Posted by Patrick Hart, Partner
On 1 September 2016 Withy King LLP merged with Royds LLP. The trading name for the merged firm is Royds Withy King. All content produced prior to this date will remain in the name of the firms pre-merger.
Fairness for families, children and taxpayers as new child maintenance system is launched
A new child maintenance system came into force on 30 June to support more families to work together, while maintaining a heavily subsidised service for those who really need it.
The phased closure of the Child Support Agency (CSA) has begun as it gradually closes its cases over the next 3 years. Parents will now have the choice to make their own maintenance arrangements between themselves or use the new Child Maintenance Service.
Also introduced are tough new enforcement charges for the small minority of absent parents who try to evade their responsibilities.
Work and Pensions Minister Steve Webb said: “Reform of the old broken system was absolutely necessary and today marks a key milestone in the government’s essential reform of the child maintenance system in Great Britain.
The old CSA was just not fit for purpose – it spent £503 million in 1 year to transfer £1.1 billion of maintenance and left more than 50% of children living in separated families with no effective financial arrangement in place at all.
There will be a one-off £20 application fee to use the Child Maintenance Service and enforcement charges of up to £300 for absent parents who have to be pursued.
There will be no ongoing fees for families which use the Direct Pay service to set up direct payments between the parents. New figures released by the DWP show that, already, 39% of parents within the Child Maintenance Service are using this system, rather than relying on the state to collect and pay maintenance on their behalf.
Families unable or unwilling to come to a Direct Pay arrangement will have the option to ask the Child Maintenance Service to collect money from 1 parent and pay to the other – but there will be an ongoing fee for this service, which will be introduced in August.
The aim of the ongoing charges for parents who want the state to collect and pay maintenance on their behalf is to encourage parents to work together to make their own arrangements, freeing up the Child Maintenance Service to concentrate on the most challenging cases and get the money flowing where it hasn’t in the past.
Our family law experts can advise on all aspects affected by the changes to the child maintenance system, to ensure that children and families are protected when they need it most. For more information, please visit or contact Patrick Hart.
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