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MNHQ here: Tell us what you think about the Child Maintenance Service

(176 Posts)
BojanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 08-Aug-16 10:56:01


The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry into the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) and its effectiveness in ensuring regular payments for children and will consider recommendations to improve the service overall.

The Committee is inviting submissions addressing the following points:

* How well is the CMS performing for children and parents? How could it be improved?

* What problems do parents face – both for the parent with care and the non-resident parent?

* Are levels of child maintenance set correctly?

* What powers does the CMS have and how effectively are they used? How effective is enforcement action?

* What will happen to CSA arrears or unresolved cases when parents move to the new CMS?

* How might the CMS deal with any weaknesses or loopholes in the old CSA system?

* Are there any opportunities for Government departments to work together to ensure regular payment?

* Is there any international evidence on ways of ensuring parents regularly contribute to their children’s maintenance payments?

Please share your thoughts and experiences below, or if you prefer, you can respond directly to the Committee via this link.

Please note that the deadline for submissions is Monday 5 September 2016.


Castasunder Mon 08-Aug-16 11:51:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ayeokthen Mon 08-Aug-16 12:05:02

Too many loopholes, not enough effort to find out XH actual income, too willing to believe his lies and never actually had a payment due to him constantly coming up with excuses. Ended up closing the claim as I only started it to prove to him there's more to being a parent than rocking up once a fortnight with a happy meal. We're fortunate enough not to need the money, my DP provides for my son and always has. But when I was a single parent I really could have used the extra money towards my son, and I'm sure there are millions of resident parents in the same boat. In my opinion a non resident parent who doesn't contribute meaningfully towards their child's life (emotionally as well as financially) should face heavy heavy penalties, this might act as more of a deterrent for deadbeat parents.

Topknob Mon 08-Aug-16 12:10:25

£165 a month for 4 children.

They believe his self employed figures hmrc have.

I have told them he has more in other one cares.

I did ask CMS what would happen if I just paid £165 a month to my kids care? That was amusing.

VimFuego101 Mon 08-Aug-16 12:12:00

I think they need to take a look at the US system, which actually has some teeth - if a NRP doesn't pay, they can (and do) lose their drivers license or go to prison.

DH had to deal with them as a resident parent - on one occasion he called them up and (presumably due to him being male) they refused to discuss anything with him until he gave them a card number to pay arrears. Unfortunately it was his ex wife who owed the arrears, not him, he was just calling to chase them up. We moved abroad 5 years ago and the child support case was closed and dealt with in the country where we now live. Despite the CSA writing to confirm this, they still send letters to both DH and his ex wife (both no longer in the UK) asking her to make payments and letting him know what she owes him. Total clusterfuck.

ElsaAintAsColdAsMe Mon 08-Aug-16 12:19:51

I made an enquiry into claiming from my ex.

1- they couldn't guarantee him not being able to get my address from them, so I can't claim (I was in a refuge and he doesn't know where we are)

2- I was told he wouldn't have to pay for 4 children, the limit is on 3.

3 - despite the fact my options are severely limited due to my daughters adhd and my son needing a lot of appointments he would still have had to pay the same.

4 - because he has a girlfriend with children the money he would have to pay for mine would be reduced as he would be considered financially responsible for them although he isn't related to them.

The last 3 aren't actually relevant to me because of the first point I can't claim anything anyway.

The whole system is a joke.

CrazyDuchess Mon 08-Aug-16 12:41:32

Not fit for purpose!

justjuanmorebeer Mon 08-Aug-16 12:46:30

When I opened my case with them and opted for a 'direct pay' option I was specifically told that at any time either party can choose to switch to collect and pay.

This is a complete lie. After my ex has been messing me around with payments for the last year I asked to move to C&P. Turns out they don't think that being completely financially controlling/manipulative with the payments is enough to warrant a change. Why was I told that I could change over whenever I wanted?

Why should he be allowed to pay late/part pay every single month with no consequences just because he likes the power?

They provide a 7 day window for payments to arrive and will not even talk to you until this time has passed. Paying parents know this and use this to be financially abusive.

Get rid of the window. Make the deadline the deadline. Much simpler. Then if even one late payment, they get one warning, once, then it goes to collect and pay.

My ex always underpays every single month. Because it is a small amount CMS say there is NOTHING I can do.

