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MNHQ here: Parliamentary debate on the Child Maintenance Service - an MP wants to know your views

(120 Posts)
BojanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 17-Jul-19 17:29:02


Parliament's engagement team have asked us to share details of an upcoming debate on the Child Maintenance Service. Here's what they say.

"Martyn Day MP argues that “the current Child Maintenance Service system is letting down many constituents across Great Britain – both paying and receiving parents. I would like all children to benefit from receiving maintenance payments that are consistent and compatible with the paying parent’s income level.”

"On Tuesday 23 July, he will lead a Westminster Hall debate on the effectiveness of the Child Maintenance Service. He wants to hear about your experiences to help inform his debate.

"Have you had a positive experience in your dealings with the Child Maintenance Service?
If not, what were some of the issues you faced?
What would make the Child Maintenance Service work better for you?

"We’ll pass your comments on to him and he may use your examples during his debate. We’ll post links to watch the debate and read the transcript when they become available on Tuesday 23 July.

"Please submit your comments before midday on Monday 22 July.


"Your name, and any information or opinions you provide, may be shared with Martin Day MP and used in a parliamentary debate which will be on the record and available on Parliament TV and Hansard. Please ensure that you are happy with your comment before sharing.

"To see our online discussion rules, please visit:"

nauseous5000 Wed 17-Jul-19 18:20:53

I feel that the advice you get from the CMS can be changeable given who you speak to. I know other people in my position who have been given wildly different advice to me on a near identical issue. I've now had 6 years of non payment and am told the onus is on me to prove ex is working- how exactly? I'd also like to say that many exes (men and women) cheat the system- it should be much easier for the resident parent to choose collect and pay if this means they don't have to deal with non payments and giving second chances, because the kids deserve better and many exes are abusive. I also think there should be legal sanctions for any parent who doesn't pay- not jail but certainly a consequence that makes them take note and continue to make excuses for non payment

IsItBetter Wed 17-Jul-19 19:06:28

Martyn Day of the SNP states "I would like all children to benefit from receiving maintenance payments that are consistent and compatible with the paying parent’s income level."

...But that is already what theoretically happens with the current system. The issue to me isn't with the underlying maintenance calculations and regulations, but with the misappropriation and misapplication of the rules that underpin child maintenance, along with dishonest paying and receiving parents. This won't easily be remedied.

The CMS are a nightmare to deal with. The organization is chaotic and incompetent. When you call them you might be speaking to an 18 year old new joiner, or a 60 year old who has been there since forever. They all have different opinions, and fail to follow up with the issue at hand, meaning that you will have to call back and speak to someone else with another opinion. They won't listen to (or misunderstand) what you tell them, and they take a very long time to reply and evaluate a change in circumstances (or indeed sometimes they don't reply at all). Many of the staff have transitioned from the old CSA, and don't understand the current regulations, basing many of their actions on what the receiving parent tells them rather than looking at evidence.

In my opinion, what needs to happen is:

- All CMS staff need to be retrained on what the current regulations are and how to apply them. They need to be tested and held accountable for their actions.
- There need to be SLAs (service level agreements) imposed on the service regarding responding to queries, reconsiderations, complaints, etc, via post, telephone and email
- The CMS website needs to be overhauled as it often doesn't respond / doesn't work / cannot upload documentation

The Child Support Maintenance Calculation Regulations 2012 might need to looked at again in some instances and language tightened, but overall I think the general principles underpinning it are fine.

IsItBetter Wed 17-Jul-19 19:08:25

Sorry I pressed send before I was meant to, but I also wanted to say that there should be a review of the cases that are going to tribunal and being won on appeal against the CMS.

This will reveal many of the organisation's current shortcomings.

Iwantacookie Wed 17-Jul-19 19:49:39

They haven't got a clue.
They told me they were taking money from exh account and paying me when he is in fact (when he wants to) paying me directly.
I've contacted them numerous times but keep getting told someone will get back to me.

His arrears seem to be disappearing yet he hasn't paid them off and I can't get any answers off cms.
I just want a regular amount per month for our son. Is that really too much to ask?

Flower64 Wed 17-Jul-19 19:51:24

I was frustrated by the sheer amount of time it took for them to track my ex down simply because he wouldn't answer the phone. They told me for four months they couldn't reconcile the address I was giving them (because debt collectors were after him and he refused to change it with anyone official). When they finally tracked him down he still wouldn't pay so after 10 months he finally wen onto deductions of earnings. However every time I've called CMS I have been given different information. I also have a real issue with their policy of arrears being paid only to the oldest case if the paying parent has more than one case open. His first ex has one child and was owed £900. I have two and was owed almost £2k. I wont get a penny off the arrears until hers are cleared. This is unfair to my children as they may never see that money.

ZillaPilla Wed 17-Jul-19 20:18:57

Where do I start.....

Today CMS told me my ex called them. Based on what he told them, the Collect and Pay which was just about to start was stopped. Apparently he said he would pay by standing order. He set that up and then promptly stopped it.

So CMS listen to the absent parent who has ignored all calls, messages, letters and emails from them, and my son still get nothing from him.

Puts me right back to how I felt during the years of emotional abuse.

I've been told they are looking into how this has happened and they'll get back to me. I don't believe it.

surlycurly Wed 17-Jul-19 20:57:27

My ex husband is self employed. He is, however, employed by a bank as a contractor and makes a fortune (in the region of 80-90k p/a). According to the CMS he owes me £67 a month for two teenagers. I have insisted they get his wage slips from source but they seem to work on the basis that his self declaration is adequate, rather than getting accurate info from his employer. Their advice was for me to report him to HMRC. Not what I expected from them, especially after paying them the fee to set up an account with them.

stucknoue Wed 17-Jul-19 21:29:57

As a parent of young adults I think it ridiculous that compulsory payments finish at 18, (not even when school ends which can be the following June!) and 50% continue to university. Continuing support until parental contributions end (25 I think) makes sense. Where a child has additional needs as mine does there should be no end date, I have my child for life, she's unlikely to be able to live independently.

PIPERHELLO Wed 17-Jul-19 22:28:52

The appalling reputation of the CMS meant I didn't even bother contacting them.

The lack of teeth and generally inefficiency of the CMS is one of the most overt examples of 'the system' working against women (the vast majority of single parents) that I believe exists in 2019.

The resultant frequent poverty and financial inequality this leads to has significant and very serious implications on the lone parents' career, ability to see friends / family, mental health, physical health.

PIPERHELLO Wed 17-Jul-19 22:29:40

What @stucknoue just said - massively agree. This:

* As a parent of young adults I think it ridiculous that compulsory payments finish at 18, (not even when school ends which can be the following June!) and 50% continue to university. Continuing support until parental contributions end (25 I think) makes sense. Where a child has additional needs as mine does there should be no end date, I have my child for life, she's unlikely to be able to live independently.*

Mummymummums Wed 17-Jul-19 22:46:57

The CMS fails badly where self employed people are concerned.
I also think that in a consent order within a divorce, patents should (with legal advice) be able to agree to opt out for longer than a year.

HappyLoneParentDay Thu 18-Jul-19 01:44:45

1) Staff easily admit that unless you call them weekly, your case is often left unactioned
2) Even with attachment of earnings orders, which is often branded as a 'solution' - it isn't! See next comment below as to why) When paying parent changes jobs, the process STILL takes a minimum of 6-10 MONTHS before you start receiving payments again!!!!!
Once the CMS have been informed that the paying parent has left their job, they then have to put what they call a 'Flag' on their file with the HMRC which will alert them if/when they are registered with a new employer. This takes 2 months minimum - usually 3.
Then, they write to employer to confirm. Employer is given 60 days to respond (if they don't - a further 60 days is automatically given without a blink). Then another attachment of earnings order is applied for & submitted to the employer. Provided the employer doesn't mess around, this is put into payment 3 months from the date it has been submitted to the employer.
3) This allows a nice 6-10 months of maintenance-free wages per job for the job-hopping Dads who are avoiding the system.

