Child Maintenance Service ‘endangers domestic abuse victims’

children in care

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) puts survivors of domestic abuse at risk, two charities have claimed.

Launched in 2012, the CMS was designed to replace the Child Support Agency. The idea is for separated parents to pay child maintenance to each other directly, rather having to go through a government agency. The CMS will only get involved if payments are regularly missed. When this happens, the service takes a four per cent collection charge from the parent who receives the money and 20 per cent from the party who provides it.

However, single parent charity Gingerbread and domestic violence victim support group Women’s Aid claim this system has a serious flaw. As parents are encouraged to deal with each other directly, those who came from abusive relationships could be at risk of financial and emotional abuse from their former partners. This can include sending less money than their former partner needs or making threats.

This week, the two charities claimed they have dealt with people who are afraid to set up direct payments by themselves in case their former abuser is able to get hold of their personal details such as their address. The CMS has suggested that former victims set up ‘non-geographic’ bank accounts but even this presents problems. One parent told Gingerbread that even an account that doesn’t identify their location would still reveal their new name while another claimed their bank could not set up such an account.

Gingerbread Chief Executive Fiona Weir said that while child maintenance was “crucial” for single parent families, it was “clear that for the many survivors of domestic abuse who will be turning for the service for help, the CMS is not fit for purpose”.

Meanwhile Women’s Aid Chief Executive Polly Neate called child maintenance “vital for enabling survivors of domestic abuse to separate from their abuser” but warned that it was “often used by perpetrators as form of post-separation abuse and financial coercion”.

The two charities urged the government to provide specialist training for CMS staff on how to recognise survivors of domestic abuse and how to work with them. They suggested former victims should have the option to skip straight to the CMS collection service rather than having to pursue payments themselves. The four per cent charge should be dropped when there has been a history of domestic abuse in the case, the charities insisted, and in such circumstances the 20 per cent charge for paying parties should also be reviewed.

Photo by TMAB2003 via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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28 comments

Stitchedup - September 13, 2016 at 5:28pm

The good old domestic abuse allegation, the panacea to every women’s problems.

Stitchedup - September 14, 2016 at 5:36pm

Woman’s….. Bloody phones!!

Lets hope that none of you have daughters..... - January 17, 2017 at 9:18am

Its funny really all you seem to do is go on about feminists…..the word Hypocritical springs to mind.
No longer will you have to put up with a mere woman commenting on your absolute drivel as i literally cannot stomach it. ….Lets hope none of you have daughters, sisters, friends that ever has to suffer domestic violence and if you do then at least do the decent thing and let them use different solicitors!!
Stitchedup – September 13, 2016 at 5:28pmReport/Reply
The good old domestic abuse allegation, the panacea to every women’s problems.

[*Comment edited by the moderators – please see our comment policy here: marilynstowe.co.uk/comment-moderation-policy/]

Stitchedup - January 17, 2017 at 6:24pm

Let’s hope you don’t have sons, brothers, fathers who suffer false allegations and summary justice or indeed genuine domestic violence perpetrated by a female. Nobody on this forum will condone genuine domestic violence, what some of us object to in the way manner in which the issue has been genderised I.e. It’s a man on woman issue, and the fact that men accused of domestic abuse are treated as guilt until proven innocent in both the family and criminal courts. Yes I believe feminists have a lot to answer for, including anti family, anti male feminist organisations such as Women’s aid.

JamesB - January 18, 2017 at 12:46am

I just wanted to say that I have two daughters who quite like me and also I think Gingerbread are man haters and detrimental to society.

Andy - September 13, 2016 at 6:39pm

Here we go again ,All women groups trying to squeeze and pressure the NONE abusive parent who by the way has been decimated by such pressure of women’s rights…but treated the same as an abusive partner…
Now trying to change the identity and location as it sees fit…Funny that, if the non domestic violent parent did the same usually the male as the mother always uses domestic violence as a tool to gain brownie points, If the identity and no location is witheld then would not that be treated as child maintenance avoidance!!!!
Here we go again, one rule for one, another rule for the rest..
Think I’ll get a gender operation and then what will the groups treat me or them as..
Typical gold digging actions..

Andrew - September 14, 2016 at 5:33pm

It is perfectly straightforward to set up a bank account which does not disclose your name or whereabouts and if a payee chooses not to do so that should not impose extra cost on the payer. Gingerbread needs to remember that for many payers the amount of CM determines whether he can or cannot enjoy life after separation and form a new relationship which might turn out better than the first.

JamesB - September 14, 2016 at 8:49pm

As per usual I am not sure what the feminists are complaining about, for more money I suppose. That said, I do strongly agree with Andrew’s last sentence above, especially as I have seen NRPs really struggle post separation to start again. Also the point about moving on, well, men having children is a big hurdle for many prospective GFs, add to that massive child maintenance payments and poor accommodation and settlement, then it can be difficult as Andrew says.

I suppose its the issue of two households having to come from where there was one and there not being enough to go round. I suppose the answer would be for divorcees to re-partner with other divorcees, but, speaking from experience, it is not as easy as that, you can’t for example take on their children as your own and not see your own.

