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Child Maintenance Arrears

Both parents are legally responsible for the financial costs of their children. If you split up, usually the parent who doesn’t have day-to-day care of the children is responsible for paying some level of maintenance. If you have Child maintenance arrears then please read on.

If the CSA (Child Support Agency) or CMS (Child Maintenance Service) arranged maintenance for you and you fall behind with these payments, you will have to find a way of paying back the arrears.

Child Maintenance Arrears

Do not ignore any letters you may receive. The matter will simply grow in severity. It is in your, and your child’s best interests, to sort out the financial difficulties as soon as possible.

I can’t afford my CSA/CMS payments

If you’re in financial difficulties, and fear you will have problems keeping up with payments, it is important to notify the CSA/CMS as soon as possible.

If your financial situation has changed – perhaps your income has reduced or your living costs have increased – contact the CSA/CMS to inform them. They will recalculate the level of maintenance you must pay.

Child Maintenance Arrears (CSA/CMS)

If you get into arrears you will be contacted by the CSA/CMS to find a way to repay the outstanding amount. They follow strict guidelines and will expect you to come to some form of agreement to pay the arrears.

Legal Actions to Enforce Payment

If you are not able to make nor keep to an agreement for catch-up payments, the CSA/CMS has options to:

  • Take money directly from your earnings by a deductions from earnings order.
  • Take money directly from your benefits.
  • Take money from your bank or building society account by a deduction order.
  • Apply to Court for a liability order which if granted, they can refer the case to the bailiffs.
  • Apply to Court for a charging order then a forced sale order compelling you to sell your property and use the proceeds to pay the Court order.

Furthermore, you will be also subject to enforcement charges as follows:

Action taken Charge
Liability order £300
Lump sum deduction order £200
Regular deduction order £50
Deduction from earnings request or order £50

CSA/CMS payments and IVAs

When creditors lend they do so knowing that some of their customers will not be able to pay the money back in full. Or in some cases, not at all.

This is the risk they take. So, should the borrower not able to keep to the terms of agreements and have other unsecured debts repay, formal solutions such as IVA and bankruptcy exist to make sure a fair compromise is reached. Child Maintenance is not like this. It’s a financial obligation and nothing to do with credit.

This is why in an IVA, child maintenance arrears are not included as a debt which is subject to negotiated repayments, but is included as an essential expenditure.

This means, that when calculating how much you can afford to repay your unsecured creditors, child maintenance, any arrears on this and other priory payments are budgeted for first. Child maintenance arrears are a concern for if you are struggling with debt.

CSA/CMS payments and Bankruptcy

If you’ve been made bankrupt you’ll still be legally liable to pay back the arrears unless the CSA or CMS has agreed to write them off. Arrears can only be written off in a few circumstances.