£43 million in unpaid child maintenance over 2 years
Until 2013 the Child Support Agency was the organisation responsible for ensuring that absent fathers fulfilled their financial obligations and made child maintenance payments. Single mothers in Bedfordshire may not be surprised to hear that the agency was severely criticised for its failings after £3 billion in child maintenance went unpaid. The body that was set up to replace the CSA is the Child Maintenance System, but there are fears that the new organisation is facing the same issues as the CSA.
In the two years since the CMS started operations it has been reported that there is an arrears debt of £43 million in unpaid child support, and in the one-year period from March 2014 to March 2015, the number of non-payment cases more than doubled, from 45,000 to over 115,000. However, fathers who are failing to pay the full amount but who just make a token payment during a three-month period are not included in these figures and are considered by the CMS to be successfully supporting their children.
This failure to make child maintenance payments is helping push some single-parent families below the poverty line according to reformers, and the charity Gingerbread said that children were suffering as a result. An MP criticised the government for setting up a system that not only charged for its services, but was ineffective. Single mothers are charged £20 for using the CMS and are advised to make financial arrangements with the father of the children themselves and to only use the agency as a last resort.
The Child Maintenance Service calculates the amount of child support a single parent is owed by the absent parent and has a range of powers to enforce this. A family law solicitor can often provide legal advice in relation to child support to a parent.
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