Family Lore Clinic: I have a child maintenance consent order but the father is not paying

The courts can still make child maintenance orders where the parents agree, but what can the receiving parent do when the other parent stops paying?

If the order is less than a year old, the receiving parent will have to ask the court to take enforcement action against the paying parent. There are various different types of enforcement action that can be taken, but the most common is attachment of earnings, whereby the payer's employer deducts the maintenance from their pay, although this would obviously not be available if the payer was self-employed.

If the order is more than a year old, then a further possibility arises. The parent who should be receiving maintenance can apply to the Child Support Agency for a maintenance assessment, irrespective of the fact that the order was agreed. The assessment will then replace the order, and if it is not paid enforcement action will be taken by the Agency (note that the Agency could not enforce payment of any arrears under the court order, which would still have to be enforced through the court).

(As usual, if you require more details or specific advice, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.)