Family Law Blog

Pay child maintenance or risk your credit rating

30 November 2014, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

It is proposed, subject to Parliamentary approval, that from March 2015 the Child Maintenance Service and Child Support Agency will begin sharing certain information about the payment records of their clients with credit reference agencies. Separated parents who fail to contribute financially to the upbringing of their children could therefore face damaging their credit rating.

Principally, information will be shared about an individual when a liability order is made against them – a last resort after all other methods of encouraging payments have been exhausted. Between April 2013 and March 2014, 12,410 liability orders were granted.

It is expected that the introduction of this new measure will have a deterrent effect on parents who may otherwise choose to evade maintenance payments.

However, it can also benefit a parent who has a good record of making maintenance payments who can request that information about them be shared with credit reference agencies if they believe it will help improve their credit rating.

The presumption of parental involvement

18 November 2014, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

Section 11 of the Child and Families Act 2014 came into force on 22nd October 2014. It provides that when the court makes a child arrangements order there is a presumption (unless the contrary is shown) that the involvement of both parties in the life of their children will be in the best interests of the child. This has been referred to as the presumption of parental involvement. This is important because the presumption recognises that both parents have a significant role to play in the upbringing of their children irrespective of where the child resides or how much time he or she spends with the non resident parent.

However, the presumption does not mean that the court will assume that it is in the child’s best interests to spend equal time with their parents.

English courts are now specifically directed to take into account the presumption of parental involvement when making decisions about where children live and how often they see their parents. “Involvement” is defined as direct or indirect (video calls, email, telephone) but not any particular division of a child’s time.

The welfare of the child is the paramount concern when the court makes a decision about children and this will not be overridden by the presumption of parental involvement.

The presumption is not likely to have much impact on the decisions made by the Family Court who have taken the approach for many years that the best interests of the children are met by both parents having an impact in their lives. This presumption now incorporated in law merely reinforces what is actually taking place.