Child Maintenance Tribunal

Child maintenance tribunal is usually the last place a parent woulds to end over financial support. Quite often a parent may not agree with a child maintenance decision which has been made. If you have a decision which has been made and you feel there may have been a mistake in reaching this decision by the Child Maintenance Service then you may be able to request for the decision to be reconsidered. This process is known as the mandatory reconsideration.

The time limit for asking for a child maintenance matter to be reviewed is one month from the date of the letter in which you were informed about the decision. You will only be able to make an appeal once the decision has been reconsidered by the Child Maintenance Service. The child maintenance tribunal may accept late appeals where there are good reasons after the one month time limit. In such a case the other parent may be asked to confirm whether they object to the appeal being accepted.

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What is the child maintenance tribunal?

The child maintenance tribunal is also known as the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal. The child maintenance tribunal will deal with appeals relating to a child maintenance decision within one month of getting the mandatory reconsideration decision. If you are unable to submit your appeal within the one month period then an explanation will be needed as to why an appeal was not made earlier.

How to appeal to the child maintenance tribunal?

In order to make an appeal to the child maintenance tribunal you will need to complete the form SSCS2.When completing the form you will need to confirm whether you want your appeal to go to a tribunal hearing to allow you to explain your case or whether you wat your appeal to be heard on the form and based on supporting evidence you provide.

After submitting your appeal you will be able to provide your supporting evidence which will be considered by a judge who will then make a decision. The appeal process usually takes around 6 months for your appeal to be heard by the tribunal.  Whilst the child maintenance decision is reviewed, or during the appeal the original decision stays in force. This means the parent making the child maintenance will pay the amount stated and on the dates given until the issue is resolved.

On what grounds can you appeal for child maintenance?

A parent is able to appeal a decision if one or more of the following situations apply:

  • Where a parent believes the amount worked out for maintenance is incorrect,
  • Where the Child Maintenance Service make a default maintenance decision based on a lack of information;
  • Where the Child Maintenance service refuse to work out a new amount of child maintenance after being notified of a change in circumstances
  • Where the Child Maintenance Service refuses to cancel a default maintenance decision
  • Where a parent disagrees with the changes the Child Maintenance Service makes to its decision when it is asked to reconsider the decision
  • Where the Child Maintenance Service refuse to reconsider its decision when asked for a review within the one month allowed
  • Where a parent feels the Child Maintenance Service have made a decision that should have taken effect from a different date
  • Where a payment feels incorrect information has been used by the Child Maintenance Service to make a decision
  • Where a child maintenance decides to cancel a case for child maintenance

On what grounds can I not appeal for child maintenance?

Parents may quite often not be happy with the way their child maintenance matter has been dealt with and maybe considering an appeal. However it is important to note that a parent will not be able to make an appeal to a child maintenance decision in the following circumstances:

  • Where they deny being the parent of the child in question
  • Where a parent is not happy with the service they have received from the Child Maintenance Service
  • Where a parent wants to make an appeal against a deduction of earnings order (as this will need to be addressed by a county court), or
  • If a parent wants to challenge a child maintenance decision which is inforce due to a new change in personal circumstances.

Can I appeal for a decision on child maintenance where there is a change in personal circumstances?

A change in personal circumstances is not a valid ground for an appeal to the child maintenance tribunal. Where circumstances change a parent can ask the Child Maintenance Service to alter a child maintenance calculation once the new changes have been taken into account.

Changes of circumstances include:

  • Where an income of the paying parent increases or decreased by 25% or more,
  • Where the parent making the child maintenance payments becomes financially responsible for a new child
  • Where a child who was subject to the child maintenance payments is no longer qualified for this.
  • Where a change of circumstances takes place this known as supersession and can be applied for at any time.

How to prepare for a child tribunal?

Quite often parents may feel anxious and stressed about a tribunal hearing regarding child maintenance. Preparation is a key factor for a child maintenance tribunal hearing. Parents often list and make a note of key points which include details of evidence they have, evidence of noncompliance of the other parent, discrepancies in accounting records and discrepancies in the information provided to the tribunal and the Child Maintenance Service by the other parent. Copies of your evidence should also be prepared for the tribunal so they can navigate through the documentation during your hearing.

