Home > Child Support & Family > What Happens When the CSA/CMS Gets it Wrong?

What Happens When the CSA/CMS Gets it Wrong?

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 16 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Complaints Review Team Csa Child Support

As with any organisation that relies heavily on administrative resources, the Child Support Agency or Child Maintenance Service may, from time to time, cause parents to become frustrated, disappointed and annoyed. A parent with care may express concerns over the lateness of payment distribution or the lengthy application process, whereas the non resident parent may feel stressed at having to provide so much personal information. Understanding there are times when the CSA/CMS gets it wrong will help parents deal with resolution.

How To Complain About Service

The first thing a parent should do, if they are not satisfied with the level of service the CSA/CMS provides, is to contact them direct. Contact can be made by phone or in writing. Communicating in writing provides the parent with a visual record which can be presented at a later date if required. When writing a letter of complaint it is worth photocopying the original letter, if a PC document is not used and stored.

If CSA/CMS staff are unable to resolve the issue and a parent wishes to pursue the matter further, details of the individual’s case will be forwarded to the Complaints Resolution Team.

Taking A Complaint Further

Once a parent has received a response, to their complaint, from the Complaints Review Team they have the option to take the matter further by writing to the Independent Case Examiner. This service is free to all parents, although the Independent Case Examiner will only consider accepting a case if they are satisfied the complaint has been reviewed appropriately and according to strict guidelines. In order to use this service however, parents must contact the Independent Case Examiner within six months of receiving the Complaints Review Team’s response.

Appealing Against A Decision

If a parent feels a decision is unjust or unacceptable they must contact the CSA/CMS and ask them to explain their decision. Parents can also request a formal appeal. It is worth bearing in mind that any new decision that the CSA/CMS make may increase or decrease the amount of payable maintenance.

Whilst the decision is being examined, the original decision remains in force and all maintenance payments will be collected and distributed accordingly.

Are Parents Compensated?

A complaint may highlight a lengthy period of processing, incorrect information or even a serious mistake. This is formally known as maladministration, and if this occurs an apology is usually not enough. Some parents may have lost money through the Child Support Agency’s or Child Maintenence Service's negligence and will expect to be compensated for the inconvenience.

In cases where financial compensation is paid out this will be treated as part of handling the complaint. A parent, however, has no legal right to compensation and must wait to have their complaint assessed. The CSA/CMS decide this by using a set of rules that have been agreed by the HM Treasury and the National Audit Office.

In the financial year 2006/07 the CSA paid out around £3.5m in compensation to parents.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Worried father - Your Question:
I paid csa all my childs life ,some years over a 100 a week then in 2012 me and the ex came to an agreement we would leave the csa an work out maintenance between us so we set up a direct debit for 50 a week I paid this for 3 years until my son had left college at 18 he wasent even living with her he is now 21. but now the csm are claiming I owe them 18000 and my ex wants to pursue it. first time I have heard of this figure. the csm dont even know why I owe it and are askin me for bankstatements for them years to prove I paid to miss gregory. I just dont know what to do about this please help

