Child Maintenance Travel Disqualification
The issue of child maintenance can be a contentious area. When a relationship breaks down and parents go their separate ways, a number of disputes may arise, one of which is to do with how the father is responsible for supporting the child financially. In 2008, The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 created the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission which provides a series of enforcement powers when a parent fails to meet payments in relation to child support. One measure was child maintenance travel disqualification for non paying parent.
There are many different powers that the Commission has, but one in particular allows them to make an application to the Magistrates that would effectively prevent the non-resident parent from travelling through disqualifying them from obtaining or holding travel authorisation.
In this sense, the term ‘travel authorisation’ is used to describe a document such as a passport or ID card.
There are many reasons when an application can be made including:
- When attempts have been made to recover arrears through a bailiff or third party debt or charging order
- Arrears remain outstanding even after attempts to recover the maintenance
There is a common opinion that the parent has culpably neglected or wilfully refused to pay the maintenance that they are obliged to.
Sometimes bailiffs can be used to enforce a judgement. When a bailiff is instructed, they will attend the debtors property and if payment is not forthcoming, they will seize goods or assets to the value of the debt. A third party debt order is another type of enforcement.
A charging order functions in a similar way to a mortgage and is applicable when the debtor owns property. A charge can be registered with the Land Registry for the amount of debt and when the debtor sells their property the money owed under the judgement will be paid with interest from the date of the charging order.
When the court are considering a disqualification for travel authorisation, the court will be expected to make enquiries in relation to the non-resident parent including:
- Whether the travel authorisation is required in order to earn a living
- Whether the non-resident parent has been culpably neglectful or they have wilfully refused to pay what they owe
- The means of the non-resident parent
How long will disqualification last?
If, following the necessary enquiries it is decided that a travel authorisation disqualification should be issued, it will last for a designated period of time as outlined in the order. However, the length of the order cannot last for more than two years. If the arrears are still outstanding when the disqualification period has elapsed, the Commission can decide whether they wish to make a further application to the Court.
The Court have the ability to suspend an order which will disqualify the individual from holding or obtaining travel authorisation if the parent agrees to settle the child support maintenance or if there are extenuating circumstances.
The order will detail two main costs; the first will be the amount of the liability order which is a calculation of the maintenance that is owed. Secondly there will be an amount for costs associated with granting the order. If the order is granted, the non-resident parent will be required to surrender their passport or ID card to the court.
The Court has the ability to reduce the timescale of the order or revoke it completely. This usually occurs when the non-resident parent makes a full or partial payment. In this instance, the Commission can make a representation to the court as to the amount that should be paid before the order is revoked.
Where a court decides to revoke or reduce the term of an order it must notify the Commission.
About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team and posted by Lloyd Barrett. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.