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The Child Support (Northern Ireland) Order 1991

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Collection and enforcementN.I.

Collection of child support maintenanceN.I.

29.—(1) The Department may arrange for the collection of any child support maintenance payable in accordance with a [F1maintenance assessment] [F2maintenance calculation] where—

(a)the [F3assessment] [F4calculation] is made by virtue of Article 9; or

(b)an application has been made to the Department under Article 7(2) for the Department to arrange for its collection.

(2) Where a [F5maintenance assessment] [F6maintenance calculation] is made under this Order, payments of child support maintenance under the [F7assessment] [F8calculation] shall be made in accordance with regulations made by the Department.

(3) The regulations may, in particular, make provision—

(a)for payments of child support maintenance to be made—

(i)to the person caring for the child or children in question;

(ii)to, or through, the Department; or

(iii)to, or through, such other person as the Department may specify;

(b)as to the method by which payments of child support maintenance are to be made;

(c)as to the intervals at which such payments are to be made;

(d)as to the method and timing of the transmission of payments which are made to or through the Department or any other person, in accordance with the regulations;

(e)empowering the Department to direct any person liable to make payments in accordance with the [F9assessment] [F10calculation]

(i)to make them by standing order or by any other method which requires one person to give his authority for payments to be made from an account of his to an account of another's on specific dates during the period for which the authority is in force and without the need for any further authority from him;

(ii)to open an account from which payments under the [F11assessment] [F12calculation] may be made in accordance with the method of payment which that person is obliged to adopt;

(f)providing for the making of representations with respect to matters with which the regulations are concerned.

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Collection and enforcement of other forms of maintenanceN.I.

30.—(1) Where the Department is arranging for the collection of any payments under Article 29 or paragraph (2), it may also arrange for the collection of any periodical payments, or secured periodical payments, of a prescribed kind which are payable to or for the benefit of any person who falls within a prescribed category.

[F13(2) The Department may, except in prescribed cases, arrange for the collection of any periodical payments, or secured periodical payments, of a prescribed kind which are payable for the benefit of a child even though the Department is not arranging for the collection of child support maintenance with respect to that child.]

(3) Where—

(a)the Department is arranging, under this Order, for the collection of different payments ( “the payments”) from the same [F14absent parent] [F15non-resident parent];

(b)an amount is collected by the Department from the absent parent which is less than the total amount due in respect of the payments; and

(c)the [F16absent parent] [F17non-resident parent] has not stipulated how that amount is to be allocated by the Department as between payments,

the Department may allocate that amount as it sees fit.

(4) The Department may by regulations make provision for Articles 29 and 31 to 37 to apply, with such modifications (if any) as it considers necessary or expedient, for the purpose of enabling it to enforce any obligation to pay any amount which it is authorised to collect under this Article.

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Deduction from earnings ordersN.I.

31.—(1) This Article applies where any person ( “the liable person”) is liable to make payments of child support maintenance.

(2) The Department may make an order ( “a deduction from earnings order”) against a liable person to secure the payment of any amount due under the [F18maintenance assessment] [F19maintenance calculation] in question.

(3) A deduction from earnings order may be made so as to secure the payment of—

(a)arrears of child support maintenance payable under the [F20assessment] [F21calculation];

(b)amounts of child support maintenance which will become due under the [F22assessment] [F23calculation]; or

(c)both such arrears and such future amounts.

(4) A deduction from earnings order—

(a)shall be expressed to be directed at a person ( “the employer”) who has the liable person in his employment; and

(b)shall have effect from such date as may be specified in the order.

(5) A deduction from earnings order shall operate as an instruction to the employer to—

(a)make deductions from the liable person's earnings; and

(b)pay the amounts deducted to the Department.

(6) The Department shall serve a copy of any deduction from earnings order which it makes under this Article on—

(a)the person who appears to the Department to have the liable person in question in his employment; and

(b)the liable person.

(7) Where—

(a)a deduction from earnings order has been made; and

(b)a copy of the order has been served on the liable person's employer,

it shall be the duty of that employer to comply with the order; but he shall not be under any liability for non-compliance before the end of the period of 7 days beginning with the date on which the copy was served on him.

(8) In this Article and in Article 32 “earnings” has such meaning as may be prescribed.

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Regulations about deduction from earnings ordersN.I.

32.—(1) The Department may by regulations make provision with respect to deduction from earnings orders.