Our Response:
If you did not inform CSA at the time, that you had decided to pay through a child maintenance arrangement then CSA may think you still owe the money. Unless you can provide bank statements that prove you have paid your ex, then it is likely CSA will assume the money is still owed by you.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-May-18 @ 12:30 PM
I paid csa all my childs life ,some years over a 100 a week then in 2012 me and the ex came to an agreement we would leave the csa an work out maintenance between us so we set up a direct debit for 50 a week i paid this for 3 years until my son had left college at 18 he wasent even living with herhe is now 21 ... but now the csm are claiming i owe them 18000 and my ex wants to pursue it ... first time i have heard of this figure .... the csm dont even know why i owe it and are askin me for bankstatements for them years to prove i paid to miss gregory .. i just dont know what to do about this please help
Worried father - 16-May-18 @ 10:28 AM
?Fraud, unlawful, incompetent, rude, lies.....just a tip of the iceberg of descriptors of this so called Government agency. From day one there has been nothing but maladministration and a carnivorous desire to deplete and destroy my life. 1. a deduction of earnings order (garnishment) of £465 1.1 deduction derived from historic earnings where existing earnings available and confirmed over the phone (recorded) yet disregarded. 2. payroll eventually provide contact information as said deduction comes marked as a court order (which it is not - and should be - thus an opportunity to have such a serious allegation and important matter adjudicated lawfully). 3. Call up agency - confirm that there is no court order and deduction subject to allegation that was not contested or responded too. 4. Agency then confirms that they have the above correspondence which was returned and unopened thus confirming that I have not received 5. I am asked if I can prove that I am not the father?? 6. I ask if they have seen the birth certificate..."no" 7. I ask what proof has been provided..."none". A telephone call is all it takes 8. So how can we sort this out...a DNA test that I will have to pay for 9. OK...agree, please proceed to arrange 10. in the meantime I have my (first) child due to be born next week (sods Law I believe). 11.I am the sole earner currently and also care for my mum (tough life hey) all my person funds (salary) are catered for, and will now leave me in deficit. 12. Nothing we can do...."Human Rights?".....we will set the DNA testing up, unfortunately you will have to pay for this....I am not going to have enough money to pay for my housing, we have a little one due, I'm not going to be able to visit my mum....sob sob sob sob...distress distress distress....whilst at work; Something I had been doing for 20 odd years. 13. Baby born...(amazing experience)....new found respect for allmothers. 14. DNA? nothing has materialised. Call up to chase up (becomes a theme). 15. on paternity leave - personal income further depleted (20 years of tax paying and at one point up to £38,000 a year in TAX before father time caught up on me) and when I am at a low and need of help surly the Government would assist? I have contributed literallt through blood and sweat.. nope, zilch, £80 a month child benefit. WOW...then again I suppose there is plenty more men & women in their prime to take the spot. 16. Beg,borrow and sell to survive...who needs a car (well me for work). 17. Fast forward 18 months, off work with stress for 5 months, returned and could not focus, so handed in my notice and left. No DNA test was set up, there was a refusal to engage with me over the phone, refusal to acknowledge the birth of my child, and a refusal to demonstrate due lawful process....which is IRONIC and DEPICTS what the agency is all about.. ..YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT THE KIDS, YOU HAVE UNTRAINED STAFF OFFERING (UN)LAWFUL ADVICE UNDER THE GUISE OF EXTRAC
Notthedaddy - 8-May-18 @ 9:42 AM
Can anyone help please with the old csa I was informed that I was eligible for deferred payments as I was helping keep a roof over the children's head instead of direct maintenance payments I passed to csa Birkenhead department proof of the agreement along with proof of payments from both myself and my ex, the Birkenhead department were supposed to forward this to the deferred payment section, yet after a year they still hadn't and were saying I owed £6000 plus. After two years and alot of phone calls this had gone up to £8000 and finally talking directly to the deferred payment section discovered Birkenhead had not contacted them so they requested all the paperwork I had sent in where upon and conveniently for them they lost the copy of the agreement they then came back to me saying because they had lost it they could only make an assessment based on information they had there then and I know owed nearly £11000 aswell as my ex had stopped paying her half of the agreed amount £450 pm plus ran up a dept on £1000 which I had to pay and pay her half too yet the csa still perused me for the eleven thousand despite there musshandling of the paperwork can I get this back as its malpractice
Mal - 1-May-18 @ 12:59 PM
I have 2 boys and I have tried to go through the CSA and CMS for many many years.I have written confirmation that the father of the kids owes me £11.5k.I was told on many occasion it would go to enforcement and it never has.I have kept the contact with the 2 different agencies with nothing back from them apart from monthly letters stating a failed payment and a balance of what is owed to me.Can I take this to court myself if I have it in writing from the agency what is owed to me.the father has now signed on at the job centre and claiming benefits that allows him to work 20 hours.He is a self employed lorry driver and I know he works more than that.It is ok for him to sit in his new car and go on nice holidays to America whilst I struggled bringing up 2 boys.I have seen on line all of the things they can do to get the no caring parent to pay and nothing has been done for years and years even with me constantly calling them to push it forward.What else can I do???
Dimples73uk - 27-Apr-18 @ 3:39 PM
Kirsty - Your Question:
Hi there, I'm wondering if anyone can give me advice on obtaining my full case notes from the CSA. I'm hoping to build a case to present to the ICE. From differentposts on the net, it seems that I have to word my request to them correctly or they can refuse.Any help would be great. also on how I go about lodging a formal complaint about 14 years of non payment by ex.Thanks

