So, is it going to be third time lucky? The Government are once again setting about reforming the rules to child maintenance. This time, they have decided that as it is better for parents separating to try and agree, they have decided to introduce a rule that says that if they don’t agree, they will have to pay! Whereas the CSA hasn’t previously charged either parent for their service – save when a father had denied paternity, and the CSA have paid for DNA tests which have proved that he is the father, then they do ask for that money back – they are charging now! It is £20 to register a claim for Child Maintenance with them, and then the paying parent will pay an extra 20% on top of their child maintenance, and the receiving parent will pay 4% to receive it.
There is a formula, as previously. Whereas the CSA looked at people’s net wage, the Child Maintenance Service looks at gross income. For one child, the broad formula is that they would be expected to pay 12% of their gross income, for two children 16% and for three or more children 19%. Money may be knocked off if the paying parent has other children in their household, and there is a formula for where the children stay with the paying parent for 1 night or more each week.
So, the CSA was universally hated. Hated by the people who received money, because they found it cumbersome, beaurocratic and slow. Hated by the people who had to pay, because they found it beaurocractic, unyielding and inefficient. Will the Child Maintenance Service be more popular, or will it simply be seen as the son of CSA?
For most parents, they want to ensure that the children are provided for. The CSA regulations meant that people in receipt of certain benefits HAD to approach the CSA. This often caused huge problems within families. Hopefully CMS will help. People are encouraged to be less adversarial, and agree things between themselves. On the www.gov.uk website, there is a helpful calculator, which helps calculate what the maintenance liaibility should be. Couples are being encouraged to go to mediation rather than through the courts, and this is an area that has been covered with mediators up and down the country.
However, there are those parents who will do anything in their power not to pay child maintenance. It seems very unfair that for the parent with care of the children in those circumstances will be financially penalised at having to use the government agency, because they are unable to get anywhere with a difficult ex partner. As an old cynic, it does smack of the Government trying to make a bit of money in difficult times.