The very thing the CMS was created to solve is actually enabling the behaviour.

4) As touched upon above, every single person you speak to at the CMS has a totally different opinion, can & DOES override any progress you may have made with the previous person you spoke with and you end up with false promises and hours upon hours upon hours spent on the phone pointlessly & needlessly. (I genuinely likened it to a part time job at one point. When things were particularly bad I was spending 2/3 hours per day, several days per week, speaking to different people at the CMS after being passed around from person to person. It certainly wasn't always me calling them, either!!!)

For instance. - I was ^A^SSURED that my job-hopping ex had *Quote: "...well & truly passed the point of enforcement now. We're taking him to Court to apply for removal of his Driving Licence. Yes definitely. I'll be starting the process today, I'm your 'Case Manager' so I'll be the one putting the process in motion. This needs to be sorted and I'll be making sure it is..." End quote.

7 days later (Different person)
*Quote: "Absolutely not, we wouldn't be looking at enforcement at this stage madam. No I'm your new Case Manager and we won't be going for Court Action anytime soon" End quote.

XXWomenUnite Thu 18-Jul-19 01:49:23

1) There should be no upper annual salary limit to % payable by payee and that % should be calculated according to p60 on gross not net income. Current limit is woeful and high earning non residential parents are being actively encouraged by the system to create financial disparity between children they live with and those they don't. A limit makes no sense when the calculation is based on a % and not a fixed sum. Add to this all of the various loopholes available to reduce the net sum (not gross) used for calculating that % like increased pension payments, offshore bonus etc and the final amount is a joke in comparison to what is actually being earned. The CMS do not calculate using annual P60 either, they go off whatever the payee tells them so a couple of light monthly payslips for a high earner means an initial gross calculation that totally ignores the massive bonus they get every other month or annually. If you point this out they will still refuse to consult the P60 or address any disparity unless a 25% pay increase can be shown?!? The CMS have access to HMRC records as I understand it, they just utterly refuse to use the records. The CMS have registered my ex-husband as self employed, they will not correct this despite his having worked with the same large corporation for 2 decades. All of his paperwork is readily available with HMRC, I know this because I dealt with all of his paperwork for our entire marriage. When I offered to send the CMS copies of my ex-husband's p60s (sent to my solicitor as part of divorce) I was told they would not be accepted because I should not have that information. He is not secretive about how much he earns, he has increased everything he can to reduce his net income and omitted paperwork which is easily shown by HMRC (or the p60s I have), the CMS just will not do their homework. Madness.
If the paying parent’s gross weekly income is more than £3,000, the receiving parent can apply to the courts for extra child maintenance.

No they can't. Legal aid is non existent and in court the person who can afford the good lawyer wins, that'll be the person on over £156k gross then not the single parent trying to ensure fair maintenance payment for the child they must feed and clothe regardless. Even if a resident parent manages to get to court on this issue once and have it resolved in their favour the payee (who can afford a solicitor) can apply straight back to the court for a change so either way court is set up to favour the wealthier applicant.

Add to this the very strong likely hood that a high earning parent gets to be a high earner by designating the other parent as prime carer, (usually at the cost of their earning potential and career). Obviously this default continues after divorce except now the primary carer is broke and the high earner gets to pay considerably less towards the children as sanctioned by the government!

2) There should be no charges for residential parents, ever. Punishing children financially for a non resident parent refusing to honour their financial obligation is wrong. That's what those charges are since they are supposed to "encourage family-based arrangement", total logic fail.

3) There should be no reduction to the % gross calculated for further children living in the payee's household. Existing obligations should be met regardless.

4) The CMS does not address any disability or even terminal illness in the household of the child that maintenance is being calculated for. There is no dedicated department and call staff could not care less about terminal illness and no it isn't in the notes even though you went through the whole thing the last three times you called. The CMS will reduce the amount paid by the non resident parent if they have a disabled child in their household but will not increase the amount of maintenance due if the situation is reversed. Given the higher number of disabled children being raised by single parents and the drastic cut backs in services and funding available this needs to be addressed urgently by the government. Disabled children are more likely to need (for life) home schooling, hospital appointments etc impacting resident parent earning potential and less likely to be able to access mainstream childcare or have shared care with non resident parent. Yet the CMS makes no adjustment to calculations to reflect this instead leaving it to court which as mentioned above is unworkable.
The annual cost of bringing up a disabled child is three times greater than that of bringing up a non-disabled child
Disabled people’s poverty rates slowly decreased until 2009/10 to 2011/12 but this trend has reversed. Poverty is much higher for people in families with disabled members.

5) The CMS have the power to address non payment. They do not use it. They are entirely indifferent to the reason they were set up in the first place.

6) This is a sexist issue and needs addressed as such. 90% of single parents are women so this system which should be ensuring children are properly provided for is instead ensuring that society does not value women's essential unpaid work and men will not be held responsible for their children's wellbeing. This sexist attitude is further displayed by the woeful incompetence of the CMS in dealing with cases of domestic abuse and protecting victim's information continually putting women and children at risk.
There are around 1.8 million single parents – they make up nearly a quarter of families with dependent children
The risk of persistent poverty varies greatly between groups, with lone parents at particularly high risk. One in four lone parents live in persistent poverty.

So 1.62 million women (27% with a disability) heading single parent families with the CMS their only viable recourse (now that legal aid is gone) and a quarter of those in persistent poverty yet child maintenance still goes unpaid – around £4 billion in arrears built up under the previous Child Support Agency.

HMRC would chase tax arrears like that to ground!

HappyLoneParentDay Thu 18-Jul-19 01:54:38

What I believe needs to happen, is that when there are issues gaining regular payments, if any, from the paying parent, the CMS should be paying a minimum/base rate to the resident parent to enable the child's needs to be met. Then the CMS adding this to the paying parent's arrears. Even if this had to be means tested and therefore only available to those on a low/basic income? At least that way, the situation where children are going without for almost a year because of an absent parent absconding & relinquishing all responsibility, is avoided at the very least???

By their own admission, CMS arrears are classed as a primary debt of the paying parent (and quite rightly so). So with that being the case, surely this 'basic rate' to cover payment lapses, can then be added to this primary debt? Surely?

When I say minimum/base rate, I really only talking the CMS minimum of around £30 per week. £20 even?
When my ex was avoiding paying and job hopping, despite my pride, £20 a week would've provided nappies & milk for my baby and been an absolute lifeline. Literally in some truly sad cases.

Also avoids the staff at CMS taking the screaming & crying they endure regularly from understandably distraught resident parents who have just had to wait on hold an hour to be told they're suddenly not getting anymore money for their child..... Just a thought!!!!

XXWomenUnite Thu 18-Jul-19 02:00:52

That's a really good idea Happy.

Graphista Thu 18-Jul-19 02:18:05

Geez! Where to start?! I should start by saying my dd is now 18 and therefore no longer eligible for payments. What REALLY ticks me off is this has also meant that the money my ex owes her/me is no longer pursued! In 16 years he NEVER payed regularly or consistently and on several occasions didn't pay the full amount of the calculation. He was well able to do so he just begrudged it!

Have you had a positive experience in your dealings with the Child Maintenance Service?

I was mainly under csa who were a nightmare! I hoped moving to cms MAY improve matters - in reality it really didn't but that was partly I believe due to them knowing I soon wouldn't be their responsibility as dd was 15/16 at the time we transferred so there wasn't the motivation to help us.

If not, what were some of the issues you faced?

1 NEVER getting through to the same person twice EVEN when given a specific named person to deal with who I asked for - was constantly told they were unavailable which I am highly sceptical was actually true. It was a waste of my time and their resources to have to repeat a history of at least 14 years of ongoing issues with ex!

