• The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says that research recently carried out shows that the majority of separated parents using the Child Maintenance Service are managing child maintenance payments themselves.

    The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) was introduced in 2012 and now manages all new child maintenance applications in place of the Child Support Agency. The CMS encourages parents to come to voluntary arrangements between themselves in relation to the payment of child maintenance.

    If parents are unable to reach an agreement in this way, there are three main ways in which child maintenance can be paid through the statutory scheme. One of these is known as Direct Pay, whereby the paying parent pays the other parent directly once a child maintenance calculation has been carried out.

    The research carried out by the DWP suggests that most arrangements set up under the Direct Pay scheme are still in place one year later.

    The research shows:

    • 68% of parents using the Direct Pay scheme had set this up within three months of receiving their child maintenance calculation from the CMS;
    • 63% of parents using the Direct Pay scheme still had their arrangement in place a year after setting it up, and 19% had another type of maintenance arrangement in place;
    • 56% of parents who contacted the CMS and chose not to proceed with an application, or draft an application, indicated that they were intending to set up an alternative arrangement with their former partner – normally a family-based arrangement;
    • 90% of those family-based arrangements were financial arrangements and 86% of those were described as being effective.

    Where parents are unable to come to an agreement in relation to child maintenance or manage payments between themselves, it may be necessary to use the CMS Collect and Pay scheme. Under this scheme, the CMS are able to deduct child maintenance directly from the paying parent’s income. There are however fees that apply to this scheme.

    Reaching an agreement in relation to the payment of child maintenance and the management of payments can be difficult. If you would like some further advice in relation to the options available to you, please contact a member of our family team.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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