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My ex isn't paying child maintenance!

How do I get my ex to pay after the CMS has assessed?

Our Child Maintenance expert's response...

Assuming that there is a maintenance assessment in force; they have an obligation to make payments.

Firstly you should contact the CMS on the number at the top of your assessment letter and ask them to chase up payments. Ask them what steps they have taken to make your ex pay up.

It would be useful to ask for a breakdown of the maintenance owed (this could take up to 6 weeks but I have never understood the reason for such a long delay) and then you will be able to see exactly what the situation is and how much arrears are owed to you.

It is always worth considering the status of your ex partner so you can manage your expectations of the amount of time it will take. It is more difficult to chase a self employed ex partner as the methods which can be used to make your ex pay have different success rates. But don’t be put off, just bear in mind it might take longer.

Whilst you are waiting for the breakdown, the CMS can be doing something to try and make things move forward. They could contact your ex and ask why they aren’t paying. If there is no reported change in circumstances outstanding, they could warn them that they will impose a Deduction from Earnings Order (DEO) if they don’t make an agreement to pay the current maintenance plus a reasonable figure from the arrears. If they don't respond within a reasonable period (about 14 days) they can issue a DEO which makes the employer deduct the maintenance from earnings on a weekly or monthly basis. This could mean a further gap will the payments start to flow but once they start flowing they should be received more or less at a regular time each week/month.

If a DEO isn’t possible the CMS could start enforcement action. Very simply, this means the CMS pick a specific period for the debt, ensure the case is correct, calculate the arrears and then apply to the court for a Liability Order. This is not a quick process. Once a Liability Order is awarded there are several ways the debt can be enforced – bailiff action; taking money from a bank account; putting a charge on a property your ex owns; taking driving licenses or passports and even imprisonment. This type of action is usually used for self employed non-resident parents but it is very long winded and doesn’t always mean that payments start to flow again.

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