2 Depending who you spoke to the "advice" could change wildly! I was repeatedly told that even though someone more senior than the person I was speaking to had told me X could be done, the less experienced/knowledgeable call handler would tell me "we can't do that" - even if "that" was on the website and in reg's as something that COULD be done!

3 actions I was told would be happening weren't followed through or this was done ridiculously slowly.

4 attitude of some call handlers very poor - including attitude of those of us in receipt of payments should be unendingly grateful as if we were getting some kind of handout!

5 FAR too quick and easily accepting whatever nonsense paying parent tells them WITHOUT verifying! My ex claimed he wasn't working for over a year at one point when a cursory check with income tax would have (and eventually did) prove this not to be true.

Graphista Thu 18-Jul-19 02:20:08

What would make the Child Maintenance Service work better for you?

Bit late for me as I've said. What I wish would have happened?

1 A named case handler, a full time employee at cms who is contactable most of the time (excepting sickness, annual leave etc) to ensure continuity of service. This would reduce costs for cms as less time spent on phone "catching up" on a case, fewer complaints, fewer calls necessary all round. Would also ensure callers can develop a relationship with the case handler, understand their approach, and if a complaint did become necessary there's only one person to complain about and who's work needs investigating!

2 Quite honestly I think the current calculations lead to woefully low payment levels!

i The vast majority of the time they barely cover food costs for the child!

ii I also disagree with the current reg that a paying parent can reduce payments by

becoming a step parent (their biological parents should be covering their costs)

or by having more children (if you can't afford the ones you already have you shouldn't be having more - yet under current reg's, not just cms but also tax credits and other benefits this belief is applied to resident parents - mostly women - and NOT non resident parents) my ex has gone on to have several more children with wife 2 and reduced the payments every time he was able to - even though he could well afford the calculated payments and then some!

Graphista Thu 18-Jul-19 02:20:47

3 the LACK of enforcement is a joke!

Cms, as did csa, SUPPOSEDLY have sanctions they can take against non resident parents who don't/won't pay - BUT they don't use them!

My ex took full advantage of this and very quickly worked out how to time it all so that he didn't have to pay regularly BUT would pay SOMETHING (not always full amount) just in time to escape any sanctions! I honestly believe had I had a specific case worker who had an overall view of the situation then it is likely he would have had some kind of sanction applied. Very frustrating and made it impossible to budget. Quite early on I realised that I could not rely on his money
and worked my budget so that if he did pay it was a bonus but if he didn't we'd "manage" (admittedly the worst point was under csa when I was on benefits and maintenance was still included in benefits calculations, which at times meant I went without essentials - food, clothes, heating - in order that dd didn't miss out)

It takes FAR too long and too many non or late payments before enforced payment methods are brought in! Personally I'd have a "3 strikes" policy - and NOT consecutive either but total - if a non resident parent doesn't pay, pays late, or doesn't pay full amount then an attachment of earnings or similar should be instigated as soon as matters reach that point.

4 there are currently issues with the software that mean that when a non resident parent doesn't make a payment it isn't always flagged for follow up and indeed isn't followed up until the receiving parent calls up to say "where's the money?" Which is approximately 14 days after the non resident parent was due to pay. That HAS to be fixed.

Graphista Thu 18-Jul-19 02:21:15

5 There's currently no standard procedure requiring cms to check on paying parents income on a regular basis. My ex was armed forces for most of my daughters childhood. They get annual pay rises and sometimes additional bonuses for various things like hitting a certain length of service. But if I hadn't known this (and not all who have children with serving personnel would, I'm from a military family, plus those who've been married to them would know but not all co-parents have this knowledge) I wouldn't have known to ask for his income to be checked at pay rise time. An annual check in with HMRC income tax records seems logical to me.

Graphista Thu 18-Jul-19 02:21:38

It's a subject that comes up frequently on mn. So if I may I'd like to make general points/suggestions that would massively improve things for resident parents and most importantly children :

1 change the calculations to more accurately reflect the actual costs of raising children! 16% of taxable income is pathetic! And absolutely remove all the loopholes that can reduce payments - calculate on gross pay not net!

2 if cm was taken at source via hmrc the cms would barely be needed! There is absolutely no good reason why this can't be done, it can then be calculated based on the most current income information held by hmrc and deducting at source would eliminate many of the issues with payments/collections there are currently. This would deal with the outright liars (where I live there are even certain employers who provide false payslips showing that their employee is on less pay than they actually get - and yes this has been reported but continues to happen) pay rises, overtime, bonuses, job hoppers etc

3 close the loopholes that too many self employed non resident parents use to falsely claim they are paupers on less than nmw and therefore lowering calculations.

Lifestyle evidence should be checked and taken into account where they're pleading poverty - while living in a 4 bed detached property, driving flash new cars, having multiple foreign holidays and enjoying use of the latest tech!

4 tricky with brexit, but negotiate with other countries to better pursue non resident parents who leave the uk.

5 USE the sanctions that are SUPPOSED to be available to deal with non or erratically paying parents! Hit these selfish people where it hurts! Make it that it's more convenient for them to pay and pay properly and regularly and REALLY INconvenient for them NOT to!

6 My dd is now working full time at 18 so fair enough that I don't get maintenance now for her BUT I should still be able to pursue the 16 YEARS of frequently missed payments, the arrears of which have never been properly followed up (and last I checked was £1000's) AND I think if a child is still in full time education OR returns to full time education (as my dd is debating doing) before age 25 (which is when they're considered "independent" for further/higher education funding purposes) then maintenance for that time should be paid too.

Children with non resident parents shouldn't face barriers to accessing further/higher education as a result.

7 agree with Xxwomen unite that resident parents shouldn't be having to pay because the non resident parent is taking the Mickey and not paying!

Happy touches on a suggestion that's often made on threads discussing this, that if the state paid cm and then recovered those payments from non resident parents children would then be receiving the payments guaranteed and the majority of us I'm sure would agree this would massively motivate the govt to recover that money front the paying parents!

Unfortunately I think it unlikely but I really see NO reason why it can't be deducted at source by the income tax dept. This would mean the vast majority of payments would be collected, would eliminate issues of dishonesty and delays in calculations catching up to pay rises etc decent non resident parents who don't have a problem paying would find it very easy and convenient.

ExhaustedGrinch Thu 18-Jul-19 07:41:27

Have you had a positive experience in your dealings with the Child Maintenance Service?

If not, what were some of the issues you faced?
The staff are lovely and polite but they couldn't get payments from my ex for over 5 years. My child is still only 8 years old yet they've written off ex partners debt, I guess they feel it's not worth pursuing as it only comes to around £1,500 in all the time he's meant to have ben paying. I know other people this has happened to too. I assume those with larger debts/payments are worth pursuing more? This penalises those who are likely to need the money most.

There needs to be tougher sanctions for those who don't pay. There are plenty of threats of action but I've never heard of them following through ie prison, loss of driving license etc

What would make the Child Maintenance Service work better for you?
Tougher sanctions and not dropping the debt because they believe it's unrecoverable. If the debt is dropped then there needs to be a discussion around when this should happen and what are the consequences for the party who hasn't been paying because as I see it there are no consequences.

OhamIreally Thu 18-Jul-19 07:41:46

I don't see the logic in discounting pension contributions from the gross amount on which the calculation is based.

Parents with care who are shouldering the vast burden physically and financially of raising children are unlikely to be building up a nice pension pot so it appears to be adding insult to injury to encourage absent parents to build up their ow at the expense of their children.

The issue of reductions for further children is one that upsets a lot of PWC but particularly pernicious is where the paying parent receives a discount for living with children who are not his.

