Problems You May be Having
Demands for large arrears. These frequently result from incorrect penalty assessments backdated over many years. On investigation we frequently find that the CSA in fact used an incorrect address and therefore the NRP is being charged for arrears when he did not even know he had an assessment.
Large unaffordable assessments. Frequently occur in old style CSA cases. This is because child support can be payable at a marginal rate of 50p or even 85p in the pound which means that even minor miscalculations by the CSA of income or qualifying outgoings can dramatically increase the amount of maintenance payable causing over inflated claims and ultimately penury for the NRP.
Ignoring new circumstances. This is a common problem, particularly bearing in mind today’s’ more fluid employment situation. Although we have a huge increase in the number of people working these are frequently on flexible contracts resulting in changing incomes. When NRPs tell the CMS this they find that they receive little or no response save and except demands that the previously assessed maintenance is continued. They occasionally may receive reassurances that their new circumstances are being examined but nothing happens. We can break this cycle and ensure that changes of circumstances are actioned and dealt with.
Overactive enforcement. This is a relatively recent phenomenon. The Agency used to be a byword for issuing threats but not actually carrying them out. This company has however noticed a marked increase in the number of clients approaching this company with Liability order Applications. The CMS can enforce debt owed via:-
- Deduction from Earnings Order – This only works where the non-resident parent is employed and in some circumstances even then a Deduction from Earnings Order fails to collect the entire or any of the amount due. If this is happening to you call us on 03456 588683 because in most circumstances this will mean that your assessment is wrong and the CMS are charging you on income you do not have.
- Account Deduction Orders – Here the CMS can freeze your bank account and remove the balance to remove child maintenance balance. your will receive notice that the account is frozen and you then have a short period of time to appeal to a court, and if you don’t do so the bank hands the money to the CMS. If you receive one of these contact us on 03456 588683.
- Liability Orders – Not a method of enforcement in themselves they simply represent the Courts approval of the figure owed but open the gateway to other methods of enforcement as discussed below. It is very important that advice is sought when a Liability Order application is received. We frequently find that calculation of arrears on the Liability Order is incorrect and this can be much more difficult to address with the CMS once they have their Liability Order. When they are trying to obtain it from the Magistrates however the CMS has to listen for fear that the Magistrates would impose a decision the Agency does not like.
- Bailiffs can be instructed once a Liability Order is obtained – If this has happened to you should call us on 03456 588683 for advice concerning to the situation relating to the bailiffs and enforcement generally.
- Charging Orders – Where the NRP has a house a Charging Order can be obtained. A Charging Order is a kind of sleeping mortgage. It does not incur interest but it does secure the money for the parent with care provided there is the equity to pay it. In some cases Charging Orders can be enforced by the sale of the land they charge.
- Criminal penalties – Although it is not a criminal offence to fail to pay child support if a Liability Order is made and all methods of enforcement above have either drawn a blank or simply would not work (i.e. the NRP does not own a property) then the CMS can take proceedings in the Magistrates Court for the NRP to be imprisoned or his driving licence to be suspended. “A Committal Order or a Banning Order”.Such action is always to be the action of the last resort. The idea of an application for a Committal or Banning Order is not to throw the NRP into prison or to ban him from driving, rather it is to hold a significant threat over his head to force him to pay the money. It is nonetheless the case that NRPs do go to prison and are being banned for failing to pay Liability Orders.It should be understood that contrary to rumours flowing around that serving a few days inside will get rid of the Liability Order, this is wrong, pursuant to the rules regarding double jeopardy it is not possible to go to prison on the same Liability Order twice but once out of prison the NRP can still be pursued in respect of the debt and the CMS can again try a Deduction from Earnings Order, Bailiffs, Third Party Debt Orders and indeed Charging Orders.
Mr G R
Consulted by client who had a £30,000 Charging Order against his house and even larger arrears owed to the CSA which they were enforcing. We managed to prove that the CSA figures had been unreliable and all assessments were recalculated as a result of which all arrears except £2,000 were written off.
Mr D H
Arrears alleged of over £15,000, Deduction from Earnings Order operating at over £100 per week for many years. Client consulted this firm. Assessment was halved and CSA unable to prove service. All arrears remitted and client refunded £13,000 by two cheques, one for £12,000 and the other for just over £1,000.
Mr S C
Client came to see us with arrears of £40,000. Investigations revealed that the CSA had issued critical papers incorrectly and as a result their assessments were unlawful. The case was closed and all arrears written off. The CSA were unable to pursue any further assessment.
How We Can Help
If You Feel the Assessment is Wrong
Since the Child Maintenance Service initial assessment is going to be based on the latest information by HMRC it would seem unlikely that the maintenance assessment will be incorrect but in fact it frequently is. For a variety of miscellaneous reasons the Inland Revenue‘s records may not be up-to-date and the Child Maintenance Service can take into account records going back up to 6 years. In particular fathers who are self-employed or who move to a Company Director position where their records are not kept up-to-date by the Revenue (and they may have filed tax returns in time) can find themselves accessed on previous PAYE. This may be very disadvantageous. Furthermore, fathers who swap from job to job can find that being calculated annually on the basis of the previous years income simply does not reflect the true circumstances. If you feel that your assessment is incorrect and is too high then you should contact these offices on 03456 588 683.