(2) The regulations may, in particular, make provision—

(a)as to the circumstances in which one person is to be treated as employed by another;

(b)requiring any deduction from earnings under an order to be made in the prescribed manner;

[F24(bb)for the amount or amounts which are to be deducted from the liable person’s earnings not to exceed a prescribed proportion of his earnings (as determined by the employer);]

(c)requiring an order to specify the amount or amounts to which the order relates and the amount or amounts which are to be deducted from the liable person's earnings in order to meet his liabilities under the [F25maintenance assessment] [F26maintenance calculation] in question;

(d)requiring the intervals between deductions to be made under an order to be specified in the order;

(e)as to the payment of sums deducted under an order to the Department;

(f)allowing the person who deducts and pays any amount under an order to deduct from the liable person's earnings a prescribed sum towards his administrative costs;

(g)with respect to the notification to be given to the liable person of amounts deducted, and amounts paid, under the order;

(h)requiring any person on whom a copy of an order is served to notify the Department in the prescribed manner and within a prescribed period if he does not have the liable person in his employment or if the liable person ceases to be in his employment;

(i)as to the operation of an order where the liable person is in the employment of the Crown;

(j)for the variation of orders;

(k)similar to that made by Article 31(7), in relation to any variation of an order;

(l)for an order to lapse when the employer concerned ceases to have the liable person in his employment;

(m)as to the revival of an order in such circumstances as may be prescribed;

(n)allowing or requiring an order to be discharged;

(o)as to the giving of notice by the Department to the employer concerned that an order has lapsed or has ceased to have effect.

(3) The regulations may include provision that while a deduction from earnings order is in force—

(a)the liable person shall notify the Department, in the prescribed manner and within a prescribed period, of each occasion on which he leaves any employment or becomes employed, or re-employed, and shall include in such a notification a statement of his earnings and expected earnings from the employment concerned and of such other matters as may be prescribed;

(b)any person who becomes the liable person's employer and knows that the order is in force shall notify the Department, in the prescribed manner and within a prescribed period, that he is the liable person's employer, and shall include in such a notification a statement of the liable person's earnings and expected earnings from the employment concerned and of such other matters as may be prescribed.

(4) The regulations may include provision with respect to the priority as between a deduction from earnings order and—

(a)any other deduction from earnings order;

(b)any order under any other statutory provision which provides for deductions from the liable person's earnings.

(5) The regulations may include a provision that a liable person may appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction if he is aggrieved by the making of a deduction from earnings order against him, or by the terms of any such order, or there is a dispute as to whether payments constitute earnings or as to any other prescribed matter relating to the order.

(6) On an appeal under paragraph (5) the court shall not question the [F27maintenance assessment] [F28maintenance calculation] by reference to which the deduction from earnings order was made.

(7) Regulations made by virtue of paragraph (5) may include provision as to the powers of a court of summary jurisdiction in relation to an appeal (which may include provision as to the quashing of a deduction from earnings order or the variation of the terms of such an order).

(8) If any person fails to comply with the requirements of a deduction from earnings order or with any regulation under this Article which is designated for the purposes of this paragraph, he shall be guilty of an offence.

(9) In paragraph (8) “designated” means designated by the regulations.

(10) It shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under paragraph (8) to prove that he took all reasonable steps to comply with the requirements in question.

(11) Any person guilty of an offence under paragraph (8) shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.

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Liability ordersN.I.

33.—(1) This Article applies where—

(a)a person who is liable to make payments of child support maintenance ( “the liable person”) fails to make one or more of those payments; and

(b)it appears to the Department that—

(i)it is inappropriate to make a deduction from earnings order against him (because, for example, he is not employed); or

(ii)although such an order has been made against him, it has proved ineffective as a means of securing that payments are made in accordance with the [F29maintenance assessment] [F30maintenance calculation] in question.

(2) The Department may apply to a court of summary jurisdiction for an order ( “a liability order”) against the liable person.

(3) Where the Department applies for a liability order, the court of summary jurisdiction shall make the order if satisfied that the payments in question have become payable by the liable person and have not been paid.

(4) On an application under paragraph (2), the court shall not question the [F31maintenance assessment] [F32maintenance calculation] under which the payments of child support maintenance fell to be made.

[F33(5) Where regulations have been made under Article 29(3)(a)—

(a)the liable person fails to make a payment (for the purposes of paragraph (1)(a)); and

(b)a payment is not paid (for the purposes of paragraph (3)),

unless the payment is made to, or through, the person specified in or by virtue of those regulations for the case of the liable person in question.]

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Regulations about liability ordersN.I.

34.—(1) The Department may make regulations—

(a)prescribing the procedure to be followed in dealing with an application by the Department for a liability order;

(b)prescribing the form and contents of a liability order; and

(c)providing that where a court of summary jurisdiction has made a liability order, the person against whom it is made shall, during such time as the amount in respect of which the order was made remains wholly or partly unpaid, be under a duty to supply relevant information to the Department.

(2) In paragraph (1) “relevant information” means any information of a prescribed description which is in the possession of the liable person and which the Department has asked him to supply.

Enforcement of liability ordersN.I.

35.—(1) Where a liability order has been made against a person ( “the liable person”)—

(a)the order shall be enforceable by the Enforcement of Judgments Office on an application to it by the Department; and

(b)the Judgments Enforcement (Northern Ireland) Order 1981F34 ( “the Order of 1981”) shall apply in relation to the amount in respect of which the order was made, to the extent that it remains unpaid, as a money judgment, but subject to paragraphs (2) and (3).