NotBeingRobbed Thu 18-Jul-19 08:12:03

CMS money should continue until a child leaves full time education. I have two teenagers to see through university and I have to shoulder that burden alone. The cost of supporting a student is high - they do not cease being your child or needing an education when they turn 18. I earn enough to just about support them but morally their father should contribute too and doesn’t.

Arrears should be enforceable from date of separation, not from date of claim.

Most people have raised the issue of the self-employed who simply get away with lying. This needs addressing.

isitsummeryet1 Thu 18-Jul-19 09:21:13

I've had endless problems with my self-employed ex husband. He is now £18k in arrears, which the CMA keeps asking me to write off. I'm in massive debt due to having to fund the basics of having a child - something which we decided to do together. I feel my daughter has lost out on childhood experiences such as being able to join in after school activities, simply because I cannot afford to fund them.

Also, the chasing up of missed payments is a joke. My payment is due on the 19th, they allow him until the 30th to pay and only then they start chasing. This gap is massive and causes big cash flow problems.

I also agree that it is wrong that our payments go down when the absent parent goes on to have more children. It is not my fault (or my daughters) that he has had more children, children whom in many cases aren't met by the half sibling but are suffering financially because of them. The absent parent should continue to pay their standard contribution, and be made to cover the costs of their new child through their own finances.

isitsummeryet1 Thu 18-Jul-19 09:31:06

Can I also ask, does the absent parent have the arrears written off once the child reaches 18? I was assured they would continue to be pursued even if the child turns 18 and the regular payments have stopped...but now I'm not so sure. My daughter is 10 and as he only pays £240 per month, there is no way the arrears will be paid off in 8 years!

DropOfffArtiste Thu 18-Jul-19 10:22:05

The CMS appear to be underfunded and poorly staffed. The inconsistent information is almost as frustrating as the lack of money received.

A fairer system would involve deducting the CM payments at source like income tax and the infrastructure is already in place.

If there is a problem receiving the funds then CM should be paid by the government and they should pursue the debt againt the non-paying parent directly.

NeverTwerkNaked Thu 18-Jul-19 11:21:00

It has a number of serious problems:
- it is totally toothless, they rarely if ever enforce late or nonpayment which encourages dad's to pick and choose when they pay
- the "number of nights" calculation means a lot of dad's push for a high number of nights purely to get their payment down. And even if they do actually take up those nights (mine doesn't, he picks and chooses) a lot of costs still get picked up by the RP
- it seems easy for men to lie and decieve the system. My ex's purported salary is a fraction of what it used to be before he left . His lifestyle is the same, fancy car and holidays etc, but based on what CMS are told you would think he must be on the breadline

Haroted Thu 18-Jul-19 11:47:46

The red tape associated with the CMS is a nightmare. As an organisation, it would appear that it’s up to the service users to chase things up and question what the process is, depending on who you speak to depends on what answer you get.

There is too much belief in non resident parents that they will do the right thing and pay and too much time is allowed before collect and pay is implemented. It can take 6 months plus before payments are made in this way.

Where there is clear evidence of non compliance stricter rules are needed instead of giving people “the benefit of the doubt”. The same should apply for those non resident parents that continually job hop to avoid paying or to play delay tactics.

The loopholes need to be closed as there are too many ways for non resident parents to not pay.

The fact that the CMS is now linked to HMRC is much better as there is an easier way of tracking down where non resident parents work but much work needs to be done on speeding up the process.

There needs to be more power to insist on child maintenance payments rather than empty threats that are currently in place.

In my experience, if it’s proving difficult to get money out of a non resident parent then they will put the case to the bottom of the pile. They listen to the rubbish that is fed to them and I feel that the staff employed think that single parents are money grabbing and make a big deal out of non payers.

blackistheneworange Thu 18-Jul-19 13:10:03

I've currently got a complaint going through at the moment. A mistake (which has been admitted) by CMS saw my exes income as being £10,000 more than it actually was. This went unquestioned by him for a year until the next review when he requested a mandatory reconsideration, which obviously went in his favour. CMS admitted their mistake but have reduced the maintenance I receive by some £400 a month - I have this reduction for the next 10 months! It's going to cripple me, and ultimately our children.

Hundredacrewoods Thu 18-Jul-19 13:13:58

I’d suggest not using the language “paying parents” and “receiving parents”, given that it’s usually the “receiving parent” who bares 90% of the true cost of raising the child/ren

DropOfffArtiste Thu 18-Jul-19 14:22:33

Yes good point @Hundredacrewoods

KentMummy12 Thu 18-Jul-19 16:42:32

Lots of you seem to view the child maintenance as income. It should stop on the 18th birthday. That's when children stop being children.

Also, amounts are far too high and based on no logic at all.

DropOfffArtiste Thu 18-Jul-19 16:46:51


blackistheneworange Thu 18-Jul-19 18:59:36

Kentmummy Er no, it should stop when Child Benefit stops, so when they finish approved education or training which is what it does now!

schoolcook Thu 18-Jul-19 18:59:36

I think it is far too easy for NRP to get away with not paying.
I have been divorced 13 years, had 5 children on the case , 3 of which are now adults.
In that time there have been 3 lots of payments.
1. £7 a week while he was on benefits.
2. DEO which lasted 3 payments until he quit his job.
3. DEO which lasted 4 payments until he quit his job.
We are no contact as he is a danger to my children so I have no idea where to find him. CMS don't either and apparently without a confident address they can't issue court proceedings for a liability order. I asked if the employer could give that information and they said no they can ask but they can't force them to. I think this should change. If they have a job then there are contact details which should be available to CMS to reduce the ease in which people avoid paying for their children.
My arrears are now £10,000 and rising every month.
I'm pretty certain he is living off a handsome inheritance from when his mum died and won't need to work now for a good few years.

Amibeingdaft81 Thu 18-Jul-19 19:03:01

@BojanaMumsnety @BojanaMumsnet

Does mumsnet get involved out of genuine desire to help or is this something that you have been paid to promote?

Amibeingdaft81 Thu 18-Jul-19 19:03:38

Either way I’m going to give the discussion some careful thought, as a single parent receiving maintenance and I’ll feedback

howdyalikemenow Thu 18-Jul-19 19:53:25

What @XXWomenUnite said. Every word. My ex is earning considerably more that he has declared and is refusing to pay more. My eldest is autistic and likely to be with me for a lot longer than 18/19. None of this is taken into account. It sucks

notmylittleangel Thu 18-Jul-19 20:21:27

The system seems to work on the basis that parents can be reasonable with each other.
The reality is that if you need the CMS this isn't the case.
We had a mum who insisted on using the cms because she knew they would charge us a fee even if that meant less money for her as they charge her a fee too. She tried to say father was a risk of non payment which the cms quickly shut down as the evidence of consistent payment was there.

Paying for a child you are not allowed contact with as court orders are ignored is unfair. Not being allowed overnight visits as it might impact payments etc.

Trying to get a case open or closed is hard work and causes unnecessary stress as the cms communication is minimal. If you have a resident parent who stops contact at the smallest thing, missed payments caused by the cms is a nightmare.

Mummacake Thu 18-Jul-19 20:40:39

I'm in a position where my exh claims for a child he is legally not allowed to see. When I've challenged CMS they take the view that he gets CHB so is entitled to it yet they refuse to chase him for 10yrs of unpaid maintenance. Apparently, that's the rules! This disadvantages working line parents and makes absolutely no sense. We are now in financial jeopardy & could lose out home (won't be entitled to housing benefit) as a direct result of the inadequacy of the system.

HerRoyalNotness Thu 18-Jul-19 20:48:02

@stucknoue I agree for children with additional needs, there should be another system in place to ensure both parents continue to contribute

As it is CHild maintenance stops at 20 if the ‘child’ is still in full time non advanced education. I think that is long enough. The NRP can then contribute to ‘child’ directly if they go to university. But at some point the ‘child’ needs to be recognised as an adult and take responsibility for paying their own way and contributing to their RP for their expenses themselves. I think 25 is far too old to still being supported by your parents.

