Welcome to Durham Legal Services, the UK's leading legal experts for Child Maintenance Service Legislation, renowned for its expertise on CMS issues.
Our senior partner, Mike Smith LLB has more than 20 years experience on CSA1, CSA2 and CMS3 cases and has represented parents throughout the United Kingdom to a successful conclusion. Mike is seen as the foremost expert in the area of Shared Care and Day to Day care and was the leading lawyer in both Upper Tribunal cases which now form the legal test governing Shared Care arrangements under Child Maintenance Law. The CMS will not try to resolve shared care issues but will simply rely on who is receiving the Child Benefit so this is when you need our expertise to get the right result.
However, our expertise doesn't finish there as we deal with Tribunal Appeals, in particular for the self-employed and company directors as well as assisting Parents with Care who have concerns about the Paying Parent's lifestyle not matching the income which as been declared. This is such an important area because the initial assessment sets a precedent for the years to follow so it really does need to be right from the beginning.
2018 will see many real changes in the area of Child Maintenance Legislation. Firstly, the old Child Support Agency CSA will finally close its doors. Secondly the promised review in collection charges will take place and thirdly we should see the reintroduction of variations for Lifestyle Inconsistent with Declared Income.
Many receiving parents are coming to Durham Legal Services because they are being met with a "what do you want us to do" or "there's nothing else we can do" attitude by those running the Child Maintenance Service. It can even be more fustrating if you are a paying parent and you know your assessment is incorrect. In these circumstances should you try to correct it, you can feel as if you are being treated like someone who is trying to avoid paying Child Maintenance.
The introduction of the 2012 scheme was meant to introduce a new approach to child maintenance and it was designed to encourage co-operation between parents to make family-based agreements. 2017 saw an increase in 50/50 care arrangements being ignored by the CMS which then caused many parents problems; problems they believed they had put behind them. 2017 also saw an increase in the abuse by CMS staff of the 25% income rule. Our experience tells us we don't think 2018 will see any improvment unless the correct legal tests are made clear to CMS staff and they apply them correctly. However, this will only come about if parents don't just give up on their case and take it all the way through the legal process and that's where we can help you.
Legal Aid is not available for child support advice and we will only offer advice via our standalone telephone or face-to-face advice appointments covering all areas of child maintenance legislation. Unlike other organisations, our advice is from fully-qualified child maintenance lawyers and what we don't do is ad hoc calls for "just a quick question" as we give a proper legal solution. The simple reality is if you have a CMS problem you need professional help not just a DIY fix. Please feel free to take a tour around our website.
What and who we deal with:
CLICK HERE to arrange your appointment or call 01207 693966 to purchase your legal advice voucher