Non Resident Parents(NRP), or Paying Parents as known under Child Maintenance Service, are the parents deemed not to be living with the qualifying child and is therefore liable to pay maintenance. It is a serious misconception that all Non Resident Parents try to avoid paying maintenance for their children. CSA's own statistics confirm that it's only a small minority of NRPs that fail to pay maintenance. Compliant NRPs are often subjected to unfair processing, incorrect calculations and debts created through no fault of their own, whilst non compliant NRPs are often left to evade the system.
We have created this brief guide on measures the NRP can take to prevent difficulties occurring on their case.
- Always keep a record of all communication you have with the Agency, in particular secure details of the case officer and if possible their direct telephone number.
- If you write to them, be sure to send letters recorded or registered post and keep copies of the letter together with the postage receipt.
- Where CSA are concerned, 'No News' is not 'Good News'. Do not assume the Agency have acted on any request or information. Whatever you have asked of them, they should respond to in writing. If you have no response, they probably have not acted on your letter.
- Do not allow too much time to pass in between contact whilst waiting for matters to be resolved. Aim to be calling them every few weeks for a progress report until your matter has been finalised.
- If your caseworker fails to provide you with an appropriate responses, be prepared to escalate the query through the complaints process. Details of the complaints procedure can be found here
- Involving your MP is always worthwhile when contacting the Agency.
- As an NRP you are legally obliged to notify CSA of any change to your employment if there is a DEO in place at your existing employer. Notification must be within 7 days and failure to do so can lead to prosecution and a fine.
- You are also legally obliged to notify CSA of any change of address. Notification must be within 7 days and failure to do so can lead to prosecution and a fine.
- There is no legal obligation to report any other type of change of circumstances, but any change that will be of benefit will only take effect from the date that the change is reported. Changes to maintenance cannot be made retrospectively.
- If you are reporting a change of circumstances, such as a change in income - you will need to provide verification of the change. Failure to do so could result in the Agency refusing to change your maintenance.
- It takes time for CSA to calculate maintenance, and this can often put an account into arrears. It is important to keep in regular contact with the Agency to prevent excessive delay as this will lead to high level arrears.
- If you dispute paternity to any of the children named in the application, you should emphasise this point from the initial contact with CSA. If the test proves positive you will be charged testing fees and the account will be backdated to the initial contact date thus creating additional arrears. Dispute paternity only if you have good reason to assume you are not the father.
- Any voluntary payments made to a PWC must clearly demonstrate that the PWC has accepted the money as child maintenance.
- If you dispute any of the information used within a maintenance decision you must request a Mandatory Reconsideration within 30 days of the decision being notified to you. Without asking for the Mandatory Reconsideration you cannot take your case to a Tribunal.
- The calculation of maintenance is governed by legislation. Unless the information used is incorrect, the amount calculated will be legally due irrespective of any financial hardship you may suffer as a result.
- There are certain other additional costs that can be considered under the variation/departure scheme.
- The CSA can legally deduct upto 40% of your net income directly from your salary without having to apply to court.
- The CSA also have powers to deduct money directly from a bank account, without having to apply to court.
- The CSA will enforce debts as they believe are due. The onus remains on you to demonstrate that the debt is not valid.
- There are lots of danger zones for an NRP and gaining information from work colleagues, friends and even some solicitors can often be detrimental. Situations in one case may appear to be similar to your own, but even slight variations can create differences in liability for maintenance.
Becoming a subscriber to NACSA will allow you to discuss your case with one of our team and to secure more case specific guidance to help you secure a better outcome on your case. We now offer a ONE MONTH subscription for just £25, and this will provide you with access to our help lines, and to the member's area of our website which houses help sheets that may be of benefit to you.