Parents who refuse to pay child maintenance will be put on CURFEW under new government plans


PARENTS could face being put on curfew as the government looks to crack down on people who won’t pay child maintenance.

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) could be handed new powers to place curfew orders on parents who should be paying towards their kids’ upbringing.

The Child Maintenence Service could be handed new powers.

It said curfews would act as a deterrent by making it difficult for the parent who refuses to pay to go out for dinner, to the pub or on holiday.

The CMS would apply to the courts for a curfew order and then an electronic monitoring service would be responsible for making sure the parent follows the rules.

If parents fail to comply, the CMS would be able refer them back to court, which might then extend the curfew order, or even impose a prison sentence.  

Baroness Stedman-Scott, Lords minister for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), said the CMS is “not afraid” to go after parents who refuse to pay for their children.  

She added: “Curfew orders are another step towards providing the CMS with a full arsenal of powers to make sure children get the financial support they need to have the best start in life.” 

The CMS is the government body that handles child maintenance payments if parents cannot reach a private agreement.

It was established in 2012 to replace the old Child Support Agency.

In the last 12 months, it has collected or arranged £1billion for children.

The CMS already has powers to confiscate the passport, driving license, or deduct earnings, from the parent who refuses to pay owed maintenance.

Victoria Benson, chief executive of single parent charity Gingerbread, said the cost of living crisis means child maintenance money is often “desperately” needed by parents and children.

But she added that the CMS should also make sure it is supporting parents who use the service, as well as using its enforcement powers.

She said: “Simply giving the CMS more powers isn’t the answer, the service must be reformed to better support those who use it and to protect children from living in avoidable poverty.”

Who has to pay child maintenance?

If you’re the child’s parent, you have to pay maintenance even if you don’t see them.

You don’t have to arrange maintenance through the CMS – you can choose to arrange it directly with the other parent.

Paying maintenance doesn’t mean you have a right to see the child. If you’d like to see them, you should first try to agree with the person who’s looking after them.

If you don’t think you’re the child’s parent, you’ll have to prove why. You might have to pay until you can prove you’re not the child’s parent.

The CMS can only ask you to pay maintenance if all the following rules apply to you and your family:

  • you’re all “habitually resident” in the UK. This means you’ve made the UK your home and intend to live here for the time being
  • the child is under 16 or under 20 and in approved education

You also don’t have to pay through the CMS if you already pay maintenance for the child:

  • to someone else through the CMS
  • under a court order which is less than a year old

How much do I have to pay?

The CMS will make an initial assessment of what you have to pay based on what the other parents has told it, plus information from organisations including HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

It will then phone you to ask you for information to calculate exactly what you should pay.

If the CMS can’t contact you by phone, it will write to you. You have 14 days to reply. 

The CMS will try to arrange a face-to-face interview with you if either:

  • you didn’t know you’re the parent of the child
  • you’re not named on the birth certificate

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