Penalties

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 26 Jul 2020 |
 
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 am divorcee with 7 year old son. His father was working in EU and never bother to see his son for over one year, but has been paying monthly to support him. Now has has lost his job and back in UK and wanting to take his son for overnight stay on a few days aweek. He has stopped financial supports as he has no job. He has large savings in the bank but does not contribute anything towards his son's maintenance including feeding and clothing.Can he stop financing whilst he does have very large savings ?
NancyA - 26-Jul-20 @ 1:17 AM
Hello I have a friend of mine, ha has a daughter and the mother makes it tough for him to see his daughter as he is not the main carer. He pays for his daughters upkeep and they have gone to court many times, the mother keeps breaking the court rules as he is meant to see his daughter every other weekend, he has not seen her for almost 5 weeks. He can't speak to her as the mother controls the daughters phone calls and seems to right messages to my friend pretending to be the daughter. The messages suggest that the daughter does not want to see him, but we don't believe that. Now the biggest problem because of Covid 19 the mother is making it hard and there is no help available to him to see his daughter. I am worried for him as he is very upset, depressed and loosing a lot of sleep with this situation. He has tried to contact police and child services but no one is willing to help. Is there someone that we can contact to get him to see his daughter as he should, he has done nothing wrong, besides what the mothers deems as wrong and makes his life very hard and miserable. I feel sorry for my friend as there never seems to be any help for man, we as man also have feelings and to keep our children away from pettiness is a discrase.
Cavmon - 6-May-20 @ 1:16 PM
I split with my girls dad when I was 3 months pregnant with my youngest she will be 6 in jan. My ex has never only bothers with the girls when it suits him. He is currently in a relationship with someone else who has 2 kids from previous relationships. He has a child with her two. He is on a good wage yet keeps avoiding paying CSA. I took him to court before this relationship and it was agreed we would both attend a parenting course (which only I did) he was also asked to provide a drugs test as he uses Cocaine and smokes cannabis, he never did this either as he didn’t have the £. He only bothers with my girls when it suits him and can go week without so much a laugh a text to see how they are. For the last year he was seeing the girls once maybe twice a month but he asked if I would drop and collect them from him if he gave me £20 petrol on these occasions. I did this for a while but he hasn’t paid for the last 6 months so I have told him I won’t be doing this anymore as firstly I have to find the petrol to get to he’s (30 minutes away from me) then come back home to then go back again and collect them each time. I said he has to meet me in the middle and collect the children there as he hasn’t been paying what he’s supposed to for the last 6 months and I feel if he wanted to see he’s children he should at least make the effort to come to them and not have them dropped off by me when it suits him. He’s new partner has just passed her driving test and he said she will collect them. I have said I don’t want my girls being collected by her as she has just passed her test and I would rather they be in a car with someone that had been driving a while and had experience but now he says I’m being silly, awkward and making things hard. I hate that he can just come into their lives when it suits him and that I’m always the one being accused of making times hard! He doesn’t pay for them even though he earns good £ and I can only work part time due to working around school hours, the money he is supposed to pay would go towards their uniform, school trips and breakfast club etc. Am I in the wrong here? I feel that I do everything asked (such as what the courts asked from ya) yet he just pops in and out of their lives when it suits him. The court order said he should build up a relationship with them and in the future for them to be able to stay over night etc. But I just feel this is never going to happen as he isn’t consistent enough and also I still believe that he takes drugs. I feel like I’m stuck in a rut. I always tell my girls when he has texted and sometimes they want to see him other times they don’t and I don’t want to have to put them in a position where they have to choose but I just find it hard when he pops up out of the blue and expects me to drop any plans that I have made with them.
