Be prepared and realistic
Chasing child maintenance payments can be frustrating and stressful. Not only will you have to rely on the CMS, but some parents will go to great lengths to avoid paying and others just don’t have the money to pay.
The key is to understand how things work, be very persistent, give the CMS as much information as you can and use their complaints procedure if things are handled badly. Unfortunately, you might have to accept that you’re not going to get all the money you’re owed.
Keep a record of all contact with the CMS
Keeping a note of everything you’ve done will help you talk to the right people the next time you call or email. It might also be useful if you want to complain or get your MP to take things up for you. So try to keep your emails and letters and make a note of all your calls, including who you spoke to and when. If the CMS promises to do something within a certain time, make a note of this and remind them if they don’t.
Check how much you’re owed
Double check with the CMS how much you’re actually owed. They should try to make sure you’re paid what you’re owed first.
You might be owed money because the other parent didn’t give enough or the right information. So the CMS might have made an estimate based on the information it had at the time. If the other parent then gives the right information, they’ll recalculate the amount that should be paid. If this is more, you’ll be owed money.
Consider a new agreement to resolve things
To resolve things, you could agree with the other parent that you’ll accept less than you’re owed. This would mean you’re writing off the rest of the debt and won’t be able to chase for it later. This is your decision and the CMS should accept it. Try to think of all the pros and cons before agreeing to an arrangement like this. For example, getting a lump sum payment might affect your benefits and tax credits, so always check this first.