Our Response:
You can only contact the Independent Case Examiner when you’ve received a final response from the Child Maintenance Service or CSA saying you can do so. Please see link here , which will tell you all you need to know.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Apr-18 @ 2:25 PM
Smithy - Your Question:
Hi , I earn 1300 a month and am currently paying £435 a month csa although I agree I should pay towards my children I'm left with 600 a month too service on I also have two younger children who I pay for fortunately their mum asked for help as and when she needs it although I find this unfair, (when I informed csa I was told a £1 a week for each child will be deducted )I had too fight too see my children and it's court order for every other weekend every other Monday every Wednesday 2 extra nights in half term a week in March and 2 weeks in summer hols , I do a all the traveling as this is something the mum asked in court 500 miles a month , it's court order that the children are returned fed on a weekday and on a Sunday , the children are picked up by me on a Friday with their school uniform so I've brought them all clothes so I have them with me , My ex has re married and has a son with the husband who is always dressed in brand clothing as of my children are in clothes 2 sizes too small for them , Csa has told me it's my choice too fed and dress my children and that will not be consider has said that if I met the criteria 15p a mile will be considerd , I finding this very hard too understand as she is on benifits as her husband works low hours they drive a nice car go on nice hols and I can't afford my own place , I also pay into a private pension £97 a month I informed them 6 weeks ago regarding this matter and they haven't replied with any descion but are quick enough increasing my payment due too having a 50p pay rise , I rang and spoke too them on many occasions and get no where as they are not interested, dose the amount I pay sound right and where/what can I do too make them listen that I can't go on like this anymore ? It's been 18 months , Many thanks

Our Response:
Firstly, an ex's income and standard of living is not relevant to what the non-resident parent has to pay towards the day-to-day care of their children. In other words, your ex could be a millionaire and still you would have to pay the same percentage of your salary that every NRP has to pay to help support their children (if your ex decides to apply through CMS). The percentage you pay as a NRP is taken from a gross income, not net. This means your personal pension may not be considered as a way of reducing the child maintenance that you pay. As a rule, if you are on the basic rate of child maintenance for one child, you’ll pay 12% of your gross weekly income, for two children, you’ll pay 16% of your gross weekly income and for three or more children, you’ll pay 19% of your gross weekly income. Every NRP pays the same, please see link here, which tells you how child maintenance is worked out. Only if you are in arrears would you be requested to pay more of your monthly salary (in some cases up to 40%) in order to pay off arrears. If you think you are paying too much, then you can complain/appeal via the link here. As you may be aware a special expenses variation can be applied for, please see link here. However, there is no point in complaining if CMS has got the figure correct, but the amount you have to pay is impinging on your own standard of living. CMS makes no exceptions for the paying parent's own personal financial circumstances. It may not be the answer you wish to hear, but I hope it helps clarify your question.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Apr-18 @ 10:15 AM
Hi , I earn 1300 a month and am currently paying£435 a month csa although I agree I should pay towards my children I'm left with 600 a month too service on I also have two younger children who I pay for fortunately their mum asked for help as and when she needs it although I find this unfair,(when I informed csa I was told a £1 a week for each child will be deducted ) I had too fight too see my children and it's court order for every other weekend every other Monday every Wednesday 2 extra nights in half term a week in March and 2 weeks in summer hols , I do a all the traveling as this is something the mum asked in court 500 miles a month , it's court order that the children are returned fed on a weekday and on a Sunday , the children are picked up by me on a Friday with their school uniform so I've brought them all clothes so I have them with me , My ex has re married and has a son with the husband who is always dressed in brand clothing as of my children are in clothes 2 sizes too small for them , Csa has told me it's my choice too fed and dress my children and that will not be consider has said that if I met the criteria 15p a mile will be considerd , I finding this very hard too understand as she is on benifits as her husband works low hours they drive a nice car go on nice hols and I can't afford my own place , I also pay into a private pension £97 a month I informed them 6 weeks ago regarding this matter and they haven't replied with any descion but are quick enough increasingmy payment due too having a 50p pay rise , I rang and spoke too them on many occasions and get no where as they are not interested,dose the amount i pay sound right and where/what can I do too make them listen that I can't go on like this anymore ? It's been 18 months , Many thanks
Smithy - 25-Apr-18 @ 4:05 PM
Hi there, I'm wondering if anyone can give me advice on obtaining my full case notes from the CSA. I'm hoping to build a case to present to the ICE. From differentposts on the net, it seems that I have to word my request to them correctly or they can refuse. Any help would be great.. also on how i go about lodging a formal complaint about 14 years of non payment by ex. Thanks
Kirsty - 24-Apr-18 @ 4:58 PM
Annoyedmum - Your Question:
Hi there I receive child mantience for my two girls of my ex partner who works in the Royal Navy it is threw a deduction of earning request but the employer hasn't payed for the last two payments child mantience so slow at sorting this out where do I stand with this and is it illegal for his employer not to pAy? Thanks

