Y v Secretary of State for Works and Pensions: Another tale of child support woe

Dr Thérèse Coffey, SoS, DWP - Image: Chris McAndrew, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As anyone who has been around the wonderful world of family law as long as I have will know, the child support system has had, shall we say, a chequered history.

The latest sad tale of woe appeared on Bailii today: Y v Secretary of State for Works and Pensions (Child Maintenance Service), another notable judgment from His Honour Judge Wildblood QC.

Notable, that is, not for any difficult point of law: on the contrary - there is no judicial difficulty when the respondent does not er... respond to the appellant's argument.

Let me very quickly explain. The appellant father appealed against a deduction order made in relation to alleged arrears of child support. The problem with the order, according to the father, was that at the time the alleged arrears accrued he was not a non-resident parent, as the children then spent more of their time with him than they did with their mother.

The respondent was, of course, the Secretary of State for the Department of Works and Pensions, i.e. the Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP.

Judge Wildblood did all he could to persuade the Child Maintenance Service and the Secretary of State to engage with the proceedings, but to no avail. Remarkably, there was no response at all.

Needless to say, the upshot was that Judge Wildblood found that the father had proved his case, and therefore set aside the deduction order. He also ordered the Secretary of State to pay the father's costs.