New powers of enforcement proposed to combat parents refusing to pay Child maintenance

Parents who refuse to financially support their children face quicker penalties under government plans, it has been announced.

Government Ministers state that enforcement times will be cut from six months to six weeks.

The government confirmed a £20 application fee for parents seeking intervention when maintenance is not paid will come into force from 26 February.

The government estimates around 10,000 parents a year refuse to pay maintenance and could be affected by the “fast-tracked” enforcement.

The government is due to publish its response to a consultation on measures to give the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) more powers to recover cash from non-paying parents faster, Monday 12th February 2024

These will include allowing the CMS to use an administrative liability order to recover unpaid child maintenance instead of applying to the courts, the government said.

Under the changes, the CMS could also write off debt worth less than £7 in inactive cases so it can focus on parents who owe much larger sums.

The Department for Work and Pensions says this could reduce enforcement time almost fourfold and ensure further action, such as the forced sale of property or driving licence disqualification, could be used much sooner.

Legislation to implement the changes is expected to be laid before Parliament in the spring.

Here at Women’s McKenzie Friend we understand that abusive fathers will often withhold child maintenance or only pay sporadically as a from of punishment and coercive control on ex-partners. It is acknowledged as a common form of economic abuse that takes place after a relationship has ended. It is a tool for coercive control that can have a significant effect on victim-survivors and impact on their ability to support their children.

We welcome the proposed new changes that will enforce payment of this very important contribution to a child’s well being, health and life chances. Child Maintenance importantly covers the cost of everyday living such as food, clothes, and housing.  Everyone is aware of how much food prices have increased and energy bills have shot through the roof. Child Maintenance is often an essential contribution to the family’s budget and support for a child. Often controlling fathers will allege that the mother is spending it all on herself as an excuse not to pay. They may state that they have had a large bill to pay and cannot contribute for a number of months. They can use blackmail – indicating that their contributions to the mortgage will be stopped if child maintenance continues……………………….

Here at Women’s McKenzie Friend we can support you if you are going through the family courts in respect of Child Arrangement Order or/and financial proceedings.

Mary covers the whole of the south west.

Gemma covers Swindon court

Nao covers Guildford court.

Please feel confident in contacting us. We are specialist in supporting women who are experiencing domestic abuse, coercive control, economic and financial control, stalking and harassment and importantly understand how abusive ex partners will use the family courts as another tool to punish and control women and children. We are proud to be a women safe space.