Our Response:
The employer should send payments as soon as possible, but no later than the 19th day of the month following the month the deduction was made. Please see link here , which should tell you all you need to know.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Apr-18 @ 12:49 PM
Hi there I receive child mantience for my two girls of my ex partner who works in the Royal Navy it is threw a deduction of earning request but the employer hasn't payed for the last two payments child mantience so slow at sorting this out where do I stand with this and is it illegal for his employer not to pAy? Thanks
Annoyedmum - 17-Apr-18 @ 4:17 PM
My son left full time education April 17.My ex still claimed maintenance which I paid till January this year . The csa closed the case in february and say I still owe 490 in arrears. They accept that my ex should not have been entitled to the money but will not change anything as they say the case is closed and if I don't pay the arrears then the cms will chase me for it . Another example of how biased against one side this shambles of an organisation is.
Ivor - 16-Apr-18 @ 10:44 PM
Em - Your Question:
CMS have calculated my ex's assessment. Based on the weekly amount it seems he is earning a lot more than when the case was set up with CSA years ago. I don't think he declared his salary increases to the CSA. Is there any action I can take as it appears he has been underpaying? Called CSA today and they said they can only go back to date of notification which is today and the CSA is now of course closed.

Our Response:
Your only recourse would be to seek legal advice to see whether there is an option to take the matter to court. As a rule, child maintenance calculations are taken from HMRC figures which would generally tally up with the figure your ex declared.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Apr-18 @ 1:54 PM
CMS have calculated my ex's assessment.Based on the weekly amount it seems he is earning a lot more than when the case was set up with CSA years ago. I don't think he declared his salary increases to the CSA. Is there any action I can take as it appears he has been underpaying? Called CSA today and they said they can only go back to date of notification which is today and the CSA is now of course closed.
Em - 12-Apr-18 @ 7:46 PM
Dc - Your Question:
In March 2017 I took a considerable pay cut rather than facing redundancy, I wrote to the CMS and told them about it as I would be earning over 25% less. There was no response to this, I called them and a call centre operator assured me my case was being reassessed. I received my annual review in April and my payments had increased and suddenly I owe over £3k in arrears, this has never been mentioned in any other correspondence and other than a year when I was out of work I’ve never missed payments. I called again in April 2017 again I was told they’re behind I had to continue to pay what was on the letter until they reassessed me. Over 12 months of phone calls and letters with no response and now I get my 2018 review. My payments are set to increase by £100 a month. They have received a letter from my employer saying I took a pay cut last April yet they’re still using the year before tax info. I earn 1300 a month and they want me to pay £380 in child maintenance and towards arrears I know nothing about. Can you please advise what I can do. Many thanks for your time.

