Friday, September 30, 2016

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What You Need To Know About Child Maintenance

The number of children benefiting from Child Maintenance has decreased by 17% according to the DWP’s Child Support Quarterly Summary. This is the lowest since March 2012. The recent Child Support Agency (CSA) case closures have had a dramatic contribution to this reduction.

The report also shows that outstanding Child Maintenance arrears currently stand at a staggering £3.584 bn. Cases with outstanding payments have increased since January 2012 from 54.7% to 55.5%.

The number of male Non-Resident Parents (NRPs) accounts for one in nine live cases, the same as previous quarters. When you consider that 48% of couples divorcing in 2013 had at least one child under 16, it’s clear why there’s a real need to be crystal clear on the subject of Child Maintenance.

What Is Child Maintenance?

Child Maintenance, also known as Child Support, is a weekly amount paid to the Parent With Care (PWC) by the NRP. This helps towards the child’s living costs and ensures their wellbeing isn’t affected following the breakdown of the relationship.

Child Maintenance is so important because it helps to pay for things such as food, clothes, and other essentials. It also ensures both parents provide a healthy relationship for their child.

It’s worth noting that paying Child Maintenance is a legal responsibility. If you miss your weekly payments, the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) will take action to recoup the money.

How Can The Child Maintenance Service Help?

The CMS will help to determine how much Child Maintenance is due. They take into account a number of factors, which we will discuss later on, in order to calculate how much money the NRP needs to be pay each week to the PWC.

Before you apply to the CMS, it’s worth talking to Child Maintenance Options (CMO) to get a clearer understanding of how much the NRP needs to contribute. You can call CMO free on 0800 988 0988 or find out more on their website.

How To Apply For Child Maintenance

Once you have discussed your arrangement options with CMO, you will be given a reference number. If you choose to apply for Child Maintenance, this reference number tells the CMS which route you would prefer to go down.

You will need to provide the following information about you and your family:

  • Details of the child you’re applying for
  • Your National Insurance number
  • Your bank account details 

The application fee for this service is £20. However, you won’t have to pay this if you are:

  • A victim of domestic violence
  • Under 19 
  • In Northern Ireland

This information is then used to set up and manage the Child Maintenance payments, and sometimes locate the paying parent if an amount goes unpaid.

If the CMS isn’t provided with the necessary information, this can also be taken from:

  • The ‘paying’ parent’s employer
  • Government organisations such as Jobcentre Plus
  • Prison services
  • Local councils
  • The paying parent’s bank or building society

Most Child Maintenance cases are set up within a month of application. It may take longer if there is an issue contacting the paying parent. The first payment is ordinarily made six weeks after making the arrangements.

Are There Different Payment Methods?

The CMS provides two payment methods. The first is Direct Pay. The CMS calculates how much the paying parent must contribute. Then both parents must come to an agreement on how and when the payments will be made by the PWC.

If the NRP doesn’t pay in full or on time, the CMS may choose to move the case to Collect & Pay.

Collect & Pay is the second payment option that the CMS offers. With this method the CMS collects the amount due from the paying parent and passes it on to the receiving parent.

If the NRP fails to make their payments in full or on time then the CMS may take immediate enforcement action.

Application and enforcement fees were introduced in 2014. This means that if you choose the Collect & Pay service, you will also need to pay for the collection and payment of the Child Maintenance.

In addition to the application fee, there are a number of other costs to take into account when applying for Child Maintenance. There’s a 20% collection fee for paying parents using the Collect & Pay service. This is on top of the Child Maintenance amount.

Receiving parents must pay a 4% collection fee for using the Collect & Pay service. This will be deducted from the amount received. Paying parents may have to pay enforcement charges if they fail to make their payments in full and on time.

Parents who have set up a Family-Based Arrangement or have opted for Direct Pay do not have to pay any additional charges.

How Is Child Maintenance Calculated?

There are a number of factors that the CMS takes into consideration when calculating how much Child Maintenance is due.