Amibeingdaft81 Thu 18-Jul-19 20:52:42

@Mummacake your ex gets child benefit but if “legally” not allowed to see his child.

So you don’t get child benefit?

Only one person can receive child benefit and it has to be to the person responsible for the child

So I’m really confused how your ex is receiving this?!

snackarella Thu 18-Jul-19 22:04:23

We found the claim the RP submitted was upheld without a request for info from the NRP. She didn't tell them we had two other children and despite this we were told we had to pay what they had calculated for 6 months before we could argue it!

ivykaty44 Fri 19-Jul-19 05:40:20

Give child maintenance to HMRC to collect & pay

SofiaAmes Fri 19-Jul-19 05:49:16

Have you had a positive experience in your dealings with the Child Maintenance Service? No, they were rude and unhelpful and made no effort to assist me in figuring out what had gone wrong with my collection case.
If not, what were some of the issues you faced? I live in the USA and my ex (NRP) lives in Leeds. I forwarded to the USA Child Maintenance Division who forwarded to the REMO unit all his information including address, phone number, NI number, Car Reg, Business website, Copies of the deeds to the flat that he owns and lives in, yet the REMO unit were "unable to locate him." And when I tried to figure out why and what information they might be missing, they were rude and unhelpful and eventually hung up on me. I followed up with multiple phone calls and emails, none of which were ever answered.
What would make the Child Maintenance Service work better for you? If they had better trained staff and were able to use consequences for non-payment like they do here in California (garnish wages or take away driver license).

SoVeryLost Fri 19-Jul-19 07:42:22

Use self employed NRP gross income not their profits.

Actually prosecute non paying parents, ie get a system with more teeth. Sometimes the payment of maintenance is used to further control an ex partner.

Mummacake Fri 19-Jul-19 08:17:02

Amibeingdaft81 he claims CHB because his parents convinced the child to stay with them (& give dad full access in breach of order) and he claims in their fehalf apparently. There is additional fraudulent behaviour involved & he claims to be self employed/poverty stricken. To say more I'd outing angry He refuses to support his other 3 children. The system is deficient in almost every way. Oh, and thy have written off his arrears and reduced 'expected payments'. In the meantime, ALL the children suffer. The one he claims everything for looks so unkempt it's really very distressing. He has been failed by all agencies. It's a disgrace.

CanILeavenowplease Fri 19-Jul-19 08:17:44

My ex is self employed. Over the last 10 years he has opened a number of companies (maybe 5?), traded, then ignored all paperwork and reporting requirements to companies house. Each time the company has been subject to a compulsory strike-off and within months he starts again. I obviously can’t be sure, but I would hazard a guess of he’s not filing paperwork, he’s not record keeping and he’s not paying tax, his last CSA assessment was £0 on account of his ‘circumstances’ (apparently he had no income at all). I have not bothered to open a case with the CMS because what is the point? I have reported him to HMRC, even going as far as to give the company numbers so they can follow the evidence trail themselves but....nothing. He has literally opened a new company in the last few months...and so it goes on.

I have supported 3 children myself as a full time teacher. Fortunately family money means I have had no mortgage so my life has been a lot easier than many women in this situation p. However, I am concerned for my future from a pension point of view and my home needs serious work that I struggle to afford (new roof, boiler etc).

My ex enjoys a good relationship with his children and sees them regularly. Unfortunately, he hates me far more than he loves his children and can’t see the wood for the trees.

The massive failure of the child maintenance system is nothing other than state sponsored child abuse and if it were mainly men managing the financial,burden of bringing up children, you can bet it would have been sorted long ago!

Mummacake Fri 19-Jul-19 08:18:05

Sorry about typos all......... blush

Verily1 Fri 19-Jul-19 09:11:23

My dc is now a teen. His father lives in a half million £ house but has never paid a penny in maintenance.

IMO non payment should be criminalised.

AMAM8916 Fri 19-Jul-19 09:22:17

A few things need to change.

Non payment or avoidance of payment needs to be treated as a criminal offense. If someone avoids tax, it's treated as a criminal offense.

There shouldn't be reductions if the parent that is to pay has more children. Why on earth is that? Does a resident parent suddenly get a pay rise or have to pay out less if they have another child?

HMRC should be working alongside CMS to track where paying parents are working a lot quicker to do the DEO.

They should assign a certain amount of cases to each employee instead of the messy all over the place system they have at the moment. Less phone calls, less 'catching up' on cases etc would mean a more fluent system.

They should be involving debt collectors once arrears reach a certain amount.

If arrears reach high levels, they should be able to put leans against properties/cars/expensive possessions.

Overall, they need to take maintenance more seriously. If a resident parent decided they weren't going to pay anything for their child, that child would starve. Why should non resident parents get away with paying nothing for THEIR child? They are basically saying they'd let that child starve.

Oh, to add something else, men who give up work and claim benefits or don't earn anything as they get a new partner and dodge paying maintenance by using this sneaky system should be penalised. If CMS finds them fit to work, their payments should resume. I've seen a lot of cases on another forum where women have written saying 'We have a child, my partner has 2 children from a previous relationship, if he stays at home with our child and I go to work, does this mean no maintenance will need paid?'. These women seriously are low. Would they like nothing being paid towards their child? So she gets free childcare by having him at home and he dodges having to pay anything, so wrong! Once you have children, every choice you make there on in, needs to be in the best interests of your original children. Of course you are free to go on and have more but doing so affects what you can do for your original children, you should be penalised!

greenberet Fri 19-Jul-19 09:36:02

I applied to CMS on 24 August 2016

7 September 2016 received letter confirming receipt of application for variation of income.

1 October 2016 received confirmation of payments at £114.37 per month. ( not taking into account additional income)

9 May 2017 sent complaint letter as despite making phone calls on 21 February, 20 March, 24 April no payment received from X.

Included information on Directors Loan at £99,500 to support my claim that his £12,000 income he had informed CMS was false.

X had also told CMS that he was paying me £641 per month - this too was false as this was a salary from the company - sent proof of this to CMS.

X paid 8 months outstanding payments on 2 May 2017 as I had told him I was contacting them with this complaint letter.

15 September 2017 receive letter from CMS re variation application.

28 September 2017 reply to CMS tell them I have been dealing with HMRC as a result of X declaring dividends in my name over two tax years which I did not receive but had to pay tax on them to avoid getting into tax arrears. Told them this would increase his earnings.

X now paying me weekly CMS of £65.20 as per their annual review letter of 20 August 2017.

6 December 2017 I contact my local MP for help

In addition had made phone calls to CMS on 1 June, 26 June, 1 August, 18 August, 30 November, 6 December,

On 9 January 2018 I called for update - completely lost it during this phone call - told them was feeling suicidal as a result of incompetence

10 January 2018 receive notification payments will be £1214.78 from 1 February 2018.

15 January 2018 received letter saying they had been informed contact nights had changed and had to confirm.

15 January 2018 x emails me telling me he has started Mandatory Reconsideration and will be paying me £570.60 from 1 February and will continue at this until Mandatory Resolution is complete -

16 February 2018 receive letter from CMS telling me have conducted their review and original decision is correct ie at £1214.78.

6 March 2018 I send letter to CMS confirming I have been told that X is taking this to appeal and has been told by CMS he can keep payments at £570.60 until this has concluded. I send through confirmation of house he has just bought in addition to the rental property he has at £1600 per month.

I tell CMS that I am extremely vulnerable emotionally and financially and have just had to resume further counselling to cope with the stress. I have a long term diagnosis of depression with symptoms currently severe and triggered by knowledge of court hearing.

