Child support payments are now monitored by the Child Maintenance Service, the “CMS”. Prior to the CMS, it was the Child Support Agency, “CSA”, who were the governing body. There will still be some families whose child support payments are regulated by the CSA however in due course everyone will convert over to the CMS
The Child Maintenance Service is the new statutory child maintenance service. It works out how much, and when, child maintenance should be paid on behalf of some separated parents. It also has the capability, where necessary, to collect child maintenance from one parent and pay it out to the other (e.g. by deducting child maintenance at source from earnings or bank accounts)
The Child Maintenance Service uses the paying parent’s gross annual income, from the latest available tax year, as the starting point to work out child maintenance. In most cases, this information is provided to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) by the paying parent, their employer or accountant. This means it can process applications more quickly. It also means the Child Maintenance Service can work out an accurate amount without waiting for the paying parent to provide information.
Every year the Child Maintenance Service will review the paying parent’s income, benefit status and other circumstances. This will help to work out if the amount of child maintenance they pay for the next 12 months should stay the same, or if it should go up or down. This is called the Annual Review, and will be done automatically. It will ensure that maintenance calculations remain fair and accurate.
The CMS does have enforcement procedures. Where child maintenance remains unpaid the Agency can apply to the Sheriff court for a liability order. A liability order is recognition of the debt by the court. Once granted a liability order allows the Agency to arrest money belonging to the non-resident parent, auction the non-resident parent's assets and inhibit the non-resident parent from selling property such as his house. It is also open to the Sheriff, upon application by the CMS, to send a non-paying parent to prison. If the Child Maintenance Service has to take action through the courts, then the paying parent may have to pay their own legal costs as well as the Child Maintenance Service’s legal costs. This would be in addition to the child maintenance owed.
If you wish to discuss matters further or require advice in respect of liability or other order sought by the CMS, then contact our office and arrange an appointment. This can be a very serious matter and it always pays to obtain legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Contact us on 0141 429 8166 or complete our online contact form.
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