Child Maintenance Appeals
Support and Guidance for HM Courts and Tribunal proceedings.
Child Support disputes often require an application to HM Courts and Tribunal (HMCT) which form part of the Ministry of Justice. HMCT are independant from CSA and CMS and have a greater authority of investigation.
Tribunal proceedings are similar to other court processes and require appropriate participation and preparation. It is vital that you seek help and advice about child support law during the Tribunal process. There are strict time frames in which to comply with requests, and a degree of information may have to be submitted prior to any hearing.
The matter is heard by a Tribunal Judge and in some circumstances a Financially Qualified Panel Member will also be present.. The objective is to establish if the decision made by CSA or CMS is correct in law. Tribunal proceedings will involve a far greater investigation than that carried out by CSA or CMS. Any evidence submitted, as part of the proceedings, including personal financial information, must issued to all parties. (exception can be extended to certain medical evidence).
There are no appeal rights against child support debt!
Only certain decisions have the right of appeal. Letters regarding child support arrears, and the enforcement of such debt is information – not a decision. There is no right of appeal against those notifications.
You cannot appeal on the basis that you cannot afford to pay the maintenance assessed.
A 'Decision’ made by CSA/CMS may be either;
- A Maintenance Assessment/Calculation
- A Refusal to revise or Supersede an existing Assessment/Calculation.
- A Variation or Departure Decision
- A Refusal to complete a Variation or Departure Decision.
- There are appeal rights against Paternity, but disputed paternity claims are dealt with by a Magistrate Court and not a Tribunal.
- There are limited appeal rights against a Deduction from Earnings Order, but these are also dealt with by a Magistrate Court.
If you receive a ‘Decision’ and you believe the information used is incorrect you must contact the Child Support Agency or Child Maintenance Service, in writing within one month to request the Mandatory Reconsideration. The details of the dispute is considered and an official Mandatory Reconsideration Notice will be issued, that will either change the original decision, or refuse to change it.
It is the Mandatory Reconsideration Notice that provides the right of appeal to HMCTs.