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.

Financial obligations of unmarried parents

06 August 2014, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

Unmarried parents and married parents are treated differently when they separate. Although the number of children born to unmarried couples has more than doubled since the 1990s there has been no legislation to put unmarried couples on the same footing as married couples.

A poll carried out by One Plus One last year found that 47% of the population between the age of 18 and 34 wrongly assumed that unmarried couples had the same legal rights as married couples. 58% of all age groups believed that common law marriage existed.

Unfortunately although the parent with whom the children live can apply to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) for child support it is not possible for them to seek financial support for themselves from their ex partner. Married couples in divorce proceedings are able to apply for spousal maintenance.

One option for an unmarried parent  is to make a claim under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 to claim additional financial support for the benefit of the children. This does not enable the parent with the children to obtain maintenance for themselves but the court can order that funds are made available to pay for a nanny, school fees and expenditure specifically referable to raising the children. The court can even order the non resident parent to provide a home for the children. However, that property will revert back to the non resident parent once it is no longer required as  a home for the children. The resident parent acquires no proprietary interest in that property.

Where the non resident parent has a gross income of more than £156,000 then it is possible to apply for top up maintenance over and above the maximum amount paid under the CMS provisions. This will only apply to a limited number of unmarried couples.

Changes to child maintenance

02 June 2014, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

From the 11th August 2014 the Child Maintenance Service (formerly the CSA) will start charging fees for arranging the payment of child maintenance.

There will be a one off initial application fee of £20 to use the Child Maintenance Service. If it is necessary for them to take enforcement action against the non resident parent then the paying parent will have to pay an additional 20% on top of the usual child maintenance amount and the parent receiving the money has that amount reduced by 4%.

If the parents make payments directly between them there will be no further charges.

The old CSA system was extremely costly to the tax payer and, the government says, had fundamental problems. The new system is heavily subsidized by the tax payer but will encourage more people to certainly arrange payments themselves if not agree the child maintenance entirely themselves.

At Taylor King we have a specialist team of family law solicitors who can advise on child maintenance and formalising agreements on child maintenance. This can be dealt with as a free standing issue or as part of a separation or divorce.