How can I avoid having to pay all over again?

April 3, 2015

My son was born in 1993. He’s now 21. I’ve always paid child maintenance. Mostly through a private, verbal agreement, sometime (in the ’90s) through the CSA.

I had a period in 2001/2002 where I paid nothing because I couldn’t afford it. I literally had no money. A mistake, I accept.

In 2003 I got in touch with the PWC to say I wanted to start paying again, and make amends for the period of non-payment. We made a verbal agreement that I would pay £300 per month (I was previously paying c£150). This was to cover current payments due and play ‘catch-up’ for the missed periods.

Those payments continued every month, without fail, even through a few periods of unemployment(I always paid) with a monthly standing order from my bank to hers.

In 2011, my daughter was born (with my current wife)and I dropped the payments to £250 per month. This was agreed and no payments were missed.

In 2014 my son that I have been paying the maintenance for, was 19 and got himself a job. I stopped paying maintenance when I heard this (neither of them told me at first that this was the case, so there was some definite overlap).

Shortly after this, I receive a letter from the CSA, completely and utterly out of the blue telling me that I owe over £10,000 in maintenance arrears.

This is apparently for a period before 2005. I can only prove that I have been paying maintenance for the last 7 years as the banking history doesn’t go back that far.

I have nothing in writing as an agreement with the PWC, it was just verbal.

This has been bouncing back and forth with the CSA for the last 18 months or so. They send me letters and breakdowns with different amounts each time. They have an assessment of what I should have been paying which leapt from £24 pw in 2000 to £107 pw in 2001. I was earning C£20k at the time. I don’t know how the assessment was ever at £107 pw and I’d not been informed of that until 2014.

I feel like I’m goosed. My ex has received all the maintenance through the years (and more for clothes, toys etc at times).

I’m being asked to pay again, effectively, and as I can’t prove anything, I’m on my own.

I need help fast. I have a 3 year old and my wife is pregnant with our second and we’re currently applying for a mortgage to move home.

This is all very stressful and very, very unfair.

Please help.


  • C G says:

    I feel so sorry for you. My partner was in a similar situation, the CSA claiming he owed £4500 in arrears at one stage, despite paying every month! They had incorrectly calculated his income. After 2 years of arguing they have apologised and agreed he has infact over paid! First you have to understand the CSA are staffed by incompetent and rude people. There is no point in communicating by phone. Email them a formal complaint, (address on website) you usually have to complain within a month of the decision, but if you rang in within a month of receiving the letter this may count. Take your time in compiling the letter,include every possible mistake the CSA may have made (incorrect income used, the fact you had an voluntary arrangement in place and were making payments) and the fact they have been unhelpful, rude etc. If you queried the initial calculation and they did not recalculate it complain about that. Dont forget to include any breached of data protection such as using inaccurate data. State you will be contacting your MP and the press.
    Next contact your MP and ask them to intercede on your behalf. You may also wish to contact nacsa (i haven’t used them myself). Also make a SAR (subject access request) for ALL information on your case from it commenced, including ALL audio recordings. this will have to be sent in writing, send it by recorded post and you will receive all your case notes so you can see exactly what the CSA have been at, keep fighting!

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