Child maintenance is regular, reliable financial support paid by one parent (the paying parent) to the other (the receiving parent) that helps towards a child’s everyday living costs.
Evidence suggests that after a separation, children do best when their parents work together in the interests of their children. Making a family-based arrangement for child maintenance is one way they can do this.
The improvements planned by the government will help separated parents work together on the range of issues they face at separation, including child maintenance.
We published the government’s [child maintenance arrears and compliance strategy 2012 to 2017 – ‘Preparing for the future, tackling the past’ on 31 January 2013. The strategy explains what the government will do to improve the collection of maintenance and arrears.
The actions will:
- improve the collection system
- prevent the build-up of arrears by encouraging more money paid in full and on time, every time
- increase the amount of arrears collected
Child Maintenance Service
The government has introduced a new statutory Child Maintenance Service for parents who are unable to make a family-based arrangement. It will bring speedier processing of applications, simpler calculations and faster enforcement action for those that choose not to pay.
This will help increase the number of payments reaching children on time and in full and will result in a better use of taxpayers’ money.
Help and support for separated families
In July 2012 the government set up an innovation fund to help develop support services for separated and separating families. Public, private and voluntary sector organisations can apply for money from the fund.
Who we’ve consulted
On 19 July 2012 we published a consultation about proposals for co-ordinating support services for separated and separating families – ‘Supporting separated families; securing children’s futures’.
The proposals also explained:
- how the new statutory child maintenance scheme will operate
- proposals for introducing service charging to encourage collaboration
- the way in which victims of domestic violence will be treated
- the process of closing existing Child Support Agency (CSA) cases
The government plans to publish a response to the consultation in 2013 to explain what action we are going to take.
We published a consultation about child maintenance, ‘Strengthening families, promoting parental responsibility: the future of child maintenance and the government’s response’, in 2011.
In 2006 we published Sir David Henshaw’s report ‘Recovering child support: routes to responsibility’. His recommendations included that:
- the state should only get involved when parents cannot come to an agreement themselves or when they try to evade their responsibilities
- parents who are able to should be encouraged and supported to make their own arrangements
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is now responsible for the child maintenance system in Great Britain. It funds information and support for separating parents and runs the statutory child maintenance schemes called the Child Support Agency.
The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMeC) as it was then called, closed its website closed on 1 August 2012. This page explains how DWP now manages the child maintenance system in Great Britain.
The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMeC) was a Non-Departmental Public Body with responsibility for the child maintenance system in Great Britain.
The Commission’s primary objective was to maximise the number of effective child maintenance arrangements in place for children who live apart from one or both of their parents, whether arranged collaboratively between parents through a family-based arrangement, through the courts or through the statutory schemes.
The Commission had three core functions:
- to promote the financial responsibility that parents have for their children;
- to provide information and support on the different child maintenance options available;
- to provide an efficient statutory maintenance service, with effective enforcement.
It had two delivery bodies: Child Maintenance Options, which provides the information and support service, and the Child Support Agency, which administers the statutory schemes. It is currently developing a new statutory service, to be launched from 2012.
The new, more efficient and effective statutory service, will be available for parents who are unable to come to their own arrangement and the new applications to a new ‘gross income’ child maintenance scheme will begin.
Existing clients on the CSA current schemes will be invited to apply to the new scheme, a process that is anticipated to continue for three years.
Under the Public Bodies Bill 2011, it received its Royal Assent on the 14th December 2011, the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission and its three functions transfered to the Department for Work and Pensions.