Kelkel86 - 19-Dec-19 @ 9:34 PM
My partner has had every Thursday and every other Friday Saturday Sunday overnight with the children. He drops the children between 7am and 8am in the morning and collects from childcare between 3pm and 5pm on his nights or weekends. Due to his ex's change in financial circumstances she is now saying that he will have to drop at school after his nights and collect from school in his nights as she can no longer afford childcare. Thus mutual arrangement has been in place for 2 years and we can not change as partner has to be at work. He pays the full amount of CSA and we provide for the children whist at our house. We will not be paying for childcare as the children do notreside with us. Where do we stand in collection and drop off times. We feel she is being unreasonable as he has to work
Susan - 10-Dec-19 @ 11:17 AM
I have shared residency with my daughter and have to pay and care for her day to day living when she is worth me 50 / 50 but still has to pay £37.66pw. I pay for everything when she with me clothes after school clubs, take her to school pick her up take her to doctor etc... Everything the mother does we are both primary carers why do I have to pay this money? Is day light robbery, i earn more so what equal rights says my ex can earn the same if not more than me if she wants i have to have flexibility in work to leave early and start late coz of school and holidays... I understand if you only see a child 2 nights every 2 weeks i don't i have my daughter 50/50 equally!!! The system is not right as it is putting me in poverty as i have to spend the same if not more.... When I have my daughter.... Feminist system for females with feminist view's...
Me..... - 11-Aug-19 @ 6:56 PM
My child sees her father and stays over night every other weekend from Friday to Sunday, he keeps wanting more and more days, I keep giving in and when I say no, he gets mad, it's hard to know what to do
Rox - 26-May-19 @ 10:55 PM
I have a 5 month old son me and his dad had an agreement that he could come and see his son any time he wanted to! For the first month this went great so i agreed for him to go on the birth certificate but after a month he stopped coming when he arranged to with excuse after excuse he was falling out with his gf/ he needed a nap / he was moving after asking to see him that day! When he did show up he was always late and spent most of the hour he was visiting on his phone! He hasn’t seen him for a month now and is demanding that he has a right to have our son on his own every 2 weeks for a couple of hours! I don't feel comfortable with this due to him not having a relationship with out son who screamed at him the whole hour he last came because he doesn’t no him (seen him for a whole 8 hours in 4 months) i have sed he can come an visit him anytime he wants but he says that he doesn’t want to come and sit with me because of all the times he let our son down! He has a history with alcohol abuse saying he struggles not to hit the bottle but continues to drink at weekends has told me he had to go to the police station for a failure to stop after an accident because he didn't want to get done for drink driving and has a criminal background that i’ve only just found out about where do i stand on only allowing supervised time with my son till he can be trusted and has built a relationship with our son?
Roo - 19-Apr-19 @ 12:17 AM
My son has been to court to seek access to his son. A court order was put in place allowing my son to have the child 2 nights 3 days a week. Every time he goes to pick up child she has a reason why he can't go with his dad. This week its because he has a cold.Can he withhold his maintainence to her until she conforms to the court order.
Nanny - 23-Mar-19 @ 1:16 PM
My 13 year old daughter is refusing to speak to and visit her dad. She says he keeps asking her questions and makes her feel uncomfortable.I have spoken to him but he denies it. We split up 8 years ago because of his drinking and gambling and his emotional abuse towards my son. ( my son ended up with a nervous tick, and was collapsing with anxiety due to his treatment). My ex denied this. What should I do? Also can he stop maintenance payments if she won’t see him.
Louise - 21-Jan-19 @ 8:25 PM
I have had regular contact with my son and he stays every other weekend from Saturday to Sunday. I recently changed jobs and my previous employer sent out a cheque that bounced. I have notified Child Maintenance of this and kept my ex informed. Now she's refusing me contact because of being unable to pay CM until I get paid from my new job.
Topper - 14-Jan-19 @ 4:50 PM
I have been split with my ex husband for just over 9 years. In that time I have been to court as he fought for visitation rights but never turned up to any of the hearings so the court throw the case out. I have been trying to claim csa for all of this time with no luck. My children are now 16 and 15 and I think they deserve more than what he has done for them. Is there any way I can take him to court and at least get something they are entitled to from him.
Josie - 8-Jan-19 @ 12:15 PM
Hi my ex partner recently cut all contact with my daughter for no other reason than I brought up my concerns about her new partners background not out ov spite or anything else just asked the question as I'm sure many dad's would .now shes cut all means ov communication and won't respond to family members ect .any advice please
Alan - 12-Nov-18 @ 1:19 PM
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
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