Changes to the Child Maintenance Service were brought into full effect on the 11th of August.

The changes include the following: 

  • Parents will be encouraged to make their own arrangements instead of using the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). 
  • Parents will have the option of using the Government’s Direct Pay service. This is an online self-service facility (similar to online banking) which will enable parents to manage their own maintenance arrangements and keep track of payments. Users can make and receive secure payments 24 hours a day. Direct Pay intervenes in the event of missed payments or problems. There are no ongoing charges for using this service. 
  • The third option is for parents to use the CMS who will calculate, collect and pay maintenance (parents will still have the option of tracking progress by using the online self-service facility).  
  • For those using the CMS there is a one off application fee of £20. There are exceptions, for example, victims of domestic violence will not have to pay the application fee. 
  • With Collect and Pay where the CMS calculates, collects and pays maintenance there are additional charges. The paying parent pays 20% on top of the maintenance calculation and the receiving parent pays 4% of the amount received. 
  • Also there are enforcement charges ranging from £50 to £300 for parents who try to avoid their maintenance obligations.

The CMS replaces the old Child Support Agency (CSA) which will be gradually wound down over the next 3 years. As the CSA closes, those parents currently using it can either make their own arrangements for maintenance, use the Direct Pay system or transfer to the CMS.


The Government has introduced radical changes to child maintenance designed to “eradicate the failures of the past and replace them with a fair, efficient, streamlined service, fit for the 21st Century – a system that supports parents and gets more money to more children”. Most importantly, the Government says, the new system encourages parents to work together and to help many take the State out of their maintenance arrangements altogether. On the other hand, critics of the new system remain concerned that the introduction of charges will actively discourage the use of the CMS resulting in many vulnerable parents and children being subject to unstable and possibly unfair voluntary maintenance arrangements.

For further information or advice on any family related matters please contact one of our specialist solicitors below:

John Shurvinton (Hereford office) 

Manminder Chhoker (Hereford office) 

Anne Vincent (Leominster office) 

Carolyn Theobald (Hay on Wye office)

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