The CSA (Child Maintenance Agency) is a division of the Department for Work and Pensions, and is responsible for the implementation of the, ‘Child Support Act’ (1991) – ascertaining the amount of maintenance a child is due and ensuring the correct figure is honoured by the non-residing parent and paid to the relevant carer.
Despite sounding straightforward, everyone’s case is unique and therefore many people opt to call the CSA direct – enabling a one-to-one discussion. If you wish to speak to an experienced advisor please dial the contact number provided – where your call will be swiftly connected.
In the meantime, we have illustrated some of the most commonly raised issues – providing at-a-glance information for your reference.
Child Maintenance – criteria for eligibility
If you are unsure if you are eligible to receive child maintenance for your dependant(s), there are some general rules which apply to most claimants, including:
- Children must be under 16 years old, however those under 20 but in full-time education may also be eligible.
- It is often possible to use the child maintenance service of you are a grandparent or guardian of the child (children).
- If your child lives with you it is typically possible to claim child maintenance, likewise it is sometimes possible for parents who don’t have their youngsters living with them to use the child maintenance system.
- Children over the age of 12 years and living in Scotland can also usually apply.
- Please note that if you are living abroad, it is not possible to use the service – however, there are certain circumstances where this may be reviewed.
Please note that these points are merely guidelines, in order to assess your situation fully please call a dedicated CSA advisor – lines are open from 8am until 8pm on a Monday to Friday and from 9am until 5pm on a Saturday.
Complaints and Appeals
Decisions are sometimes made that not all parties agree with or there are may be services which fall short of expectation – at such times it is important you feel your issues are addressed efficiently.
To discuss your complaint in the first instance it is vital to contact the CSA directly – their helpline is available from 8am until 8pm on a Monday to Friday and from 9am until 5pm on Saturdays.
If you are still dissatisfied, the next step is to consult with the Complaints Resolution Team – cases are typically reviewed within 15 days.
If required, further investigation can be carried out via the Complaints Review Team – however, if this proves unsatisfactory you may wish to consider using an ‘Independent Case Examiner’ and if no resolution is found, a Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman or your local MP could perhaps be an option.
Appeals should be made within 1 month of receiving a decision letter and must be made directly to the CSA. Initial reassessment is called a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ – which if unsatisfactory can be appealed against via an independent tribunal.
Applying for Child Maintenance
Applying to Child Maintenance relies on some basic information including, the full name and age of the child(ren) you are applying on behalf of, your National Insurance Number and your bank account details – most cases are typically established within a month and first payments are usually paid within 6 weeks.
Unpaid Child Maintenance
Non-payment can be collected in three ways:
- Funds can be taken directly from the paying parent’s earnings or benefits.
- Regular or one-off payments can be taken from the paying parent’s bank or building society.
- This step requires court action – this is the most extreme course of action.