Maintenance payments are not a benefit, they are a carer’s and a child’s right

This article’s about the payment of child maintenance, something I did for 20 years. To me it is the very first priority of a paying parent as it is the lifeline for the carer and the child. You can read about the various ways that payment can be made here.

Payments can be made (usually where other methods have failed) directly from pay. At this point such payments enter into the world of payroll. I have heard these payments referred to as an employee benefit, they are not. They are deductions from pay about which there is no discretion, they are not a benefit but a right to those who receive them.

I came across this post on linked in and it made me think- think a lot.

Please take a moment to watch the Parliamentary debate from last Thursday, 21st January, regarding the operation of

the Child Maintenance Service during Covid-19 and important plight of many families in such unprecedented times. For many of us the global pandemic, lockdown, homeworking and home schooling has been one cog in a wheel of complexity. It is 45 minutes well spent, drawing on issues that affect our own industry more broadly, as well as the responsibility of employers. Whilst the debate starts at 15.53 and commences with scene setting of the issues, in particular I would draw your attention to Rt Hon Caroline Nokes at 16.05 and Guy Opperman at 16.49 in the footage (link attached) Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

Clearly Caroline Nokes’ is aware of certain live cases where payments are being frustrated by one parent seeking variation orders, by employers not co-operating and by the non-disclosure of the paying parent’s financial resources. I quote a statement from Caroline Nokes also quoted by  the Pension Minister.

“There is a special place in hell for parents who go out of their way to hide income”

We should be particularly disgusted with such goings-on at this point in time, when the Child Maintenance Service is so under pressure.  Paying parents and parents who care both have responsibility for the child or children. But so do employers – employers have a moral and legal role to enforce payments out of pay.

Not all domestic abuse is physical, some is financial. Deductions from earnings orders need to be honored by employers and should not have to be chased up by parents who are left without maintenance payments. Payroll must not be allowed to be bullied in taking an employee’s side, no matter how senior the employee.

It is good to see Government stepping up powers to protect parent’s who care and those they care for as nobody should exploit this crisis to get out of making payments. It is good to see Guy Opperman report on the DWP’s widening the scope of  the CMS’ investigatory powers to include all sources of income. Compliance with “collect and pay” is – according to Guy Opperman is only 74% – and shows a shockingly high level of non-compliance.

I very much hope that no company involved with the payment of pensions is found to have fallen short in its duty to make direct payments where an order is in force.

I will let the final word on this fall to Jay Kenny, a noble man who is consistently on the side of doing the right thing.



About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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9 Responses to Maintenance payments are not a benefit, they are a carer’s and a child’s right

  1. Kate upcraft says:

    not sure what the employer’s role was but an employer who doesn’t operate a DEO for child maintenance risks prosecution – it’s a court order not a voluntary deduction like paying your gym membership! Employers can deduct £1 each pay period to cover costs (of course it doesn’t but heigh ho) as long as that doesn’t breach NMW. Any employer who colludes with a non-resident parent to deny funds to a parent with care deserves to be prosecuted in my view.

  2. Peter D Beattie says:

    I accept the standard that parents should provide sufficient funds in support of minors. But in a ‘dispute situation’ I do not think it equable or fare for one of the parties can claim to be ‘sole carer’ and abstract funds from the other and then ‘abscond with the child’ to far parts thereby removing access of the child to the ‘paying parent’. There should be rules to ensure that a parent does not have a sole right on the movement of a child away from a ‘paying parent’ thus denying access. This presently leads to an expensive court action maybe via a divorce.

    View of a sceptical grandparent

    • nadinecharlton78 says:

      Hi Peter, I agree with your concerns here but this works both ways. In some circumstances the paying (or non paying ) parent uses child access arrangements (which continue to be maintained in the child’s best interests) and separately family court proceedings to continue to control and abuse innocent parties. There is one victim in all of this – the child, who should be protected. Some people are familiar with how the system works, doesn’t join up, and therefore openly manipulate it.

      • Peter D Beattie says:

        From what you say I do not understand where you are coming from in this. It is ‘all about the child’ and they of course have no say in the matter. But to take away a child from either parent and then there is no practical access from the ‘deserted parent’ in my opinion is ‘abuse of the child’. And yes there is a lot of ‘manipulation’ going on and some questionable parents take advantage of that! They also expect to get payed as well!

    • henry tapper says:

      I think grandparents have an important part to play in ensuring that justice is done on both sides.

      • Peter D Beattie says:

        Henry. That is a very generic statement. Would you like to enlarge and clarify how grandparents should help?

  3. John Mather says:

    Weaponising children happens.It is disgraceful but how do you eliminate it? Not through legislation

  4. henry tapper says:

    The point of posting is to raise awareness there is an issue here. It’s good to see politicians picking up on this and reacting to constituency complaints from people who aren’t getting the maintenance for them or the children. I agree, legislation is not enough , public revulsion needs to drive change.

    • Peter D Beattie says:

      Henry. We all know there are defaulters on paying maintenance but the other side of the coin is where a parent is observing paying responsibility that is not always mirrored by the other party honouring their marital contract and responsibility in the due care of any children especially by access over large distances or providing digital communication or other an refusing to negotiate or reply to legal letters.

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