Child Maintenance Service UK – Complete Guide
The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is a UK 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 in the eyes of the law.
If you are not fully aware of what the Child Maintenance Service 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 Payments
If the separation was amicable there would usually be no need for CMS involvement – CMS is generally only used if a family agreement cannot be made. For example, when both parents are unable to agree a set fee and arrangements for child support.
We always advise trying to resolve the issue of child support without the CMS, as it can avoid stress, hassle and paperwork. If you can agree on a monthly sum and a means of payment then great. However, if the CMS is required 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 an existing family arrangement then you cannot gain help from the CMS unless the arrangement has totally broken down.
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 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 Child Maintenance Service. Contact the CMS via phone and also consider writing a letter as a backup. From this point forward, the CMS will handle the issue. They will attempt to contact the other partner and eventually take enforcement measures to ensure that the money owed is paid.
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 enlist the services of a process server to track them down and 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 but only within certain countries. The difficulty of this is set to increase further with Britain’s departure from the EU.
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 to Calculate Child Support Payments
There are many factors involved in the monetary value of child support. It is important to use the correct calculations to understand exactly what you can claim / have to pay. It is first important to note that you can only claim child support for children aged up 16 – unless they 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:
Child Maintenance Services Statistics
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.
Writer’s Bio: Lewis Murawski is a Director of Kahootz Media. He has been ranking websites on the first page of Google for more than 10 years. Connect with Lewis on LinkedIn.