Child Maintenance and Domestic Abuse – New measures to assist survivors of domestic abuse

New laws will soon be introduced to protect victims of domestic abuse from having to deal with the other parent, if they are the perpetrator of the abuse, in regard to child maintenance applications. Here, Melissa Jones, Senior Associate, looks at what this means for domestic abuse victims and how the Child Maintenance Service is going to support them. 


It’s not physical violence, is it Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is when someone close to you, often a partner or spouse causes you physical, sexual, financial or emotional hardship. It is a misconception that in order for you to be categorized as being in an abusive relationship, there must be physical violence. In many cases there is no physical violence; instead, there is psychological and emotional abuse.

Domestic violence can take many forms. Other than physical violence and threats of violence, you may feel intimidated by things that are said to you, or the manner in which you are treated. You may feel controlled and prevented from spending time with friends and family. Abuse can be verbal; you may feel belittled by your partner at home or in front of others.

In addition to the above, you might feel anxious about claiming child maintenance from the other parent, if they have been abusive towards you, because they might use a child maintenance application as a way to further contact you, harass your, intimidate you or as a way of exerting financial control.


What is Child Maintenance? Can I claim this?

All parents have a responsibility to provide financially for their child even if they live apart from the child and the other parent. Child maintenance can make a significant difference to a child’s wellbeing and the quality of family relationships. Child maintenance is the regular, reliable financial support parents provide for their child when they separate. It can help towards a child’s everyday living costs and give them the best start in life.

Child maintenance can be agreed voluntarily between parents. If an agreement cannot be reached, then an application can be made to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) – a government body that assesses one parent’s financial means and can make a mandatory requirement that he or she pays child maintenance to the other.

The amount of child maintenance that will need to be paid will depend on a number of factors. For further information visit the Government website.

How will the Child Maintenance Service help me?

Under the new measures soon to be introduced, the CMS will:

  • Give you the choice, as a survivor of domestic abuse, to allow the CMS to collect Child Maintenance and make payments on your behalf. This would be without the consent of the abusive ex-partner.
  • Be given powers to report suspected cases of financial coercion to the Crown Protection Service.


Senior Associate, Melissa Jones comments “this is a very helpful and proactive step in tackling domestic abuse and practically assisting survivors of domestic abuse. Sadly, help for a victim is not only needed when they are still with perpetrator but long after too, and with Child Maintenance claims, protection might still be needed after the relationship has ended to prevent further emotional and financial control. The new measures are much needed, and will no doubt help a number of domestic abuse survivors in difficult times and adds an extra layer of protection as they move on with their lives.”


If you believe you are, or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, then there are ways to help you, and them. At McAlister Family Law we can help victims of domestic abuse by advising them on the most appropriate course of action in their particular situation,

If you are anxious about claiming child maintenance, want to learn more about  your rights pet and want some advice, then contact our team of family experts who can advise you further.

If you need advice on this topic, or any other matters concerning divorce or family law, please get in touch with our team at McAlister Family Law.




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