Inevitably, when parents separate there are a number of issues that need to be considered, both in the long and short-term. One of the long-term issues to be considered is child maintenance – something that people often need some guidance and support with.
A recent YouGov poll has indicated that 36% of the 900 people who participated in the poll were unaware of who they can turn to for impartial advice about child maintenance. Whilst, the poll does not seem to address the issue of why those parents did not seek legal advice, what is clear is that there would seem to be a worryingly large percentage of separating parents who are perhaps missing out on what could be invaluable legal advice at a difficult time in their lives.
Janet Paraskeva, the Chair of Child Maintenance Options, was quoted as saying “Too many children are missing out, partly because parents – during what is already a very confusing time – are receiving conflicting advice.” To help with this apparent lack of available information the Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission (CMEC) has set up an advice service.
Child Maintenance is an issue that affects a large number of separated parents in this country with the latest quarterly figures indicating that for the first time ever the number of children benefiting from child maintenance payments through the Child Support Agency (CSA) has exceeded 800,000. The actual figure is said to be 809,800.
The CSA has previously been marred by bad publicity with regards to failing to collect payments and so it is extremely positive to see such numbers of children benefiting from maintenance payments. However, it remains important for separated parents to be fully informed about the options available to them, especially in circumstances where the process of transferring responsibility for the collection of child maintenance payment is already in the process of being passed from the CSA to the CMEC.
The CMEC is already said to be working on a new statutory maintenance regime with a view to that regime being in place by 2011. During this transitional process it is said that the CSA will retain its cases until they have been closed or transferred to the CMEC – a process that is hoped to be completed by 2014.
It is of course vitally important for separated parents to have easy access to the information necessary to enable them to make an informed decision about how to best proceed in their particular circumstances.
We are pleased to say that this is something that Stephens Scown can assist with – please contact us with any query you may have.