People who do not financially contribute to their children’s up bringing could have more at stake than before


It is a myth, commonly believed by parents, that an absent parent, or a parent with whom the child does not live who does not ‘pay’ for that child has no right to a relationship with or to spend time with that child. The courts do not see it in this way. A child has a right to a relationship with both their parents, and financially contributing towards a child’s upbringing or not as the case may be, is neither an argument for or against that relationship taking place.

The courts and indeed the legislation contained within the Children Act 1989, The Children and Families Act 2014 and The Family Procedure Rules that came into force in April of this year is very proactive in ensuring that, where it is safe and in the child’s best interests for it to happen, a child has a relationship, in whatever form is best for the child, with both their parents. However a failure to contribute financially, which is commonly used as a threat to prevent a relationship may now have more bearing than before. The effect of a failure to financially contribute to the upbringing of a child will extend, not only will it damage relationships between parents but it will have a detrimental affect on a persons credit rating.

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced plans to introduce regulations allowing the Child Maintenance Service and Child Support Agency to share information with credit reference agencies regarding their client’s payment records. Failure to pay child maintenance, as assessed and requested to be paid can lead to a liability order being made against you and specifically in these circumstances information regarding your failure to pay can be shared with other agencies. Potentially this could affect a persons credit rating or credit score and therefore a persons ability to take out loans, mortgages hire purchase agreements, credit cards, mobile phone contracts etc. The purpose is of course to deter those people who do not wish to financially provide for and support their children.

It is expected that the regulations will be laid before Parliament in March 2015 and come into force by the end of that month.

Source: Department for Work and Pensions: Pay your child maintenance or damage your credit rating
(5 November 2014)

by Stefanie Summers from the Wisbech office