The internet means many people can research any problem they may have. Sometimes, this results in a solution (such as you finding Durham Legal Services to deal with your Child Maintenace problems!) but sometimes it can lead to serious problems, particularly when you have the whole issue of fake news and poor advice.
Many of you will have spoken to the CMS on lots of occasions and had conflicting advice. The reason is simple - the CMS are not an advice-giving organisation, they simply have a "policy" i.e. what the manager has decided for that month and depending on who you speak to will depend on how they interpret that policy. At Durham Legal Services, we don't use CMS "policy", we use Child Maintenance law.
We have attended hundreds of appeals making us the leading company in the UK specialising in child maintenance tribunals. Our team of lawyers have been instrumental in shaping child maintenance legislation over the years from a legal definition of a Parent with Care to more recent jurisdiction about shared care and day to day care.
Our team travel all over the United Kingdom including Northern Ireland. We offer a fixed fee which will allow you to identify the financial benefit of having professional representation. If you are considering appeals representation or would like to find out the benefit of having us represent you, please contact us and a member of the team will be glad to assist.
CMS Tribunal Preparation and Tribunal Representation
When the Child Maintenance Service decide on a child maintenance claim and either parent feels the decision is incorrect their only real option is to take the matter to appeal. An appeal is a process administered by HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and, in most cases, ends with an oral hearing in front of a Judge sitting alone or with a financial expert.
If it looks likely your case is going to get to this stage, we strongly recommend you consider one of our services to help you with your appeal preparation because once a Tribunal has made a decision on your case, that decision could be carried forward each annual review for the lifetime of your case so it needs to be right from the beginning.
CMS Appeal Tribunal Representation
If you instruct us to represent you, we can make your appeal application for you or, if it is already underway, we contact HMCTS and obtain a full set of appeal papers. Once we have the papers, time permitting, we can arrange a full face to face appointment or a long telephone appointment to go over the grounds, period and evidence with you. If necessary, we submit case management directions. Additionally, you will be represented in person on the day by a member of our legal team.
What to expect at a Tribunal hearing
You may have experience of Family Court hearings, but a Child Maintenance Tribunal is nothing like that. Firstly, they adopt an extremely inquisitive role which most people don't expect. This is because Tribunal judges have one role only and that is to interpret child support legislation to achieve the overriding objective of finding the highest child maintenance payment available.
Any paying parent should expect to answer a lot of very difficult questions, based upon all aspects of their finacial situation. This will involve explaining bank statements, company accounts and day to day living expenses. Other issues that could arise are lifestyle, care arrangements for the children and since December 2018 any assets owned by the paying parent. You will be expected to know the answers to all of these questions.
This is why you need to be properly prepared and have the correct evidence in front of you along with any other evidence that supports your position. If you are seeking the right outcome whether as a paying or receiving parent, you need proper representation. Preparation is very important because if the Tribunal does not have the correct evidence it can’t determine the case and will seek an adjournment. Not only does this drag the case on it could mean more arrears and more stress. In addition, if the evidence is not supplied and you are deemed deliberately not to be helping the Tribunal, it will allow the Tribunal to simply draw adverse inference and make a judgement based on what it can see and what opinion it forms.
The most dangerous approach taken by the Tribunal is you being considered as an unreliable witness, for example if you don't understand your own evidence. You might be a director of your own limited company and rely upon your accountant to produce company accounts for HMRC and leave it at that, but a Tribunal would expect you to understand every single entry and lots more. If you can't answer these questions, there is a real possibility the Tribunal might find you to be a unreliable witness. Being properly prepared with help from people experienced in attending and representing at Tribunals can save time and money. Avoiding being assessed through adverse inference or as unreliable witness can have a dramatic effect on the outcome of your appeal.
Where people go wrong
Believing you are operating within HMRC rules or Company Act rules and that you are therefore safe is a fools errand, because a child maintenance Tribunal can go behind other legislation with a view to finding income for the purposes of child maintenance. Our team can guide you through the relationship between business legislation and child maintenance legislation. We take you through the whole Tribunal procedure and prepare you for the questions you will be asked and can help to make sure the Tribunal gets the right facts and makes a decision based upon them.
CLICK HERE to arrange your appointment or call 01207 693966 to purchase your legal advice voucher