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MNHQ here: free advice clinic with Gingerbread on the Child Maintenance Service

(30 Posts)
BojanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 26-Jun-20 16:20:19

Mumsnet and single parent charity Gingerbread are teaming up to provide specialist advice on Child Maintenance. You may have already seen this week that Mumsnet, Gingerbread and the Good Law Project are supporting a legal action against the DWP about the Child Maintenance Service’s failure to collect payments.

Gingerbread’s helpline team will answer questions and advise on the options available to you via the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

The clinic will take place on this thread in the form of a Q&A session from today, Friday 26 June. It will cover issues like:
- Information on entitlement to child maintenance
- Information and advice on different options for making child support arrangements
- Information on how to claim child support through the statutory Child Maintenance Service (CMS) and what to expect from the CMS
- Information on how child maintenance is calculated and what income and capital is taken into account.
- Information on how child maintenance affects benefits payments
- Advice on challenging an incorrect decision
- Advice on what you can do if the child maintenance is not being paid

About Gingerbread

The Gingerbread Helpline is a well established advice line for single parents with primary or shared care of children. We provide advice, information and signposting are on a broad range of issues affecting single parents including: welfare benefits; child maintenance; family law; and coronavirus related issues. However, the Helpline is unable to undertake casework or representations.


Gingerbread Advisers endeavour to provide accurate and up to date advice on Child Maintenance, however this advice is for general guidance on your rights and responsibilities only and is not legal advice. If you need more details on your rights or legal advice about what action to take, please contact a specialist adviser or solicitor.

Support Gingerbread with the legal case:

Gingerbread are a small charity with limited resources, any contribution you can make to support the costs of supporting this case would be much appreciated. You can donate at

You can also help by raising awareness about the case via the following channels –
- Showing your support social media using #FixTheCMS hashtag
- Sharing our CMS content across the own networks to build momentum around the campaign
- Writing to your local MP to suggest they offer their support via our Do Gooder campaign which can be accessed via
- Follow @gingerbread on twitter - @gingerbreadcharity on Instagram, @Gingerbread on Facebook for all the latest updates on the campaign, help us to raise awareness throughout the campaign by sharing our tweets and social posts across your networks too.
- Pledge your support for the #FixTheCMS case here:

For more information on how you can support, please visit

post edited to add another supporter link for the #FixtheCMS campaign

OP’s posts: |
Binterested Fri 26-Jun-20 18:27:32

Great idea 👍🏻

Timeforsinging81 Fri 26-Jun-20 21:32:29

I have a question. My ex is long term unemployed, refuses to seek work and doesn't receive JSA as he doesn't have enough qualifying years of NI. He is currently living off his savings (30k approx) and is running a 'business' buying and selling junk on eBay/Gumtree. Is there any point in applying for CM? Or any way to get him to contribute towards his children? From his savings? There's no chance of coming to an agreement ourselves (non mol order in place) and he is costing me a fortune in legal fees atm too.

chocolatespiders Sat 27-Jun-20 00:40:56

I would like to know if someones calculation for maintenance is based on say £10.000 a year but they then earn £15.000 that year do the CMS somehow recoup the money that is owed on the higher earnings?
Thank you

surlycurly Sat 27-Jun-20 09:21:10

My ex has moved to Norway. How do I get payments from him when he eventually starts working? He's not paying anything at the moment and I doubt he'll suddenly volunteer to when he finally gets a job.

JeSuisPoulet Sat 27-Jun-20 16:33:05

I stopped asking for maintenance when I received a letter from CSM saying I would have to go to mediation with my ex to continue to claim. He was only paying the minimum as it was (his pay magically dropped around 45k after the hearing) and when we had the court hearing several years before I had requested to sit apart from him due to his aggression which the judge noted and also let us leave separately.

I just saw this thread pop up and thought I would check this is still the case in 2020?

StrawberryJam200 Sat 27-Jun-20 17:48:23

Well done Gingerbread!

notlonguntilchristmas Sat 27-Jun-20 18:07:20

Question please. My ex has never paid any maintenance, although I have made 3 applications. He has a home in the UK, works for a UK employer and is ex-armed forces (pension) - but by travelling abroad a lot and declaring himself non-resident, he seems to be able to avoid providing any support for his son. Is there anything I can do?

Burnshersmurfs Sat 27-Jun-20 22:38:15

My ex is Italian and lives and banks mainly in Italy, but works internationally for a Cruise ship company as a consultant. what hope do I have of getting regular maintenance? at the moment I get it irregularly on a voluntary basis, but it's very much used as a weapon of control.

