Dispute with Child Support Agency

October 24, 2011

I have had an ongoing dispute with The Child Support Agency for 7years now and I am dismayed at the way I have been treated and that of the final outcome.

When I was first contacted by an Ann Thomas in 2004, I raised my issue of possible paternity for the child in this case. I was told by her that it was down to me to prove otherwise and that I was now liable for Child Support.

At this time , I was off work with a broken shoulder and was unable to make payments, let alone a DNA test. This continued for almost a year.

I was contacted again in mid to late 2005 regarding some arrears that I had accrued through that year. Again I raised the paternity issues and again they were ignored.

On the 10th January 2006, I sent an email to a Mr Hearn in Plymouth regarding yet another assessment that the Agency had made again I raised the issue of paternity. I received no reply to that either.

In June 2006, I was notified that I had arrears of £465 and these would be taken with regular payments by way of Deduction from Earnings. These payments continued into 2007 when I contacted the Agency again to enquire as to how much of the arrears were left. To my surprise and horror, they had now risen to £1370.63.

I disputed these figures on several occasions but neither my case worker or the Agency would look into or investigate them. Due to the financial implications on my current family, I had no choice but to leave that job in September 2007.

In December 2007, I started a new job so I contacted the Agency to advise them and again asked my case worker to look into these supposed arrears. My Child Support payments commenced again in early 2008, again by way of Deduction from Earnings. The weekly payments still included these supposed arrears.

This again put a huge financial strain on myself and current family so in May 2008, I decided I would be better of on benefits and left that job.

In January 2009, I received a letter threatening me with legal action so I spoke to a Neil Tucker about my concerns and issues regarding paternity and the arrears . His mere attitude was ` If that`s what it says you owe, then that`s what you owe ` and if I did not pay them I would end up in prison and he refused point blank to look into it.

I advised the CSA of my current employment situation and in September 2009, received a Deduction of Earnings Order to pay £342 per month of which £228 was off the supposed arrears. I spoke to a Simon in Team 13 in Stockport and again his attitude , I found to be unprofessional and unacceptable.

I then at my own expense, sort legal advise and was advised to appeal the Order. Which I did. That appeal cost me £80 and the first hearing was heard on 16th December 2009 at my local Family Court. The paternity and arrears issues were raised at this hearing and the Court directed that I had to receive a one to one hearing from somebody from The Agency to listen and investigate my issues and was adjourned until 24th February 2010.

That visit obviously never happened and upon returning to court in February, the hearing went against me and the Order was to stand. Due to these payments, I had to move out of my family home as we could not afford for me to live here as my current wife was unemployed at that stage and we risked losing our home. This put a huge strain on my family and almost cost me my marriage.

I finally received a visit from a Julie Smith around 21st March2010 and she did agree that there was definite discrepancies and promised me that she would look into them. Apart from returning my wages slips, I never heard from her again.

I have had at least 6 different case workers at 5 different offices after being pushed from one to another. It felt as though, when 1 office refused to deal with my issues, they would fob me off to another and I`d have to explain my issues all over again. I have found these case workers to be very unhelpful, at times, very incompetent, rude and totally oblivious to what I have been saying for 7 years.

Finally in April 2010 Lianne Phelps in Bolton , listened to what I was saying and actioned my request for a DNA test. After not receiving the sample kit in the time that I was advised of, I telephoned her again and received the DNA kit in early August. The DNA test came back negative and I cannot be the biological father.

Had somebody listened to me in 2004, I would not have had to endure the nightmare that I have suffered since.

I was contacted by David Lewis of the Complaints Department on 28th August, who informed me that my case would now be closed back to 2004 and that I would receive a full refund of any payments that I had made to the Agency from 2004 to date.this would take 5 to 6 weeks. He asked me to send him a letter of complaint against the Agency regarding my issues over the last 7 years. I did that and faxed it to him on 30th August. I have spoken to David several times and I can only commend him for his very helpful attitude. I spoke to him in October 2010 for an update on my refund, only to be told that ` legislation ` had changed about 6 months previous and that I was only entitled to a refund for payments made after the DNA test.

