Monday, July 12, 2010

Father with massive child maintenance debt prevented from selling house to dodge CSA

I have received the following press release from the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission:

FATHER WITH MASSIVE CHILD MAINTENANCE DEBT PREVENTED FROM SELLING HOUSE TO DODGE CSA.

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission has begun using new powers to halt or reverse the sale and transfer of assets by parents attempting to dodge financial responsibility for their children.

In the first case of its kind, a father in the northwest of England has been prevented from selling a house he was advertising on a popular property website. The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, owes over £78,000 in unpaid maintenance. He has paid nothing to his former partner for almost twelve years while failing to respond to letters or phone calls from the Child Support Agency- now part of the Commission.

The Commission applied for a 'freezing order' after the man put his house on the market, raising fears he would try to put the proceeds beyond the Agency’s reach. The particulars of sale for the four-bedroom property boasted of numerous costly improvements, including a luxury fitted kitchen and home cinema. It noted there was "no chain" to hold up a quick sale.


In the first case to be brought under powers introduced by the latest child maintenance legislation, the High Court has now imposed an order preventing the sale. The reforms also allow the courts to reverse the sale or transfer of property by parents who have unpaid maintenance arrears. These 'setting aside' orders are designed to stop parents putting valuable assets in the names of new partners and relatives in order to evade both the CSA and their duty to provide for their children.

"This case sends a clear message to all parents who have run up substantial maintenance arrears," said Dame Janet Paraskeva, Chair of the Child Maintenance Commission. "Step-by-step the Commission is closing the escape routes for parents who think they can cheat their children out of money from which they are entitled to benefit. No longer can houses, cars and other valuable assets be sold off quickly to prevent the CSA taking possession of them. Those who cynically transfer the legal ownership of property into the names of their new partners risk having those transactions reversed."


James Pirrie, Chair of the Child Maintenance Committee of Resolution, the family lawyers’ association, welcomed the new measures. Although not involved in this case, Resolution has long campaigned for a more effective child maintenance system.


“Our 5500 members are committed to putting children first in any financial settlement when parents part, so when the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill was before parliament we worked hard with MPs to ensure that the Bill had powers to deal effectively with those who sought to evade their financial commitments to their children.


“The sooner people realise that payment of their child maintenance obligations is non-negotiable the better. Everyone can then focus on making sure that the calculation of how much has to be paid is accurate and appropriate,” said James Pirrie.


The arrival of these orders is part of a stepped-up enforcement effort that has seen the Commission commence Order for Sale proceedings against almost 500 properties around Britain. These actions are proving particularly effective at persuading indebted parents to settle their arrears. Well over £2 million in arrears has been recovered so far but fewer than 15 properties have had to be taken into possession and sold off.


Lump Sum Deduction Orders forcing banks to hand over money held in the accounts of indebted parents have also been introduced. More than 400 orders have been imposed with sums of up to £40,000 being deducted in some cases.

16 comments:

  1. Another victory for single mothers and another defeat for the separated fathers, yawn.

    re 'Everyone can then focus on making sure that the calculation of how much has to be paid is accurate and appropriate', what a load of rubbish, that is an impossible task and Government should leave alone as all this coercion is encouraging single parenthood and discouraging marriage.

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  2. Nonsense. This man failed to pay anything for his child/children, and now the system has quite rightly caught up with him.

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  3. Who are you to pass judgement on him, none of your business.

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  4. If you have nothing sensible to say, then please do not comment here.

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  5. Aren't you making the assumption, John, that paying through the CSA is the same thing as taking responsibility for your children?

    How much of that alleged £78,000 debt will actually reach the children? If the answer is less than 100% (and it could well be as little as 25%) how does that affect your argument?

    What evidence have you that the calculation is accurate, given the finding by the National Audit Office in 2006 that 65% of assessments where a liability order was sought were inaccurate?

