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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:"

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

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