The impact of COVID-19 reaches beyond a risk to public health and well-being. The damage the coronavirus will have on our economy is becoming increasingly more apparent. Many business owners have had to shut up shop with staff being made redundant and others being asked to take pay cuts to their normal salaries. This is worrying for all, especially those with young families and dependants. While there are reliefs being made available for expenses such as mortgages, many clients have been in touch in relation to continuing maintenance obligations for their children.
The situation and guidance is constantly evolving, however, we are on hand to provide you with up to date practical legal advice.
My manager has closed down his business due to COVID-19. I am trying to get another job, but I am not receiving any salary. I am worried about paying maintenance for my two children. I use the CMS to pay maintenance. Should I tell the CMS that my salary has changed?
If you are paying maintenance through the Child Maintenance System (CMS) and your level of income has altered significantly (by 25% or more) it will be essential that you get in touch with the CMS as soon as possible. This is particularly important if it is likely that your salary will be impacted for some time. You can ask that the CMS vary the level of maintenance that you pay for your children for the period of time that your income is likely to be impacted.
It may be beneficial to get in touch with your ex-partner and discuss the situation. Explain to them they you are having to get in touch with the CMS due to a change in financial circumstances. Being open and communicating with your ex-partner in the best interests of your children is key during these uncertain times. You can reassure your ex-partner that when income steadies, CMS can be informed and payments may be returned to normal.
I have a Minute of Agreement with my ex-partner. This sets out how much child maintenance I pay monthly for my child. My salary has been cut drastically due to COVID-19. I am worried about meeting my financial obligations at the rate we agreed. What do I do?
A Minute of Agreement is the ideal way to set out formal terms of your separation, as it gives everyone certainty about what will happen on your separation. If you have a Minute of Agreement which governs payment of child maintenance please get in touch with us so we can review this with you urgently to discuss your options.
Once we have discussed this with you will be in a position to propose a variation. Having an open and honest discussion with your ex-partner may allow for increased flexibility and also allows you to discuss what the best options are for your family and children. If this is not possible, we can make a formal proposal on your behalf. We recommend that you give you ex-partner evidence of the change in your financial position. If you do reach an informal agreement with your ex-partner it is essential that you take legal advice to formally record any changes to your agreement. This provides you with peace of mind that the terms of the new agreement will be abided by, and there will be no unexpected bills further down the line.
To calculate what should be paid we suggest you use CMS calculator to assess how much you should be paying based on your reduced salary. The calculator can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/calculate-child-maintenance.
If you cannot reach agreement with your ex-partner, your only option may be to raise a court action to ask for an order to be made to vary your Minute of Agreement. Given the extraordinary circumstances that we currently find ourselves in, it is highly likely a court would allow a variation if proper evidence was produced to show that a variation would be reasonable. This means that you may be able to recover some of your court expenses from your ex-partner. If you are facing difficulties in reaching an agreement with your ex-partner please get in touch with our Family Law team, we would be delighted to assist you.
The circumstances and arrangements that you have in place will be unique and tailored legal advice will always be necessary. We have the expertise to help you with your situation and provide you with up to date, practical legal advice.
Please get in touch on 0131 622 8477 or [email protected] to discuss your options with our team.