The Child Maintenance Service has introduced fees and charges for using the service. We want to explain what the charges are and how you can avoid them.
Applicants to the Child Maintenance Service will pay a £20 application fee
If you apply for a Child Maintenance Service case, you will have to pay a £20 application fee. There are certain circumstances when you don’t have to pay, for example if you are under the age of 19, a victim of domestic violence, or you apply from Northern Ireland.
Paying parents will also have to pay enforcement charges if they miss child maintenance payments.
Collection fees for Collect & Pay arrangements
If you have a ‘Collect & Pay’ arrangement with the Child Maintenance Service, then from 11 August, you will be charged collection fees.
With Collect & Pay’, the Child Maintenance Service works out a child maintenance amount, collects the money from the paying parent and passes it on the receiving parent.
If you are the receiving parent, a 4% fee will be deducted from each child maintenance payment you receive. If you’re a paying parent, you’ll be charged an additional 20% on top of each payment you make.
Avoid collection fees with a family-based arrangement or Direct Pay
You can avoid all fees and charges by making a family-based arrangement – where you sort out child maintenance with your child’s other parent and no-one else has to get involved.
If you can’t make a Family-based arrangement, you can avoid collection fees with a Direct Pay arrangement. Direct Pay is where the Child Maintenance Service calculates a child maintenance amount, but you agree with the other parent how and when money is paid.
Help and support for separated families
We want to help you make the best child maintenance arrangement for your separated family. Contact us now to have a confidential chat, or see our guidance on the Child Maintenance Service and family-based arrangements on our website.
Sorting out Separation has information, videos and other tools to help you work through a range of separation issues, such as legal rights and mediation.
We are also working with other organisations to provide support for separated parents. The “Help and Support for Separated Families” (HSSF) initiative has funded training for helplines run by Relate and Family Lives, plus parenting classes, counselling and mediation.
Do you have any questions about the introduction of charging that we can answer here on the Talking Child Maintenance blog?