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Child Maintenance changes 30/06/2014 A new child maintenance system comes into force today alongside the start of a phased closure of cases currently run by the Child Support Agency.

Child Maintenance changes

A new child maintenance system comes into force today (30th June 2014) alongside the start of a phased closure of cases currently run by the Child Support Agency (CSA), which is due to take three years.

As the closure takes effect, those parents who are currently involved with the CSA will have the choice of making their own maintenance arrangements between themselves or using the new Child Maintenance Service.

New fees are being introduced for families who choose to use the Child Maintenance Service, as well as tough new enforcement charges for the small minority of absent parents who try to evade their responsibilities – those who, for example, have to be pursued through the courts or have maintenance deducted from their earnings.

“The old CSA was just not fit for purpose – it spent £503 million in one year to transfer £1.1 billion of maintenance and left more than 50% of children living in separated families with no effective financial arrangement in place at all,” said Work and Pensions Minister Steve Webb. “The new system is helping more couples to work together to ensure the best outcomes for their children. We know that children do better when parents work together, even after separation, and I am very encouraged that the new child maintenance system is already making this a reality for thousands of families.”

There will be a one-off £20 application fee to use the Child Maintenance Service and enforcement charges of up to £300 for absent parents who have to be pursued.

There will be no ongoing fees for families which use the Direct Pay service to set up direct payments between the parents. New figures released by the DWP show that, already, 39% of parents within the Child Maintenance Service are using this system, rather than relying on the state to collect and pay maintenance on their behalf.

Families unable or unwilling to come to a Direct Pay arrangement will have the option to ask the Child Maintenance Service to collect money from one parent and pay to the other – but there will be an ongoing fee for this service, which will be introduced in August.

The aim of the ongoing charges for parents who want the state to collect and pay maintenance on their behalf is to encourage parents to work together to make their own arrangements, freeing up the Child Maintenance Service to concentrate on the most challenging cases and get the money flowing where it hasn’t in the past.

 

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