CodenameLevonelle Sun 28-Jun-20 08:08:30

My ex is furloughed on 80% of his usual salary. He is paying 10% of what he should. CMS have also recalculated based on HMRC records of the last 3 months saying he has had a drop in salary but it's not the 25% drop needed to reduce their calculations but won't elaborate. How can I find out if this is correct if the CMS won't tell me the facts? Also, how can I ensure they do pursue him for the arrears and not write it off?

Aeris1 Sun 28-Jun-20 08:33:11

My ex works 0 hour contracts for a few companies and just reduces his hours to 0 when a deduction of earnings order is set up and increases his hours at another job. He has been doing this for nearly 5 years. My little boy is lucky to get two small payments a year and the ex has built up a lot arrears. I have spoken to the CMS they call him a job hopper and say they can put things in place but never do. How is waiting 5 years to get this sorted out an acceptable way for the CMS to work. It's a rubbish system. Fortunately I don't need my ex partners money but some families do and it's disgusting that children miss out because fathers dodge paying for them.

SometimesImABirdbrain Sun 28-Jun-20 11:58:10

My ex-DH is on a low income at the moment which he uses as an excuse to pay zero maintenance but lives off high rental income from property assets worth £2m. Is it right that I can't claim any of that from him for our 4 children?

It is also grossly unfair that he can argue that since we have a 50:50 arrangement, he doesn't need to pay child maintenance. So yes, he is covering food and utilities (heating etc) when they are with him but that is it and extremely negligible given he does not pay a penny towards all the other very significant living costs e.g school dinners, uniforms, clothing, school trips, their phones bills. I cover all those on top of my share of food/utilities etc. I'm lucky to be able to afford it myself but that is not the point.

22WR Mon 29-Jun-20 09:46:53

My ex partner has over £10,000 of arrears across the old CSA or newer CMS. It feels like I have to constantly chase the CMS for them to even make any attempts at seeking any payments. They have told me as they're unable to ascertain an address there's nothing they can do right now, however I have provided accurate details that he is residing with his father. Previously I've also given them details of when he's been living with a partner. I don't know what else to do.

Melbest89 Tue 30-Jun-20 11:48:30

My ex partner earns 46k for a hgv company so he has been working all through the pandemic, but as soon as lock down happened he stopped paying support of £540.93 a month which includes arreas that have been on for 10+ years. I chased him for payments but has been very non compliant. During thus time its has come to my attention that not also does he work full time but also works partime for his self employed business since jan2020 that he has failed to mention to cms
or even to HMRC, i have had to inform them. CMS have not done anything about either issues. I have always had problems with either late payment or non payments but yet CMS comes down on the paying parents side after I managed to get DOE put in last July through non payments the NRP kicked up a fuss and CMS reverted in back to direct pay and advised me and him if he was late paying or a short full in payments again it would go DOE no questions asked, unfortunatley when this happened again and I informed CMS of this, they advised that was illegal and could not be done and had to follow there procedures for non payment. I do not understand why when we was moved over from CSA to CMS why the DOE did not follow over to as he had one in place with CSA due to nonpayment and non complience. All this has done is caused financial difficulties for my family, when he has a legal right to help support our children but chosses not too and he gets away with it cause he can play the game and know nothing will happen to enforce payments etc. I want to know will once everything is back up and running will enforcement happen to collect all that is owed or will it just add to the arreas to the next annual review and take more years to pay off. 10 years is along time for arreas to be still on account.

Dancingdayo Tue 30-Jun-20 11:56:34

Sorry long post

September 2017 I applied to CMS, because my self employed ex had decided to stop paying our family agreement of £260 a month, and suggested I go to CMS.

During this time he had just moved his new girlfriend in (three months later she was his wife) Anyway, tax return showed earnings of under £10k which I knew was incorrect, he was actually the one who suggested paying £260 a month years before because he knew he earned so much more.

I requested MR, then variation on the grounds he was diverting income both declined but I had evidence of his business contracts, pervious earnings and also that he'd paid for his house cash, and that his girlfriend used an alias on his business as administrator. All were declined not enough evidence, so, I requested it was sent to financial investigation unit. A year later I had a letter saying the investigation had been completed and they found earnings of over £115k. He disputed it obviously and that's when he applied to tribunal. The CMS backdated my claim and my arreas are now over £22k.

