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Loopholes ‘depriving single parents of child support’

‘Loopholes’ mean too many absent parents are not paying their dues, single parent charity Gingerbread has claimed.

In a new report entitled Children Deserve More, Gingerbread insist that recent reforms to the child maintenance system have “prioritised administrative convenience over all other concerns” and “desperate” parents with care are being let down by an unhelpful and confusing system.

Amongst the issues highlighted in the report is the government’s decision to calculate child support obligations on the basis of gross earnings as self-reported to HMRC, which is of course, a separate organisation. This allows many paying parents to deliberately under-report their true incomes the charity says, even if they are in reality quite wealthy, and get away with paying “a bare minimum”.

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) procrastinates when parents complain that they are not receiving their due, Gingerbread insists, or disclaims responsibility, referring them to HRMC, only for the parent to receive a similar reception from the latter organisation. Some are then repeatedly passed back and forth between the two organisations.

The government must child support evasion seriously, Gingerbread declares, and establish a new strategy for tackling the issues involved. This must include provision for greater cooperation between the CMS and HMRC it says.

Director of Policy Dalia Ben-Galim said:

“Up and down the country, loopholes in the child maintenance system are allowing parents to deny their children the essential support they need. Some are deliberately hiding their income, while others can perfectly lawfully escape with income or assets ignored; some are cash-in-hand labourers, while others are multi-millionaires. But in all these cases, single parents now have to collect evidence for a system that continually obstructs them. It’s not enough that they juggle being breadwinners and homemakers – they are now forced to become private detectives as well.”

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. Andy says:

    Gingerbread are bleating again…
    What and who they represent are the so hard done by gold digger mother’s and of course a voice behind CMS…
    Trouble is who is checking them..
    Good luck to the loophole finders also just shows the so called caring and parental alienation by such groups who support such…
    Incompetence is not the word but wern’t they the ones who tried to get the 4% charge removed and application fee removed Charged by the CMS due to struggling PWC usually the applicant mother with sudden increased
    financial needs, funny the charge for the NRP was to stay the same…quite clear who is backing who…
    Same as MUMSNET bunch of bra throwing groups who actually earn more than the booted out father and hide behind the so called domestic violence routine to bolster and gain financial increases…

    • Jennifer says:

      ‘golddigging mothers’? I work fulltime as a Nurse, my daughters Father cleared off after being caught texting underage girls, he hasnt paid a penny for her, or sent her an xmas card. I haven’t pursued CSA, should i decide to, that doesn’t make me a golddigger, why should he excape the ‘huge’ £28 a week, which wouldn’t look at what it costs to rear Lucy.
      (*Comment moderated – please see our policy here).

  2. Steve says:

    In this day and age of so-called equality. Let their mothers pay for them when they are in their care and I’ll pay for them when they’re in my care. Equal.

    • JamesB says:

      Seems fair enough and sensible solution to me. Would stop the randomise that goes on also. Need presumption of shared care fifty fifty also to make work.

      I didnt used to think that, used to believe establishment knew best with child arrangements. Now I think they (family courts) know nothing and your approach plus fifty fifty care is sensible the way to go.

      • JamesB says:

        Better still, put the whole thing back to the courts where it was and should be and subject to prenups rather than the mess the government agencies have made and are making as csa/cmec/cms/cmoptions.

        • Andrew says:

          Totally agree on the 50.50 argument followed by the “support them when you have them” argument. Clearly, parents will need to agree on things like schooling and activities but the state is the worst possible arbiter in these situations.

    • Paul says:

      Agreed about me paying while they are with me. Not so sure about going back to the courts. Courts have deminstrated no capacity to rule fairly in child custody disputes. Infact they have demonstrated a capcity to discriminate. I simply would not trust them to arbitrate these things. The PWC would turn on tears claim DV an you would be stitched up like a kipper. Then you would receive court fees/solicitors fees on top of CMS payments. Which is just in human.

  3. Andrew says:

    CM is one debt among many and HMRC have no business supporting one creditor over another. In fact: since many PWCs will rely on benefits – that is the taxpayer – if the NRP does not pay, for HMRC to favour CM would be grossly improper.

  4. Paul says:

    Why is my ex aloud the benefit of 3 incomes and im not aloud one.
    Exs income + new partners income + CMS + benefits. Vs my situation One income -17.5% tax – 20% cms (two kids) – 37.5% of my income gone before rent or mortauge- Its a fecking inhuman situation. So if I was on minimum wage I would be 20% national minimum living standard. Understand male suicide rate yet ??? Whoever does this is a disgrace.

    • Maurice Wilson says:

      Same here I might have to leave the country with my 2 new children if I am going to ever build a future for them. I’ve been going to family court for 3 years the social workers wrote that the mother is mentally manipulation the children . Everytime she don’t get her own way in family court new alligations arise and the courts did nothing all they said was she mist encourage them because children often resent thier parents in the future ( as if she cares) . All I get is indirect contact with cards and I don’t receive anything back.

      • Paul says:

        Im im same boat Maurice. No contact except birthday cards. Its sickening pall. I have a mind just too ignore it an go an see them anyway. Yet im getting hounded for money. This is a sick sick game. Keep your head up pall.
        (*Comment moderated)

  5. Andrew says:

    This so called “research” is a badly drafted piece of propaganda authored by an organisation that supports divisive policy. There is no justification for this sort of vitriolic nonsense in this day and age.

    The report is shockingly lacking in any kind of empirical data as to the size of this so called “problem”. The figures on page 30 are based mainly on conjecture and “estimates” and the simple fact is that there are already mechanisms in place to adjust for all the “issues” raised in the report.

    The report itself says “Elizabeth, Heather, Lee and Sandra ultimately succeeded – with varying degrees of success – in persuading an appeal tribunal to increase their child maintenance to better reflect their ex-partner’s true financial resources.” – so what is the problem really?

    That’s its not “easy enough” to pillage a legal stranger’s income for your own selfish benefit?

    Surely a more beneficial way would be to have a system based on the actual cost of raising children (like they have in Sweden or Denmark).

  6. Paul Apreda says:

    We’ve issued a response today entitled ‘A ‘Monopoly’ of the argument here

  7. Andy says:

    Justice for NRP’s
    Good luck and fight on…

  8. peter says:

    It is interesting that everyone commenting on here is on the fathers side.
    It is great to see however, Id like to be a little thought provoking.
    One person has commented and referred to mothers as “Gold Diggers” and said that “MUMSNET bunch of bra throwing groups”

    How does this situation sound and this is a real and honest situation.
    I’m the step-dad and my partner and her son moved in with me. She left the mortgaged home of her ex and they initially moved into a little 2 x bed flat. It was a joint mortgage but she cut her losses and left the house to him.
    She tried for years to arrange maintenance privately and she only asked him to help contribute to the childcare costs. She reduced her hours at work and the only way she could continue to work was if the chilcare contributions he used to make were kept up.
    It’s important to point out that he earned more than double her salary. This set up worked until child went to school. Then they did alternative weekends and shared the school holidays.
    They agreed a weekly rate for maintenance and when child wasn’t in school he didn’t pay for those weeks at all.
    This worked his financial circumstances changed, he got re-married, had another child and inherited a relatives home.

    There was always an agreed annual review that they privately arranged and when his circumstances changed to his benefit so did his goal posts. After 6 years of alternative weekend care he wanted 50 / 50 access although his job sent him working away. His wife would happily take care of their child when he couldn’t and by his own admission he’d pay only when he had the child.
    After years of trying to mediate and completely short changing his son my partner couldn’t afford things like uniform so I contributed more to pay for his son.

    She went to the CMS and the payments became regular and fair. She agreed to start buying more clothes and supply them to the dad so he didn’t need to buy anything. She also used her fuel to collect son from dad’s who lives in another town. She nor I have a luxury life style. We buy cheap clothing secondhand, we only have UK holidays and everything spent is on the child.
    Now, here is the thought provoking situation…. The new CMS review has come through and he seems to have had a substantial pay cut which means the maintenance payments have decreased. May I now remind you of the house he has inherited – no mortgage. The 2nd child he has – is in childcare and the childcare vouchers scheme has meant he had done the following:
    1) salary sacrificed the maximum possible to childcare vouchers. His wife has not salary sacrificed anything.
    2) increased his pension contributions significantly but not enough to cause a concern to the CMS.

    He also has extra income as the house that she left – he is now able to rent out.

    Let me ask you….. Is she a gold digger?

    In all honesty and I may be biased but if I were to have an ex and have a child with them, I’d rather deal with a woman like the one partner is. I think that her fairness has been a downfall.

    I’m interested to hear your thoughts…

    • Paul says:

      Theres always another side to a story fella. The people on here comenting are real people with real experience of this system been one sided against fathers. Of course their are instances that work the other way. But they are deffinatly not the norm. Your exleaving the house for example. Thats far from the normal way things procced. The law is designed to protect people with money. Possetions are 9/10 of the law as they say. Your exs partner clearly has enough money/ smarts to keep the wolf of his back.
      Can’t really deffend that. Like you say your partner has been a soft touch. If she flexed her legal muscles then the bloke would probably not have had it so good.

  9. John says:

    The report is hugely biased in favour of Mums which does the organisation that wrote it a real discredit.
    There is a very simple solution and that is that 50-50 shared care should be the starting point and that both parents pay for everything when the child is with them. The current system financially encourages the Resident Parent to allow as little time with the Non Resident Parent as possible. Child loses out and Resident Parent gains financially. New relationship person income never taken into account. It is an inhumane system that if it was predominantly negatively affecting women not men then there would be outrage.

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