Not really sure what protection I have that I didn't have on a family based arrangement? I would like it to be explained.

The system is not fit for purpose and needs tightening!

I heard a rumour that when Universal Credit comes in they will take maintenence payments as monthly income. How can this ever happen if the payments can never be depended on or enforced? I would like a definitive answer on that please HMRC

megletthesecond Mon 08-Aug-16 12:57:08

I've got my letter saying my CSA is closing soon so I need to arrange what happens next.

Well, I would if I wasn't so scared of the potential fall out that I've left it for months. I'm cutting back on my food in an attempt to squirrel money away. The new service is really risky for people who have had abusive partners.

Redken24 Mon 08-Aug-16 13:20:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Topknob Mon 08-Aug-16 13:26:44


Just extra money....yeah that's all it is.

Doesn't help towards feeding their child/ren, paying utility bills, paying for school uniforms and trips, paying for fuel to get children to school.

Unlockable Mon 08-Aug-16 13:32:51

I have a feeling this is going towns up with child maintenance payments being taken into account when assessing tax credits etc

So my message to The government is this
You've tried it before, it ended up in many women being vulnerable to their abusive ex's and lots of children going without. The game playing some NRP played was outrageous. Please don't do this again

There is no one way that will work with all situations as the dynamic of each spilt is completely different.

Claraoswald36 Mon 08-Aug-16 13:38:28

They need to be given more resources/powers over self employed nrp. Exh is trying to hide income as we speak.

Claraoswald36 Mon 08-Aug-16 13:40:04

And 'extra money' ha. Really.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Mon 08-Aug-16 13:45:48

Redken- trust me, DS takes up a damn sight more than 30% of my income so why should his father pay less?

I'm not sure if the CMS genuinely doesn't have any power or if the "advisors" just can't be arsed to do any work.

Ex pays the weekly amount set by the CMS. That weekly amount does not equal the annual amount set by that same CMS (hell, the two amounts are on the same letter). The CMS will not ask him to pay the short fall even though I was told originally that he would be asked to. I assume I was told originally that he would so they didn't have to bother recalculating and sending out a new letter, then told they wouldn't do it because I phoned on a Friday afternoon and they couldn't be arsed.

I don't know. It's nice to have something official there, but something with some actual power to act staffed by people prepared to do the job would be better.

I also think financially controlling and abusing an ex should be a criminal offence.

megletthesecond Mon 08-Aug-16 13:47:26

Maintenance is hardly extra money. It means the house is warm, the dc's have good food and I can afford swimming lessons and the odd day out. We're hardly living a life of luxury.

ElsaAintAsColdAsMe Mon 08-Aug-16 13:57:21

Why should it be means tested?

Surely both parents should be paying toward the child/ren regardless of the finances of the rp.

'Extra' money will only benefit the kids.

StarsandSparkles Mon 08-Aug-16 14:03:07

The child maintenance service needs a total shake up. My ex has refused to engage with them and even though the payments are taken direct from his bank he is still able to mess around the payments by transferring money from his other accounts. Its his son that suffers not me

hippydippybaloney Mon 08-Aug-16 14:08:02

It should NOT be means tested. Why the hell should the NRP get away with paying less for their child regardless of of the RP's income? The resident parent's income and circumstances are entirely irrelevant to the fact that it is the NRP's responsibility to pay for the child they too made.

Personally my recent experience with the csa was fine. The NRP tried to lie about how often he had the children and they were going to put a dispute in. I explained the ins and outs to them and they took a reasonable, practical approach and refused his request do dispute but gave him a right to appeal. It was enough to shut him up and he's paying now. The common sense was refreshing, and the case handler was lovely. I haven't used the CMS yet though.

I don't care how he pays his bills with the rest of the money. Just like he didn't care how I paid for the children for the years he dodged paying. His budgeting is his issue.

DH is also the NRP and we pay over the csa minimum, plus extras, by agreement and not csa etc. We didn't decrease the amount when he moved in with me and my children. He brought his children into the world and he wants to properly support them. We increase without prompting with any pay rise etc. It doesn't make him a hero or a super dad, it makes him a man who lives up to his responsibilities.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Mon 08-Aug-16 14:13:18

Dear Government,

We are a NMW family who receive Tax Credits. Taking TCs from us because my ex pays the legal bare minimum would push us in to poverty.

