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Uproar has been caused this week with lawyers and children’s group campaigners following the announcement from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of new guidelines.

The new guideline, thought to be introduced next year is aimed at reducing the bill met by taxpayers for pursuing fathers, but lawyers believe that the new child maintenance charges will instead financially penalise children.

Currently, parents disputing the amount paid once separated can appeal to the Child Support Agency free of charge, though this is one of the services due to be cut in the new measures.

The new Child Maintenance Service, which will replace the CSA, will now charge a mother 4% of her payment to investigate a payment failure and a further 20% to fathers who no longer reside with the family, on top of their payment, as a penalty.

This announcement comes from government pressure to cut the £500 million annual bill to administer the system and said it’s with the hope that parents will to agree payments between themselves.

However, many independent legal firms and regional groups of the Law Society have remarked concerns that many of the associated legal issues have been largely ignored.

The new system will mean that, for example, a mother due £100 per week from her former husband/ partner would instead receive £96 if she asked the CMS to step in. The agency would pursue the father for the £100, plus a further 20 per cent, in this case £20.

Considering that the average weekly maintenance figure for the UK is just £40, the percentage fee is a substantial reduction in the claim.

If you are concerned you will be affected by these changes, please call the team at Vines Legal on 01246 555610.

By Claire Clark on 5 Jun 2013, 10:00 AM

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