These include:

  • Your weekly gross income, before tax and National Insurance is deducted but after pension contributions have been taken
  • If you receive certain benefits
  • How many children you are paying Child Maintenance for
  • The number of other children you support in your household
  • How often your child stays with you overnight

Leading international family law firm Cordell & Cordell has created an innovative Child Maintenance Calculator that provides an estimate of what you can expect to pay.

By answering a number of questions, you will be able to get an idea of how much Child Maintenance you or your ex-partner should be paying. The calculator provides an estimated amount, so it’s worth seeking guidance from the CMS for further information.

What If My Circumstances Change?

If your circumstances change, for example if your salary increases or decreases, you need to inform HMRC and the CMS straight away. This is because any changes to your personal details may impact the amount of Child Maintenance you should be paying.


This post was written by Haroop Ahluwalia, Divorce Solicitor at Cordell & Cordell.

Monday, September 26, 2016

News Essentials: 26th September 2016

A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

Family Drug and Alcohol Court’s ‘humane’ approach keeps more families together
New research has found that mothers reunited with their children after care proceedings in the Family Drug and Alcohol Court are more likely to stay off drugs and alcohol for longer, and their family life less likely to be disrupted when compared with cases heard in ordinary care proceedings. Full story: Family Law.

Court directs solicitor to travel to Saudi Arabia to meet Amina Al-Jeffery in private
The solicitor representing Amina Al-Jeffery in High Court proceedings concerning her removal to Saudi Arabia from her home in Wales, is to visit Riyadh in order to take instructions in person from her client. Full story: Family Law Week. See report, below.

Courts face “imminent crisis” with rise in care cases, warns top family judge
The family courts face “a clear and imminent crisis” as a result of the rapidly rising number of care cases, the President of the Family Division has warned. Full story: Local Government Lawyer.

Al-Jeffery v Al-Jeffery (Vulnerable adult; British citizen : No 2) [2016] EWHC 2309 (Fam) (13 September 2016)
Further hearing relating to a vulnerable adult who claimed to be held against her will in Saudi Arabia. Direction for solicitor to meet her in Saudi Arabia, to ascertain her wishes. Full report: Bailii.

Zdravkovic v Serbia - 28181/11 (Judgment (Merits and Just Satisfaction) : Court (Third Section)) [2016] ECHR 770 (20 September 2016)
Complaint by mother that failure to enforce interim access and custody orders breached her Article 6 & 8 rights. Held, there had been no violation. Full report: Bailii.

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For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Fraudulent, banal, dismal...

Well, I hope my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog are none of those things:

Lord McNally does have a point, but only up to a point - Are lawyers being “quite fraudulent” when stating that the legal aid cuts implemented by LASPO are denying people access to justice?

Transforming our justice system: the obvious, the banal and the old - A look at the MoJ's consultation on the reform of the justice system.

A dismal view of a care system in crisis - Looking at the latest View from the President's chambers.

Failure to enforce custody and access orders does not breach mother’s human rights - The ECHR case Zdravković v. Serbia.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers September/October 2016

The latest issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is now published.

In this issue
  • Continuing Practice Development – Nick Holmes explains the changes to CPD being implemented by the SRA and the BSB
  • Data protection – David Flint of MacRoberts considers two recent developments relating to data protection and trade secrets
  • Customer care – Mindy Gofton of I-COM looks at the potential of using chatbots for customer service
  • IT security – Lynda Minns considers the measures independent practitioners need to take in relation to IT security
  • Legal software – Delia Venables describes the products from 30 suppliers offering cloud-based software for lawyers
  • Data protection – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words introduces the new General Data Protection Regulation

Access the Newsletter online

News Essentials: 19th September 2016

A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

MPs call for end to abusive men using courts against families
Government urged to review family court system which is ‘allowing men to re-traumatise women and children’. Full story: The Guardian.

Changes to legal aid Special Children Act applications
The Legal Aid Agency has made changes to applications under the Special Children Act and standard cost limits to improve processes in the Client and Cost Management System. Full story: Family Law Week.

Transforming our Justice System
Consultation and Statement seek to map out future for the court system. Full story: Family Law Week.

