The CSA & child maintenance calculations: don’t pay twice!

Family Law|April 6th 2011

Reader JamesB had some interesting questions for Stowe Family Law solicitor Rachel Baul about the CSA and changing the amount of child maintenance that he pays every month by an attachment to earnings order. (This is when child maintenance is deducted directly from the parent’s wages.) Every month many hundreds of visitors with questions about the CSA, CMEC and child maintenance find their way to this blog and for this reason, I am printing both the questions and Rachel’s answers in full.

JamesB: “I pay maintenance by an attachment to earnings order, by county court enforcement of an ancillary relief child maintenance order. The problem is that this is now over the rate of that which my ex-wife should receive. This is because I have since had another child and I am not earning more money now then I was when we divorced. Thus, I would like to go to the CSA and have the form completed and ready to go.”

Rachel Baul: So, you currently have an order providing for child maintenance as a result of your ancillary relief proceedings. You also have an attachment of earnings order against you for payments to be made through your employers. You have since had another child and you believe that under the current regime, you may pay less if you paid through the CSA. Therefore you wish to make an application to the CSA for an assessment.

The first thing you should note is that in order for you to apply to the CSA, at least 12 months and one day must have passed since the date of the court order. The CSA will not have jurisdiction to take on your case unless this time period has elapsed. If this time has not elapsed and you still wish for your child maintenance to be varied, you will need to make a variation application to the court that made the final ancillary relief order.

“Thing is, once I send [the form to the CSA], until they presumably dispose of the court order for me to pay through the CSA, I will be effectively paying twice won’t I? How can I stop this from happening please? What is the process? I have read that CSA maintenance is due from the date of the application and don’t want to pay child maintenance twice for the same period.”

There is a way around this. If your court order has been in place for at least 12 months and one day and the CSA has jurisdiction, then the attachment of earnings order will need to be discharged before the CSA can open the case.

You can still make your application to the CSA but, to ensure that you do not get charged twice, you will not start payments with the CSA until your other court order is discharged. Of course, when make your application to the CSA, you need to inform them of the whole situation so that they do not accidentally charge you.

To discharge the attachment of earnings order, you will need to make an application to the court informing them that you have made an application to the CSA. It will then be for the court to discharge your obligation under the child maintenance provision of your ancillary relief order, and to then discharge your attachment of earnings order. These orders will remain in force until they are discharged by the court. Therefore you will have to continue the payments until this time. Once the orders are discharged, the CSA can take over.

“On the form they ask for full details of my employer. Will they write straight away to my employer? I was under the impression that they wanted salary slips from me, but they have not asked for them. Should I miss off my employer’s name to get them to write to me and ask me for payslips (as I’d rather not involve my employer for obvious reasons – I don’t want to be seen as a troublemaker)? Or will they write to me first and not the employer? If that is the case, why do they ask for the details?”

The CSA is requesting information about your employer, because they need to know this in order to make their assessment of your child maintenance liability. They need to know whether you are in employment and how much you are paid. They will also use this information for enforcement purposes if you default in making the payments. The CSA can make a deduction of earnings order against you if you do not pay. This would work in the same way as your current attachment of earnings order. Their other enforcement powers include deducting money from your bank accounts, being disqualified from driving and committal to prison.

I hope that these answers satisfy your questions. Readers are welcome to leave additional questions below.

Solicitor Rachel Baul joined Stowe Family Law in 2004, and is a member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel. She specialises in all areas of family law and ancillary relief, and has been commended by a number of the firm’s high profile clients.

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  1. JamesB says:

    Thank you. I am in court on the 21st April. My ex wife has asked the court to increase the attachment to earnings order in line with rpi as it says in line with the AR order – along with much else which she ignores – the problem was she stopped me seeing the children against a contact order and wants more money (or less reduction for) , long story.

    Still, can I use the opportunity to ask the court to discharge the attachment of earnings order as I will by then have made my application to the CSA? Or should I make another application now? If so, on which form and for how much please? Should the application be automatically successful given that the AR order is July 2006, although there was an AoE order under different case number in October 2007 and June 2010?

    Should I get a Solicitor to do all this? Thing is I have already spent many thousands on this as has other parties and they never settle and court seems reluctant to do anything, especially for me as I am seen as a troublemaker because I am a LIP where she always has a barrister.

    I really do appreciate the time and hope others may also be helped by this. Thank you again.

  2. JamesB says:

    Also, do the CSA write to my employer 1st, or do they give me a chance 1st to provide the information and pay? I thought they wanted 2 payslips / 6 weeks records yet the form doesn’t ask for them. Or even any details of my earnings, which I find very strange.

  3. R. Neil says:

    Can I claim transferred capital from exwife prior to 1993. to pay for CSA costs as i would not have agreed to the transfare of property prior to the exisitence of the CSA. ?

  4. Tulsa Divorce Attorneys says:

    If I’m understanding this post correctly, CSA is legally authorized to double dip??? That can’t be right…what am I missing here???

  5. Sally Hampson says:

    I have been paying maintenance through CSA by Attachment of earnings. These stopped in November 2011 when I cleared the arrears. My employers deducted 399.43 from my October salary, the CSA say they have never received this. I am now in dispute with the CSA and my employers as both are refusing to reimburse me. How can I go about getting this money back.

  6. Reano says:

    Hi, I’ve just found out my ex wife and her boyfriend both work full time now and earn treble what I earn, can I get a reduction in my csa payments as I’m struggling to live on my wage. I’m sure if I was earning treble what they earn my payments would go up??