Our Response:
Unfortunately, the only channels open to you are to go through the channels you have already been through, please see link here. We cannot answer questions of an individual nature as we do not have the inside knowledge of how CMS works administratively. The likes of NACSA or specialist solicitors in child maintenance issues can deal with child maintenance law - but these do/will cost you and there is still no guarantee your issue will be resolved in your favour.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Apr-18 @ 10:48 AM
In March 2017 I took a considerable pay cut rather than facing redundancy, I wrote to the CMS and told them about it as I would be earning over 25% less. There was no response to this, I called them and a call centre operator assured me my case was being reassessed. I received my annual review in April and my payments had increased and suddenly I owe over £3k in arrears, this has never been mentioned in any other correspondence and other than a year when I was out of work I’ve never missed payments. I called again in April 2017 again I was told they’re behind I had to continue to pay what was on the letter until they reassessed me. Over 12 months of phone calls and letters with no response and now I get my 2018 review. My payments are set to increase by £100 a month. They have received a letter from my employer saying I took a pay cut last April yet they’re still using the year before tax info. I earn 1300 a month and they want me to pay £380 in child maintenance and towards arrears I know nothing about. Can you please advise what I can do. Many thanks for your time.
Dc - 11-Apr-18 @ 10:00 AM
iv Been told I’m in arrears by £2400 however the CMS know I have 3 other children I support however because they switched from the CSA they claim they didn’t know or wasn’t notified about them.So the arrears are based on what they knew at the time.They will not look into it and have said either pay or we will get a court order!!How can you have arrears based on 1 child when the other 3 haven’t been taken into consideration until a later date? I’m being shafted and it seems they will do any thing other than listen to fathers!I have no contact with my son as my ex moved and changed schools and tel number etc , however I still have to pay £300 a month. We live in a cruel world
Bri - 11-Apr-18 @ 2:39 AM
John - Your Question:
I have gone to the Csa for my ex partner to pay maintenance as I have not received a penny for months. They said according to Inland Revenue he earns £100 a week ( a wage slip from 3 years ago when he was self employed). I have sent them his work details and pics but they have closed the case saying they could not find proof! I have been told the case has been refered to an investigations team, they will give me no details of who this this and said I have to wait 6 months before phoning csa again!!!!! Does anyone have any ideas as to what I can do next as I know my ex earns at least £600 a week.

Our Response:
There is not much you can do until the investigation is complete. Child maintenance is based on your ex's earnings and the tax he pays via HMRC. If your ex is paying tax via HMRC, then the child maintenance payments will be based on the amount of tax he pays which in turn defines his salary amount. While your ex is not paying child maintenance and if he is earning and paying tax via HMRC, then the money for the period the investigation is taking place will be counted as arrears. CMS may wish to build up a profile of his regular earnings before assessment, so they can clarify the amount. This may be why it takes six months to investigate.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Apr-18 @ 3:20 PM
Aharris - Your Question:
Child maintenance have taken £387 off me a bit of change to they went straight to my wages and taking it I've been on the phone to them and they told me they will give it me back they should not have took the money out of my wages how long do I have to wait for my money back off them

Our Response:
We are not privvy to the administrative workings of CMS. You would have to ask CMS directly regarding this matter.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Apr-18 @ 12:47 PM
I have gone to the Csa for my ex partner to pay maintenance as i have not received a penny for months. They said according to Inland Revenue he earns £100 a week ( a wage slip from 3 years ago when he was self employed). I have sent them his work details and pics but they have closed the case saying they could not find proof! I have been told the case has been refered to an investigations team, they will give me no details of who this this and said i have to wait 6 months before phoning csa again!!!!! Does anyone have any ideas as to what i can do next as i know my ex earns at least £600 a week.
John - 10-Apr-18 @ 10:16 AM
Child maintenance have taken £387 off me a bit of change to they went straight to my wages and taking it I've been on the phone to them and they told me they will give it me back they should not have took the money out of my wages how long do I have to wait for my money back off them
Aharris - 10-Apr-18 @ 12:44 AM
Mam84 - Your Question:
My ex partner is saying he only earns £52 a week but he’s a self employed builder and I know he earns more. What can I do. Thank you

