Help For the Paying Parent/NRP
Non Resident Parents (NRP), or Paying Parents are liable to pay child maintenance if they live apart from their children. Although NRPs are often vilified in the media for not financially supporting their children, statistics show that only a minority of NRPs actually fail to pay child maintenance.
Sadly, it is often the compliant NRPs who are subjected to unfair procedures, incorrect calculations and debts created through no fault of their own. Non compliant NRPs often manage to evade the system.
Below we list some basic guidelines for the Paying Parent/NRP to consider:
- If possible, register for the CMS Online Portal and communicate as often as you can via that method.
- Always keep a record of telephone calls with CMS, in particular secure details of the case officer that you spoek with, and where necessary ask that the details of your conversation is recorded in their Freetext log.
- 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.
- Do not allow too much time to pass in between contact whilst waiting for matters to be resolved. Aim to call them every 2 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 raising the matter through complaints.
- As an NRP you are legally obliged to report certain changes, including a change of address or a change to income (if your assessment is calculated on 'current income').
- Changes to maintenance cannot be made retrospectively. If there are changes that will benefit you, you must report them immediately. Verification of the change must be submitted in order for the recalculation to proceed. Any reported change in circumstance that has not been substantiated with the required evidence will be rejected.
- Maintenance is reviewed every year. Mid term changes to accommodate any income variation will only occur if the change in income is greater than 25%. Proof of income changes is necessary - P60s are not accepted..
- Disputed paternity must be raised at the initial point of contact. You must comply with DNA testing for the paternity issue to be decided. Failure to take the test will result in maintenance being calculated on "Presumed Parentage"
- To dispute any calculation, or refusal to calculate maintenance, 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 amount of maintenance calculated will be legally due irrespective of any financial hardship you may suffer as a result. If the amount is disputed you must take the necessary steps to challenge the decision, but must maintain payment at the original rate until a new calculation is made.
- Certain costs can be considered against your maintenance liability by applying to the variation scheme.
- CMS may enforce debts that are deemed due. The onus remains on you to demonstrate, with evidence, that the debt is not valid.
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