Research shows parents are working together to manage child support through Child Maintenance Service

Published: 29th December 2016

The Department for Work and Pensions has released new research that shows many separated parents that use the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) are able to manage child support payments between themselves. The new system allows parents to come to an arrangement regarding the payments and the results of the research show that with most cases that include Direct Pay, the arrangement is still in place a year later.

Introduced in 2012, the Child Maintenance Service provides much needed support to families that have gone through a separation, helping them to come to an agreement financially and in the best interests of their children. The CMS was introduced to replace the Child Support Agency that was found to not provide value and not to encourage collaboration or any sense of togetherness between separated couples.

After a review into the impact of charging by the CMS, four pieces of research have been published, with the findings showing that:

  • 68% of parents that pay child maintenance directly to their ex-partner rather than via the CMS had the arrangement in place 3 months after they received the calculation that was given to them by the CMS.
  • One year after the arrangement was put in place, 62% of those parents using the Direct Pay option still had their agreement in place and functioning, with 19% having found an alternative type of maintenance agreement.
  • More than half of parents that enquired to the CMS, but did not proceed with an application or closed an application that they had made said that they were to set up an agreement between themselves, which is often a family-based arrangement.
  • 90% of ‘family-based arrangements’ were financial arrangements, with 86% described as being effective.

Welfare Delivery Minister, Caroline Nokes, said:

'We know children grow up to have better health, emotional well-being and educational attainment if their parents, whether together or separated, have a positive relationship. All children deserve the best start in life and that’s why the Child Maintenance Service is designed to help separated parents to work together, where possible, to make an arrangement to support their children, and our early research suggests most are able to do this.'

She continued, 'But we understand in a minority of cases this isn’t possible and for those parents in difficult or vulnerable situations our staff can give them extra support and the CMS can collect payments on their behalf.'

Parents that cannot manage their child maintenance payments or are unable to come to some form of agreement through Direct Pay, or other methods, are able to use the CMS’s Collect and Pay Service. This service has the power to force a parent to pay their fee, such as by deducting sums of money from the individual’s earnings or from any benefits that they may be claiming.

Child maintenance payments and financial obligations after divorce or separation can be complicated and getting professional advice is essential. K J Smith Solicitors have a team of family law specialists who can offer you expert advice about your specific situation. To arrange a free 45 minute consultation please contact K J Smith Solicitors today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 020 7070 0330 (London), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor), 01256 584000 (Basingstoke) 01483 370100 (Guildford) or 01494 629000 (Beaconsfield).

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