Our Response:
You can ask for CMS to review his case, if you have evidence he is earning more. If you think he is earning cash-in-hand, then this is more tricky as child maintenance is based on gross earnings and the income tax the paying parent pays through HMRC. There is little CMS or a court can do if your ex is not delaring certain earnings to HMRC, apart from report him for working in an illegal capacity.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Apr-18 @ 12:42 PM
Don't you think you should warn both parents that the complaints process takes years to get through and that the independent case examiner is indeed not independent and very bias in their work, so many young men have taken their own lifes because of the red tape the csa have created in the past to hide their mistakes whilst harassing the nrp's with incorrect assessments and maladministration.
Frankie - 8-Apr-18 @ 11:36 PM
My ex partner is saying he only earns £52 a week but he’s a self employed builder and I know he earns more. What can I do. Thank you
Mam84 - 7-Apr-18 @ 9:53 PM
Shooter - Your Question:
My ex partner cancelled her claim, but I still get harassed from them why?

Our Response:
You still may be classed as being in arrears. It is advisable to take notice of the letters and challenge any decision if you think you are being treated unfairly. Please see link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 29-Mar-18 @ 12:31 PM
My ex partner cancelled her claim, but I still get harassed from them why?
Shooter - 28-Mar-18 @ 8:33 PM
Al - Your Question:
My partner has been paying csa for 10 year's taken straight from his wage by his choice, just moved over to cma n now he is paying straight to the parent, csa has done a review and said he owes 1500 as he hasn't been paying what they told him to since 2014? It's been going straight out of he wage every month, they deduct it, how can it be wrong? Haven't had a letter before now saying he's not paying enough.

Our Response:
It could depend upon whether any circumstances have changed and your partner hasn't let CMS know, please see link here . If your partner thinks he is being treated unfairly, please see link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Mar-18 @ 9:24 AM
My partner has been paying csa for 10 year's taken straight from his wage by his choice, just moved over to cma n now he is paying straight to the parent, csa has done a review and said he owes 1500 as he hasn't been paying what they told him to since 2014? It's been going straight out of he wage every month, they deduct it, how can it be wrong? Haven't had a letter before now saying he's not paying enough.
Al - 25-Mar-18 @ 12:54 AM
Jane - Your Question:
Hi - to cut a long story short I've had a case for 18yrs. Nrp has been non compliant for most of this time. Nrp had 1 other child and that parent started her case 13yrs ago. Over the last 13yrs when agency managed to get patments from nrp they repeatedly mistakenly paid out the entire amount to the other parents only. When I complained (numerous times) about this they apologised and blamed computer system errors and said the payments I should of received would just be added to my arrears! I'm now in the position whereby the arrears on MY case are £12686.94 and the arrears on the other parents case are less than £1000.00 yet for the last 4 months yet again every penny that the agency has received has been paid out to the other parent!! Do you know if I have any chance of the agency paying me my arrears as they have accrued to such a high amount due to their errors??

Our Response:
Unfortunately, your only recourse is to complain, please see link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Mar-18 @ 12:44 PM
Hi - to cut a long story short I've had a case for 18yrs. Nrp has been non compliant for most of this time. Nrp had 1 other child and that parent started her case 13yrs ago. Over the last 13yrs when agency managed to get patments from nrp they repeatedlymistakenly paid out the entire amount to the other parents only. When I complained (numerous times) about this they apologised and blamed computer system errors and said the payments I should of received would just be added to my arrears! I'm now in the position whereby the arrears on MY case are £12686.94 and the arrears on the other parents case are less than £1000.00 yet for the last 4 months yet again every penny that the agency has received has been paid out to the other parent!! Do you know if I have any chance of the agency paying me my arrears as they have accrued to such a high amount due to their errors??
Jane - 22-Mar-18 @ 11:04 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the ChildSupportLaws website. Please read our Disclaimer.