Concept for - Government consultation - proposed changes to child maintenance enforcement

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) was introduced in 2012 to replace the Child Support Agency as the body through which child maintenance payments are administered.

Background to child maintenance

Whilst it is possible for separated parents to make voluntary arrangements between themselves, the CMS serves as a useful backstop for many parents who are unable to agree the level of child maintenance that should be paid or the very principle of making those payments.

The majority of paying parents want to do the right thing and support their children, but for those who do not, the CMS is able to enforce payments by deducting them directly from earnings, benefits, or a range of bank accounts. There are still some who actively avoid trying to meet those payments, and where that happens, the CMS can apply to the Court to take stronger enforcement measures to collect unpaid arrears.

Speeding up the process 

From the point of the application to such an order being granted it can at present take up to 22 weeks. The Child Support (Enforcement) Act 2023 has been brought forward to address this delay.

Under its terms, the CMS would no longer need to apply to the Court, and that process would be replaced by a far simpler administrative process, enabling the CMS to take faster steps against paying parents who avoid their responsibilities in order to get the money to the children more quickly.

A public consultation – how you can get involved

A public consultation on these changes opened on 2 October 2023 and runs until the 24 November 2023. More details are available here.

You can send your response to the consultation to or by post to:

DWP Consultation Coordinator
Second floor
Caxton house
Tothill Street