Pay your child maintenance or damage your credit rating

On 5 November the Government announced that as from March 2015 they intend that the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) and Child Support Agency (CSA) will be able to share information about the payment records of their clients with Credit Reference Agencies.  Arrears in maintenance payments will therefore have the same effect on people's credit scores as other debts.  This could lead to people being refused loans, mortgages, credit cards, hire purchase finance agreements, mobile phone contracts and other forms of financial credit. 

The Government have suggested that initially information will be shared about an individual only when a Liability Order has been made against them and they intend to use this measure as a last resort to encourage payment.  12,410 Liability Orders were made in the year between April 2013 and March 2014

It is hoped that the introduction of this new measure will have a deterrent effect on those who may otherwise choose to evade maintenance payments. 

The majority of parents do contribute towards the maintenance of their children with compliance among CSA clients reaching a high of 86.2% in June 2014 - this new measure is aimed at targeting the minority who fail to pay.

It is also suggested that parents who have a good maintenance payment record will be able to request that the information about them is shared if they consider this may help to improve their credit rating. 

The above announcement is the latest catalogue of radical reforms that the Government has made to the Child Maintenance System.  The changes will see the old CSA wound down and its replacement, the Child Maintenance Service, taking a new approach. 

Parents are being encouraged and incentivised to co-operate in the best interests of their children with the hope that the majority of parents agree appropriate voluntary maintenance arrangements for their children.  In this regard the Government has launched the Child Maintenance Options Helpline and Website Service to provide free impartial information and support to help parents make informed decisions about the type of maintenance arrangement that best suit their circumstances.  This service is delivered by phone or via the website - www.cmoptions.org .  The helpline number 0800 988 0988. 

Rollits Mediation can provide a neutral forum for parents to discuss and agree all arrangements in relation to their children.  Funding is available for eligible clients.  For more information regarding the choices available to parents please see 'Choices' leaflet" on the family page of Rollits' website or contact Leanne Tripp at leanne.tripp@rollits.com , telephone number 01482 337297.

Posted on: 10/11/2014

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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