8 February 2022
Bridgen calls for changes to child maintenance system

Andrew Bridgen calls for reform of family law and raises concerns that the current system for child maintenance financially incentivises resident parents to withhold contact with children from non-resident parents, there needs to be a fairer system for children and parents alike.

Reform of Family Law

Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con)

13. What plans the Government have to reform family law. (905509)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (James Cartlidge)

We are committed to reforming family law to reduce conflict, protect children and protect victims of domestic abuse. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will commence on 6 April. This is the biggest change to divorce law in 50 years and introduces no-fault divorce to reduce conflict. Courts in Dorset and north Wales will pilot new integrated domestic abuse courts from 21 February, introducing a less adversarial way of hearing private family law cases, and we are supporting the private Member’s Bill from my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Derbyshire (Mrs Latham) to raise the age of marriage to 18 in England and Wales.

Andrew Bridgen 

The current system for child maintenance, administered by the Child Maintenance Service, clearly financially incentivises resident parents to withhold contact with children from non-resident parents. Does the Minister think that this is a fairer system for children and parents alike?

James Cartlidge 

My hon. Friend asks an important question. I can confirm that Baroness Stedman-Scott is the Minister with responsibility for the Child Maintenance Service at the Department for Work and Pensions, and I would be more than happy to put him in touch with her on that specific point. Child maintenance calculations can be adjusted to reflect a situation where care of the child is shared between both parents. That reduction is intended to broadly reflect the cost associated with any care that is given. The calculation is not intended to take into account every aspect of a person’s circumstances. Bespoke rules that aim to reflect each family’s individual and changing situation will result in complexity and delay money getting to children.