A Guide To The Child Maintenance Service (CMS)
CMS or Child Maintenance Service is a government run service helping to facilitate child support payments on behalf of separated parents. This service was created to ensure that single parents would receive some form of monetary payment to help pay for the upbringing and livelihood of their children.
The CMS works on the moral basis that both parents are legally responsible for the financial costs of bringing up their children, regardless of the relationship status. If you have committed to having children, you should do what you can to ensure they are brought up properly and enjoy the best quality of life you can give them. Regardless of if you have separated or not, your children remain your responsibility.
If you are not fully aware of what the CMS includes, or if you are struggling to obtain child support payments from the other parent, this guide will help!
What To Do If You Are Owed Child Maintenance
In most cases, if the separation was amicable there would be no need for CMS involvement – CMS is generally only used if a family agreement cannot be made i.e. both parents cannot sit down together and agree a set fee and arrangement for child support.
We always advise trying to resolve the issue of child support this way first as it can save a great deal of stress and hassle. If you can agree on a monthly sum, and a means of payment then great! If CMS is required however and your ex partner is failing to pay or you cannot reach an agreement, there are several measures you can take; please note that if you have a family arrangement then you cannot gain help from the CMS unless the arrangement has totally broken down.
First and foremost, you should always try and negotiate with the other parent first. Contact them – try to understand why they haven’t made payment and see if there is anything you can do to help. Maybe you can give them a period of grace or allow them to get their finances sorted and make a double payment for example if it is acceptable to you.
Contact the Child Maintenance Service CMS
If it is clear that the other parent has no intention of paying or has failed to make several payments and negotiation has failed then you must contact the CMS immediately – contact them via phone and also consider writing a letter as a backup. From this point forward, the CMS will handle the issue and they will attempt to contact the other partner and even take enforcement measures to ensure that the money owed is paid. CMS contact details can be found on the following government website:
What happens if the other parent changes address/moves abroad?
There may be an instance where your ex-partner has changed address or even moved abroad and you are worried that child support may stop. If your ex-partner has changed address, you can always enlist the services of a process server to track them down and to hand deliver child support documents to their new residence – the process server will use their skills to locate your ex and to obtain proof of delivery once they have successfully delivered the documents.
By law, the paying parent HAS to report any change in address or contact details such as phone number. Furthermore, the paying parent must also provide notice of any change in circumstances such as a change in employment or salary.
If your ex-partner has moved abroad then you can still claim child support. If they have moved to a country outside the EU then you must contact the family court where the CMS agreement was made – they will then attempt to enforce a decision although it is not guaranteed. If you ex-partner has moved into the EU, you can fill out a REMO 7 form to proceed with child support payments.
Child Maintenance Service misc info
By now you should hopefully have a clearer understanding of how you can enforce child support payment if you are experiencing issues. The following information offers additional advice and understanding relating to other areas of the CMS system:
How can you calculate what child support you are owed?
There are many factors involved in the monetary value of child support, therefore, it is important to use a proper calculator to understand exactly what you can claim. It is first important to note that you can only claim child support for children aged up 16 unless there are in full-time education in which case the age increases to 20. There are other criteria listed on the official government website but this is the main pointer regarding age. You must know your ex-partners current employment status as this can affect the child support value – there is a difference between full-time employment and self-employment for example. To calculate your child support it is recommended to use the following link:
Money Advice Service – Link
Always remember that you can agree on a child support sum with your ex-partner and there may be no need to even use the CMS service!
To look at how successful the CMS is the government actually publishes a variety of statistics on closures, schemes and new cases etc. The following link provides an in-depth look at the CSA in terms of statistical analysis:
At a glance, we can see that 99% of CMS cases are always successfully closed which is hugely reassuring. Since mid-2017, we can also see that there has been a gradual decrease in the total number of outstanding CMS claims – this points towards an improvement in the system and the way that claims are handled. In short, if you have to use the CMS system, you should be able to get your child support one way or another.
Process Servers & Tracing Agents Working Throughout The United Kingdom