He told me to write to Janis Crook with my complaint and ask for a Subject Access Report. I did that and in early January 2011 I received the report which cost me £10.

Later that month I received a phone call from somebody in the Complaints Office stating that my case was closed and there was nothing left that i could do.

Undeterrred I sought further Legal advice and was told to contact the Central Appeals Unit.
I did that and was told that I had a very good case to appeal .

They did all the necessary paperwork for me and sent it off to a Tribunal.

The Tribunal then wrote to me to say that they did not have jurisdiction over my case as I wasn`t disputing that my case was closed but was disputing the fact that the CSA said that I had no right to be reimbursed.

a little bemused, I rang the Central Appeals Unit and actually spoke to the gentleman who underwrote my appeal for me. He said he knew that the Tribunal would have no jurisdiction over my case as my complaint was with Accounts.I asked why he had referred my appeal knowing this, he simply said he didn`t know and if he was me, he would contact my local MP.

The CSA expect to push me from pillar to post, cause endless grief to myself and my current family and when they are proved wrong, expect me to just lay down and go away.

Well that is not going to happen.

Do you have any advice for my next move please and can I pursue the Mother for maintenance that I paid to her for the 6 years leading to the CSA becoming involved ?

Kind Regards

Paul Waylen

Comments

8 Responses to “Dispute with Child Support Agency”

  1. Bob on October 24th, 2011 1:07 pm

    Find out exactly how much money you have paid over the years then bring up about a claim for this amount.

    It is imperative that you say that you disputed parentage from when you were first contacted. You will need to state that you did not have the funds to bring up a DNA test at the time owed to the crippling costs of the maintenance, supposed arrears and also your necessary expenditure to your current family.

    This is once again disgusting. Legislation to forbid you reclaiming is clearly bogus. I would definately contact the national papers about this issue and press for a full and immediate refund which is your right as a Citizen.

  2. Can an illegal immigrant go to family court? | Green Card Immigration Lawyer on October 24th, 2011 2:25 pm

    [...] there is no guarantee that the judge or other persons present will not report the individual.Can an illegal immigrant go to family court without being deported by ICE?only allows him to see the child once every three weeks. Up until now they have never involved the [...]

  3. Paul Waylen on November 8th, 2011 3:58 pm

    Thanks Bob for your recent advice.

    Since I posted my letter above, I again wrote to The Client Services Directorate to air my views and issues but this time , I added that if my situation was not resolved forthwith, I would have no alternative but to take Legal Action against them.
    Immediately i received a letter assuring me that my issues were being investigated and a resolution plan was to be placed. Great i thought, somebody is finally listening to me .

    How wrong I was !!! I rang today to be told that their decision was final and I will not being refunded at all. He then gave me advice on what to do now and gave me an address to write to , to enable me to continue with my refund claim.

    But it is the same address that I have already written to twice but just a different person. Again I feel that I have been fobbed off.

    I am now going to involve my local MP and also The Secretary of State for Works and Pensions to see if I get any joy that way. If i do not, I will contact the national papers.

    Sadly, if I pursue it through the courts, the legal costs will far out weigh my refund amount. Think that is called a typical Catch 22 situation.

    Kind Regards

    Paul

  4. Matt on January 7th, 2012 5:43 pm

    Paul,

    Have you had any updates re this?

    Your story mirrors that of mine to a certain degree.

    In 1998 I had a one night stand with a work colleague which resulted in a pregnancy. I tried to make a go of it with the mother and ‘do the right thing’ but things didn’t work out.

    Not long after I was contacted by the CSA with a claim. I was never married to the girl obviously and was never named on the birth certificate. At the time I was suffering from deep emotional distress – I had just lost my mother and grandfather to cancer and was made redundant from my job.

    I accepted the claim and after several weeks started making payments to the mother via Standing Order.

    In 2004 I contacted the CSA via phone to dispute parentage after I was made aware of a potential ‘other dad’ from a mutual friend.

    The CSA had none of it and despite my numerous requests for a DNA test and my disputing their decision to ‘presume parentage’ they said if I wanted a DNA test then I had to do so legally.

    I have never been able to afford the test and potential court costs.

    In December 2011 I managed to save up enough money to arrange a test (it took me a year to save this up) and despite a lot of messing around on her part the tests were taken.

    I received the results today – I am not the biological father.

    My concern is that I won’t get a penny of the £35k that I have had taken from me (quite a lot via DEO) – I don’t have any definitive records re the phone calls I made re disputing parentage and the only ‘formal’ dispute letters I have go back to June 2011 only.

    I would be grateful if you would give an update on your situation.

    Cheers,
    Matt

  5. Paul Waylen on January 9th, 2012 1:07 pm

    Hi Matt
    Since my last post, I have been in hospital and as yet , sadly have not , followed up my case . I intend to in the next week or so.

    Your case seems so similar to mine .
    Although you do not have any definitive records, contact the CSA and ask them for A Subject Access Report. This will cost you £10 and can take upto 40 days to be delivered.
    This report contains records of every single contact you have had with them. Whether it be by letter or phone call. It contains copies of letters they have sent to you. It really does contain a lot of information and is worth the £10.

    Once you receive it, go through and get yourself some legal advice on as to where you exactly stand legally .Be sure to see a solicitor who is Fully Conversant in CSA Law.
    I have found that sadly , very few solicitors will take on a case involving the CSA as it is taking on the Government.

    Once you have gathered all the info you require, contact the CSA complaints department and go from there.
    I will warn you that they will try to fob you off and tell you that you are not entitled to a thing and expect you to accept their decision, regardless of what a solicitor has told you.
    They seem to be a law unto themselves but don`t lie down and take it like they expect.

    Good Luck and I would be grateful if you could keep me updated on your case .

    Cheers
    Paul

  6. Matt on January 9th, 2012 6:12 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Sorry to hear about your hospital visit – I hope you are ok.

    I’ll get in touch with them re the Subject Access Report tomorrow and take it from there.

    I have briefly spoken to Stephen Lawson at Forshaws, Davies, Ridgeway who it appears might be one of the best people to help in this case and will probably look to involve him in this if it becomes ‘too heavy’.

    My initial letter of complaint plus copy of the test report was sent off today so I expect a “there’s nothing you can do” reply in the next couple of weeks.

    As soon as I have anything I’ll get back to you on here.

    All the best – and keep on fighting!

    Matt

  7. Matt on March 8th, 2012 7:48 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Any news to report?

    My DEO was stopped – not before another payment was taken from me though (although I did receive a partial refund as some of the money hadn’t been paid out).

    My account has been closed and backdated to the beginning of the claim and there is a ‘proposed’ refund in the system for the full amount that I have paid in relation to this case.

    That was 6 weeks ago and I rang them tonight to see where my case was.

    Due to the size of the ‘potential’ refund it has gone to higher levels. The CSA cannot tell me who to contact re this or how long it will take to even get an answer – the guy said this could take 6 months and then it could be a ‘no’.

    How they can think they can get away with rejecting this is beyond me.

    I have made an appointment to see my local MP and will take him a copy of my file so that he might be able to speed this up. I’ve also created a copy for Maria Miller MP (the CSA is within her remit).

    I don’t expect anything too quickly and to be frank think I still have a big fight on my hands over this but I will not let them get away with it.

    I will update as and when I get any news.

    As an aside does anyone know when the latest rule change came in ie originally you would get all payments made paid back but this changed late 2010 / early 2011 so that supposedly all you get back were payments made after you disputed parentage.

  8. Matt on July 17th, 2012 6:05 pm

    Any update Paul?

    I’ve been battling for 7 months now with little joy – I’ve taken legal action and involved my MP.

    Currently they have offered to refund back to the date of my ‘official’ dispute back in 2010 but this accounts for approx 10% of my claim.

    I am not letting them get away with this and have another meeting with my MP on Friday.

Got something to say?