At Durham Legal Services, our reputation is built upon legal excellence, exemplary success rates and unrivalled client care. We are one of the UK's leading Child Maintenance Service legal practitioners.
You can put a price on quality.
Quality and a professional approach really matter in all areas of law and you should expect and receive the highest standards of client service to give you the best chance of a successful outcome. We deal only with child maintenance work and based on your information, we assess your case to make sure your query is something we can help with before you are asked to pay anything. We operate a paid advice appointment so that no one is under any pressure to convert "free" advice appointments to sales in order to charge a fee. Our further services work on a fixed-fee basis, so you know what cost you are going to incur before you commit. We then have a case peer review process to check ongoing work is up to date and up to scratch.
Legal experience really does matter.
At Durham Legal Services the legal teams are led by Mr Michael Smith LLB who has 25 years experience of child support work and Tribunal representation. Mike is a fully qualified lawyer who personally oversees the advice calls and also deals with the majority of our tribunal representation work.
From the point we answer your call, you will be dealt with by someone who understands child maintenance. We accept referrals from solicitors, Citizens Advice Bureaux and other advisors.
Be fully informed and beware hidden costs.
Durham Legal Services fees are fully inclusive so you have total peace of mind. All costs for work to be done are agreed with you before the paperwork is issued. Other organisations offering child support assistance might appear to be less expensive but may apply additional charges over the course of your case. Always make sure you are 100% informed on what is included before you commit to avoid unexpected costs later on. Make sure you are fully assured about their expertise in such a complex area of law (they need to be competent in all 3 Child Support Scheme because of over laps in legislation). Be clear about what levels of support you will get before, during and after the case. Take into account travel and accommodation costs, allowing for additional time and travel costs should you require unexpected additional assistance. We suggest you research carefully to find the legal team that you trust.
In 1990 Mike Smith left the British Army due to family seperation and in July of that year he found himself becoming a single parent of four children. Because of his experiences as a single parent, Mike went on to study Law at Durham University in 1993 completing his LLB in 1996. As part of his time at Durham, Mike worked within the charity sector helping people to deal with the newly formed Child Support Agency. In 1996 Durham Legal Services opened its first office in Seaham, Co Durham. With the introduction of the World Wide Web, DLS began to expand country wide. Due to expansion the company moved to its present office in Consett, Co Durham in 2003.
Through Durham Legal Services, Mike has always looked for ways to help families going through the trauma of breakup and 2004 saw the introduction of Evidence-Tracker. The system is a secure online programme designed to allow estranged couples to avoid acrimonious outbursts which can emotionally scar their children. The password-controlled system allows couples to log all contact arrangements in a virtual diary and they comment on any problems which arise. Because nothing can be removed, it provides a warts-and-all record of contacts and confrontations. Evidence-Tracker prompts couples to analyse behaviour and think more carefully about what they say and do. We believe Evidence-Tracker resulted in the new social policy that saw the introduction of the 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme and encouragement of separated familes to enter Family-Based Agreements.
Following the success of Evidence-Tracker and the introduction of the Child Maintenance Service, Mike and his team introduced Privare Agreement a second online system which help and encouraged parents to reach a private agreement. The system helps parents to calculate the correct maintenance payment without using the Statutory CMS and identified the savings from having no collection fees. The same system is currently used by the Child Maintenance Service with its own calculator. Private Agreement was one of the first companies to be awarded the Government Kite Mark for its work in Supporting Separated Families. Durham Legal Services continues to grow with its help and support for seperated families through its work in the area of a legal defernition of Day to Day Care.
What and who we deal with:
CMS Tribunal Representations All Child Maintenance Tribunals adopt an inquisitorial approach when trying to find the facts during a hearing. This approach can sometimes make people feel as though the Tribunal panel are hostile towards them. This can result in not getting their side of the story over or, at worst, making a complete mess of presenting their case leading to the tribunal finding them to be an unreliable witness. Being considered by the Tribunal Panel as an unreliable witness can have far reaching consequences resulting is a bad decision that can last the lifetime of their child maintenance case. (please click on the link to find out more)
Paying Parent (NRP) Over the years we have represented thousands of parents who just want to pay the correct maintenance payments based on their actual circumstances, not something made up by either the First-Tier tribunal, the Child Maintenance Service or the other parent. This is becoming an ever-increasing problem with the introduction of the CMS Financial Investigations Unit which currently has a 98% customer unsatisfactory rating from both paying and receiving parents as they continue to produce incorrect or unaffordable child maintenance assessments. (please click the link for more details)
Receiving Parent (PWC) Like life in general there are people out there who believe they can beat the system or the rules don't apply to them and they simply refuse to pay child maintenance. To those paying parents we would say you're wrong and you have a responsibility towards your child or children regardless of whatever you feel or believe. To those Receiving Parents who are getting the run around, again we would say we can help. The DLS team know every trick, scam or ploy this type of paying parent will use to avoid their liability and we can help you. (please click the link for more details)
CMS FIU Financial Investigation Unit The biggest problem facing any parent who is either paying or receiving child maintenance is arrears. If your case has arrears it can only mean one thing: an old or current assessment that has been in place has not been paid. There are hundreds of reasons why this may have happened and it would be wrong to assume that the paying parent has simply not paid. From our own statistics we are aware that 78% of arrears demands by the CMS are incorrect and therefore we offer a full arrears investigation service. (please click the link for more details)
CLICK HERE to arrange your appointment or call 01207 693966 to purchase your legal advice voucher