MPs should empower parents to make and enforce child maintenance agreements

04 Jul 2007

As MPs prepare to debate the Child Maintenance and other payments Bill for the first time, Resolution is calling for parents to be permitted to take their own enforcement action.

“The two previous Child Support schemes both failed because they could not handle the volume of cases that came to them. The Government created a system where the only way to enforce child maintenance was via the CSA – the result is a debt mountain of 3.5 billion in uncollected maintenance,” said Kim Fellowes, Chair of Resolution’s child support committee.

The Government is promoting voluntary agreements on child maintenance between parents to avoid overload on the new version of CSA, C-MEC. There will have to be a large number of voluntary agreements if C-MEC is not to be overwhelmed.

Yet the Government is not proposing that such arrangements will be enforceable. So couples unable to agree or enforce a voluntary arrangement will still have to go through C-MEC.

“The Government hopes to cut the workload of the new child maintenance agency by encouraging parents to make voluntary arrangements. But the reason the CSA was established is precisely because so few people can arrive at voluntary agreements.”

“If the Government is serious about empowering parents and reducing the burden on C-MEC, they should ensure that those who choose to are free to use the court process to enforce their own maintenance arrangements.

“Where the Courts are already examining the minutiae of a family’s finances for the purposes of divorce – the most cost effective and practical course would be to enable them also to cover arrangements for child support payments,” said Kim Fellowes.

Notes to editors:
1. Full details of Resolution’s concerns about the new Bill are included in the Media Briefing below.
2. In addition to heading up Resolution’s CSA task force, Kim Fellowes is a practising family solicitor dealing with family law and CSA cases. She gave evidence to the Select Committee on the 24th January 2007 on the Governments proposals and is available for comment on the full Government proposals.

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact:
Teresa Richardson
Head of Communications
Resolution - first for family law
Direct line: 020 7357 9215
Mobile: 07894 981 020

Kim Fellowes
Chair CSA Committee
Tel: 0191 279 9287