It is ideal to take notes during the tribunal hearing which will give an opportunity to dispute false allegations and ask further questions. You could also use these notes as a summary of your hearing.

Prior to the tribunal you should also prepare questions which you would like to be addressed at the hearing. If you are able to consider what the other parent is likely to say and what objections if any they will be raising you will be able to prepare better for the tribunal and will equip yourself with the responses and answers you need.

At the tribunal hearing you should ensure you stick to the relevant financial information and history. The tribunal is not concerned with your past relationship with the other parent or the reasons for you splitting up.

What to expect from a child maintenance hearing?

Child maintenance tribunals are similar to other court processes which you may have been involved in such as for child custody or contact. The matter is heard by a tribunal judge and a financially qualified panel may also be in attendance. The purpose of the tribunal is to consider whether the child maintenance decision made by the Child Maintenance service is correct. Any evidence which you have provided which may confirm that the Child Maintenance Service have made an error in calculating child maintenance payments will be considered together with the financial position of both parents. Upon considering this information the judge will then make a decision as whether the calculation by the Child Maintenance Service was correct. If the decision is deemed to be incorrect then a further calculation will be provided which will confirm the details of the payments to be made.

Is there an ombudsman for child maintenance?

It is important to note that a parliamentary and health service ombudsman is the final stage in the complaints process. The ombudsman will be responsible for complaints about the Child Maintenance Service. An ombudsman will only consider a complaint which is through your local MP and cannot be approached directly.

Prior to taking your complaint to the ombudsman you must have exhausted all of the other avenues from the complaints process. The complaints process is as follows:

  • Complain to your caseworker or their manager. A complaint can be made either in writing or over the phone. You should receive a response to your complaint within 15 days.
  • Complain to the Complaints Resolution Team. This team will look to address a complaint where you are not satisfied with the response from the complaint to your case worker or their manager. The Complaints Resolution Team will respond to your complaint within 2 days and will either resolve your issue or agree on how your complaint should be resolved within 15 days.
  • Complaints Review Team. If your issue is still not resolved or you have been waiting for an unreasonable time you can escalate your complaint to this team. As above they will respond within 2 days and will either resolve your issue or reach an agreement of how your issue will be resolved within 15 days.

If the above does not resolve your complete then you are able to take your complaint further by contacting your MP. Your MP will be able to take your complaint with the Child Maintenance Service on their behalf. The Child Maintenance Service have a special unit to deal with correspondence from MPs and will usually process this quicker.

You can also make a complaint to the independent case examiner. This case examiner will not be a part of the Child Maintenance Service. They will suggest ways to reach an agreement with the Child Maintenance Service and should make recommendations about what should be done to resolve your complaint. Following which an ombudsman can be contacted if the complaint is still not reasonably dealt with.

How family lawyers can assist you?

Where a parent feels an incorrect decision in relation to a child maintenance has been made, family lawyers can provide you with the advice and assistance you need. Our family lawyers in York as well as nationally deal with all aspects of child maintenance and are able to advise you on how much child maintenance you are likely to receive based on the information to supply.

If you already have a decision on child maintenance payments and feel the decision is not accurate, we can assist you in contacting the Child Maintenance Service requesting them to reconsider their decision. Failing which we can provide you with advice and guidance on the appeals process and prepare you for any child maintenance tribunal hearing you may have. Child maintenance lawyers can advise you on the likelihood of successfully appealing a Child Maintenance Service assessment and prepare you for the appeals process.

Where the parent paying the child contribution is failing to make the payments as required, our family law specialists can assist you in contacting the Child Maintenance Service to ensure enforcement of the payments.

Contact Kabir Family Law today for all your child maintenance enquiries

Our specialist child lawyers are able to help you deal with any child law dispute including child maintenance. With their extensive experience and knowledge they can fight your corner to ensure you receive a fair share for the maintenance of your children. Contact us today on 0330 094 5880 to discuss your options or let us call you back.