Enforcing Unpaid Maintenance
Even once an assessment is made and the arrears figure is calculated the CSA’s enforcement methods can be very slow and extremely long winded. The CSA has an absolute obligation to enforce debt owed and we can ensure the CSA takes every possible step to enforce via either:-
a) Deduction from Earnings Order.
This only works where the non-resident parent is employed and in some circumstances even then a Deduction from Earnings Order fails to collect the entire or any of the amount due.
b) Liability Orders.
Not a method of enforcement in themselves they simply represent the Courts approval of the figure owed but open the gateway to other methods of enforcement as discussed below.
Bailiffs are Officers authorised by the Court to collect money by means of seizing property belonging to the non-resident parent and selling it at auction. In almost all cases where bailiffs do successfully collect it is the threat of seizing the fathers possessions (i.e. sofa, tv, car) that leads to payment rather than the bailiffs actually taking the possessions and auctioning them off. It should be noted however that bailiffs can reach instalment agreements instead of collecting the debt in one go.
d) Third Party Debt Orders
Can be obtained, not only to freeze bank or building society accounts but to ensure that any individual who owes the father money can be forced to pay the cash over to the CSA.
e) Charging Orders.
Where the non-resident parent has a house a Charging Order can be obtained. A Charging Order is a kind of sleeping mortgage. It does not incur interest but it does secure the money for the parent with care provided there is the equity to pay it. In some cases Charging Orders can be enforced by the sale of the land they charge.
f) Criminal penalties.
Although it is not a criminal offence to fail to pay child support if a Liability Order is made and all methods of enforcement above have either drawn a blank or simply would not work (i.e. the non-resident parent does not own a property) then the CSA can take proceedings in the Magistrates Court for the non-resident parent to be imprisoned or his driving licence to be suspended. “A Committal Order or a Banning Order”. Such action will always be action of the last resort but the delays in obtaining an assessment, then a Liability Order, the Bailiffs, investigating whether a Third Party Debit Order or Charging Order is appropriate can often mean years of waiting.
We can keep the pressure on the CSA to ensure the processes are followed as quickly as possible and that this, final method of enforcement, is dealt with efficiently. Very few non-resident parents go to prison or are banned from driving for a failure to pay their child support, this is because almost all non-resident parents once faced with the prospect of imprisonment or a lengthy driving ban reach an arrangement with the Courts to pay their maintenance. Ultimately therefore child support is collectable.
It is nonetheless the case that many fathers and mothers feel that child support maintenance is in effect uncollectable simply because of very lengthy CSA delays going through the enforcement process. Speedy and efficient enforcement can ensure that a non-resident parent looks at his obligations much more seriously much more quickly.
The idea of enforcement is to turn on the maintenance tap and if you are finding that your tap has dried up then please call us on 03456 588683.