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Law Articles

Child Maintenance Service to aid domestic abuse survivors 17/02/2023

The CMS (Child Maintenance Service) will now actively assist survivors of domestic abuse by giving them the choice to allow the CMS to collect payments for them without the consent of their abusive former partner or spouse.

Domestic abuse can take many forms and much of it does not actually need to be violent. Some abusive parties use finances as a weapon as a way of controlling their partners or former partners, which can in many cases be just as debilitating as physical and emotional abuse.

This new initiative will eradicate the abusive party’s ability to use Child Maintenance payments as a weapon by removing all control of the process from them. Domestic abuse survivors will not have to make any form of contact with their abuser to receive payment.

The CMS is also going to be armed with new powers which allow it to identify any potential financial abuse cases and to bring them to the attention of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for potential prosecutions to be considered.

This is another welcome move because some victims will not recognise that this form of control or coercion is a form of abuse that can be prosecuted against. To properly identify such cases, the CMS staff will be given appropriate training and the organisation will be piloting an initiative to provide support to the survivors.

This initiative came about after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) commissioned a report to be conducted by a leading expert on domestic violence into CMS support provided to domestic abuse survivors who applied for Child Maintenance through their service. The report has led to this outcome.

The initiative was borne because of the tragic death of Emma Day at the hands of her abusive former partner Mark Morris.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimate that 5% of all adults over the age of 16 which breaks down to 6.9% of women and 3% of men have experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2022. If you consider this as figures, this equates to 2.4 million adults of which 1.7 million are women and 699,000 are men. To put this into context, in the year ending March 2022 the same number of people were victims of domestic abuse in England and Wales as those who populate the entire country of Gabon on the West Coast of Central Africa.

It is a very positive step in the right direction for an organisation such as the CMS to show such support for survivors of domestic abuse. Hopefully it will encourage other organisations, whose facilities can and have been misused to perpetrate further abuse against victims, to jump onboard and lend their support too.

For further information and advice on this issue, and other family law issues, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01992 306 616 or 0207 956 2740 or email us.

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Manor Law Ltd, trading as Manor Law Family Solicitors, is a registered company in England and Wales - number 07977350, and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority - Hertford office SRA number 567506 and City of London office SRA number 568637. Copyright © Manor Law, 2016. All rights reserved.

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