Research at the DWP has recently shown that most people who use the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) are able to manage child maintenance payments themselves.

When parents separate, there are a number of issues to consider. One of those is child maintenance and it can be a tricky one to resolve. The courts haven’t been able to make decisions about child maintenance since the Child Support Agency was set up to help couples calculate the right amount and collect unpaid maintenance.

The CMS was launched in 2012 to replace the CSA and make the process simpler.

Separated parents can agree any arrangement for paying child maintenance. There is no need for agreements to be in writing however it can avoid confusion and future disagreements if they are. If parents cannot agree, the CMS provides a number of tools to assist. There is a maintenance calculator to help work out how much the paying parent should pay. If having used the calculator the parents reach agreement, the CMS can assist parents to put their agreement in place and set up payments between them. This is called Direct Pay.

The CMS can also help by collecting payments and passing them on. This is called Collect and Pay however to use this service the CMS charges both the parent making the payment and the parent who receives the payments. If payments are not made then the CMS can assist by collecting payments directly either from the payer’s employer or their benefits before paying them to the other parent.

The research published by the DWP shows that 62% of people who use a Direct Pay arrangement after using the CMS still have the arrangement in place a year later. Over half of those who used the CMS to make an enquiry but did not proceed with an application said that they intended putting in place a family based agreement.

This is good news for children as it is always better if separated parents are able to agree arrangements between them.

Contact our Family Law team for more advice about putting in place a child maintenance agreement. Call us on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online.