CSA advice for my dad

January 13, 2012

Hopefully someone can help, my dad split up with his ex wife 15 years ago, they had a daughter together who is now 16, my dad has always provided for my sister in every way possible she has never gone without anything, money for trips, clothes etc when she has needed them contracts phone the list could go on!! Because she threw a strop one day and she couldnt have something the same day she went to the CSA and claimed she had never had anything from him they are now taking £300 a week from him for weekly maintenance and back pay.

He works full time but also has a house to keep and debt from a previous marriage but they do not take this in to account, he is going to lose his house due to this as he cannot afford to keep a roof over his head with the payments they are taking from him. He has seeked advice from Solicitors etc but this is also costing him a fortune and he just cannot afford to keep paying it.

If anyone could give me some advice on what he could possibly do to bring these payments down I would greatly appreciate it, [he is more than willing to pay for his daughter but it was a mutual agreement in the past to provide for her when she needed something. Thanks

Comments

  • chall says:

    Hi Staci,

    Is the qualifying child in Scotland?

    Has there been any CSA involvement prior to you sister throwing ‘a strop’, if so when?

    The effective date for a case to commence is when the agency first make contact with the non resident parent either by phone or in writing.

    chall ~ afairercsaforall

  • Brian says:

    EVERYONE GET YOUR MP involved!! NO matter what.

    Regardless send them a copy of every letter you send to the CSA. You’ll be amazed how many NRPs together we can get better, improved, group response. Don’t let the MP do nothng! Stand up and get the MP over worked with local CSA cases guaranteed to piss them off and force the issues directly with higher CSA bods..please pass this message on.

    CSA will only take notice if an MP gets pissed off 😉

    Thanks
    Brian

  • adrian says:

    First of all stop paying. You cannot afford to lose your house. pay only what you can afford. In the end they cannot get blood out of a stone.
    I wrote to them and informed them that they could take my passport, put me in prison and flail me with barbed wire, I will still not pay and see you in court. this was 5 years ago. Went once to magistrates appealed, CSA never turned up still waiting!!
    Secondly make a list of all the financial contributions that you have made in supporting your daughter to date.
    Thirdly. £300 sounds an awful lot of money, appeal the assessment.
    Fourth. Get an excellent accountant.
    Ask the CSA for all the documentation that they have regarding your case, and at the same time make it clear that this is the start of an appeal.
    The CSA will threaten you with the wrath of Armageddon, they seldom follow through.
    You have a right to a family life and a right to a fair trial. the CSA breach both these human rights. You need two breaches for a good chance of success.
    Unfortunately magistrates courts do not and appear not to have the power to investigate the evidence that the CSA present. You will have to appeal to the crown court. Use only solicitors for advice and direction (keeps costs down) prepare your case as much as you can by yourself, or use free advocating services.
    good luck

  • chall says:

    adrian,

    Firstly – If Staci’s father follows your extensive advise, which you have given based on a very small amount of initial information from her, can we assume you make yourself available to assist them if it goes pear shaped and the agency do take action?

    Secondly – Once the agency are involved they are normally only concerned with the contributions made via them, which should be in line with their calculation.

    Thirdly – The £300 apparently includes weekly maintenance and back pay.
    Has the OP given you more info than the rest of us, on what ground exactly should they be appealing the assessment?

    Fourth – Why do you consider they need an excellent account for, are they SE?

    Quote adrian; “You have a right to a family life and a right to a fair trial. the CSA breach both these human rights.”

    There’s a lot of noise about breached Human Rights from some quarters. http://www.childsupportlaws.co.uk/child-support-human-rights-act.html

    Basically, this means that the interference of the CSA in a separated parent’s life is fully justified on the basis of one of the restrictions contained within Article 8. This is because the interference caused by the CSA is justified on the basis that it protects the rights of others (the child), as well as arguably protecting the health of the child because of the provision of a financial benefit.

    Finally; The agency do not just go away and long delays may well be experienced, but many NRP’s have and do feel the wrath of the agency following through, have you not read the stories on here and elsewhere?

    I look forward to your reply.

    chall ~ afairercsaforall

  • adrian says:

    My Response to Chall. afaircsaforall

    My first premise is that if he continues to make these payments he will lose his house what then? It is always harder to get money back from an organization such as the CSA than it is to pay it. Let them take him to court. What is more “pear shaped” than losing your family home and perhaps your daughter.
    His right to a family life is being threatened due to the possibilty that if he does lose his house his new accommodation may not be suitable to house him and his daughter. There are many issues regarding the CSA and all of them impact on individuals and children alike. Unfortunately that impact for many is negative. A simple one size fits all approach will inevitable mean that there will be injustices. How does the CSA balance the rights of children especially if they live in different households? The fact is it does not.

    Appeal the assessment. Are you stating that the CSA never make a mistake in their calculations? That is why he should appeal. He should also ensure that any so called arrears have been calculated correctly. What you seem to be saying is accept that they have got it right!!!

    I note that you only quote Article 8 of the HRA and even then in a limited fashion.

    The Duty of Public Authorities

    The requirement on public authorities to act compatibly with Article 8 of the Convention is contained in Section 6 of the HRA. Section 6 provides that central government, local government and other public bodies such as the police and the courts must all act compatibly with your rights. They do not, as the CSA and the courts frequently breach those individual rights in family cases.

    Even if the infringement of privacy is in accordance with the law, and it is for one of the legitimate objectives, it must still be ‘necessary’ in order for it to be justified under Article 8. This is the third and most stringent condition that any infringement must satisfy, bringing in a requirement that the act must be ‘proportionate’.

    You also fail to mention the right to a fair trial
    Article 7: No punishment without law

    1. No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national law at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the criminal offence was committed. The CSA has implemented and added more “Punishments” for non compliance over the years. They have of course added them retrospectively this clearly breaches this article. You cannot have a law that states, that drink driving is an automatic 1 year ban plus a fine, then three years later change the punishment to imprisonment for ten years, and reapply it to the same DD because you have changed the punishment criteria. This action is now only applicable through “Double Jeopardy” legislation.
    Right to a fair trial?
    A public authority is making a decision that has a decisive impact upon your civil rights or obligations must be

    Held within a reasonable time
    Held before an independent and impartial decision-maker
    Provide you with access to all relevant information

    The CSA frequently fail in all three and invariably with the last.

    As for an accountant, he does not have to be self employed to receive tax relief on the maintenance payments he is making, which I believe stands at 10% he may have other costs that could be offset against his tax liability.

    The CSA has been sighted not only by those affected by its interference but others such as MPs and members of the judicial system as being “Unfit for purpose” and now you are going to have to pay them to due their job.

    Finally I never said that they will go away, you did

  • chall says:

    adrian,

    If your advice is taken and the OP stops/reduces payment, the agency will more than likely deem them non compliant. The CSA will more than likely to pursue enforcement action and he could possibly lose his house.
    Furthermore, the agency have other enforcement powers available to them, some of which do not require court intervention.

    I’m not the one banging on about HR’s, you are!
    ALL parents, married or not, have a legal obligation to financially support their CHILD/REN. Therefore, interference caused by the CSA is justified on the basis that it protects the rights of others (the CHILD/REN), as well as arguably protecting the health of the CHILD/REN because of the provision of a financial benefit.
    As it’s a fundamental HR for CHILDREN to have support from BOTH parents, would it be feasible for the agency to favour a NRP’s HR’s, at the expense of breaching the CHILDS in the process?

    Arguing the many possible HR breaches with me or the agency is futile. Taking it further would take time and be financially consuming. I can not imagine the CSA would accept a NRP making no CS payments during such time.

    I was seeking clarification why the OP needs to appeal, as you had not explained. FYI, Im aware that the agency make errors.
    Although, I can not see any indication from the OP as yet, that they consider the agency have made mistakes, it appears more that the OP has made direct contributions, whilst the agency have been involved and calculating liability at the request of the daughter.

