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Maintenance payment methods to be made safer for abuse survivors

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is to clamp down on domestic abuse by providing a safer system for maintenance payments.

Survivors of abuse will be given the choice to allow the CMS to collect and make payments on their behalf – without the consent of an abusive ex-partner.  

This will prevent perpetrators from using child maintenance as a form of ongoing financial abuse and control, and mean survivors will not have to have contact with their ex-partner if there is evidence of domestic violence.

The CMS will also have new powers to report suspected cases of financial coercion to the Crown Prosecution Service to help bring abusers to justice. One-to-one support for survivors will be piloted and domestic abuse training for staff improved.

These changes come after the DWP commissioned Dr Samantha Callan, a leading expert on domestic abuse, to review CMS support for parents who had experienced domestic abuse in setting up a child maintenance arrangement.

This followed the tragic death of Emma Day, who was murdered by her ex-partner, Mark Morris.

Dr Callan said: “As well as violence, there is now legal recognition that domestic abuse includes financial and other forms of coercive control which can continue to play out – or be initiated – after parents separate.”

For the new offence to be effectively implemented and to further assist frontline agencies in identifying, investigating and evidencing domestic abuse offences, the government is updating the Controlling or Coercive Behaviour Statutory Guidance.

This will be published in spring, in line with the extended offence coming into force.

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 also removed the ‘living together’ requirement for controlling or coercive behaviour, which means the offence will soon apply to intimate partners, ex-partners or family members, regardless of whether the victim and perpetrator live together.

If you would like more information or advice about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of family law please contact our expert legal team on 02080040065, by email at hello@southgate.co.uk or using the form below.

The contents of this article are general information only. The information in this article is not legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should obtain independent expert advice from qualified solicitors such as those within our firm.

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