How to get a fair outcome after child maintenance rejection – CRUSADER

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When the living arrangements of the Brown family changed, it sparked an argument over fairness and who pays for what.

++ If you’ve been affected by this issue or feel you’ve been a victim of injustice, please contact consumer champion Maisha Frost on [email protected] ++;

Dad Dave had been supporting his three children for six years while they lived with their mum. But then young teenage son Tom decided to cease contact with his mother and move in with his father.

“We’re both very happy with that,” Dave told Crusader. “But when I applied to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) for a payments change, as he is now with me, I was rejected and don’t understand why. Tom would not be missing out as I am supporting him here and it would help us both as things get more expensive.”

Nacsa is the leading independent service advising about child maintenance rules, and their big impact on budgets, that are very difficult for parents trying to navigate them.

While harmonious negotiation is always the best course, teenage years can be volatile and the time when changes in circumstances or relationship breakdowns are the most likely. 

Getting the right things in place before any application for a maintenance payments change is absolutely crucial. A parent needs to show the change is lasting, not something temporary at risk of altering again in the near future.

While every case is different, “the CMS is looking for permanence and makes a decision on what it sees,” explains Michelle Counley, Nacsa’s senior child support consultant.

“A parent needs to show they can get child benefit,” she recommends. “That doesn’t mean they have to claim it as that might not work for tax purposes, but get it anyway to demonstrate entitlement. Then the CMS knows there is a child in the house and the parent is on the CMS’s map.”

Once a parent has reported a change in address for their child and filed for benefit, they can make a payments change application. 

If it is rejected a parent is entitled to a reconsideration, but has to do that within a month and after that can take it further via a legal process with HM Courts & Tribunals Service. There is no right of appeal regarding child support arrears and debt enforcement. 

If he has missed deadlines Dave can reapply, his application could be accepted although it won’t be backdated. Overall this is a lengthy process and plenty of parents lose the will and give up. 

But most importantly even when they object to a decision they should never stop paying as it is their child who suffers. Nacsa’s expertise can guide them through and it charges from £120 for a consultation.

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