Child maintenance court records to show on your credit report

Posted by Kirstie Brown in Personal Finance on 20 January 2020 - Kirstie is a Senior Credit Analyst at checkmyfile.

Since March 2015, The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) has been sharing information with the UK’s Credit Reference Agencies. This means missed Child Maintenance payments can be flagged up on a late payer’s Credit Report, potentially harming their Credit Rating and making a successful credit application – whether a mortgage, credit card, or loan to name a few – even more tricky.

The government issued a stark warning, in the form of a 2014 press release, to those making child support payments: ‘Pay your child maintenance or damage your Credit Rating.’

When will missed Child Maintenance payments affect my Credit Report?

Child Maintenance debts will be reported to the Credit Reference Agencies only after a liability order is made against you. So, if a single payment is late, it’s unlikely to feature on your Credit Report as a negative marker just yet.

Instead, liability orders are usually issued as a measure of last resort to claim owed maintenance payments when all other recovery avenues have failed. They also allow court enforcement agents or sheriff officers to visit the debtor’s home to recover the funds – or take away valuable assets.

According to gov.uk, these measures, including the threat of a (metaphorical) black mark placed on the debtor’s Credit Report, are aimed at the small number of people who miss their payments. In June 2019, there were 4,600 liability orders in place, with a total 63,100 people behind on scheduled Child Maintenance payments. While the number of Child Maintenance debtors is minor compared to the 700,000 children covered by these payments, the government saw fit to target the non-payers specifically with heavy deterrence, threating the worst offenders’ Credit Ratings.

What will a Child Maintenance debt mean for my Credit Report?

As the Child Maintenance debt is overseen by the Magistrates Court, a liability order relating to child services will feature in the Court Records section of your Credit Report. This will be alongside any bankruptcies or County Court Judgments (CCJs), for example.

The issuing court should be named, along with the reference number which will always start with ‘CMG’ (Child Maintenance Group), and the date the liability order was issued.

Although the official government guidance confirms that CMG entries can be shared with the Credit Reference Agencies, in practice – and at time of writing – they appear only with one CRA, Experian.

If you are unsure about the status of any Child Maintenance payments, you can contact the Child Maintenance Service on its dedicated website.

All Court Records carry severe negative effects on Credit Ratings and liability orders are no different. Often assessed similarly to CCJs, liability orders can threaten an application’s approval chances, whether you’re looking for a mortgage, short-term loan, or new mobile phone contract, for instance.

While all lenders have unique acceptance criteria, they tend to value a potential customer that demonstrates reliability and the capability of meeting the repayment terms. Because the presence of Court Records on a Credit Report will act as a red flag to a large proportion of potential lenders, any liability orders recorded against you on your own Credit Report could disrupt future credit applications you might make.

It’s important to note that, unlike regular accounts that feature on Credit Reports, the routine repayment of Child Maintenance debt won’t positively contribute to your overall Credit Rating. The presence of any liability orders on your Credit Report is purely a punitive measure.

Steve Webb, then Child Maintenance Minister from 2010-2015, commented, "For too long, a minority of absent parents have got away with failing to pay maintenance, leaving families without that financial support.

"I would hope that we see this power used very little, because the deterrent effect of a possible negative mark on a person's Credit Rating will convince those who have previously failed to pay towards their children's upbringing to do the right thing”.

The heightened deterrence has also been welcomed by Gingerbread, a charity for single parents, who believe it is vital the payments are collected to ensure the wellbeing of those children supported by them. Fiona Weir from Gingerbread gives the decision context, saying, "More than £1bn is currently owed in unpaid child maintenance, and barely one in five of those who owe money for their children are paying it back”.

How do I check my Credit Report?

If you’re looking to check your Court Records, or are just curious about your Credit Rating, you can check your Multi Agency Credit Report free for 30 days, then just £14.99 per month. Sign-up is quick and cancellation is easy online, by freephone or email.

Our Multi Agency Credit Report is the most detailed in the UK, having complete information from all four Credit Reference Agencies, including Court Records. By having all your information in one easy-to-use format, you can quickly and easily compare what the Credit Reference Agencies hold on you.

Updated 20/01/2020 by Sam Griffin

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