Problems with child maintenance payments and debt? We can help!
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For the Receiving Parent/PWC

CMS promotes the opportunity for parents to make their own financial arrangements for their children, but sadly, not all Parents with Care, or Receiving Parents have the ability to make such arrangements.  Where ex partners seek to evade their responsibility, receiving parents have to rely on the Statutory Scheme to secure that financial support. 

In cases where ex partners are non compliant, securing an appropriate maintenance award can be a battle itself, with added challenges if the NRP simply fails to pay and enforcement action is necessary.

The following are some basic principles that a Receiving Parent should consider when dealing with the Agency.

  • Where possible, register for the CMS online portal and try to communicate as often as possible via that method.
  • Always keep a record of telephone calls with CMS, in particular, secure details of the case officer and ask that the content of any conversation is recorded in their Freetext log. 
  • If you write to CMS, be sure to send letters recorded delivery and keep copies of the letter together with the postage receipt.
  • Do not allow too much time to pass in between contacts. Aim to be calling them every 2-3 weeks for a progress report. 
  • If you are not receiving sufficient responses, escalate your query through the complaints process. Involving your MP in any complaint is always beneficial.


Making an Application to CMS:

  • Before applying to CMS you must speak to CMOptions (0800 953 0191).  During this call, your options for child maintenance arrangements will be discussed,  with a great emphasis on the benefits of making a Family Based Arrangement with your ex partner. 
  • If you wish to proceed with an application to CMS, you will be given a reference number to verify that the Gateway conversation has taken place.   Without this reference number you cannot apply to the Statutory Scheme. 
  • An application fee is required when applying to CMS.  You are exempt from this fee if you have at any time reported a situation involving domestic violence, or if you, or the paying parent is under the age of 18. Northern Ireland does not impose an application fee.
  • Following the application, CMS will source income information direct from HMRC and will notify the paying parent of their proposed maintenance.  After approximately 14 days, the final calculation is completed, and notifications are issued to you and to the Paying Parent. 
  • The Final Calculation will include a pay schedule outlining payments and their due date, upto the next Annual Review. 
  • If either parent disputes any of the information used, a Mandatory Reconsideration request must be made within one month.  

Variations Scheme:

  •  If you believe the Paying Parent has income that has not been declared, or not included within the calculation, you may want to consider an application to the variation scheme.
  • Variations can look at other aspects of the Paying Parent's finances that are not automatically considered by the formula, such as Dividends, Rental Income, Diverted Income, and ownership of Assets in excess of £31,250.


  • It’s important to ensure that any alleged debt is accurate.  Do not budget or expect to receive any stated amount of arrears as CSA/CMS can not guarantee payments.  
  • The current Arrears Strategy will see billions of outstanding historical child support arrears being deemed uncollectible.  Others will be collected as a very low priority.  
  • Notify CMS as soon as payments differ from the pay schedule issued to you.  If the full payment has not been received, ask that the case is moved to Collect and Pay scheme. 
  • CMS have a range of enforcement powers to collect arrears.  They can deduct money from salaries or from bank accounts.  Court orders can be applied for, which allows CMS to then instruct Bailiffs or place a charge against the Paying Parent's home (or other property) which can, if necessary, be sold by force. 

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