Loophole in CSA protocol means self-employed parents can get away without paying the right sum

August 17, 2017

I’m a single father with 2 children and have had nothing but trouble with csa northern Ireland.

I Would like to say that every absent parent should contribute towards there children with or with out using the csa system.

My ex partner is self employed so it seems if your in the catagorie you can pay what ever you want compared to the hard working normal people.


It took the csa 6 months before I received any child support from my ex and be told it was an error on there behalf even though i contacted them every week.

When I got a plan through it was the £30per month for each child and £10 per month off the arrears.

Received a new schedule in Jul for the review in May for £161 per month inculding £40 per month off the arrears.they stated that they got this figure from her last year tax returns ok.

Now they have came back to say she has appealed this as she is no longer erning that amount and it has been reduced to £64 per month for both children.

Now this is were I have identified a major loop hole in the system.

I contacted csa to find out why this has changed they stated that she provided them with a new tax return in july showing that this is what she earns.

So first they use last year’s tax return but now she has submitted another so it changes.

I asked them have theu cross ref this information or even verified this with HMRC to which I was tool that they don’t do that.

So What seems to be the proccess is you submit your tax return to HMRC in January and once your review is due you contact csa with a self accessment you’ve done yourself they don’t verify it and you only have to pay the minimum.

Wait it gets better therefore I asked the question if she as stated (Just an excample) she expects her earning to be 10,000 but on her tax return for next year turns out to be the more realistic of 40,000 Will the unpaid support be back dated to which they stated no they will use her tax return from the review day.

So all she has to do once again is send in a a self assessment of 10,000 and job done.

This is a total disgrace and surly can’t be the case.

And if this is the case I feel it’s time the media was made aware of this loop hole and closed.


I would be more that grateful if any 1 could please advise if this is the case and forward to me any department i could contact.


  • David Joseph says:

    Hi there

    Sorry to see the problems you are going through with your children’s mother and the CMS.

    First of all, you should note that the Agency will use a paying parent’s previous tax years’ information for the Calculation of Child Maintenance. If they could prove their income is 25 per cent less than that, it will be taken into account and a Review will be conducted by the authority.

    You could challenge any Calculation if you can provide cogent evidence to prove that a person’s lifestyle in inconsistent with their declared income. This is called a Variation. You could prove this by showing that they have a lavish lifestyle – evidence proving their have capital is excess of £65,000. This could a number of houses they rent out and gain rental income, a limited business from which they get dividends which is not declared, regular expensive holidays abroad etc. Perhaps they are deliberately not receiving a fair income from their company and so on.

    If you want more information, drop me a line at [email protected]

  • James says:

    Very true indeed the employed take a hammering with very little if any redress the cms is used as a weapon against ex partners I’m afraid shame but true, that said fathers should pay a fair amount with no cms involved

  • Samuel says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience about the loopholes you observed in CMS decision making. This must still be of interest to many people.

    One may believe that evidence of high undeclared earnings by the self-employed NRP could help the CMS arrive at just decisions. It is not so, but it will be good if anyone knows a legal firm that has successfully advanced such evidence in court.

    From my experience, it is clearly obvious that the CMS has no discretion and therefore no ability to determine the true earning of the self-employed parent while treats the genuinely employed parents as easy victims.

    This is simply because there is hustle in assessing the high living standard and wealth of the self-employed who hides incomes behind corporate veils. I think this is due to a cruel change in the law introduced by a Conservative Government. The CMS now just blindly take figures from the personal self-assessment as filed with HMRC for the previous financial year.

    During our long cohabitation we raised two happy children. We still do. The older child lives with me and the younger with her mother, as a matter of their choice and family court order. There is no welfare issue and both live in high quality homes but the mother is cunningly using the CMS as a tool of unnecessary revenge and punishment. A very disgraceful service to the welfare of the children.

    My ex is self-employed for many years through incorporating her own limited liability companies with £1 share ownership in each and she manages her own payroll to fit her tax objectives.

    Nobody knows her true incomes, but she has exclusive free access to her business bank accounts. Her latest unaudited business accounts declare after tax net profit of over £600,000 and various growing investments.

    She is also the sole owner of her residence value £1.6 million with ongoing annual running cost of £50,000-£80,000. She manages her ownership of her properties (including her residence) through her corporate entities, so she passes all her residential costs as business expenses.

    Her remarkably high living expenses (including a leased car and holidays) are directly funded by her own businesses and she never declared personal wages of more than £12,000 in any year. She is also free to change her nominal wages at will and sometimes declares herself as unemployed if she is on a career development training course and request variation in CMS decision.

    The main issue here is that the law recognises that all persons employed through their self-owned limited liability company have two components of income: an earned element and un-earned element.

    In the case of my ex, her unearned income is large as it pays for her exceptionally large personal and household expenses but yet not declared by way of dividends, directors fees or any other label. On this basis the CMS routinely awards her unreasonably high allowance for her own child support maintenance while hardly any for the child in my care.

    It is illegal not to declare unearned income or to have domestic and personal expenses funded as business costs, but this is being encouraged by the fact that there has never been any tax inspection of her unaudited accounts from the day of incorporation, and it feels that non is expected in the future.

    The CMS is also not able to exercise any reasonable due diligence to verify the true income of the self-employed non resident parent, especially if it is the mother.

    It seems there is a presumption that the mother is always the weakest economic link though this could sometimes be a travesty of the truth and justice.

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