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Read more articles in: Blog, Family, Family Law, Stuart Daniel

New Child Maintenance Service rules to benefit more children

On 14 March, new rules were announced requiring more companies to hand over information to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

The rules aim to help the service locate the paying parent, calculate maintenance, and implement arrears more efficiently.

What is the Child Maintenance Service?

The Child Maintenance Service is a resource for separated parents in England, Scotland and Wales who need help arranging to pay their child’s living costs.

After a separation, one parent will typically pay the other for these costs. If this can’t be agreed between both parties, the Child Maintenance Service can be utilised to calculate the amount.

The service supports around 120,000 children living in poverty across the UK each year.

What will be changing?

The CMS process is being streamlined to make it easier for organisations to respond promptly and securely.

Proposals allowing all communications to be digital will also be brought forward, which will accelerate the service by replacing in-person visits with digital methods.

When the legislation schedule allows, proposals for future changes will:

  • include unearned income in child maintenance calculations
  • extinguish small amounts of very low value debt (£6.99 and under) where the maintenance calculation has ended but an outstanding debt stays, and the value of the debt is considerably less than the expense of collecting it
  • extinguish arrears where child maintenance has been subtracted from a parent’s wages and their employer has gone into administration, and the outstanding debts can no longer be salvaged.

DWP Lords Minister Baroness Stedman-Scott commented on the changes:

“At the heart of these changes is our commitment to making sure children get the financial support they need to have the best start in life.

“We’re bringing the service into the modern age, removing barriers that can slow down cases and prevent money reaching children.”

The Government’s full response to the consultation can be found on the GOV.UK website here.

For help and advice with related matters, please get in touch with our family law team today.

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