I suggest that if you are going to link it to TCs you need to look at means testing the NRP and getting them to make up the shortfall.

At the moment, after paying the legal bare minimum, my ex still has almost as much per week as DP earns in a month. For him to pay the extra £60 p/w we currently get in TCs would be perfectly doable.

You also need to make sure you account for families where the NRP is financially abusive and have systems in place to deal with them. If you take someone's TCs and then the NRP doesn't pay on time (because they get away with it) you could be causing a lot of hardship to children who have done nothing wrong.

Thank you.

SheHasAWildHeart Mon 08-Aug-16 15:27:47

Spent years getting nowhere with CSA - their letters didn't make sense or reflect my situation, they kept writing to exH asking him how much he earned, I gave them his national insurance number & address of employment so they could have found out his earnings via HMRC as his employer is a large global retail firm. Got absolutely nowhere with CSA. I got no maintenance from exH eventhough I was entitled to it, he was working etc - CSA did nothing to help me get maintenance.

I was then told to call Child Maintenance Service and open a new case. Went through all the questions all over again. Paid £20. I wanted Collect & Pay, but was pushed into Direct Pay with the reassurance that if payments weren't made on time or in full then CMS would step in. The didn't want to accept that I knew exH better and that Collect & Pay would be better for me; regardless of the fees being taken off, I would still get more this way, it'd be guaranteed and arrive in my account on time.

Now exH knows how to play the system. He paid within the 5 days, but not the full amount. Called CMS and was told that I had to send him a text message requesting full payment. Explained that he was an abusive, aggressive and nasty man and any text he sent me back would be upsetting. I was told no, we won't do anything until you've texted him and received a nasty text back. Right, thank you for putting a vulnerable single mother in that situation.

Once exH realises that CMS actually have no power and won't do anything to chase him he will stop paying. This has been going on for 5 years and I don't have the energy to continue calling CMS and made to feel like this. I can barely afford DD's new school uniform and dinner money - despite working full-time. The posts above make me think it's a battle that's not going to get easier.

I have no idea what's happened to the arrears he's supposed to have paid. I would prefer CMS to make Collect & Pay easier. I will call them at the end of this week and if I don't get anywhere I will just leave it. My daughter might be poor, but she'll be loved, whilst her selfish drives around in a different sports car everyday - because that it what the CMS has reduced me to.

justjuanmorebeer Mon 08-Aug-16 15:38:12

^ it looks as though the things I already mentioned are being experienced by others too. When you open a case with the CMS they definitely claim they will advocate for the receiving parent if things go wrong.

However they don't. At all.

SheHasAWildHeart Mon 08-Aug-16 15:50:27

I feel like asking them for my £20 back!

Maria25 Mon 08-Aug-16 17:55:27

I posted in Parenting but didn't get a response so thought I'd copy and paste in here for advice if that's okay?

Long term lurker, first time poster here smile

I'm was hoping for some advice regarding CMS and was hoping someone who has been in a similar situation would be able to advise how they handled it.
My daughter is 7, she has no formal contact with her dad for 2 years since we split, I have a non-mol order which runs out in January and a 'lives with' court order for my daughter which states she must live with me until she is 18. My ex and mine's relationship was horribly abusive with violence, refuges, police action etc.
In June this year, I opened a case with CMS and asked them to calculate how much ex should be paying me. They contacted him via phone and letter but he didn't engage. They sent me (and I'm assuming him too) a letter which stated how much he should pay me and a schedule for payments to start 1st of August. Great. However, I thought it was unusual as he is a cash in hand worker, never paid taxes or even had a bank account as far as I'm aware so I questioned on what info they had made their calculations. They advised that they had used a national average wage for his profession as they had no financial info from HMRC. He has since opened a dispute and I've had a letter to say he has 14 days to provide more evidence of his income, whether it's more or less or if his income is zero. The advisor said that if he signs a declaration to say his income is nil then they will close the case! My question is what can I do? I know he is earning, he must have some sort of income to support himself surely? Has anyone else had this and if so what did you do?

Thank you for reading X

SheHasAWildHeart Mon 08-Aug-16 18:20:55

If he's getting cash in hand I think they'll want proof he's working but I'm not sure what proof is acceptable. Is there anyway CMS can check NRP bank account?

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