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Why Child Maintenance and Enforcement is Necessary

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 6 May 2024 | comments*Discuss
Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission

The Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission (CMEC) is a non-departmental Public Body that was established to take charge of the payment of child maintenance.

It is the Commission’s primary objective to ensure effective children maintenance arrangements are in place, which provides financial support for children who live with a lone parent or legal guardian. This financial arrangement can be provided through the statutory scheme but may also be arranged privately between the child’s parents.

Child Maintenance Measures

A regulated financial payment, which is enforced by the Child Support Agency (CSA) can provide vital resources for many lone parent families. This child maintenance payment is paid by the non resident parent to the resident, or parent with care, after the CSA has examined information, concerning income, provided by the non resident parent’s employers.

Although many non resident parents are readily able to provide maintenance – whether privately agreed or CSA assisted – there are still some parents who evade payment of the support fund for their child. In these cases the CSA will trace the non resident parent and issue payment instructions, with arrears.

It is expected that the new enforcement measures, which will be introduced from 2009/10, will provide child support agencies with a greater means of assisting lone parent families in their quest for maintenance payments.

Key Functions

The Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission’s primary function is to promote parental financial responsibility. This means ensuring that non resident parents acknowledge the importance of their child maintenance contribution. CMEC also offers information and support, regarding child maintenance options and an effective enforcement service.

The Child Support Agency (CSA) however, solely provide a maintenance service where parents with care can register an application for assistance.

The Child Maintenance Options service offers support online, on the telephone or in-person. Issues such as housing, legal and financial concerns can be discussed in confidence, and can help provide additional understanding of the way child maintenance works.

Enforcing Orders

Once the amount of maintenance payable has been worked out the CSA will inform the non resident parent of the amount due, and the dates when this payment is expected. A court order will also provide the same information. Both the court and the CSA can make the non resident parent’s employer deduct maintenance payments directly from earnings.

If the maintenance payer owns another property a Charge can be put on this, which means that maintenance arrears will be paid for with the proceeds of the sale of the property. The Charge may also allow you to request early sale of the property, by applying through the courts.

It is also possible to freeze a partner’s accounts if you suspect they are attempting to leave the country with money that can provide maintenance coverage. A court order will freeze all accounts until the courts decide how to divide the assets.

In more extreme cases a parent with care can apply to the court and request that a non resident parent be sent to prison, if refusal to pay child maintenance continues.

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cindy byrd - 6-May-24 @ 2:05 PM
@KB - it seems rather harsh. Usually, the CSA will try to claim money back if your husband was ordered to pay maintenance as part of the divorce settlement and for whatever reason stopped paying. The CSA can claim back money from when the claim was first lodged. Even though he was paying his children directly, did he ignore any correspondence around that time because that is when the case will have begun?As you are doing, I suggest he collects all the evidence he can to support the fact that the arrangement was a voluntary one and that he has been paying for his children since 2006. It might need to be something he takes further legal advice on. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Oct-14 @ 2:12 PM
My husband has recently been given an order from CSA to pay £16,000 of unpaid CSA since 2006. His three children are all grown up 26, 23,and 21. The ex wife has made claims that her ex husband (my husband) had made no payment since 2006. It was agreed in 2006 that because the now 23 year old was going to live in America that my husband would make a monthly payment of £150.00 a month for his schooling whilst he lived in America and when he has extra money he would pay for his younger child as and when the ex wife wanted money towards uniform, shoes etc. This is proven by money being made direct to his sons account. There has been no problem with this until my husband inherited money from his mothers death. He gave his three children £2,000 each when he received his inheritance and it is since then the CSA have raised their heads demanding historical non payment to be paid back. We are appealing and have the proof of payments to his son in America but sadly no proof of payments made to his other son as that was cash in hand. This amount of money would break us and feel that it is very unfair that my husband has always been a good man, he would never see his children without but now this has landed on our doormat with threaten to take his driving licence, put him in prison and retrieve purchases owing to the amount needed is awful
kB - 27-Oct-14 @ 3:35 PM
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