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Couple who raised grandson offered child support 19 years later

A couple who raised their grandson after a family breakup have been offered child support 19 years after he came to live with them  and 18 months after he took his own life.

David and Rosemary Wickenden from Southampton received a letter from the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) earlier this week, welcoming them to the their service and noting that the agency was now managing their payments for their grandson Mitchell, who was born in 1987.

The couple had given a home to Mitchell, then aged 8, and his sister Sadie back in 1995, after their unemployed son Paul and his partner split up.

They had applied to the Child Support Agency for maintenance at the time, Mr Wickenden told the Southern Daily Echo.

“… we were told we could not claim off our son Paul because he was out of work. We got some money from their mother but it ended quickly. Then we got this letter and I was just amazed. I thought child support ran out at 16? And if he was still alive Mitchell would be 27 so how can something like this happen?”

Mitchell joined the army and served in Iraq, but later succumbed to depression after losing his job and splitting up with his girlfriend. He took his own life in October 2012.

Mr Wickenden, now 74, said: “We were only just beginning to get over our grief”.

He continued: “We did all the legwork for child support years ago but never got anywhere, so this just shows what a mess they can make of it. It’s pure carelessness and I think we deserve an apology.”

A spokesman for the CMS responded to enquiries by the Southern Daily Echo, saying the letter had been sent “in error”.

“We apologise for the obvious distress this has caused. We are urgently investigating how this has happened and will be in touch with the family shortly.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. JamesB says:

    Not nice. Was not nice at all for them (the CMS / CSA) to do that. They should give some money in compensation for being so bad and hurtful.

  2. Stuart says:

    The letter wouldn’t have been from CMS, as they only deal with cases started after December 2012.

    How would the CSA know that the child had since died? It’s very sad that he has, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the CSA have eventually secured payment for this long overdue debt.

    If these people don’t want the money, then say so: but I don’t see any reason for the CSA to apologise for collecting it.

  3. JamesB says:

    I think you need to read the article. They the cms did not offer any money. You are disregarding that the csa / cms is an evil institution which drives people apart.

  4. JamesB says:

    You have mis read or not read the above article, they (the CMS) are not offering anything but further heartache. Indeed that is all the CSA / CMEC / CMS has achieved is to generate more unpleasantness and cause more upset than there would otherwise have been.

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