Smile: High Court judge uses emoji in official ruling
One High Court judge has gone to previously unheard-of lengths to make a judgment in a family court case comprehensible even for the children it affects. Full story: The Telegraph. See Lancashire County Council v M & Ors, below.

First children arbitration heard
The first arbitration held under the children arbitration scheme introduced in July 2016 has been determined. Full story: Family Law Week.

Mr Justice Moylan appointed as Lord Justice of Appeal
Mr Justice Moylan has been appointed as one of six new Court of Appeal judges. Full story: Family Law.

Munby calls for action on England-Scotland enforcement
The president of the Family Division has called for urgent action to fill gaps in the law relating to cross-border issues between England and Scotland. Full story: Law Society Gazette. See X (A Child) and Y (A Child), below.

Government service puts domestic abuse survivors at risk
Domestic abuse survivors are being put at risk by the government’s new Child Maintenance Service, finds new evidence from Gingerbread and Women’s Aid. Full story: Gingerbread.

Solicitor dismay over Munby care case comments
Lawyers have expressed concern over comments made by the president of the Family Division about the representation of children in public law cases. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Shot girl Mary Shipstone's safe house revealed by solicitor error
The address of a girl fatally shot on her doorstep by her estranged father was accidentally sent to him by her mother's solicitor, it has emerged. Full story: BBC News.

The Family Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2016
These rules amend the Family Procedure Rules 2010. Statutory Instrument.

Care cases received by Cafcass in August up 34% on a year ago
1,258 care applications received. Full story: Family Law Week.

New private law cases received by Cafcass in August up 23% on a year ago
3,535 new private law cases received. Full story: Family Law Week.

W (Minors), Re [2016] EWHC 2226 (Fam) (10 August 2016)
Application by father for child arrangements order and for order forbidding mother from removing child from the jurisdiction. Cross-application by mother for non-molestation order. Full report: Bailii.

Lancashire County Council v M & Ors [2016] EWFC 9 (04 February 2016)
Care proceedings concerning four children, in which there was a concern that the father of the youngest two children might take them to Syria. Full report: Bailii.

X (A Child) and Y (A Child) [2016] EWHC 2271 (Fam) (12 September 2016)
Two cases which raise cross-border issues as between England and Scotland in relation to the making of secure accommodation orders. Full report: Bailii.

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For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Conspiracy theories, civil partnerships and more...

There was a real variety of topics in my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, which included:

Conspiracy theorists are skewing the debate - Conspiracy theories can most certainly be harmful.

Should we keep civil partnerships, or allow them to die? - In the light of the latest statistics in civil partnerships from the ONS.

Is the new child maintenance system putting domestic violence survivors at risk? - As suggested by the charities Gingerbread and Women's aid.

The use and abuse of ex parte injunctions - Mostyn J's judgment in Re W (Minors).

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The future of judgments...

Mr Justice Jackson’s judgment in Lancashire County Council v M & Ors, written in plain English for the parties and older children to understand, has received much praise amongst family lawyers, who clearly see it as a model for judgments in future. I therefore wondered just what those future judgments might look like…

Case Reference: [2025] CWCLTAH 1
1st April 2025



MRS NODDY      Wifey


MR NODDY      Hubby

1. I will keep this judgment and the words in it as short as possible, so that any idiot can understand it.

2. Once upon a time there lived two very nice people, named Mr and Mrs Noddy.

3. Sadly, children, Mr and Mrs Noddy did not live happily ever after.

4. One day last year poor Mr and Mrs Noddy were attacked by the Big Bad Divorce Dragon, and they have been unhappy ever since.

5. Mr and Mrs Noddy have asked me to kill the Big Bad Divorce Dragon, so that they can live happily again, in two separate nice thatched cottages in Happilyeverafter Land.

6. So that they can buy those two nice thatched cottages I have decided that their howwible house where they live now should be sold, and the pennies that the buyer pays them should be put on a big scales and divided equally between Mr and Mrs Noddy.