The unwritten rule to try and squeeze the man (Judge called me Golden Goose) for as much as possible before he jacks it in and does a runner is well dodgy as are the rules. What would I do? Pre nups are the answer. I will add though that when you sign a marriage contract in France it says you are expected to pay high maintenance for children of the marriage. Its an issue. Probably best left as per Lennie (RIP).

Andrew - September 14, 2016 at 10:11pm

I am in favour of cast-iron binding prenups between adults but not as regards CM. You cannot make a contract to bind children not yet born!

JamesB - September 14, 2016 at 8:53pm

Meant Lemmy from Motorhead, RIP. Best President of the Family Division of the High Court for England and Wales we never had.

JamesB - September 14, 2016 at 8:56pm

Formula based approach for child maintenance is not a good idea either. i.e. as per Marilyn’s resignation from the CSA. Also as per the prisoner, I am not a number I am a free man , allegedly , may the csa / cms / cmec / cmoptions soon die and not be resurrected.

Luke - September 14, 2016 at 11:54pm

JamesB,
if you are married you are not a free man – you are No. 6 😀

sarah - January 18, 2017 at 10:40am

MY COMMENT ON THIS WAS AIMED AT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AS A SUBJECT NOT GINGERBREAD. AND AS A PERSON WHO HAS SUFFERED HORRENDOUS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE I FOUND THE COMMENTS VERY OFFENSIVE A I AM SURE ANYONE WHO HAS SUFFERED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WOULD

Stitchedup - January 18, 2017 at 11:36am

Then feel free to join the debate. I thi k you’ll find we all agree that GENUINE domestic violence is abhorrent. But equally abhorrent are false allegations of DV made for vexatious reasons or as gamesmanship to get the upper hand in divorce and separation. The definition of domestic violence and domestic abuse is now absurdly broad and can be shoe horned to fit even the most minor of domestic disagreements, it has little to do with genuine domestic violence as seen through the eyes of most reasonable well balanced people.

Stitchedup - January 18, 2017 at 12:01pm

And by the way, I have a mother, two sisters and a niece, all of whom have witnessed how my ex treated me and spoke to me like shit when we were together. They’ve also witnessed her gamesmanship and scheming leading up to and during separation and her vexatious allegations of non domestic violence/abuse. She has had me arrested for posting Christmas cards and money through her letter box addressed to my sons and for speaking to my sons in her presence, even though there are no restrictions on my whereabouts or contact with my sons. This woman distracts scarce police resources from protecting other women that are in genuine danger of dangerous domestic violence. Such women exist in abundance.

JamesB - January 18, 2017 at 3:43pm

I have sister Mum Auntie etc. ex’s co-parents and am not pro sex war which is why I am anti Gingerbread and fabricated DV allegations. I also had fabricated DV allegations against me which were found justified with no evidence ex parte for a few weeks, complete nonsense and like the boy who cries wolf and is the issue with welfare sort of thing as ever as someone who is quite compassionate and left leaning it sickens me. Specifically it sickens me the freeloaders riding on and undermining other peoples legitimate difficulties.

JamesB - January 18, 2017 at 5:01pm

Cousins, friends, work colleagues, they (women) tend to find them everywhere (like men) :-). Apart from San Francisco, Saudi Arabia and the North Pole I am told the numbers are skewed towards men.

I did like the comment though, really I did, you are right to point out that men and women can objectify each other and should understand and relate to each other and empathise more. If only feminists were so enlightened we wouldn’t have such one sided law.

JamesB - January 18, 2017 at 5:11pm

Family and domestic law and practice and facilities and public funding in E and W is one sided in that it is biased against men.
wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_sex_ratio#/media/File:Sex_ratio_total_population_per_country_smooth_2.png
For the women I believe the place to go is Russia where they out number the men.

Sarah - January 18, 2017 at 6:22pm

Look I am no femanist I just believe in what’s fair and Just, and I feel that stereotyping a person by their gender, race, age etc is totally ignorant unless of course you are aware of every living persons predicament.
The comment you wrote as saying that DV allegations are the solution to every woman’s problems are at best offensive. My ex partner held me and beat me for three days, even putting his cigarettes out on me and do you know what I never ever went to the police as I never wanted to see him again. So u see…it is certainly not every woman’s solution.

Sarah - January 18, 2017 at 6:28pm

As for moving to Russia…..not every woman wants to be somewhere that women outnumber the men…nor where there is no law against DV. I have no issue with a specific group of people (i.e. Men) I do however have an issue with some of the comments on these posts……hence my comments. Hope I have given you all something to think about too.