    The father in this case may be a no-good deat-beat who doesn't give a fig for his children, or he may be an entirely devoted and responsible parent. The facts as given do not give enough evidence to allow us to judge. Plenty of responsible fathers give all they have to their children, but choose not to do it through a draconian, incompetent and profoundly unjust collection system.

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  6. No, I am not making that assumption - financial support is only of course one aspect of parental responsibility. Unfortunately, many parents fail to provide financial support, hence we need some system to compel them to provide it. The consequence of having a system is that if you are within it (as this father was) then you must comply with it. Clearly, he did not.

    Arguments as to whether the system is efficient or fair are beyond the scope of this post - suffice to say that I, too, have serious reservations about the child support system, as I'm sure you know from reading my previous posts on the subject.

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  7. I do try to read most of your posts, John, honestly I do!

    However, I don't quite follow the logic of your statement, 'many parents fail to provide financial support, hence we need some system to compel them to provide it.' The standard approach of making enforcement ever more draconian doesn't necessarily work. To the best of my knowledge no government has ever addressed the question of why parents don't pay; they just assume they are irresponsible.

    That certainly isn't true of the parents I know who don't pay and who would rather go to jail(not a representative sample, I accept).

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  8. I can't see anything at all wrong with the logic of that statement. What should we do, ignore parents who don't pay, and leave it to the other parent and the state to pick up the bill?

    The question of why parents don't pay is, again, beyond the scope of this post.

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  9. The CSA do not tell families who are together how to bring up their children, this undermines what they do as prejudiced and disciminatory and I do also believe is undermining marriage.

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  10. In answer to your rhetorical question John, Yes.

    The alternative is asking too much. Expecting people to pay others they hate and who hate them for no good reason.

    Very puritanical, but not very pragmatic, bit like when they tried to get the dolphin out of the Thames the other year, or put people through mediation in divorce, or rely on companys self regulating, or Vietname. Some examples of simplistic approaches causing more trouble than it solves, as is the CSA.

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  11. In answer to your rhetorical question John, Yes.

    The alternative is asking too much. Expecting people to pay others they hate and who hate them for no good reason.

    Very puritanical, but not very pragmatic, bit like when they tried to get the dolphin out of the Thames the other year, or put people through mediation in divorce, or rely on companys self regulating, or Vietname. Some examples of simplistic approaches causing more trouble than it solves, as is the CSA.

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  12. It was a whale not a dolphin if I remember rightly. It would have caused it less pain and suffering if they had shot it to start with. Perhaps the same with non resident fathers.

    I mean, that chap in Cumbria wasn't very happy either, csa on yer back also aint going to chear you up any either. I wonder if that chap had to pay child maintenance year in year out and that was one of the reasons he did what he did. I seriously do wonder that. Not that the government or press will tell us as they are trying to pursuade us that csa is a good thing, when it is a bad thing.

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  13. The taxi driver who 'went postal' that is.

    Do non resident fathers get a say in this? No, as NL says, if they can't agree with their exes, they have to put up with it. I don't think will ever be thought of as fair, even if shared parenting comes in. As the conservatives say, the priority has to be to keep parents together and stop them from splitting, if they do split then they should be left to resolve things by themselves.

    The bargaining would be, the man has the money, the woman has the children, thus the man pays maintenance and gets to see the children.

    Government come in and take away the mans bargaining power. Thus he gets what is offered by the woman (usually no agreement) and has to pay anyway, sick.

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  14. Hmm, what are we to learn from this discussion? That some parents don't like paying maintenance for their children. No surprise there, then.

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  15. I would say the feeling was a little bit stronger than 'like'.

    I also think it's a question of degree and the amount being too high, especially when there are new partners and families (who don't get money from ex as is abroad or widowed for e.g.) and man is not rich and ther eis not enough money to go around.

    Then, as now, I find it hard to take such patronising comments from richer people (inc. Judges) who do not have financial concerns. As I say on the other post, don't judge someone unless you've walked a mile in their shoes.

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  16. OK, I think that this debate has gone far enough (some might say too far). Accordingly, I am closing it to further comments.

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