Child maintenance owed to parents
In some cases, before Child Maintenance Service (CMS) writes off any child maintenance owed, the receiving parent will be given a final opportunity to help CMS to collect the debt from the paying parent. If this doesn’t work, the debt will be written off. For other cases, the debt will be automatically written off.
Child maintenance debt that’s eligible to collect
If you’re owed child maintenance from the 1993 or 2003 scheme and, the amount is:
- over £500 and the case is less than 10 years old
- over £1000 and the case 10 years old or over
You do not need to do anything, CMS will write to you and the paying parent about how much is owed. CMS will send you a representation form with their letter. You can ask CMS to try and collect the debt if:
- the case is 1993 and 2003 scheme debt only
- there hasn’t been any payment in the past three months
Asking CMS to collect the debt
After you get your letter, if you want CMS to collect the debt, you need to fill in and return the representation form. This is ‘making representation’ to CMS. You must do this within 60 days of getting CMS’s letter.
You should include any additional information about the paying parent such as their employment details and any assets they have.
Time limit on asking CMS to collect child maintenance debt
CMS will write to you 21 days after their first letter if they haven’t heard from you. If you don’t contact them after 60 days, CMS will write off the child maintenance debt and tell the paying parent.
When you ask CMS to collect the debt, they’ll need to check some information to decide if they could successfully collect the debt from the paying parent.
They’ll need to know:
- where the paying parent lives
- the paying parent’s income and financial status
When CMS decides not to collect a debt
Sometimes CMS decides they can’t collect the debt. They’ll write off the debt. They’ll write to tell you and the paying parent about this decision.
When CMS asks the paying parent for information
Sometimes CMS thinks the debt could be collected. But they’ll need more information from the paying parent before they make a decision to collect.
The paying parent can explain why the debt shouldn’t be collected and give evidence to CMS. This allows the paying parent to make representation.
CMS will then write to the receiving and paying parent to advise whether the debt will be collected or written off.
How CMS can collect the debt
CMS can use different ways to collect the debt from the paying parent. They can:
- take amounts from the paying parent’s earnings
- use regular or lump sum deduction orders to collect payments from the paying parent’s bank account
- send court orders to the paying parent
If CMS decide that the debt can be successfully collected, they will confirm how much is owed and move the case to the CMS 2012 computer system.
Writing off child maintenance debt from 1993 or 2003 schemes
CMS automatically writes off child maintenance debt from 1993 or 2003 schemes if the amount is:
- £500 or less and the case is less than 10 years old
- £1000 or less and the case is 10 years old or older
If CMS writes off a child maintenance debt, they’ll write to the receiving and paying parent. If the debt is less than £65, CMS will write it off but don’t need to tell you.
If you need more information about 1993 and 2003 scheme debt, go to: