“Information on equal shared care can be misleading and unclear for our customers”

The UK Government makes a revealing admission in their published analysis of responses to the recent consultation on changes to the child maintenance process operated by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

Commenting on wider issues raised by respondents to the consultation, the Government admits that: “We are aware that our information on equal shared care can be misleading and unclear for our customers.”

They go on to state: “With this in mind we are keen to look at improving our use of terminology, signposting and the provision of resources to help all separated parents come to an agreement on shared care (regardless of their involvement with the CMS).”

Responses to the survey had pointed out that shared care was being used by the receiving parent as a means of control against the paying parent when disagreements arise in the case.

The general feedback regarding shared care was that the current rates for reduction to child maintenance calculations are unfair on the paying parent.  The distinction between equal shared care and equal day to day care seemed to be a key point of tension between parents.

Several responses stated they experienced a breakdown of access to children after a CMS case has been opened.  This can happen when a parent limits the number of overnights or cuts back contact to avoid a reduction in the amount of maintenance they receive through the official calculation.

Shared Parenting Scotland will write to Baroness Stedman-Scott, the UK Minister in charge of the Child Maintenance Service seeking further detail of how these barriers to shared care will be removed.