A new Child Maintenance system came into force on 30 june 2014 according to a Press Release from the Department of Work and Pensions of the same date.
The Child Support Agency (CSA) will be closing its cases over the next 3 years and those parties will have the option of agreeing maintenance between themselves or using the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
There will also be a new fees for those parties wishing to use the CMS as follows:
- A one-off application fee of £20.00. This fee is not payable by victims of domestic violence and abuse or by applicants aged 18 or under;
- If using the Collect and Pay service where the CMS collects maintenance and pays it to the applicant, the Applicant will pay 4% of any amount received and the paying party will pay a 20% surcharge on assessed maintenance. This will be introduced in August 2014;
- If parties decide to use the Direct Pay service where payment is made directly between the parties, then no further fee will be payable. The CMS will still be able to enforce non-payment; and
- The Enforcement Fees payable by parties who attempt to evade payment will range from £50.00 to £300.00.
The aim of the introduction of charges is to promote parties working together to agree maintenance which will provide more time for the CMS to focus on the more difficult cases. Whether this will be the reality remains to be seen.