Child Support Agency
The Child Support Agency (CSA) is a delivery arm of the Department for Work and Pensions (Child Maintenance Group) in Great Britain and the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland. Launched on 5 April 1993, the CSA is responsible for implementing the Child Support Act 1991 and subsequent legislation (The Law relating to Child Support – Department for Work and Pensions).
Functions and involvement
The CSA’s function is twofold, encompassing calculation of how much child maintenance is due and collection, enforcement and transferral of the payment from the non-resident parent to the person with care.
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Does the CSA Have To Get Involved?
In short, no. Although child support reflects the legal obligation of parents to provide financially for their children, many people make informal arrangements. It is, in fact, quite common for parents to be able to come to a decision about financial arrangements for their children without needing to involve the courts or other agencies. However, these agreements can be broken and relations between the parents can sour, which then leads to the involvement of other agencies.
In other instances parents are made to pay by court order, or the CSA calculates the amount of the payments that parents should make. These are not mutually exclusive solutions, and it may be that a parent pays maintenance using more than one of these ways.
For the CSA to become involved in a case, their services must be requested by one of the parents. Legislation also allows children in Scotland to initiate a case against one or both Non-Resident Parents.
The CSA cannot get involved, if the non-resident parent lives abroad, if a written agreement made prior to April 5, 1993, is in place, or if a court order regarding maintenance was made before March 3, 2003. (except in cases where the parent with care claims Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance)
Could you Avoid CSA Involvement?
Here are some questions you and your partner may like to answer
- Could you and your child’s parent work together in the interests of your child/children?
- Can you be honest with one another about money issues?
- If either of your circumstances changed, would you be able to work together to be able to make changes to the agreement as necessary?
- Is your relationship with your child’s parent such that you can agree to commit to making a private settlement work?
- Have you tried to agree payments before, but it hasn’t worked? If so, it will be harder to make it work the second time around.
- Will it matter that your private settlement is not legally binding? If the non-resident parent stops paying, you will have no recourse to collect or force payments against a non-paying parent.
- What would happen if your agreement stops working? Could you talk to one another about it?
The Supreme Court has consistently described the parenting right to be among the “oldest liberty interests” protected by the American Constitution, see i.e. Troxel v Granville, 530 US 57 (2000);Santosky v Kramer, 455 US 745 (1982); Parham v J.R., 442 US 584 (1979); Wisconsin v Yoder, 406 US 232 (1972) and Meyer v Nebraska, 262 US 390 (1923). http://leonkozioljd.wordpress.com
Too many feuding parents
Too many parents fighting over child custody use the courts as their first option to resolve the dispute, Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly has said.
He called on estranged parents to make greater use of independent mediation to resolve their differences.
There were nearly 45,000 child custody cases in England and Wales in 2010, costing the legal aid system £143m.
The minister, who has responsibility for courts in England and Wales, says the situation needs to change.
Too many feuding parents ‘rely’ on court, says minister
Depending on the jurisdiction, a custodial parent may pay child support to a non-custodial parent. Typically one has the same duty to pay child support irrespective of sex, so a mother is required to pay support to a father just as a father must pay a mother. Where there is joint custody, the child is considered to have two custodial parents and no non-custodial parents, and a custodial parent with a higher income (obligor) may be required to pay the other custodial parent (obligee).
Child Support law through the CSA governs the level of child maintenance that should be paid by a parent who is not resident in the child’s household, to the parent with main day-to-day care of the child. There are different options available for sorting child maintenance depending on factors like age, whether the child has disabilities etc.
For child maintenance administered by the CSA, a child is anyone under 16 or someone between 16 and 19 who:
- is not, nor has ever been, married or in a civil partnership, and
- is in full-time non-advanced education.
(However, in certain circumstances, someone under 19 can still be regarded as a child for child maintenance purposes by the CSA even if they are not in full-time non-advanced education.)
With a private arrangement, you and the other parent can agree between yourselves how much child maintenance should be paid, and how often. A private agreement would allow for a broader set of arrangements which might include other things such as holidays, activity costs etc.
You can get an idea of what your payments might be, using the Child Maintenance Options calculator. You could use this figure as a starting point for a private agreement, its a rough and ready way of meeting children’s basic needs but you might also want to factor in ways of paying for other things that you’d like your child to be able to enjoy, music or sports lessons for example.
If you cannot agree on an amount, the Child Support Agency (CSA) can calculate a child maintenance amount for you. Seek advice elsewhere before contacting CSA. Click here for News For Access To legal Services.
Iain Duncan Smith has defended proposals to charge single parents for using the Child Support Agency, stating “we’re not asking for much”.
The Work and Pensions Secretary said the current system was “completely dysfunctional”. He added it was “very expensive”, did not work and “actually helps divide parents from each other”.
Child support changes will impact on ‘100,000 families’
One in 11 families who currently get child support payments in England will lose out in a major shake-up of the system, government analysis suggests. Click Here to Read More>>>
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- Terminating parental responsibility.