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Child Support

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  • The father appealed, on the basis that he was incorrectly treated as a "non-resident" parent for the purposes of s 3(2) of the Child Support Act 1991, against a regular deduction order made under s 32A of the same act, in accordance with the Child Support (Collection and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 (SI 1992/1989), relating to alleged arrears of £2,519.86 that had allegedly arisen between 2007 and 2015. Despite repeated notices being sent to the Child Maintenance Service and, later, to the Secretary of State, there had been no response at all from the Service or from the Secretary of State. HHJ Wildblood QC accepted the father's evidence that the children had spent more time living with him during the relevant period; he had nothing from the respondents to contradict it or to explain their reasoning. On the basis of that unchallenged evidence before him, he accepted that the appeal had to be allowed for the reasons advanced by the father. He did so, and set aside the deduction order. An order for costs was made against the Secretary of State, and the sums already paid to the Service under the deduction order were to be repaid forthwith. The father asked the judge to publish the judgment to record the difficulties that he had encountered in securing a resolution of the issue. Judgment, 28/07/2021, free
  • The latest release of statistics on the Child Maintenance Service for Great Britain between January 2015 and March 2021. News, 30/06/2021, free
  • The question for the court was under what circumstances a long-term nominal spousal maintenance order should be converted into a substantive order, and whether this could happen as a consequence of the financial difficulties arising from the lockdown. Such orders had been made most often in London and the south-east, where the children lived primarily with a parent who was able to support himself or herself, as in this case, but where the children were still young and things could change dramatically during their minority. The youngest child in this case was now 14. The former wife had applied for the court to convert a nominal order made in 2012 into a substantive order, as a short-term measure until she was once again self-sufficient. She argued that this should be treated as an ordinary variation application. After discussing the potential incompatibility of such nominal orders with clean break legislative changes, DDJ David Hodson decided that it was not appropriate to convert the nominal order into a substantive order, and dismissed the application. A nominal order was only to be converted if there had been a significant change in circumstances. Losing a job due to the pandemic could not, he said, be ascribed to relationship generated disadvantage. Asked to dismiss the spousal maintenance order altogether, he declined to do so but said he would be surprised if circumstances ever justified bringing it back to court. Judgment, 14/05/2021, free
  • The case concerned child support for a child born in 1989. Although the child had been living with the father by 2005, arrears had accumulated before then, for which the father was now being pursued. A regular deduction order (RDO) had been made in the sum of £150.26 per week, against which the father sought permission to appeal, albeit later than allowed under the rules. HHJ Mark Rogers granted relief from sanctions, saying that it was important for this case to be resolved on its merits rather than as a result of a procedural default. Permission to appeal was also granted. He found that the rigorous test laid out in s 41E of the Child Support Act 1991 had not been satisfied: the arrears had not been extinguished and were capable of recovery. But in his view, no attention had been paid to the impact of relevant events in 2007, including an apparent declaration that the mother had withdrawn her authority for the arrears to be collected. The appeal was allowed. Making a new decision, he found that the points against making an RDO substantially outweighed those in favour, and so he declined to make one. Judgment, 22/01/2021, free
  • In the course of consolidated Children Act 1989 Schedule 1 enforcement proceedings and Children Act 1989 section 8 proceedings, the father appealed against an order for financial disclosure with a penal notice, and a costs allowance order in favour of the mother. He also sought to put in evidence of the mother's alleged non-disclosure and drug use. Williams J refused the father's applications to admit fresh evidence, to amend the grounds of appeal, and for disclosure of the means by which the mother's lawyers were funded through the Children Act proceedings. He had not demonstrated a realistic prospect of success in relation to any of them, nor was there any other compelling reason to grant permission to appeal. The mother sought an order for the father to pay her costs of and occasioned by the appeal and the associated applications. Williams J was satisfied that this was an appropriate case in which to make such an order. Judgment, 05/11/2020, free

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