Child maintenance service – Hope for the future

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) was established in 2012 to increase levels of cooperation between separated parents and to encourage them to meet their responsibilities and ensure that their children are provided with the financial support they need to secure better outcomes in life. Our recent blog post Child maintenance and how it affects high earners looks at the foundations of the CMS. 

As the CMS has now been in place for 10 years, they recently carried out a consultation to seek the views from parents, childrens’ charities and interested organisations, about a number of their proposed legislative changes which are aimed at modernising and improving the service. As a result, there are some promising changes. 

What are the new changes?

  • There will be an expansion of the list of companies and organisations that are required to provide information to the CMS; and
  • A new digital system will be set up to replace the compulsory in person visits from CMS inspectors.

What are the implications of these changes?

  • It will help the CMS trace the paying parent, calculate the maintenance payable and subsequently, enforce arrears more effectively, where needed; and
  • Companies will be able to respond more quickly using the online service – which will allow for the information to be sent more securely and will simplify the process – which in turn speeds up the process, so information is passed on more quickly to parents. 

When do they come into place?

  • The regulation for digital notifications and expanded information regulations will be laid and come into force as soon as parliamentary time allows.

What other proposals are there?

  • To include of unearned income in child maintenance calculations;
  • To write-off arrears where child maintenance has been deducted from a paying parent’s earnings, but their employer has subsequently gone into administration; and
  • To extinguish low level debt where the maintenance calculation has ended but there remains an outstanding low-level debt and the value of the debt is substantially less than the cost of collecting it.

These are proposals which will hopefully limit the CMS having to deal with those matters where it is not cost effective to do so and allow them to focus on improving the service for parents and collecting realisable payments from parents. 

How Moore Barlow can help 

We are able to advise on of the process of calculating child maintenance, upon the child maintenance service itself and the implications of the new proposals, so please do get in touch with the Family Team