Children: Maintenance

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 27th March 2007.

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Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb Liberal Democrat, Northavon

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether regulations on time limits which apply to the collection of civil debts also apply to the collection by the Child Support Agency of historical arrears of child maintenance.

Photo of James Plaskitt James Plaskitt Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions

holding answer 19 March 2007

The administration of the Child Support Agency is the matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Gentleman with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 27 March 2007:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether regulations on time limits which apply to the collection of civil debts also apply to the collection by the Child Support Agency of historic arrears of child maintenance.

When a non-resident parent has defaulted on child support payments, and arrears have accrued, as a result the Child Support Agency may instigate debt recovery by alternative measures such as of civil court action or by employing the services of an external collection agency. If the non-resident parent is employed then a Deduction from Earnings Order may be implemented to recover both ongoing child support maintenance and an amount towards arrears.

Although in England and Wales most civil debt is subject to the Statute of Limitations, the time bar relating to collection of child maintenance debt is determined by the Child Support (Collection and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, Regulation 28 (2A) as amended by the Child Support (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2006. When pursuing collection and enforcement through the courts this legislation has the effect of removing the 6 year limitation in respect of all amounts that became due after 12 July 2000. The Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973, limits the age of debt recoverable through the Scottish civil courts to twenty years.

Where a Deduction from Earnings Order has been implemented there is no time bar limiting the age of the arrears that can be recovered using this method.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

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