Etc., etc…

Monday, September 12, 2016

News Essentials: 12th September 2016

A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

The Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) (Amendment) Order 2016
Article 2 of this Order amends the Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order 2014 to provide for the route of appeal from certain decisions or orders of Circuit judges and Recorders sitting in the family court to be to the High Court, rather than the Court of Appeal. Statutory Instrument.

Civil partnerships registrations halved since introduction of same gender marriage
Dissolutions increase by 14% since 2014. Full story: Family Law Week.

Acquitted dad Craig Beattie 'killed baby son' family judge said
A judge found that a father killed his baby son in a ruling made a year before he was cleared of manslaughter by a jury, it has emerged. Full story: BBC News.

Violent crimes against women in England and Wales reach record high
Director of public prosecutions says use of social media to threaten and control is driving factor behind 10% rise in number of cases to 117,568 in 2015-16. Full story: The Guardian.

Hayden J expresses concern about preparation of ‘habitual residence’ cases
Such cases are a factual exploration and must be ‘child driven’. Full story: Family Law Week. See B (A Minor : Habitual Residence).

M (Children), Re [2016] EWCA Civ 937 (09 September 2016)
Appeal concerning the extent of the court's jurisdiction, if any, to make orders in wardship and/or under the inherent jurisdiction for the accommodation of a young person who is 17 years of age. Full report: Bailii.

Hart v Hart [2016] EWCA Civ 497 (24 May 2016)
Renewed application by husband for permission to appeal in ancillary relief proceedings. Permission refused. Full report: Bailii.

K v K [2016] EWHC 2002 (Fam) (29 July 2016)
Appeal by father against order recognising order of Russian court, on the basis that the 1996 Hague Convention was not in force between England and Wales and the Russian Federation on the date that the Russian order was made. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Friday, September 09, 2016

DV, costs and some well-deserved praise...

Domestic violence, excessive costs and a few grateful words for a vital but under-appreciated member of the team: my posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog:

Coercive control and the problem of proof - Some thoughts as to why there have been so few prosecutions for coercive control.

Women’s refuges: a vital service that needs protecting - The appalling news that two-thirds of refuges could close.

In praise of the legal secretary - As the title says.

A salutary lesson on costs - Excessive costs: the case K v K.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

NEWS FROM RESOLUTION: Statement on Eddie the Eagle's divorce settlement

Nigel Shepherd
Responding to media reports about Eddie the Eagle’s divorce settlement, Nigel Shepherd, National Chair of family law organisation Resolution, said:

“It’s refreshing to see how philosophical Eddie is about his divorce settlement – despite losing the majority of the earnings from his latest venture. When there are children involved, as in this case, it’s right and proper that their interests are at the heart of any award made.

“It’s also a reminder that there should be greater certainty and guidance for people entering the court system, so they are more aware of the potential outcomes and consequences before they start. This is one of the reforms we call for in our Family Law Manifesto.

“This should also encourage more couples to try to resolve matters away from the courts, through mediation, a collaborative process, or simply by negotiation between their solicitors.

“Without these reforms, I fear our family justice system could, much like Eddie the Eagle in 1988, be on a slippery slope.”

Monday, September 05, 2016

News Essentials: 5th September 2016

A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last two weeks:

Supreme Court refuses permission to appeal decisions concerning children’s participation in proceedings
Permission refused in Re S (Children) 2016 EWCA Civ 83 and F (Children) [2016] EWCA Civ 546. Full story: Family Law Week.

Resolution ‘disappointed at selective reporting’ of President’s comments on care cases funding
‘Cheap shots at lawyers’ not best way to conduct debate on public funding. Full story: Family Law Week.

Police failing to use new law against coercive domestic abuse
Lawyers say controlling and coercive behaviour powers should be used to help victims before relationships turn violent. Full story: The Guardian.

USA signs Hague 2007 Maintenance Convention
On 30 August 2016, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, signed the instrument of ratification of the USA to the 2007 Hague Child Support and Maintenance Convention. Full story: Family Law.

