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Latest family law and divorce news and updates from Family Law Inverness. Telephone: 01463898650

Child maintenance changes receive Parliamentary backing

The UK Parliament has passed Government plans to introduce charges for single parents who need to use the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS), says single parent charity Gingerbread.

The Government wants separated parents to come to their own private arrangements, without using the new Government service. Crucially, it will be closing all existing CSA cases – almost one million of them – and says that charging to use the new service will ‘incentivise’ parents to collaborate in this way.

The Department for Work & Pensions will introduce a £20 application fee to access the CMS and get a maintenance calculation. If the other parent fails to pay maintenance, parents with care of their child face losing 4% of every payment for their child in collection charges if the new service has to step in to collect the money.  Those parents who fail to pay maintenance will be charged an additional 20% ‘collection fee’ on top of their children’s maintenance, which the Government will keep. 

The new charges are likely to take effect in a few months’ time. By 2020/21, the government expects to be collecting £170 million per year in fees from both parents, says Gingerbread.

Gingerbread is also worried that the case closure process, application fee and ongoing charges will discourage some parents from securing maintenance for their children. The Government’s own predictions are that 100,000 CSA parents, currently due child maintenance, will simply give up and make no arrangements when their CSA case is closed.

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