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Managing Child Support Debts

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 15 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Managing Child Support Debts

If you have made an arrangement with a former partner to pay child support debts then it is very important to adhere to these payments. Managing child support debts can be easily accomplished, however the consequences if you fail to make payments can lead to court appearances and bailiffs collecting your belongings to sell. The ultimate consequence of non-payment of child support could be prison.

How Child Maintenance is Paid

There are a number of ways that child maintenance fees can be paid. Payment can either be paid directly to the resident parent or can go through the Child Support Agency (CSA), who will then pay the resident parent. Payments can be made from the non-resident parent by standing order, direct debit, or through a Post Office account directly into the resident parent’s account.

These payments can all be made very easily from the non-resident parent’s bank or building society. Alternatively the non-resident parent can set up a direct debit or standing order to pay the money directly to the CSA. Non-resident parents can also ask their employer to take money directly from their salary or pension. The CSA will then transfer the payments directly to the resident parent, usually within a week.

Late Child Support Payments

If the non-resident is late paying in the maintenance then the CSA will begin the process of collecting the arrears. Late or missed CSA payments are taken very seriously, and it is in the non-resident parent’s best interests to make sure that payments are made on time. Action can be taken immediately if the payments have been set up through the CSA. If the payments were set up directly from parent to parent then the resident parent will need to contact the CSA and begin the arrears recovery process.

Consequences of Non or Late Payments

The CSA will never usually write off child maintenance arrears and they will proceed aggressively in order to recover the money. The consequences can include court action or arrears taken directly from the non-resident parent’s wages.

The courts will also take non payment very seriously, especially if child maintenance was originally decided by the courts. The penalties involved may include the confiscation of the non-resident parent’s driving licence, the ordering of bailiffs to seize and sell property, paying the costs of all legal services including the costs of the CSA taking the non-resident parent to court, and the payment of all child maintenance arrears. The ultimate consequence may be prison.

Contacting the CSA

If the non-resident parent does find themselves in difficulty with arrears then they should contact the CSA immediately. By doing this they may be able to stop the debt recovery process by informing the CSA that payment will be delayed. The non-resident parent should have a good reason why the payment will be delayed or missed. This reason may be accepted or rejected by the CSA, and it is entirely down to their discretion.

Making Late Payments

Managing your child support debts can easily be accomplished if a direct debit, standing order or other form of direct payment is set. By doing this the non-resident will not need to worry about forgetting or missing payments. If financial circumstances change then the CSA should be contacted immediately, they will be able to recalculate payments according to the new financial circumstances.

There are very special circumstances where a court will write off child support arrears. There will be a hearing and arrears may only be written off if the court is satisfied that the arrears occurred through some form of genuine hardship of the non-resident parent.

Managing child support debts should be a number one priority for all non-resident parents. Unfortunately this is not always the case, and many single parents struggle to bring up children on one income. The non-resident parent should make all the provisions they can to pay the child support, even if it means cutting costs in their own lifestyle or taking on extra hours at work.

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