Money deducted from bank accounts for unpaid Child Maintenance

The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 established the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission and gave the Commission a number of enforcement powers where a non-resident parent fails to pay child support maintenance. These new powers include the power to deduct money from a non-resident parent’s bank account where child support maintenance has not been paid.

The power to make deductions from a bank account for non-payment of child support maintenance is exercised by the Commission itself and no application to a Court is required.

When can money be deducted from a bank account?

Regular deductions

The Commission has the power to make a “regular deduction order” against a non-resident parent who has failed to pay child support maintenance.  

A regular deduction order enables the Commission to collect payments from a non-resident parent’s account held with a “deposit-taker” (normally a bank) in respect of arrears of child support maintenance and amounts of child support maintenance which will become due in the future.

What obligations does a deposit-taker have?

Once a regular deduction order has been made the deposit-taker will be required to make deductions from the account specified in the order and pay the amounts deducted to the Commission. If they fail to do so they will commit a criminal offence, punishable by a fine. It is a defence to such an offence, however, if the deposit-taker can show that it took all reasonable steps to comply with the regular deduction order.

Can money be deducted from a joint account?

Money can be deducted from a joint account, although both account holders will have the opportunity to make representations before a regular deduction order is applied to a joint account. 

Where money is deducted from a joint account the amount deducted must be fair in all the circumstances.

Can a regular deduction order be appealed?

Any person affected by a regular deduction order has the right to appeal to a Court. A Court is, however, prevented from questioning the maintenance calculation by reference to which the regular deduction order was made.

Can a regular deduction order be made if there is an ongoing appeal against the maintenance calculation?

The Commission has the power to make a regular deduction order even where there is an ongoing appeal against the maintenance calculation. However, in such circumstances the Commission must be satisfied that the outcome of the appeal will not affect the amount of the liability covered by the order before it makes such an order or, must be satisfied that the making of an order will be fair in the circumstances of a particular case.

Lump sum deductions

The Commission has the power, by making a “lump sum deduction order”, to collect payments for child support maintenance arrears from: 

  • a non-resident parent’s account held with a deposit-taker; or
  • money due or accruing to them from a third party (for example, money held by the non-resident parent’s solicitor)

Can a lump sum deduction order be made in respect of future payments?

A lump sum deduction order can only be used to collect arrears and not any payments which may fall due in the future.

When can a lump sum deduction order be made?

The Commission has the power to make a lump sum deduction order where a non-resident parent appears to have failed to pay child support maintenance and there is money in the non-resident parent’s account, or an amount of money is due or accruing to them from a third party.

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For more information on:

  • Can money be deducted from a joint account?
  • What is the process for the making of a lump sum deduction order?
  • What powers does the Commission have to safeguard money held by a third party or a deposit-keeper?
  • Can a lump sum deduction order be made if there is an ongoing appeal against the maintenance calculation?
  • What obligations does a deposit-taker or third party have?