The 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme – fees and charges and how to avoid them
The government has introduced fees and charges for parents using the 2012 statutory Child Maintenance Scheme (CMS). This page explains more about these fees and charges.
In Northern Ireland, you can arrange maintenance through the Northern Ireland Child Maintenance Service.
If you want more information about the different ways you can arrange child maintenance, go to Child Maintenance Choices at www.nidirect.gov.uk.
Therefore, when the page refers to the Child Support Agency (CSA) or the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), in Northern Ireland this means the Northern Ireland Child Maintenance Service. When the page refers to Child Maintenance Options, in Northern Ireland this means Child Maintenance Choices.
Who do the fees and charges apply to?
The government has introduced fees and charges for parents using the 2012 statutory Child Maintenance Scheme (CMS). The fees and charges will apply to new parents who want to use the 2012 Scheme and existing parents already on it. This is to encourage parents to reach their own agreement through a private family-based arrangement or, if they use the CMS, to pay each other directly through Direct Pay.
The following fees and charges apply:
- application fees in England, Wales and Scotland
- from 11 August 2014, collection fees for using the Collect & Pay service
- enforcement charges.
Both parents must pay a collection fee for using the Collect & Pay service. The Collect & Pay service is when the CMS works out the amount of child maintenance to be paid and collects payments from the paying parent and passes them on to the receiving parent.
The paying parent will have to pay a 20 per cent collection fee each time a payment is collected from them.
The receiving parent will have to pay a 4 per cent collection fee each time a payment is passed onto them.
John is a paying parent and Beverly is a receiving parent. They have a Collect & Pay arrangement.
John must pay £100 a week in child maintenance. He must also pay a collection fee of 20 per cent on top of his weekly payment. This fee works out at £20 for each weekly payment. This means John must pay a total of £120 a week.
Beverly is due to receive £100 a week in child maintenance. The CMS charge a collection fee of 4 per cent each time John’s payment is passed onto her. This fee works out at £4 for each weekly payment.
After the fee is taken away, this means the CMS pay out £96 each week to Beverly.
There will be a range of charges for the different enforcement actions the CMS can take when a payment is missed or not made in full. In some situations, the fee may be waived and you won’t have to pay it.
How much is charged?
|Enforcement Action||Fee payable|
|Making a deduction from earnings order||£50.00|
|Making a regular deduction order||£50.00|
|Making a lump sum deduction order||£200.00|
|Making an application for a liability order||£300.00|
Waiving enforcement charges
A paying parent may not have to pay an enforcement charge if it is waived. An enforcement charge may be waived where:
- the paying parent has more than one employer and two or more deduction from earnings orders are made
- the paying parent has more than one bank account and two or more regular deduction orders or lump sum deduction orders are made
- the paying parent has changed their employer or bank account
- the collection amount has changed
- an application for a liability order is unsuccessful
- the paying parent has successfully challenged a deduction from earnings order, regular deduction order or lump sum deduction order
- the paying parent chooses to pay child maintenance from their salary
- the paying parent is in the Armed Forces and a deduction from earnings request is made.
How to avoid paying fees and charges
Both parents can avoid the application and collection fees by working together to agree a family-based child maintenance arrangement without using the CMS.
If you need to use the CMS, you won't pay collection fees if you use Direct Pay. Direct Pay is when the CMS works out the amount of child maintenance a paying parent must pay. Both parents then agree between themselves how and when payments are made. The paying parent will need to make payments in full and on time. If payments are not made in full and on time, the case can be moved to the Collect & Pay service and both parents will have to pay the collection fees.
When fees and charges are introduced, most parents using the Collect & Pay service will be able to avoid collection fees by moving to Direct Pay. At this stage, either parent in a child maintenance case can choose Direct Pay without needing the other's agreement. A receiving parent can ask the CMS to change their service to Direct Pay. If a paying parent asks the CMS to change their service to Direct Pay, it will be changed by the CMS unless:
- the paying parent has missed any payments or not made them in full, and
- the receiving parent has said they would prefer their case to be on Collect & Pay.
Help and support
You can receive free help and support about your options from Child Maintenance Choices at www.nidirect.gov.uk