Divorce process was extremely acrimonious with X using system to abuse me and now doing the same. ask for information to be assessed without court hearing.

20June 2018 receive letter from CMS telling me that they have used incorrect tax years.

28 June 2018 receive letter from CMS with detailed explanation of case for 1stTier Tribunal. It is clear from this that CMS have noticed some incidents with X where he attempts to manipulate situation by sending incorrect information, claiming to have misunderstood telephone conversation and generally delaying process.

9 July 2018 I reply to CMS sending evidence of how he manipulated court process for divorce in same way and that due to his profession and high status there is no way he would be “confused” by form filling and “numbers”

State this is continual abuse having significant impact on me and children.

30 August 2018 annual review says payments now £482.03 from 1 September 2018.

13 September 2018 receive notification hearing booked for 1 November 2018.

2 October 2018 send email to CMS telling them that information for tribunal is out of date and that I have had numerous telephone calls with CMS. The team leader who told X that he could reduce payments to £570.60 did not have authority to do this. The “system” had assumed X had been paying me £1214.73 and a new figure had been arrived at including arrears of £4700. I ask for information as to how they have calculated these figures but I am told that due to Data Protection Act they are unable to give me more information. I say without this information I am unable to confirm if figures are correct, that X may now not proceed with appeal and want to know what powers they have to order arrears are paid as lump sum. I say I have evidence confirming he lied in court and my concern is he will do the same again.

No reply to email so send a letter 10 October 2018 saying that evidence for tribunal is out of date, need to see what they have used in their calculations as without this have no idea whether X is still lying to them and if court hearing goes ahead without new evidence it will be waste of time. I also need time to assess this before court hearing due to depression.

Receive notification that this letter has been copied to X as part of “court evidence”

10 October 2018 receive notification that X has withdrawn his appeal.

I have written to courts asking why my letter was sent as “evidence” in error I believe when I was asking for clarification. No reply.

I have not had the capacity to follow up on this, X has been paying the ordered amount although this stops on 1 September 2018.

My kids are 18 (twins), they intend to go to uni. Child benefit stops.

I have limited income due to depression which is severe. I am facing other severe life stressors at the moment which means my day to day functioning is limited.

I had one person who took my telephone call seriously and told me that my case should have been sorted out months ago - that it should never have got to the stage it did and that X should have been told to pay what was ordered.

Just putting this together now has triggered off my anxiety and lots of emotion.

A system meant to protect my children failed them miserably. Without my children ( now adults in terms of CMS) I would not have put myself through this. I have no idea how I am going to support my kids after 1 September - I cannot guarantee that X will “help out” as he says he will.

I feel I am hanging on by the skin of my teeth!

Women’s Aid press office have said they will talk to me if I want this - too many people and far too many children are suffering.

I appreciate you taking this on and hopefully you can make some changes.

greenberet Fri 19-Jul-19 09:52:15

Just meant to add - during divorce process - child maintenance was being “discussed” through solicitors and part of overall settlement. As X offer was always in the region of £600 per month was told not to accept.

What I was not told was that the courts had no power to enforce this in final hearing unless we agreed - which we did not. Had I been aware of this or told this by my solicitor I would have applied for this as soon as he left!

ladies please take note - apply through CMS from day 1 regardless of your situation - there needs to be a record of how many are abusing the system - I know there are some who don’t because of the hassle and because there is a fee to pay - why do we have to pay this - this should be added to the non paying parents debt.

I was also appalled to read how the CSA wrote of unpaid maintenance as it was too costly to chase up - this is not their “debt” as such - they are not owed the money - they are just middle men - and ineffective middle men at that - is the children that suffer

Fathers need to be made to be accountable - and this needs to tie in with contact. A father ( yes I know there are some mothers) who does not support his child financially is incapable of supporting a child emotionally and this is therefore continual abuse of the child and by default the mother ( I’m speaking generally here I do get there may be some who can do one without the other - I’m talking in the context of CMS before I get slated!)

BojanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 19-Jul-19 10:35:16


***@BojanaMumsnet***y @BojanaMumsnet**

Does mumsnet get involved out of genuine desire to help or is this something that you have been paid to promote?


No, we don't get paid at all by Parliament's team for doing these - we just think it's useful and relevant for MNers and are happy to help the Parliament team spread the word.

Hairwizard Fri 19-Jul-19 12:09:19

Former civil servant here who worked in csa under the 2003 scheme (new rules) then trained over to cms 2012 scheme.

So i was there when they announced the new changes and consultation papers were released. I and pretty much all of my colleagues all agreed it was never going to work when they announced bringing in charges for applications; the reason being the service level no where near good enough.
Management were too focussed on stats and targets, to the detriment of whats actually going on with cases.
The actual system we were retrained on meant that cases didnt stay with a particular case officer to see a task through. Was nothing worse than dealing with a quite rightly upset parent and assuring them of xyz only to find that the case had been moved to another queue to be dealt with.
I also feel its too easy for the paying parent to avoid paying through job hopping and self employed were quite frankly a fucking joke. Again nothing worse than having parents on phone cos they are getting a pittance while the paying parent is jetting off on 4 hols a year and living life of riley.
Hows that fair to those children??

Hairwizard Fri 19-Jul-19 12:13:03

And wrt to chasing unpaid debt, was always my understsnding that while those children may no longer qualify for maintenance they were still entitled to any arrears accrued regardless of what system they were on. I know when the change over happened letters were issued asking if parents wanted arrears pursuing. Has that changed since??

MondeoFan Fri 19-Jul-19 12:49:47

Nothing but problems in the 4.5 years I've been dealing with them. Unfortunately my DD father also has 2 children with another ex partner and at one point I hadn't received any money for 6 months or more but when I telephoned CMS I was told they hadn't received any money from the paying parent, when I called again and spoke to someone else I found out it's because the other ex parent had been getting all the money for her DC and apparently "the computer" hadn't shared it out fairly.
So I agree with that it largely depends on who you get to speak to.
Then I got a lump sum but still didn't receive any more money for a period of time when I telephone they said the money was meant to be on automatic allocation but it wasn't therefore I needed to wait further until someone got around to doing it. Why can't it just be a case of pressing a simple button on a computer

chilling19 Fri 19-Jul-19 12:51:08

I was lucky in that my maintenance was set up via the magistrates court (a long time ago now). My ex tried it on, and a warrant was issued immediately, he appeared in court and was told to go to the ATM and get the arrears, bring it back to the court that day. He only missed a couple of payments in the intervening years and an automatic letter was sent to me and him asking why, with the threat of another warrant. Those were the days, clearly.

Gingerkittykat Fri 19-Jul-19 13:20:34

It was only when I got my MP involved that they actually started seriously pursuing maintenance. He got away with years of non payment.

It was at this point they talked about some kind of enforcement like putting a charge on property for the arrears. Why did they not follow through? Why do the NRP (normally men) never face the legal sanctions that exist. They know how to play the system and create as many delays and problems as possible and that nothing will happen to them.

Even with a DOE in place maintenance is sporadic. Job hopping means a 0 assessment and then months before new payments are set up. Ex then changes job and we are back to square 1 again.

When you watch Judge Judy you see that the Americans have the right attitude and they actually will enforce the payments, including jail for persistent non payers.

The fact the government has not sorted this out proves how low down women and children are on their priorities.

IsItBetter Fri 19-Jul-19 15:03:19

@Hairwizard, the fact you have said what you said and that you worked (or claim to have worked) for the CMS exemplifies the attitude they take to paying parents (or fathers as I'm sure you meant).

Just out of interest, in your experience, how many people working there were male and female? It's well known that CAFCASS and child social services are 86% female... these services which aren't meant to discriminate against any particular party unfortunately dont have a diverse employee group to accomplish this.

