Enforcement: Liability Orders
Child Support debt is often caused through CSA delay rather than non compliance, but arrears remain payable irrespective of how they accrued. CSA can use measures such as liability order, charging orders and even force the sale of a property to recover child maintenance arrears, so it is vital that any alleged child support debt is verified as correct. For details of how we can assist you with this, please see our support packages page
The first stage of legal enforcement undertaken by CSA, will be an application to court for a Liability Order. In many cases CSA will imply that there is no need for you to attend court as the order will be granted irrespective of any information you may wish to present. If there is any reason to doubt the alleged debt we strongly encourage clients to attend.
A Liability Orders has to be granted before the Child Support Agency (CSA) or CMEC as now known, can enforce any debt by way of court based enforcement measures, such as bailiffs , charging orders, Order of Sale etc. CSA may threaten you with bailiffs, and even that they will put you in prison if you do not pay the debt at the repayment level they demand – but they cannot carry out any such action without first securing a Liability Order through the courts.
However, do not be complacent!! CSA have extensive powers and they will use them to pursue repayment. If you dispute the debt, there is a process that needs to be followed and you have limited time to do this. It is important to resolve the issue and not assume that they will leave you alone.
Liability Orders are currently granted by a Magistrates Court., but this is due to change under new legislation. CSA will no longer have to apply to the courts to grant the order. These are known as Administrative Liability Orders. Details of any appeals process against an administrative liability order are not yet known as the orders are not currently used.
Administrative Liability Orders will be used to collect debt including a pre 2000 period. Until such times as the Administrative Liability Order come into effect, the courts cannot grant an order for debt that became due before 12th July 00.
We have encountered a number of cases where pre 2000 debt has been attempted within a liability order application.
The public must apply the following groundwork for any threat of enforcement action to be taken:
1. Ensure that a full arrears breakdown is requested. This is the only way to verify the accuracy of any debt.
2. You are legally entitled to a Notice of Intention to apply for a Liability Order. This should be served 7 days before the application for a liability order is made. The Notice of Intention letter will include two dates – ensure that the date is no earlier than 13 July 2000.
3. Compare the debt total as stated in the Notice of Intention letter, against the total in the summons and ensure there are no debts from pre 2000 being used in the application.
4. If you dispute the debt, you must at all costs attend the hearing. CSA officers will often dismiss the importance of these hearings, and convince you that attendance is not necessary. DO NOT be fooled into not attending. If you do attend and the CSA try to convince you not to stay, DO NOT leave. If you wish to contest the order – attendance is absolutely vital.
We offer additional support packages to assist with the verification of any alleged debt. The packages needed will very much depend on the circumstances and the history of your case. Taking advantage of our one month subscription will allow you to speak to our support team to discuss the case in detail and establish what other packages may be of help to you.