The Child Support Agency (CSA) is set to close between now and the end of 2017. When it does, all cases will transfer to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). In case you’re not sure what this means, the CSA is the Government department that manages the contributions of parents who split towards the upbringing of their children until they’re 16.
But what does this mean for thousands of parents who use the service? Let’s take a look at whether the move will affect you.
If the CSA deals with your case at present
If the CSA currently handles your child maintenance arrangement, it will continue to do so until the end of 2017. Between now and then, parents should receive a letter from the CSA to notify them that their cases will not be automatically transferred to the new CMS system. Instead, you’ll have to set up a new case with the CMS.
How will you know?
You will receive two letters to tell you that your case is being closed. You’ll get the first letter six months before your existing CSA case closes and the second around a month before. It’s important to contact the CMS when you receive the first letter to get things in place, if you want to continue receiving child maintenance payments.
If you’ve already received a letter and haven’t contacted the CMS, you should act now. But if you’ve not had anything through, don’t worry – it could be anything up to a year before you do so keep a look out.
When your case closes
Once your existing case with the CSA closes, there is a chance you’ll have to wait to get your child maintenance payments. There’s a six week gap to transfer you onto the new CMS system and you’ll only start receiving payment once they’ve closed your old case down and set up the new one up.
What’s the new system?
The new system shouldn’t make a big difference to how your new case is handled, but it will cost you to £20 set it up. Those who have experienced domestic violence or who are under the age of 18 won’t have to pay this.
What does the fee cover?
• You’ll get a maintenance breakdown and schedule telling you when you’ll get your money.
• The CMS will check the income of the other parent to ensure it’s the right amount.
• You can access your online account to track payments.
• You can find information on how to arrange payments directly between the two sets of parents.
• The CMS will review your case each year to make sure you get the right amount.
• If you’re not receiving your payments, you can use the collections service but you’ll have to pay for this.