Nov 2014

Harsher measures proposed for defaulting parents

Proposals to impose harsher penalties on parents who default on child maintenance payments have been mooted by the Government.

Parents who default on child maintenance payments may face being turned down for mortgages and credit cards under new government plans.

From March 2015, information from parents’ payment records in England, Scotland and Wales could be shared with credit reference agencies.

Financial organisations would then use this data to decide whether or not they want to offer someone credit.

Single parent charity Gingerbread said the announcement was “very welcome”.

The new powers would affect a minority of cases where “liability orders” had been granted, because parents had fallen so far in arrears the courts had had to intervene to legally recognise the debt. But ministers hope the measures will have a deterrent effect.

Fiona Weir, chief executive of Gingerbread, said children lost out when child maintenance stopped and said it was “vital” to collect what was unpaid.

She added: “More than £1bn is currently owed in unpaid child maintenance, and barely one in five of those who owe money for their children are paying it back.”

The Child Maintenance Service was introduced in 2012 and it will eventually replace the Child Support Agency (CSA), which is gradually closing its cases over the next three years.

If you would like more information on issues concerning Divorce, Separation and Child Maintenance call our family team on 0191 490 0108 in confidence and they can offer you a free consultation over the telephone to advise you further on your particular circumstances.