Child Support (Enforcement) Act 2023
Written by Hayley Coyne, Chartered Legal Executive.
On the 20th July 2023, the Child Support (Enforcement) Act 2023 received Royal Assent, making it law. The law is hoped to financially support many parents who are not receiving child maintenance payments from the non-resident parent.
It was estimated this year that the current child maintenance arrears stand at £547.9 million* with, 15% of the children covered by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), not receiving payments at all. This is causing financial difficulties for many families, especially in the current financial climate.
CMS Empowered to Act Without Court Involvement
The Act enables the CMS to enforce non-payment of maintenance without, having to make an application to the court. Previously, if the paying parent was not paying the child maintenance, in order to enforce it, the CMS would have to apply to the court to obtain a liability order. This would cause delays which sometimes would be for some months, meaning that the receiving parent would have to go for longer without receiving the payments that they should.
Prior to the implementation of the Order, the CMS only had the power to collect arrears through a deduction from earnings order (or deduction from earnings request if the paying parent is in the Armed Forces), a deduction order (allowing deductions from a bank account) or, collection of assets from a deceased paying parent’s estate, however, this would not always achieve a result. The new legislation, now allows the Secretary of State to make a Liability Order (previously having to be made by the court), which allows for a wider range of enforcement actions including, using Bailiffs to take control of goods.
It is therefore hoped that the new legislation will reduce the time it takes to enforce arrears and therefore, help many individuals who are struggling financially.
This legislation comes as the second piece of legislation relating to child maintenance, that has become law in the last few weeks. On the 29th June 2023, the Child Support Collection (Domestic Abuse) Act 2023 received Royal Assent. This Act allows the CMS to intervene in cases where abuse is evident.
How HK Law’s Family team can help
Seeking legal advice from one of our expert family lawyers can make all the difference by empowering you to make informed decisions, as well as giving you peace of mind on your rights and what costs may be involved.