During this time, October 2019 my ex has changed his self employed status to limited company and his wife is also director.

9th January 2020 - My ex attended the first hearing with his wife, who is representing him and is not an accountant. I didn't attend because they forgot to send me a letter; it didn't matter as they gave him directions, there was nothing for me to do at this stage.

The directions were to provide the following:-
- Evidence of income and expenditure tax year 2016/17
- all bank statements for all accounts held, jointly and solely that show transactions from April 16 - December 17
- Mr ...... Should provide a narrative to explain any deposits into the accounts

He was given 28 days to provide this information, he requested an extension which was granted but only 7 days, and he requested I didn't get to see the bank statements but that was declined. CMS then had 28 days from the receipt of the information to check their evidence against the FIU findings and send any new information in; if they felt they were incorrect etc.

I received copies of all evidence sent in, my ex only produced the bank statements with no explanation, no evidence of income and expenditure and the statement clearly show over £115k deposited into his account. The evidence of the house Purchase was shown on the statements and he pays large amounts to his wife reference 'Admin' and when I say large I mean £6k a month for admin.

Due to covid this has now been on hold but finally last week I received an email stating they are back on my case, and I should have a date soon. 🤞🏼🤞🏼

What worries me now is during covid he's had to claim the first two months due to not working (understandably) so CMS say he's claimed UC on his tax return of £10k plus he's also now received self employment grant but I'm still on a nil assessment. He's told me himself that he is back in work, but obviously no records of earnings because he's a new limited company. Is this down to me now to prove his earnings? I really don't want to go through all this again. Now he knows there's been an investigation, he's switched on to all the loopholes even more so, hence why his wife is now company director and it will be very difficult for me to prove anything.

I have recently wrote to my MP who has replied instantly saying she is happy to help and I've completed a data protection form for for her to speak on my behalf.

Is there anything else I should be doing?

nancybotwinbloom Tue 30-Jun-20 13:03:15


My situation is alli at exactly the same as yours.

I was told I will have to apply every year and go through the same court hearings and financial records if he contests it like like did this year.

Did writing to your mp help at all?

I've considered writing to my own mp but I'm struggling with how to write it.

Hope you get the outcome you need x

Dancingdayo Tue 30-Jun-20 13:21:03


As if by magic after writing this post this morning, I've had a call from CMS - someone had picked up my complaint via my email to my MP and have been asked to deal with it urgently. They have confirmed my ex is back working but they are waiting on a reply from the benefit office with date before making any changes. They have stated I will be put back on my original payment plan of £172pw and I not have to go through this process again. Fingers crossed this is the case. Just need the tribunal date now.

nancybotwinbloom Tue 30-Jun-20 13:43:07

That's really good news. You must be pleased.
Sometimes it does work out and they shouldn't be left to accrue debt no one will do anything about.

Well done you for getting there grin

Dancingdayo Tue 30-Jun-20 14:20:52


I would definitely recommend emailing your MP and copy in

Good luck with your case X

nancybotwinbloom Tue 30-Jun-20 14:30:41

Would you mind if I pm'd you as if you wouldn't mind I'd really appreciate a few pointers on how to write it?

shitwithsugaron Tue 30-Jun-20 15:11:42

My exH has a DC (that he's never met hmm) and has paid maintenance for as long as I've known him. He job hops a lot and has built up arrears of around 4K last time I was aware. We've got an arrangement he sticks to 'when he has the money' and also doesn't pay me when the CMS take more from him due to his arrears. When I've spoken to him about it, he said if I apply for maintenance I'll get nothing because he already has a DC and is in arrears with that maintenance. Is this correct?

Dancingdayo Tue 30-Jun-20 15:30:23


That's fine 👍 happy to help if I can

denise69 Tue 30-Jun-20 15:57:39

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denise69 Tue 30-Jun-20 16:00:15

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NameForAChange Tue 30-Jun-20 16:20:23

Thanks for doing this!
After I split from exH, it took a few years for the divorce to be finalised, during which time he frequently missed or delayed maintenance payments. He also set himself up as self employed. As a result it was court ordered as part of divorce that he would pay a set amount monthy for 2 years from the date of the divorce. The agreement expires in Sept this year.

I know there is no chance of him being honest with me about his current income, or of being able to agree a new amount amicably.

When should I contact the CMS? Can I do it before the court order expires? I am worried that if I leave it until September it will take a while to sort out and I will be left without maintenance again.

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