Growing numbers of separated parents are choosing to make a “Direct Pay” arrangement with the Child Maintenance Service, according to a report issued recently. We thought we’d answer some common questions about Direct Pay.
What is Direct Pay?
With a Direct Pay arrangement, the Child Maintenance Service will calculate a child maintenance amount, and then leave parents to manage payments direct between themselves. The Child Maintenance Service can step in again if payments are missed.
Is it different from a family-based arrangement?
Direct Pay is different from a family-based arrangement. With a family-based arrangement no-one else gets involved and you can agree between you how much child maintenance payments are. You can also decide what counts as child maintenance – for example you could agree to share childcare instead of monetary payments.
Will I be charged for a Direct Pay arrangement?
Later this summer, separated parents will have to pay fees for using the Child Maintenance Service. This includes an application fee and collection fees if you want the Child Maintenance Service to manage payments for you. But, if you use Direct Pay, you will not have to pay collection fees.
(Of course, the best way to avoid any fees and charges is to set up a family-based arrangement and not use the Child Maintenance Service at all.)
What if the other parent doesn’t want to use Direct Pay?
At the moment, both parents need to agree to Direct Pay in order to use it.
But, when charges and fees are introduced, the law will change so that you can choose Direct Pay without needing the other parent to agree, unless there’s evidence that the paying parent is unlikely to pay.
What about CSA cases?
If you have a CSA case, there is a similar service to Direct Pay called Maintenance Direct. If you want to know more about switching to Maintenance Direct, call the office managing your case.
Where can I get more information?
For more information about the different types of child maintenance arrangement, see our guide to comparing your options. Or, you can chat online or call us on 0800 988 0988 to speak to us in confidence.