Stitchedup - January 19, 2017 at 9:05am

I’m not sure what it is I’m expected to think about. As I’ve already said, I accept that DV does happen, what I don’t accept is that it’s primarily a man on woman issue, and I stand by my comment that domestic abuse allegations are the panacea to every woman’s problems. You chose not to involve the police yet that would have been the most appropriate course of action given that you were physically assaulted, had visible injuries and, I assume, could have proven these were inflicted by your ex. If so, this would have been dealt with by the criminal courts and your ex would have been looking at a significant custodial sentence. What perhaps you need to think about are those that make vexatious allegations of domestic abuse / violence to secure legal aid, occupation of the family home, custody of the children, better financial settlements and/or just to ruin a man’s future out of spite and bitterness.

Yvie - January 18, 2017 at 7:29pm

Domestic violence is not gender specific and should not be tolerated under any circumstances. I despise the CSA/CMS as it does more damage to families than good, despite the protestations of groups such as Gingerbread. The one size fits all percentage figure is outrageously unjust for fathers on a low income, specially if they live alone with only one wage to pay all the bills. The very worst aspect of it, is that it can encourage grasping mothers to deny fathers and their children the right to a loving relationship. There is more money to be had if mothers can prevent fathers from having overnight access to their children thus forcing them to go through the family courts in order to have contact with their own children. This should be a huge red flag for organisations such as Gingerbread, but somehow it goes unnoticed. If mothers are so terrified of giving details of their bank accounts the CSA, perhaps they should consider walking away from such an organisation, on the grounds of safety.

sarah - January 19, 2017 at 12:34pm

What you should learn is that you cannot judge every woman, man, child as all being the same but i can see that clearly you do not think that you are in anyway wrong by saying that its the solution to every woman’s problems…..so if you are not anti women, like you say, then why is it not the panacea to every mans problems also?
The reason i didn’t go to the police is i was affected so badly by the whole situation i couldn’t have coped with seeing him again, and as for the Criminal Courts providing justice and a significant sentence…..i very much doubt it.

JamesB - January 19, 2017 at 12:43pm

I also do not understand why you didn’t leave or go to the police or a refuge. I also am sorry about your experiences. I do think women have more than enough ‘outs’ now indeed as has been said frequently it is used falsely to undermine men in divorce.

sarah - January 19, 2017 at 2:17pm

James i am also sorry for your experiences DV in any way shape or form (including false allegations of DV) is just WRONG. What right does anyone else have to try and destroy another person, why not just leave…,… Loving the Control & Psycopathic traits i believe.
What makes you think that i stayed? I was with this person for two months at the most, straight off were the threats of violence if i tried to go anywhere without him, even work, and when someone has put a gun to your head you tend to do what that person says. The minute i could get away from him i did and only due to my stay in hospital was i able to break away quite easily. Alot of people do not have that opportunity to get away….like i say every persons situation is different.

JamesB - January 19, 2017 at 8:37pm

Thanks. It has taken me a long time to realise that I am not responsible for the other person if they are being irrational. Although I do accept that adults are responsible legally for their children.

The whole, “I’m upset, it’s your fault thing” is a weird one. I didn’t do psychology, and I suppose it makes little sense on paper, just people have convinced me in the past that their attitude was my fault, I think it can be a trap people can fall in to.

The inability of people to leave physically I find strange, but I have seen this modern slavery thing in the town I live where they raided some houses and set some women free. Scarey really and I suppose the things on the tv do happen. Every case I have seen make court with regards to DV / DA has been a woman pushing her luck. An unrepresentative sample I agree, but I think it is a problem with the boy crying wolf thing as mentioned.

Perhaps I need to brush up on my Jedi mind trick skills.

JamesB - January 19, 2017 at 12:52pm

Speaking as someone who has had a fair bit of experience of being on the receiving end of this sort of thing (DV), I suppose you weigh up the pros and cons of the relationship as a whole and if the minuses outweigh the positives then leave. Personally I would regard having cigarettes being put out on me and being held hostage against my will as deal (and relationship) breakers. Although I did put up with being slapped, poured stuff on threw stuff at kicked, punched, insulted to my face and behind my back etc etc for a while without saying anything until the other side walked (happened to me twice). Perhaps people do it to try and change the relationship to make you how they want you (control) or to leave, perhaps people don’t leave as they also think the other person will change. In retrospect my most important advice to my children is try not to change the other person in a relationship, accept or reject them for who they are.

JamesB - January 19, 2017 at 12:59pm

You are right you did make me think and remember some bad memories. I didn’t leave either relationship either until it was ridiculously bad when the woman left both times and bouncers etc got involved. Perhaps women are in more danger is why the law favours them so much. A lot of men do get hurt though mentally and physically and that is important as well as women.

When my ex was taking her time petitioning for divorce I was thinking about it and wrote 10 sides of A4 pages of grounds I gave to my solicitor at the time. She was very surprised. In the end she petitioned on some made up ground about me being over controlling or something (she was the aggressor) which I signed and asked the judge to pay mind to a number of factors such as the abuse with regards to costs and that I am only accepting the thing to get the divorce through, rather than petition her, as I have found that hell hath no furry than a woman scorned, which is another story. She got the divorce and the costs were hers. It is a difficult thing rejection and relationships in general especially when they are failing. I’m all for relationship classes in school and single sex schools.

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