Statutory Arrangements for Child Maintenance
Child maintenance has changed. The Child Support Agency (CSA) has closed and all claims will be dealt with by the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS). The new child maintenance service refers to the parent who looks after a child most of the time as the ‘receiving parent’ and the parent who does not live with the child most of the time and will be liable for child maintenance as the ‘paying parent’.
All existing cases will be dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service. Existing claimants will be given the option of making their own arrangements (see Family Based Arrangements) or transferring to the new Child Maintenance Service. It is expected to take until 2017 for all cases to be totally transferred.
In March 2014, the government introduced fees and charges for parents who use the Child Maintenance Service. These are for:
- new applications to the Child Maintenance Service
- using the Collect & Pay service, and
- enforcement action it takes against the minority of paying parents who don’t voluntarily pay in full and on time.
They want to encourage more parents to work together to arrange child maintenance instead of using the Child Maintenance Service or the courts. These fees include:
- A £20 application fee for any new application
- A 20% collection fee for paying parents using the Collect & Pay service, on top of their usual amount
- A 4% collection fee for receiving parents using the Collect & Pay service, deducted from their usual amount
- A range of enforcement charges for paying parents who fail to pay their child maintenance in full and on time.
There will be no collection fees for parents who work together to agree their own family based arrangement, or use Direct Pay.
Calculating how much maintenance you need to pay is based on gross income and depends on the number of children you have. You can input your details on the calculator on-line. Calculate your Child Maintenance to work out how much you might be paying.
If you can’t make a family-based arrangement work you can apply for a statutory child maintenance case managed by the Child Maintenance Service.
The Child Maintenance Service offers two kinds of arrangement:
- Direct Pay: where the Child Maintenance Service works out the amount of child maintenance a paying parent must pay. Both parents agree between themselves how and when the paying parent will pay the receiving parent direct. If the paying parent doesn’t pay in full and on time the Child Maintenance Service can move the case to Collect & Pay and take immediate enforcement action.
- Collect & Pay: where the Child Maintenance Service works out the amount of child maintenance to be paid, collects payments from the paying parent and passes them on to the receiving parent.
Have specific questions? Visit our Child Maintenance Frequently Asked Questions page
In family mediation, this can be negotiated alongside other family issues so that you can make your own arrangements and won’t have to pay these fees.
National Family Mediation (NFM) is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family
National Family Mediation (NFM) services charge £25-£100 for a MIAM, depending on geographical locality, which may include the fee for the completed FM1 form. Meetings usually last for 45 minutes – 1 hour. This includes the means assessment to check whether you will be eligible for Legal Aid, determining whether your mediation will be free or not. Mediation sessions which follow the initial MIAM are charged at a sliding scale according to income, but start at around £80 per session, and usually last up to 1½ hours.
If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or you can also contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area.
All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies.