If I return to the UK, will my CSA arrears re-surface?

October 10, 2013

My encounters with the CSA date back to around 2000, at a time when I had just found work after a period of around 8 months unemployment. Prior to that, I was working abroad and (mistakenly) making voluntary contributions (which, ironically amounted to around 40% of my net income). I received an assessment which was immediately taken from my salary as deduction of earnings order. Although it was around 35% of my net income, it was just about manageable – based upon the wage I was earning at the time – and the fact that my new partner was earning. During this time I continued to incur the incidental expenses of having my children stay and I also (mistakenly) paid for other things such as school uniforms.

I was made redundant in 2005, but – luckily – I found another job (2 year contract) – which was unfortunately over 100 miles from my home. In the region I live, transport links are poor, and I needed to run a car in order to travel to work. I also needed to spend some nights away – for which I incurred the cost. When I was re-assessed (under the 2 year rule), the deduction percentage increased to around 43% – which became unmanageable in my circumstances. Numerous letters and phone calls explaining my circumstances to the CSA were ignored. A few months after the assessment, I began to get into debt – simply to stay in work!

When I completed my contract, I was forced to become self-employed – in order to keep working. During this time I again (mistakenly) made voluntary contributions towards my children’s upbringing because I did not receive a regular income. This was despite the fact that my ex-wife appeared to be living reasonably well with a new partner (i.e. running a car, sharing living costs etc.). The CSA hounded me incessantly throughout this period by phone calls (some of which I thought were hoax) and letters demanding money. At one stage they wrote to me with a ‘calculation’ that I was £8,000 in arrears. I immediately requested a breakdown of how they had arrived at that figure but I received no response.

My most recent encounter was in January 2011, when the CSA began county court proceedings against me. They demanded £2,000 immediately – which I managed to negotiate down to £1,500. They deferred the case until April – providing I paid £200 per month (which again, I managed to negotiate). My main worry at the time was that they would confiscate my passport, as I had begun applying for jobs abroad.

Actually, I have been reasonably fortunate – when considering some of the stories on this site (although it didn’t feel like it to me at the time). Both my children are now over 20 – the age at which (I think) my CSA obligation ends. I am now working abroad (and my partner is with me). My worry is that – should I return to the UK to work and make PAYE contributions – or retire, the CSA calculated arrears will re-surface and I will be hounded yet again. Worse still, I suspect they may attach deductions to any income I may receive – for a debt they will not substantiate. I am not confident that contacting the CSA will resolve anything because I have read many cases where they have told ‘debtors’ they owe nothing – only to come up with a totally random demand for money.


  • CSA warrior says:

    short answer for you is yes. the age of the child is no concern to them at all. So on that note you cant hide. the question I think you ought to find the answer to is are you obliged to pay the CSA if you are in a foreign country?? I dont know. however if you are then you will need proof that u have made voluntary payments

  • Jeremy Lambert says:

    If you’re happy where you are give up citizenship hand back your passport then you are no longer a UK citizen and therefore can not be held liable for these payments.

  • Dennis Andrews says:

    Thanks for the responses; unfortunately I have no proof of previous payments – which was stupid of me.
    I am certainly not willing to renounce my UK citizenship (that actually sounds a bit ‘French Foreign Legion’)! I’m trying to get some idea of whether the CSA ever provide credible details of alleged arrears. By that I mean a full break down of amount, dates and reason for arrears. The responses on this forum appear to give a mixed view.

    I have to say that I’m actually a little ashamed of the tactics I adopted in my dealings with the CSA. Because of the difficulty I experienced (on numerous occasions) when communicating with CSA employees, I resorted to ignoring their letters and changing my phone number. I felt that I was dealing with a clandestine organisation that would often resort to scare tactics and sometimes intimidation. Because of this, I decided to keep dialogue about my unsubstantiated arrears to an absolute minimum. Quite simply, I didn’t believe I would be treated fairly. Whilst these tactics worked in the short term, I assumed that my ‘arrears’ charge will remain open indefinitely – which seems to be the case.

    I think my next step will be to get advice from a law firm used to dealing with the CSA.

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