    Most people paying maintenance are not eligible for tax relief on payments due on or after 6 April 2000. I think you will find, CSA payments or back payments are a personal expenditure and I believe not one that attracts tax relief.

    Im sure your aware MP’s delivered the CSA initially. They have indeed deemed it not fit for purpose, maybe one of the reasons why they are busy tweaking the agencies powers ready for C-MEC – Another make do and mend effort…

    Actually I said, “The agency do NOT just go away”.

    I can not change Legislation, nor can I force the agency to use common sense, but I can assist parents, ensuring their procedures have been correctly implemented and they have followed Legislation.

    chall ~ afairercsaforall

  • adrian says:

    The daughter was asking was there any advice on how he could possibly bring these payments down. All the suggestions I made were in my view reasonable. He should explore every avenue.

    Firstly, reducing the payments to the CSA as I suggested at the outset of my statement is NOT the same as refusing to pay. As far as I am aware, it is still not a criminal offence to be in debt. It may become one if you refuse to clear it. However making payments that one can afford without losing one’s house is reasonable. You say the agency will “more than likely deem them non compliant”. That does not mean that they are, simply because the CSA choose to determine that. It can be challenged. County Councils employ the same tactic regarding council tax. They cannot apply for and be granted a liability order if the amount is in dispute and the client HAS NOT REFUSED TO PAY. However councils attend magistrates court and simply say that the money is owed, the court rubber stamp it and hey presto, bailiffs are knocking at your door. I have been to many hearings (as an advocate for adults with learning disabilities or mental health issues) regarding council tax payments and at every one I have turned up at the council have settled outside the court with no liability order.
    As for taking his house, he is going to lose it anyway as he cannot afford both.

    What other enforcement powers can the CSA employ without a court order? I would be interested to hear of those.

    Not banging on, dismissive!! quote “there is a lot of noise about breached human rights from some quarters” Are you a daily Mail subscriber or even worse the Express?
    (Pathetic dig I know, sorry)

    You go on about protecting the HR rights of children, yet you fail to address the point I made regarding to, “How does the CSA balance the rights of children especially if they live in different households?” The fact is it does not. The CSA has put one daughters HR over the resident one who is with the dad. Its actions are to her detriment. Which “child’s health” is being protected in this case? It IS favouring one child over the other.

    Speak to an accountant or HMRC because they seem to contradict your view. I am however prepared to stand corrected on this point if you can provide evidence to the contrary.

    Your final statement quote” I can not change Legislation, nor can I force the agency to use common sense, but I can assist parents, ensuring their procedures have been correctly implemented and they have followed Legislation.”

    Why not? If some thing is wrong and clearly the legislation and the way the CSA implement it are, then protesting, writing and challenging such acts are our only democratic way of seeking justice and rectifying such acts.

    These matters used to be determined by the court. They could hear all sides of the argument and make a reasonable judgement. That process of justice has been removed from our society by the CSA.

    It was not MPS who delivered the CSA initially, but the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher. It did not support children financially and was simply used to reduce taxpayer’s contributions to single parents with resident child.

    What is FYI?

  • chall says:

    This has gone far beyond discussing the OP’s father’s case – at present there is not enough info to enable specific advice regarding such. If the OP replies, I will be happy to resume giving advice based on current CS Legislation and agency procedural guides.

    Quote; You go on about protecting the HR rights of children, yet you fail to address the point I made regarding to, “How does the CSA balance the rights of children especially if they live in different households?”
    ~ More appropriately, I suggest you question the CSA. However, I have explained, as I see it, how the agency justify and defend their actions.

    Quote; What other enforcement powers can the CSA employ without a court order?
    ~ The internet is a wealth of knowledge 😉

    I commend you for attending hearings with adults who have learning disabilities or mental health issues, regarding council tax payments and at every one I have turned up at the council have settled outside the court with no liability order.
    It’s not really the same as dealing with the CSA/C-MEC.