  7. Martin says:

    I sent csa 5 wage slips 3years ago and the only would take the three high ones into consideration as they say that was what i was earing but would not take the two low one into consideration as they were a lot low. but I have explained and explained that when you are doing agency work it was like that. how do you get them to take the right amount.

  8. RogerF says:

    Hi. Need advice!! I currently pay my ex wife maintenance payments via an attachment of earnings order, which I requested. I pay for my youngest son. My eldest son came to live with me 1 year ago and is still in full time education. I have requested and requested a new assessment as I believe she should also be paying me maintenance for our eldest son. Nothing has happened, and I’m still paying too much. My pay was recently reduced to half as I’ve been on long term sick awaiting an operation. I contacted csa and no payment was made in august, but to my horror they took almost 3 times the amount in sept! Can they do this? Also I live with my partner and her 2 school age children, which I have told them about but they just dont seem to listen. My ex wife states she can’t pay anything as she only earns £75 after deductions. I know this to be incorrect as she works full time Monday to Friday, and this would make her hourly rate only £1.84 per hour! Again csa say they won’t or can’t look into that because she is in receipt of working tax credits!!
    Please please, give some much needed advice!!

  9. kevin says:

    ive made the mistake of handin money over to my sons mother on a 4 weekly basis for a wile now, now shes dicided to involve csa, 344 pound a month they expect of me each month which leaves me with 660 pound before ive even payed my rent and council tax after this im left with about 40 quid, is there a certain amount of money somebody can be left with out there wages

  10. Lisa goodwin says:

    For the past two years I have been taking home £700 per month deo deducted 566 per month. Then for some strange reason My Employer did not de-duct any Csa this month as My Protected Earnings are approx 1318.00 .So now I am Approx£500 in arrears and Looking that Csa will ow take£1000 this month? Who is to blame My Employer for not Protecting my Salary for the past x 2 Years -Or the CSA allowing my ex an open cheque book of £550 per month tax free and not allowing me any access to my own children!…..When they are not even attending full time education on Holiday to Spain as I write this yet MyChildren are now back at School . Appreciate any Advice or jus give up work and not pay the B a penny and claim Disability Benefits like everyone else in this country.

  11. simon says:

    great csa hay?ive paid 4 past 6 years but wasnt till last yr they gave ex my payments over 7000 asked 4 statments what paid,arrears and refund that was 8 months ago still nothin!went on line told what thought got letter 3days ago looking in2 it?my arse weeks when they took double or 2 much i wont c that good old prime minster give more 2 people havin kids just 4 money yrs worked 4 that then u take it fuck it up ask 4 evidence and shit,england so wrong keep forigns out,give english people money bk csa can x my arse goverment will fuck england 4 r kids take fingers out your arse look at familys,stand up b heard the mess csa does give it bk

  12. Ryan says:

    For 14 years I have paid close to 40% of my wages in maintenance. In 2003 I was told that the CSA were moving my case to the new system of maintenance calculation at 15% of my wages. Since that time, the much publicised issues with the £350million computer system that didn’t work, I wasn’t transferred onto this new system. 10 years later, they are releasing a new 2012 system and yet I still remain on the old 1993 system. If I had been moved onto the 2003 system when they said they would (remember it’s not MY fault that THEIR systems failed) I would have paid £28,000 less in maintenance. It also transpires, that because my ex partner had a child in 2004, that should have automatically made my case transfer to the new case. I am understandably very angry about how it can be that there are 3 systems of calculation that produce quite different results. My ex refuses to arrange private payments because I am paying nearly 3 times as much as I would pay in a privately agreed maintenance plan and restricts access to 51 days a year to keep maintenance payments high. I have raised a complaint with the ombudsman (which is being processed currently). On a basic level, it seems ‘unjust’ that there are several payment calculations. My question is: what sort of legal challenge could I put against the organisation itself, or the governing department to ensure that I am treated the same as any other parent in my situation? I want to continue to pay maintenance (15% of my wage not the current 35-40%) and I want a better custody arrangement. Can you please let me know: what are my options? Can I ever get the £25,000 that I have overpaid back?

  13. Daniel says:

    Hi I hope you can help, I am at a loss to what to do
    I was paying my ex 100 per week through standing order direct into her bank and i have proof of all these payments.
    My ex contacted the csa and lied to them saying she has not received any maintenance payments from me since october 2010.
    The csa have contacted my employer and have come to a figure that i owe around 10,000 for back going from my ex’s lies.
    I have sent the csa all the proof of payments for maintenance and they have now got an attachments of earnings order on me to pay 1600 per month to pay the back dated amount they say i owe.
    What is going on with this system they really are a law to them selves.
    I am getting to the point of doing something really drastic and i feel i am being pushed into something i dont want to do.
    I last see my son in April this year as my ex stopped me seing him.
    I have not got a problem paying any amount aslong as it is the correct amount but i am being rail roaded into this and i feel there is nothing i can do about it.
    Please can someone help or give me some advice as i am getting very close to ending it all because i cant handle the stress of this anymore.
    please anyone

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Daniel
      Don’t despair.
      You should apply for a variation of the attachment of earnings order through the court:-
      If you wish to see your son, you can apply for a contact order through the court.
      See this link:-
      Hope this helps. If you need assistance completing the forms, take all the relevant information to a solicitor who may be offering free assistance or your local CAB.
      Best wishes

  14. Chris says:

    Hi Marilyn,

    What powers do the CSA have re the NRP if no case is open. My case was closed in 2007, there were no arrears. I have now moved back to the UK and despite no new case being opened by me or the PWC the CSA are demanding various information from me. Do they have the power to do this?

    Thanks in advance.
    Cheers Chris

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Chris
      Why not give Child Maintenance Options a call and explain all the facts to them. They will be able to advise you further.

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