Dads’ FAQs: Child support

20 October 2012


Questions we have been asked include:

‘Young father wants to know at what age CMEC will start deducting money’

‘CMEC have just doubled his payment; he can’t afford it; what should he do?’

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) is responsible for the child maintenance system in Great Britain. It replaced the Child Support Agency. CMEC runs the Child Maintenance Options service, which provides information and support to help parents make a child maintenance arrangement that meets their needs. The service is also available to guardians, relatives, friends and child maintenance professionals, and can be used anonymously in England, Wales and Scotland. It is an impartial service, available through:

• a freephone national telephone helpline, 0800 988 0988 (a callback option is available so you don’t get charged if you call from a mobile phone).

• a website

• a face-to-face service for those in most need of more personalised help and support (you can find out more about this by phone or on the website).

Child Maintenance Options also provides information and support on other issues parents might face in making maintenance arrangements, such as housing, legal and money concerns – and it can signpost you to organisations that provide specialist help and advice.

The Government website still displays information about the Child Support Agency here (valid at 20.10.12).

If you’ve had problems with CMEC or the CSA and are looking for external help to resolve these, you could contact the National Association for Child Support Action, which has a website and helpline 01384 572525 (fees apply for telephone or face-to-face support). You could also try Citizens’ Advice on 08444 111 444 (England) or 08444 77 20 20 (Wales). Find your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau via their website.

What if you have financial problems?

If you have debt problems, contact the National Debtline for free confidential advice on money problems on 0808 808 4000 or visit their website. (Please note, this service cannot advise on benefits).

If you are a lone and/or separated dad and are having financial problems, you may also find the following useful:

Gingerbread information for single dads

Working Families’ information for working parents and carers

Horizons, a partnership between Citizens Advice, Family Action and Gingerbread – supported by Barclaycard – offers lone parents support on finance, as well as other issues. Find out more on its website.

For information and advice on benefits, visit the Government website or the Benefits section of Adviceguide, the website of Citizens’ Advice.

Further help and mediation

If you want help to try to reach a more successful agreement with your child’s other parent and need some support, the Centre for Separated Families may be able to assist you. It runs an email advice service and on its website you can read articles and buy a book about how to reach amicable post-separation arrangements.

If you think mediation could help you reach a better agreement, you could contact:

National Family Mediation – the umbrella organisation for services that provide mediation service to separating and divorcing couples. Visit their website or call on 0300 4000 636.

The Family Mediators’ Association – the membership body for family mediators. Visit their website or call 01355 244 594.

The Parent Connection offers online support to separating or separated parents, helping you to put your children first. Find out more on their website.

Find links to other Dads’ FAQs articles here.



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