Updated guidance in relation to the domestic violence exemption for having to pay the Child Maintenance Service initial calculation fee

12 / 09 / 2017

As I have written about previously,  the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), was introduced in 2012 to deal with child maintenance, which was at that time dealt with by the Child Support Agency (CSA). Following the introduction of the CMS, many of the CSA cases have now been closed and the remainder are expected to be closed by 2018.

After the closing of the CSA arrangements, the options for parents are to make a direct arrangement with the other parent without the involvement of the CMS at all (a family based arrangement), pay through the CMS (Collect and Pay) or alternatively, contact the CMS for a calculation of the liability for child maintenance and thereafter pay directly (Direct Pay).
The Government was very much looking to encourage parents to deal with matters directly and one such way of doing that was to introduce charges for the use of their services.
The charges that are levied by the CMS (which applied as from 11 August 2014) are as follows:

  • a charge of £20 to obtain the initial calculation of child maintenance;
  • a charge of 4% deducted from the child maintenance received by the receiving parent if child maintenance is paid through the CMS (Collect and Pay); and
  • a charge of an additional 20% to the child maintenance paid by the paying parent if child maintenance is paid through the CMS (Collect and Pay).

Alternatively, parents can pay directly (Direct Pay) if using the CMS (after the initial calculation has been carried out) and the fees of 4% for the receiving parent and the 20% fees for the paying parent referred to above will not apply.

An individual may however be exempt from paying the charge of £20 obtain the initial calculation of child maintenance if they have been the victim of domestic violence or abuse.

The government has recently released guidance confirming when an applicant will be exempt from the fee, how the Secretary of State will determine if the applicant meets the exemption requirements (including to whom the domestic violence must have been reported), the definition of domestic violence and who the abuser can be.

A link to the guidance can be found here.