Child Maintenance - Be Fair to You Bairns

'Bairns Come First - Fairness for Their Future’ is a campaign designed to raise awareness of child maintenance changes and provide support and information to those who need it.

Child maintenance is a legal right and obligation. Fife Gingerbread, along with partners in Citizens Advice and Rights Fife, One Parent Families Scotland and Fife Law Centre, are dedicated to helping people claim what is rightly theirs.

The Welfare Reform has now replaced Child Support Agency (CSA) with Child Maintenance Options (CMO); a service that “provides free impartial information and support to help parents make informed choices about child maintenance”.

CMO is purely an information service, and does not have the power to ensure payment are a fair amount or paid in full. For this, parents must access the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS). This statutory service “works out a legally enforceable child maintenance amount, then collects child maintenance payments from the paying parent and passes them on to the receiving parent (Collect & Pay)”. This is crucial for so many parents, without it they would not receive any money; however the service is not free to access.

The fees and charges to access CMS include:

  • A £20 application fee for applying to the statutory scheme
  • A 20% collection fee on top of their usual child maintenance amount for paying parents using the Collect & Pay service
  • A 4% collection fee deducted from their usual child maintenance amount for receiving parents using the Collect & Pay service

The fees are designed to encourage parents to create a ‘Family-Based Arrangement’ with the help of the Child Maintenance Options, essentially sorting it out themselves without the need for statutory involvement. Everybody knows that more often than not, it isn't as simple as that.

In early 2016 Poverty Alliance conducted research on Child Maintenance in Fife, the findings of which were published at the Child Maintenance Campaign Launch in September 2016 and can be read by clicking here.

'Voice of the Parents' is a video highlighting quotes by those involved in the research: