Legal sanctions for arrears

Hoping someone can share their experience, particularly from a Receiving Parents point of view, of going through legal sanctions for CSA/CMS arrears.

There have been two Liability Orders on my Case our with bailiffs for the past year, one for child support arrears and one for child maintenance arrears. They have failed to secure payments so are in process of returning the cases, which CMS are then progressing via legal sanctions. They have told me it can take a few weeks until they have all the required paperwork back from the bailiffs. However, as the had only start d working on the original CSA Liability Order they have already returned the documentation and Nulla Bona for the CMS arrears-related Order.

I know it will then potentially take a few months to reach court but the Enforcement Team have said that's all they know about the process and I will need to speak to the Legal Sanctions team. Hoping someone here can give me some more information about what happens, when etc. Also, will I be told the date of the court hearing? I am interested in hearing the excuses the NRP will give for not paying so am intending on being present at the hearing.

Thanks in advance.
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  • jjj1980
    jjj1980 Posts: 577 Forumite
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    Just a quick update but still interested in reading anyone’s experience with legal sanctions.

    The Bailiffs have already returned the debts with the required Nulla Bona paperwork and things are moving forward in regards to setting a court date. Not sure though what timescales will be involved now.
  • Comms69
    Comms69 Posts: 14,229 Forumite
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    jjj1980 wrote: »
    Hoping someone can share their experience, particularly from a Receiving Parents point of view, of going through legal sanctions for CSA/CMS arrears. - Not enough context. There are no 'sanctions' as such. Arrears are typically collected from wages. Where this is not possible, they may go for charging orders, benefit deductions or property seizure.

    There have been two Liability Orders on my Case our with bailiffs for the past year, one for child support arrears and one for child maintenance arrears. - you are the receiver? They have failed to secure payments so are in process of returning the cases, which CMS are then progressing via legal sanctions. - Why aren't they simply collecting directly at point of pay? They have told me it can take a few weeks until they have all the required paperwork back from the bailiffs. However, as the had only start d working on the original CSA Liability Order they have already returned the documentation and Nulla Bona for the CMS arrears-related Order.

    I know it will then potentially take a few months to reach court - court again? What for? but the Enforcement Team have said that's all they know about the process and I will need to speak to the Legal Sanctions team. Hoping someone here can give me some more information about what happens, when etc. Also, will I be told the date of the court hearing? I am interested in hearing the excuses the NRP will give for not paying so am intending on being present at the hearing. - I would suggest that: he wont turn up; and you wouldn't be allowed in anyway.

    Thanks in advance.
    jjj1980 wrote: »
    Just a quick update but still interested in reading anyone’s experience with legal sanctions.

    The Bailiffs have already returned the debts with the required Nulla Bona paperwork and things are moving forward in regards to setting a court date. Not sure though what timescales will be involved now.



    provide context. This all seems like a total mess (and I mean it doesn't ring true) at the moment
  • jjj1980
    jjj1980 Posts: 577 Forumite
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    It’s very true unfortunately. I am the receiving parent. The Paying Parent is self-employed, working cash-in-hand and refusing to use his own bank accounts so nothing can be taken “at source”.

    There is currently a Liability Order with £1,176 of Child Support arrears, which was the balance at the time the case was transferred to CMS in December 2016. There is then a further Liability Order for arrears built up between December 2016 and November 2017. Then a further balance of arrears standing at around £1,000 built up since November 2017.

    The first Liability Order was put in the hands of Enforement Agents just after it was granted in late 2017. The second Liability Order was granted in February this year and also put with the same Enforcement Agents. The paying parent has made and broken 13 payment arrangements since January. The Enforcement Agents we’re visiting the house he lives in and he was promising to pay a day or so later but didn’t. So they would go to the house again and he would again promise to pay in a day or two but then no payment would be made.

    The Legal Enforcement Team at CMS have discussed the case with the Enforcement Agents and they reached an agreement that if he failed on a promise he made to pay by 17th October, they would return the case back to CMS with Nulla Bona certificates. These are legal documents which confirm the Enforcement Agents have been unsuccessful in securing payment. CMS are then able to go back to court for what they call Legal Sanctions. This means the paying parent will have a compulsory court attendance, be under warrant of arrest if he doesn’t turn up and is at risk of losing his driving licence for up to 2 years or being committed to prison for up to 12 weeks. The debt will still need to be paid. Page 11 of this explains it: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/325228/if-you-dont-pay-child-maintenance.pdf

    I just have no idea how long this is all going to take and the CMS team who deal with taking it to court have not been in touch yet so just wanted to get some idea from other people’s experiences.
  • Comms69
    Comms69 Posts: 14,229 Forumite
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    jjj1980 wrote: »
    It’s very true unfortunately. I am the receiving parent. The Paying Parent is self-employed, working cash-in-hand and refusing to use his own bank accounts so nothing can be taken “at source”. - In which case there is not much you can do.

    There is currently a Liability Order with £1,176 of Child Support arrears, which was the balance at the time the case was transferred to CMS in December 2016. There is then a further Liability Order for arrears built up between December 2016 and November 2017. Then a further balance of arrears standing at around £1,000 built up since November 2017. - does he have contact?

    The first Liability Order was put in the hands of Enforement Agents just after it was granted in late 2017. The second Liability Order was granted in February this year and also put with the same Enforcement Agents. The paying parent has made and broken 13 payment arrangements since January. The Enforcement Agents we’re visiting the house he lives in and he was promising to pay a day or so later but didn’t. So they would go to the house again and he would again promise to pay in a day or two but then no payment would be made.

    The Legal Enforcement Team at CMS have discussed the case with the Enforcement Agents and they reached an agreement that if he failed on a promise he made to pay by 17th October, they would return the case back to CMS with Nulla Bona certificates. These are legal documents which confirm the Enforcement Agents have been unsuccessful in securing payment. CMS are then able to go back to court for what they call Legal Sanctions. - I see, they aren't being clear. It will probably be a charging order against his property. This means the paying parent will have a compulsory court attendance - are you sure, there is only a compulsory attendance at court if the court demands it. , be under warrant of arrest if he doesn’t turn up - this is the LAST thing that happens, and I doubt you are at that stage. and is at risk of losing his driving licence for up to 2 years or being committed to prison for up to 12 weeks. - these punishments are almost never given, just so you know. It's a pipe dream if you think they will be now. The arrears are tiny by comparison. Sorry The debt will still need to be paid. Page 11 of this explains it: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/325228/if-you-dont-pay-child-maintenance.pdf

    I just have no idea how long this is all going to take and the CMS team who deal with taking it to court have not been in touch yet so just wanted to get some idea from other people’s experiences.



    Even if he is required to attend, by means of a summons (the court issues those, not the CMS) you may still not be eligible to attend anyway.
  • jjj1980
    jjj1980 Posts: 577 Forumite
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    I understand it seems a mess but I am being completely honest. There is no property to put a charging order against. There are no bank accounts to freeze, no car to seize etc. CMS and the Enforcement Agents have both agreed the only way forward is to go for the driving licence or prison sentence. Had confirmation today that the application has been sent to the court but it can take up to 23 weeks for it to be allocated a court date.
  • Comms69
    Comms69 Posts: 14,229 Forumite
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    jjj1980 wrote: »
    I understand it seems a mess but I am being completely honest. There is no property to put a charging order against. There are no bank accounts to freeze, no car to seize etc. CMS and the Enforcement Agents have both agreed the only way forward is to go for the driving licence or prison sentence. Had confirmation today that the application has been sent to the court but it can take up to 23 weeks for it to be allocated a court date.
    But the court, not CMS decide the penalty.


    I understand your frustration, but people don't get sent to prison for this kind of thing - despite it being possible. And I suspect they wont impose a driving ban as that will cause him undue hardship.


    Just think you should be prepared for this possibility
  • jimd-f
    jimd-f Posts: 159 Forumite
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    people do get sent to prison for non payment of maintenance as a quick google search will show you.
    the problem for CMS is they have to show he has the ability to pay, just not the inclination, and so have got to find his money.
    as they are sending the case to court for sanctions they must be fairly sure they have tracked this down. they would not send the case to court for sanctions to be imposed unless they had done this.
    once the case is in front of the judge he would normally get the option to make payments and get a suspended sentence to ensure he kept to the agreement reached in court. only if he refused to pay when he was in front of the court would jail or a driving ban be the appropriate sentence
  • pmduk
    pmduk Posts: 10,655 Forumite
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    IIRC the actual offence is wilful failure to support a child. It's proving wilful that may be the issue. Any evidence you can provide about current sources of income might be useful.
  • Comms69
    Comms69 Posts: 14,229 Forumite
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    jimd-f wrote: »
    people do get sent to prison for non payment of maintenance as a quick google search will show you. - I just have. I can see one article, from 2011; which shows that 50 people were jailed for this. A fraction of a percent of cases.
    the problem for CMS is they have to show he has the ability to pay, just not the inclination, and so have got to find his money.
    as they are sending the case to court for sanctions they must be fairly sure they have tracked this down. they would not send the case to court for sanctions to be imposed unless they had done this.
    once the case is in front of the judge he would normally get the option to make payments and get a suspended sentence to ensure he kept to the agreement reached in court. only if he refused to pay when he was in front of the court would jail or a driving ban be the appropriate sentence



    I think it's not fair to give the OP false hopes
  • jjj1980
    jjj1980 Posts: 577 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    jimd-f wrote: »
    people do get sent to prison for non payment of maintenance as a quick google search will show you.
    the problem for CMS is they have to show he has the ability to pay, just not the inclination, and so have got to find his money.
    as they are sending the case to court for sanctions they must be fairly sure they have tracked this down. they would not send the case to court for sanctions to be imposed unless they had done this.
    once the case is in front of the judge he would normally get the option to make payments and get a suspended sentence to ensure he kept to the agreement reached in court. only if he refused to pay when he was in front of the court would jail or a driving ban be the appropriate sentence
    pmduk wrote: »
    IIRC the actual offence is wilful failure to support a child. It's proving wilful that may be the issue. Any evidence you can provide about current sources of income might be useful.

    Thank you both. I’ve alteady provided everything that I can safely get hold of. He is constantly bragging over Facebook, Twitter etc that he has two cash-in-hand jobs, only declares part of the income from the first job and nothing from the second. He regularly has expensive trips abroad and is in pictures wearing designer clothing. I blocked him online just after we separated as he was abusive and I had to involve the police. However, he is still linked to one of my friends who has given me the screenshots to provide to CMS and HMRC. Also, when we first separated he sent numerous abusive texts which would include comments such as “You’ll never get any child support from me as mother’s are supposed to deal with all the responsibility of kids, fathers should just get the fun side”. He even added a similar comment into the divorce papers to confirm he was not willing to provide any financial support to DD.

    The Financial Investigations Unit have been looking into his situation since June and have agreed that he does have the means and ability to pay so this backs up that he is refusing to pay rather than can’t pay.

    The case has basically been in need arrears the whole time since it started 8 years ago. There have been numerous Liability Orders granted, I think the current two are numbers 7 & 8. He at first would pay bits towards the debt but as he isn’t paying anything towards the ongoing assessment so extra debt would just build on a weekly basis. The current debt is the equivalent of three years worth of non-payment.

    Just the fact he will be receiving a letter to warn him that the case will be going back to court and the possible outcomes is big step forward as it will be showing him just how serious this is and that it is not being forgotten.
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