Child maintenance payments still in arrears

The collection of outstanding child maintenance payments is still a major problem for families, with more single parents struggling to obtain the necessary support for their children from absentee parents.

Child maintenance arrears

According to recent figures from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), outstanding child maintenance arrears have increased from £3.802 billion in June 2012 to £3.814 billion in September 20121.

The figures also show that:

  • In the quarter to September 2012, the CSA collected or arranged £305.6 million in child maintenance (regular and arrears), of which £28.1 million was arrears.
  • In the year to September 2012, the CSA collected or arranged £1,204.5 million in child maintenance (regular and arrears), of which £113.2 million was arrears.

The Child Support Agency

The DWP took over responsibility for the work of the Child Support Agency (CSA) on 1st August 2012. Before this, the CSA was managed by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

As well as changing the child maintenance organisational structure, the Government is also proposing a number of controversial changes to its operation, designed to encourage parents to make their own maintenance arrangements without resorting to a statutory collection scheme.

This new Child Maintenance Service will handle cases where parents cannot make their own arrangements – but it will charge for the service.

As well as a £20 application fee, the parent paying maintenance will pay an additional collection fee of 20% on top of each assessed payment. The parent receiving maintenance will have 7% deducted from each assessed payment.

These proposals have attracted a great deal of criticism, with single parent charity Gingerbread claiming that they will penalise  thousands of families who have no choice but to use the statutory scheme.

Current child maintenance figures

The latest figures from DWP regarding child maintenance also show that, in the quarter ending September 2012:

  • the CSA live and assessed caseload stood at 1.11 million,
  • 80% of all cases in which maintenance was due had either received maintenance via the CSA collection service, or had a maintenance direct arrangement in place,
  • maintenance had been collected or arranged by the CSA via the statutory maintenance service on behalf of 899,400 children,
  • At the end of September 2012, the average maintenance calculation was £23.60 per week (including zero calculations).

About the author

Guest post courtesy of Austin Lafferty, family law solicitors in Glasgow, East Kilbride & Hamilton in Scotland offering expert legal advice to people and businesses. They have particular expertise with adoption and child cases. Contact Austin Lafferty for free initial advice.

How To Evaluate Your Family Lawyer

If you are in need of some legal assistance for a divorce, child custody or even an adoption issue, you will need to retain the help of a family lawyers. To ensure that you are making the right decision and are choosing a lawyer who will be able to help you out of whatever sticky situation you have found yourself in, you will need to put them through an evaluation process that should give you all the answers you need.

Step 1: Begin by asking around for referrals. If you know anyone who has gone through a legal battle similar to the one you are about to embark on, ask who they used to represent them. Lawyers that receive several recommendations are generally a good bet.

Step 2: Arrange a meeting with each family lawyer that you are interested in hiring. Make sure that, when you arrive at the meeting, you have prepared a list of questions that you wish to ask. These questions should surround their experience, how many cases they’re working on at the moment, which courts they generally practice at, and so on.

Step 3: If you are satisfied with your initial meeting, you should call your state bar association to enquire as to whether there have been any complaints filed against the lawyer. The bar association should also be able to tell you whether the lawyer has been sanctioned.

Many people also like to use the initial meeting with their family lawyers to evaluate their personality and demeanor. Whilst this is not an imperative part of your decision regarding legal representation, it can give you a good idea of what kind of person you are dealing with. Remember that a good relationship increases your chances of a more favourable outcome.

Child Support Basics

(US family law and generally) Raising a child is very tiring and time-consuming, not to mention expensive. The needs of a child can often cost thousands of dollars which is why child support is often given to a mother in need. Child support is a policy that can help a sole parent be financially stable when raising a child. Here are some basic FAQs about child support:

When should child support be paid?

When a parent of a child ends a marriage or a relationship, he or she should make periodic payments to the other parent who is the primary child caretaker.

How long does child support last?

Child support typically lasts until a child legally turns into an adult, at age 18. However, it can vary between each state. The two parents can agree to extend the child support payment into the child’s college years. The agreement has to be enforced by the Family Law Court.

When is child support arranged?

During divorce, a separation of a relationship, or dissolution of a civil union or marriage, child support may be an issue discussed. A father or mother who has the higher income will usually make a monthly payment to the custodial parent.

How is child support determined?

During a relationship separation, the parents’ wages, commission, bonuses, rent, benefits, and much more are taken into account.  These guidelines will help determine the amount of time each child gets with a parent. However, more circumstances are taken into account. Looking up each state’s child support guidelines will help determine the child support amount.

What should a parent do if the other parent does not pay child support?

Notify the court about the whereabouts, the income, and place of employment of the parent not paying child support. Once it is determined that the parent is indeed not paying child support, then the court can find the parent in contempt.

What happens when child support is not paid?

Since the court determines the amount of money pays for child support, the parent refusing to pay child support is defying court orders. The consequences of this action can include jail. However, if you are unable to pay child support, as in the case of unemployment, it is your responsibility to get the child support amount modified.

It is important to hire an attorney to help you in matters concerning family law. A lawyer will make sure that the proper compensation and payment is acquired. Child support is vital in raising a financial steady environment for a child.

 

Written by Robert Koenig, a personal injury attorney for The Accident Attorneys’ Group.