    *NB – You can get Maintenance Payments relief if ALL of the following apply:
    http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/incometax/maintenance-relief.htm#2
    I trust you can support your claim re; Tax relief, for our perusal.

    I feel Legislation should be seriously attended to. I do not agree with all of it. Protest, write and challenge Legislation, but ensure your on the right side of it. Non compliance will only succeed in C-MEC powers being increased to accommodate such . Which with (quote adrian) “the one size fits all approach will inevitable mean that there will be injustices” and sadly complaint NRP’s continue to be treated in a manner that should be reserved for the truly non complaint.

    Quote; It was not MPS who delivered the CSA initially, but the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher.
    ~ How do you think a ‘Bill’ agains ‘Royal Assent’?
    Debate in the Commons with other Opposition parties and backbench MPs giving their opinions and chance to propose change to such. It then moves on to the House of Lords.

    Quote; “Are you a daily Mail subscriber or even worse the Express?
    (Pathetic dig I know, sorry)”
    ~ Yes it is.

    Quote; “What is FYI?”
    For your information.

    chall ~ afairercsaforall

  • adrian says:

    S agree, this debate has drifted off course.
    but two last statements.

    ~ How do you think a ‘Bill’ gains ‘Royal Assent’?
    Debate in the Commons with other Opposition parties and backbench MPs giving their opinions and chance to propose change to such. It then moves on to the House of Lords.

    A) With a massive Tory majority, It was an idealogical bill, not one meant for the benefit of children

    Departmental,Policies and guidelines are put there as obstacles to complaining, i.e., “we have followed procedure thus we are not culpable”and thus we have to circumnavigate those obstacles by not always playing by their rules.
    I wish you the best of luck in what you continue to do, I feel that you are going to need it.

  • chall says:

    Quote; “A) With a massive Tory majority, It was an idealogical bill, not one meant for the benefit of children”

    ~ I understand the CSA was the brainchild of Conservative former social security secretary Tony Newton and initially seen by MPs on all sides as a good thing. Despite warnings, the principles were accepted pre-implementation and consultation was inadequate for a scheme that operates on the border of the welfare and legal systems.
    Numerous adjustments and reforms to the CS system have been passed through The Commons since and some aspects of the CSA are worse than before.

    Quote; “….we have to circumnavigate those obstacles by not always playing by their rules.
    I wish you the best of luck in what you continue to do, I feel that you are going to need it.”

    ~ It’s not a new concept, over the years plenty have tried such an approach and many to their own detriment.
    What is obvious are the changes made to the Legislation to accommodate those not playing by the rules. Sadly, those that are compliant end up with no leeway as a result of others circumnavigations.

    A one sided approach has not yet had a positive impact on fairer Legislation being created.
    Maybe some new thinking, different attitudes and a bit of empathy for each other are required from NRP’s and PWC who fall foul of the system. Working together could attract a different reaction from the Government.

    No, I don’t need luck. It’s the all NRP’s, PWC & the children involved in a system that’s failing them that need your best wishes.

    chall ~ afairercsaforall

  • adrian says:

    I note that apart from criticising my advice you offer NOTHING to this person. Easy to sit on the side lines sniping

  • chall says:

    I prefer to have enough information to enable an answer that’s accurate to the case in question, unlike yourself who obviously finds it acceptable to surmise and offer ‘advice’ based on your own experience or opinion.

    The OP may wish to have the choice of establishing if the agency have followed their own procedures correctly etc, which if they haven’t may reduce their liability or arrears, rather than informing them (Quote) “that they could take my passport, put me in prison and flail me with barbed wire, I will still not pay and see you in court. this was 5 years ago.” The OP father may actually wish to contribute towards their child and perhaps would not relish the stress of waiting around for years to see if the agency are going to catch up with him.

    chall ~ afairercsaforall

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