Towards a Family Justice Observatory: national call for evidence
The research team working on 'Towards a Family Justice observatory', a project aiming to improve the generation and application of research in the family justice system, has issued a national call for evidence as a means of engaging with stakeholders in an open and transparent way to ascertain opinions and ideas. Full story: Family Law.

Guidance published on change of name on official documents
The Home Office has published new guidance on how applications are handled to change names on official documents. Full story: Family Law Week.

Force family lawyers to offer fixed fees, consumer panel suggests
Family law specialists should be required to work under fixed fees, the Legal Services Consumer Panel has suggested as it ramped up its call for regulatory intervention to improve transparency in the market. Full story: Legal Futures.

Government will press ahead with British Bill of Rights
Bill of Rights is a 'manifesto commitment'. Full story: Family Law Week.

Al-Jeffery v Al-Jeffery (Vulnerable adult; British citizen) [2016] EWHC 2151 (Fam) (03 August 2016)
Applications for forced marriage protection order and orders to protect a vulnerable adult who claimed to be held against her will in Saudi Arabia. Full report: Bailii.

B (A Minor : Habitual Residence) [2016] EWHC 2174 (Fam) (24 August 2016)
Application by mother for summary return of child to USA. Held that the child was habitually resident in the UK. Full report: Bailii.

L (Child), Re [2016] EWCA Civ 821 (25 August 2016)
Appeal by father against orders made in public law proceedings, on the ground that the court had no jurisdiction, there already being proceedings in France. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

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For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Mother Teresa: Hell's Angel

I am posting this because, sadly, the 'myth' of Mother Teresa still persists, even amongst those who really should know better. That she has just been declared a "saint" brings the absurd Catholic Church even further into disrepute. Enjoy:

If you can't spare 23 minutes, just watch this (I highly recommend that you watch it anyway):

Friday, September 02, 2016

Short, but sweet (hopefully...)

My week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog may have been short, but it still had its moments:

Temporary removal to a non-Convention country - The Scottish Sheriff Court decision A against B.

Should a mother be forced to reveal their child’s biological father? - As may soon be the case in Germany.

The legal aid scandal that never was - A certain national newspaper gets it wrong. Again.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Back-to-school September signals soaring demand for unhappy couples’ dispute resolution

- Holidays are bad for strained relationships, says leading family charity

- Experience across England and Wales backs up new US research

- Demand for alternative dispute resolution services likely to rise

- Separating couples looking to avoid court after TV show highlights mediation alternative

As September dawns, dispute resolution specialists across England and Wales are getting ready for an upturn in demand as disillusioned couples start the painful process of separation, determined to avoid court room confrontation.

Experts working for National Family Mediation (NFM) say their experience of recent years backs up brand new research from the USA, which indicates family holidays can be bad for strained relationships.

Jane Robey
“Holidays often fail to live up to expectations, and that’s one reason we see an increase in demand for our specialist family mediators in September. When adults go back to work and the children start school, routine sets in, often after a disappointing summer,” says Jane Robey, NFM’s Chief Executive.

Research published in August by the University of Washington shows filings for divorce over the past 14 years rising seasonally, after the Christmas and summer vacation periods, peaking in spring and in September.

“We’ve long known the post-Christmas period provokes unhappy couples to move on, but our experience of recent years backs up the idea of a post-summer surge too,” adds Jane Robey. “Our services are bracing themselves for a further uptake in demand when the schools return.

“It’s been a year of rising demand for NFM, with the ‘traditional’ January spike built upon in June when the charity’s ground-breaking TV documentary series, Mr v Mrs: Call The Mediator led to a further increase.

“A key law change in 2014, making it compulsory for separating couples to consider mediation before they can apply for a court order, has helped raise awareness that there are alternative ways to settle disputes over parenting, property and money.

“Word of mouth is a powerful tool, and together with the TV show and other factors, the message is getting through that family mediation is cheaper, quicker and less stressful than a court room battle with your ex.”

People who want to find their nearest family mediator can type their postcode at or call 0300 4000 636.

Legal Aid for a mediated separation is still available.

For more about the University of Washington research, use this link.