The Child Support Act was introduced in 1991 and operates under the principle that both parents are responsible for looking after their child financially.
When parents split up, the non-resident parent (in this case the father) is required to pay Child Support to the primary care giver (in this case the mother).
Often, parents can come to a consensual arrangement about maintenance or may choose to have their arrangements made into a court order as part of their divorce. There are times, however, when your child’s father may fail to pay Family Support and you need to take action to recover the money owing.
Can your child’s father be forced to pay Child Support?
When Child Support arrangements run into difficulties, the Child Support Agency (CSA) are responsible for making sure it is collected. They have considerable powers to collect unpaid Child support including:
- If the father is on benefits, the CSA can order deductions from benefits.
- If the father is working the CSA can order an attachment of earnings and the money paid by the employer at source.
- The CSA can take self employed fathers to court to obtain an order for payment of Child Support.
- Failure to adhere to the court order could result in the CSA appointing an enforcement agency to seize goods, place a charge on a property or as a last resort issue an arrest warrant.
Your child’s father has not paid for some time – can you recover back payment?
Yes. The CSA considers unpaid Child Support to be a debt and pursues it accordingly using the same enforcement tools listed above.
You believe your child’s father is not disclosing his full income. Can anything be done?
Yes. The CSA has the power to liaise with other government agencies in order to get a true and accurate financial picture.
You think your child’s father will still manage to evade the CSA and conceal his income. What happens then?
In these cases, the CSA can levy a provisional maintenance amount according to their set amount for the number of children requiring Child Support. In some cases this could actually be higher than would have been paid if the father had disclosed his income.
There are many measures that can be taken should your child’s father cease to pay regular Child Support, the most important thing is to seek legal advice early so all the enforcement processes can be implemented.