Courtney555 Fri 19-Jul-19 16:55:09

My ex deliberately works abroad whilst having a UK home. He's set it up exactly so he's a non UK Tay payer, because he's opted to be paid by the Dutch head office and pays Dutch taxes.

Ridiculously his £250,000 salary is deemed untouchable by the CMS, despite him openly laughing to anyone how this works for him. They calculate his liability as Zero. REMO can't touch him as he is a UK resident, purely listed as a non UK tax payer.

The whole thing would be liable if he were paid by the UK branch. So my child has got zero from this UK father because he chooses to go on a Dutch payroll and work out there. This needs addressing immediately.

Hairwizard Fri 19-Jul-19 16:56:48

I worked for them for 8 years, 2008 to 2016.
Very mixed group of male and female staff, dont think it was heavily male or female.
Most of my colloeagues like myself really tried to do our best for parents, only to end up frustrated at times with how things were set up.
Then you have the select few who didnt give a fuck and i wondered how the hell did they ever get the job??
Never so glad to get out of a job as i was there.
They defo should take enforcement action more seriously too.

Hairwizard Fri 19-Jul-19 16:59:11

And i would add that i used the term paying parent not father as i noticed more and more non resident parents were female and my experience of female paying parents for most part they were worse than the fathers.

Amibeingdaft81 Fri 19-Jul-19 17:12:25


What country did you get divorced in?

Courtney555 Fri 19-Jul-19 17:16:25

Never married....

Amibeingdaft81 Fri 19-Jul-19 17:23:23

If Uk resident than generally has to pay tax on foreign income, which would mean CMS can get involved

Courtney555 Fri 19-Jul-19 17:50:53

Yes...I know. The whole point is that he doesn't have to pay any UK tax on it. He's somehow set himself up via a loophole that enables him to be UK resident, but "non resident for tax purposes".

It's disgusting, my child is literally being denied thousands every year because he made a deliberate choice to work under the umbrella of their Dutch office and be paid via the Dutch tax system. He's a UK resident, flaunting a zero taxable UK income.

This needs to be rectified by parliament immediately.

JoanMavisIcecreamGirl Fri 19-Jul-19 20:56:55

Continuing support until parental contributions end (25 I think) makes sense

Im 23 and have a house, fiance and child. Id be frankly embarrased to have mummy and daddy paying for me at 25. 18 is fine.

Nobody has to go to university. Its a choice and therefore you cant expect contributions from anyone towards it.

JoanMavisIcecreamGirl Fri 19-Jul-19 21:02:45

My experience is that the cms are actually a bit useless. As pp said we got different info every time. Never got a call back, ever.

More training needed in general.

Dp found them massively dismissive of him. They seemed to take everything his ex said as gospel but he had to send in 10s of documents to prove all sorts because they wouldn't take his word for it.

His ex denied that their child lived with us and was believed. We had to prove otherwise.

When their child moved back with her nobpdy even consulted dp about it just sent him a letter closing his claim and then another with his payments to her.

A big issue is that payment is partly based on contact but number of nights.

Makes no sense as a child could be at the paying parents house 8am - 8pm 7 days a week but that parent would pay the resident parent the full amount as if they had no access at all. We found ex used this against us and access she demanded was 7am - 9pm 2 days a week and only one over night rather than 3 because she knew more overnights meant less maintenance.

Also think payments should take into consideration both paying and reciving parents income.

JoanMavisIcecreamGirl Fri 19-Jul-19 21:21:29

Completely disagree that futher children shouldn't get taken into consideration. If that happens it would just further cement the view that second families are second class citizens and only deserve the dregs of what's left.

Bubbletrouble43 Fri 19-Jul-19 21:40:23

Haha glad you asked. My ex left me in 1999 with a 1 year old. He had regular weekend access and a fixed address barely 10 miles away. Despite holding all his details, in over 12 years the CMS or whatever they were called in those days failed to get a penny from him. And before you ask, he was emotionally abusive and flatly refused to give me a penny. Apparently by 2010ish he owed me many thousands and I got regular letters saying this or that was being done but never received fuck all. I don't know if you're asking about the era I refer to but I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that in my experience the relevant office was worse than useless, literally the most hapless and shit organisation I've ever encountered. Oh the irony when I nearly got threatened with prison for missing a council tax payment. 18 years , bigger sum of money by far, and he pays nothing and receives no consequences. What a load of utter shite.

Bubbletrouble43 Fri 19-Jul-19 21:41:40

Think my opinion is irrelevant but gawd that felt good to get off my chest!

Gingerkittykat Fri 19-Jul-19 22:27:49

I got a payment for £9 today. I've had payments between 0 and £300 a month with no explanation why or notice of the change. This is collect and pay.

Nat6999 Sat 20-Jul-19 02:27:45

Why when the CSA moved over to CMS did all claimants have to reclaim? I was getting my payments every 2 weeks no problem but my ex husband wouldn't agree to a new claim through CMS, said he would give me the money. That was over 2 years ago & I haven't received a penny. Why should the fact my ex husband gets over £300 per week in benefits mean that I am only due to £7 a week CMS payment if I could actually get him to pay? If he was working, I would get £45 a week. My son still needs the same amount of clothing, shoes, school expenses, yet my ex husband doesn't give any contribution to them. The CMS service is a joke & having to pay to use it is an even bigger joke, it is time it was returned to the courts to handle, it was a much better service.

Graphista Sat 20-Jul-19 03:25:08

"If that happens it would just further cement the view that second families are second class citizens and only deserve the dregs of what's left." Rubbish! The precise OPPOSITE is the reality! Older children for whom cm is due are CONSTANTLY treated as if they should be grateful for whatever crumbs of affection, practical support or financial support they get from the nrp while second families enjoy all of that and more!

JoanMavisIcecreamGirl Sat 20-Jul-19 08:07:09

That is my experience at all.

In fact thats a massive generalisation and actually pretty offensive. To infer that all nrps give not a shit about their older kids and swan off and have babies?

Maybe some do. Not all. Probably not even the majority.

The reduction for another child living in the household, btw, was literally pennies for us. 96p a week less or something like that.

The impression i get is that dps first and only priority are his "first family" and me and ds his "second family" should fend for ourselves. We should be grateful for any time or money he spends with us and oh because we have two wages coming in i should spend on my step child too because obv yeno were loaded.

Thats certainly the view of his ex, his parents and most of MN.

Thankfully he doesnt share that view and we actually work things out like a normal family. Not one split into two competing for dps cash. That seems to be how it is in a lot of step families because of this bizarre expectation that you should support your ex and kids for life and never dare move on.

llfamily Sat 20-Jul-19 10:51:12

The CMS absolutely must have teeth... so an effective deterrent to non-payers. I have no idea what. But the painful reality of (mostly women) and their children enduring containing deprivation cannot continue. It's sad that it seems 'acceptable' to avoid paying for your children.


- increase income tax
- short prison stay
- take driving licence away
- criminal record?

I know it will be tricky to implement a strategy that doesn't actually prevent a person working. But it can't be impossible.

I think we need a shift in thinking that makes not paying for your own children as shameful as smoking.

llfamily Sat 20-Jul-19 10:54:09

Can the CMS threaten to take away goods and sell them? Luke expensive cars, etc?

Amibeingdaft81 Sat 20-Jul-19 11:07:13

*increase income tax *
*- short prison stay*
*- take driving licence away *
- criminal record? **

Would backfire
Earning prospects diminished even terminated if criminal record
No licence perhaps means no work and may mean struggles to collect etc children
Increase income tax - adds yet another layer to our tax structure and present image that tax is a punishment rather than a society contribution

Solution I think is

Deductions from pay by hmrc

If self employed - then they automatically get investigated if CMS involved. Annually.

Amibeingdaft81 Sat 20-Jul-19 11:09:15

*Can the CMS threaten to take away goods and sell them? Luke expensive cars, etc?*

No but would be good if they could appoint bailiffs

Hairyhat Sat 20-Jul-19 11:19:33

I've asked no less than 6 times to use collect and pay. I've sent in my bank statements for a year to prove how little I have received from my ex. They know I am frightened of him. They also know about the huge arrears but yet nothing ever changes.
The CMS is a shambles. Children are suffering while greedy non resident parents get off Scott free!

Graphista Sat 20-Jul-19 11:39:31

IN THEORY cms can

Take money from earnings
Take money direct from bank account

Via court:
Send in bailiffs
Seize and sell property to cover costs

In reality - I have never ever once heard of this ever actually happening nor seen a news report of it happening.

I know very many cases of nrps not paying maintenance and using every loophole they can to not pay or at best not pay consistently.

Quite honestly it's somewhat a moot point whether action impeded the nrps ability to earn as if they're not paying anyway this doesn't affect the child or rp and it would certainly incentivise the less entrenched or more cowardly non payers to stop pissing about!

I KNOW my ex definitely would have paid up if there were a clear disincentive not to do so. He was in the armed forces initially and at first his original boss (who I knew) was helpful in kicking his butt once he knew, but when he moved to another posting the boss there was also an nrp and was an unhelpful arse! Then when he left the forces he claimed not to be working for over a year - which turned out to be a lie - and then it took AGES for (then) csa to get on the case properly and then when I got moved to cms it was basically a case of starting all over again!

So yea, for an nrp who paid up at the first roar from his boss I strongly suspect if he thought there was even a CHANCE of losing his precious flash car or having to explain to wife 2 why bailiffs were at the door LET ALONE prison (where he really wouldn't last 5 mins!) I think if the cms got and bared some teeth more often and more publicly it would motivate a lot of non payers.

NotBeingRobbed Sat 20-Jul-19 12:58:20

So often the CMS money is used as a means of control by the NRP. For example threatening to cut off money at any time. The reality is this money does not cover the cost of raising a child. Try feeding, clothing and most of all housing a child on this money. The RP will always be paying much more and making greater sacrifices so to feel like you are then asking for a handout and that it could be cut off at any time is galling. The NRPs are able to get away with dodging responsibilities for years and nobody seems to care that children are losing out.

ineedaknittedhat Sat 20-Jul-19 17:25:16

How to avoid paying child support:

Quit your job.

Find a new partner.

Go 'self employed'. Something involving lots of cash transactions or get business put in partner's name and get her to pay you pennies.

Claim you're earning nothing.

Dodge tax and cms payments.

Have a nice lifestyle and foreign annual holiday.

Bob's your uncle (he probably avoids paying too).

BobTheDuvet Sat 20-Jul-19 20:28:49

Exactly the same thing has happened to me as to zillapilla - I was told that due to repeated missed payments collect and pay would be set up. I got a letter confirming the bank details I had given them to enable it. Then I got a message to call them, called and the person said they had no idea why I'd been asked to call, collect and pay all set up to start from the 1st July.

Then another message to call them, and this time they said nrp had said he will pay direct, and they have accepted this. I said I didn't want direct pay because he uses it to try to control me and doesn't pay. I asked why they were allowing it when collect and pay had been set up. The person said collect and pay has not been set up. I asked why they had sent a letter confirming my bank details, he just said collect and pay was not set up, and nrp will pay before the annual review in August.

No payment received so far.

I had felt good about it being one less thing he could use to threaten me/coerce/contact me about. And now I'm back to square one and he can mess us around for a bit longer.

ZillaPilla Sat 20-Jul-19 23:17:48

Wow @BobTheDuvet exactly the same scenario (aren't we just lucky!). Let us know the outcome. They said they'd call me next week and explain. I said someone should be accountable for accepting his word when he's ignoring everything so far.

MyShinyWhiteTeeth Sun 21-Jul-19 02:48:24

I don't get any maintenance because I don't want 50/50 shared care. I know my ex will push for that if I try to get any money off him. We are better off struggling for money each month than forcing him to be a parent.

Rainbowqueeen Sun 21-Jul-19 03:12:16

In Australia when you go to the airport to go abroad and customs scan your passport the system flags any child maintenance debt. You are not permitted to fly until the debt is cleared.

Just one of the tools that could be used to obtain payment from non payers.

Ella1980 Sun 21-Jul-19 06:30:09

How does an abusive and controlling narcissist ex-husband who was awarded 50:50 shared care and earning in excess of £105k pa not have to pay anything in the way of maintenance for his children?

The financial struggles I have had to face since leaving him in 2014 have been unreal.

JoanMavisIcecreamGirl Sun 21-Jul-19 07:52:08

How does an abusive and controlling narcissist ex-husband who was awarded 50:50 shared care and earning in excess of £105k pa not have to pay anything in the way of maintenance for his children?

Because he has them 50% of the time? Why would you even expect maintenance??

NotBeingRobbed Sun 21-Jul-19 08:01:50

The truth is if an absent parent doesn’t pay then the families that are really struggling will rely on tax credits and benefits. Why does our government think it’s more acceptable to hand out taxpayers’ cash than to enforce payment by parents for their own families? A proper enforcement regime would mean families were better off AND reduce public expenditure.

JoanMavisIcecreamGirl Sun 21-Jul-19 08:06:30

The truth is if an absent parent doesn’t pay then the families that are really struggling will rely on tax credits and benefits

Families who are entitled to benefits get them regardless of whether they recieve maintenance or not. Maintenance is not taken into account when assessing eligibility for benefits, so enforcing payment of maintenance will not reduce payments of benefits.

NeverTwerkNaked Sun 21-Jul-19 08:07:21


In Australia when you go to the airport to go abroad and customs scan your passport the system flags any child maintenance debt. You are not permitted to fly until the debt is cleared.*.

This would be an excellent system. My ex regularly stops paying/delays paying whenever he decides he would rather spend the money on an expensive holiday instead

DropOfffArtiste Sun 21-Jul-19 09:30:04

Resident parents are not all receiving benefits and better enforcement of maintenance would be fairer to everyone.

If children were adequately supported by both their parents there would be less need for benefit claims.

Avoidance of maintenance and lack of contact should be treated as child neglect, exactly the same as if the RP didn't feed, clothe or emotionally support the child.

Jaffacakebeast Sun 21-Jul-19 10:00:44

Sorry to derail, but for those of you wanting collect and pay, the Cms dragging their feet : if u can afford to miss a few mths : call your bank and block payments from your ex, then they’ll be in arrears and collect and pay can kick in, this is what I did, what I was advised to2 via the Cms

NotBeingRobbed Sun 21-Jul-19 10:04:46

What I mean is lots of absent NRPs don’t pay because they think the taxpayer will pick up the bill. Meanwhile they have new cars, flash holidays etc.

RamsayBoltonsConscience Sun 21-Jul-19 10:09:32

The CMS are not fit for purpose when it comes to non-paying parents. They do not have enough teeth e.g. my ex claims he is not working even though he lives in a static caravan on his bosses land and I have evidence (that I have sent to CMS) that he IS working. He is earning so much that he has been able to take two trips to NZ in the last two years while I'm working two jobs to make ends meet. The rules in Australia mean that non-paying parents aren't able to leave the country until all arrears are cleared. Why don't we have that? The CMS need greater powers!

JoanMavisIcecreamGirl Sun 21-Jul-19 13:34:06

If children were adequately supported by both their parents there would be less need for benefit claims

There wouldn't because if the rp is entitled to benefits they get them whether they get cm or not. Do you really think people wont claim what theyre entitled to?

DropOfffArtiste Sun 21-Jul-19 14:13:20

If maintenance was paid in every case, without fail, then it could be included as income for benefit purposes. The reason it isn't, is that so many NRPs don't pay.

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