(2) Without prejudice to Article 141 of the Order of 1981(power to make Judgment Enforcement Rules), the Departmentmay, with the consent of the Lord Chancellor, make such regulations with respect to the enforcement of liability orders by the Enforcement of Judgments Office as it considers appropriate.

(3) Regulations made under paragraph (2) may, in particular, provide for the modification of any provision made by or under the Order of 1981 in its application to liability orders.

(4) In paragraph (3) “modification” includes the making of additions, omissions or amendments.

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F341981 NI 6

Enforcement in Northern Ireland of English and Scottish liability ordersN.I.

36.—(1) The Department may by regulations make provision for, or in connection with, the enforcement in Northern Ireland of—

(a)any liability order made by a court in England and Wales; or

(b)any liability order made by the sheriff in Scotland,

as if it had been made by a court of summary jurisdiction in Northern Ireland.

(2) Regulations under paragraph (1) may, in particular, make provision for the registration of any such order as is referred to in that paragraph in connection with its enforcement in Northern Ireland.

[F35Commitment to prison and disqualification from drivingN.I.

36A.(1) Where the Department has sought to recover an amount by virtue of Article 35 and that amount, or any portion of it, remains unpaid, the Department may apply to the court under this Article.

(2) An application under this Article is for whichever the court considers appropriate in all the circumstances of—

(a)the issue of a warrant committing the liable person to prison; or

(b)an order for him to be disqualified for holding or obtaining a driving licence.

(3) On any such application the court shall (in the presence of the liable person) inquire as to—

(a)whether he needs a driving licence to earn his living;

(b)his means; and

(c)whether there has been wilful refusal or culpable neglect on his part.

(4) The Department may make representations to the court as to whether the Department thinks it more appropriate to commit the liable person to prison or to disqualify him for holding or obtaining a driving licence; and the liable person may reply to those representations.

(5) In this Article and Article 37A, “driving licence” means a licence to drive a motor vehicle granted under Part II of the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981.

(6) In this Article and Articles 37 and 37A, “the court” means a court of summary jurisdiction.]

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Commitment to prisonN.I.

37.  Paras. (1),(2) rep. by 2000 c. 4 (NI)

(3) If, but only if, the court is of the opinion that there has been wilful refusal or culpable neglect on the part of the liable person it may—

(a)issue a warrant of commitment against him; or

(b)fix a term of imprisonment and postpone the issue of the warrant until such time and on such conditions (if any) as it thinks just.

(4) Any such warrant—

(a)shall be made in respect of an amount equal to the aggregate of—

(i)the amount in respect of which the liability order was made or so much of that amount as remains outstanding; and

(ii)an amount (determined in accordance with regulations made by the Department) in respect of the costs of commitment; and

(b)shall state that amount.

(5) No warrant may be issued under this Article against a person who is under the age of 18.

(6) A warrant issued under this Article shall order the liable person—

(a)to be imprisoned for a specified period; but

(b)to be released (unless he is in custody for some other reason) on payment of the amount stated in the warrant.

(7) The maximum period of imprisonment which may be imposed by virtue of paragraph (6) shall be calculated in accordance with Schedule 3 to the Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981F36 (maximum periods of imprisonment in default of payment) but shall not exceed six weeks.

(8) The Department may by regulations make provision for the period of imprisonment specified in any warrant issued under this Article to be reduced where there is part payment of the amount in respect of which the warrant was issued.

(9) A warrant issued under this Article may be directed to such person or persons as the court issuing it thinks fit.

(10) Article 110 of the Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (application of money found on defaulter) shall apply in relation to a warrant issued under this Article against a liable person as it applies in relation to the enforcement of a sum mentioned in paragraph (1) of that Article.

(11) The Department may by regulations make provision—

(a)as to the form of any warrant issued under this Article;

(b)allowing an application under this Article to be renewed where no warrant is issued or term of imprisonment is fixed;

(c)that a statement in writing to the effect that wages of any amount have been paid to the liable person during any period, purporting to be signed by or on behalf of his employer, shall be evidence of the facts stated;

(d)that, for the purposes of enabling an inquiry to be made as to the liable person's conduct and means, a justice of the peace may issue a summons to him to appear before a court of summary jurisdiction and (if he does not obey) may issue a warrant for his arrest;

(e)that for the purpose of enabling such an inquiry, a justice of the peace may issue a warrant for the liable person's arrest without issuing a summons;

(f)as to the execution of a warrant for arrest.

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F361981 NI 26

[F37Disqualification from driving: further provisionN.I.

37A.(1) If, but only if, the court is of the opinion that there has been wilful refusal or culpable neglect on the part of the liable person, it may—

(a)order him to be disqualified, for such period specified in the order but not exceeding two years as it thinks fit, for holding or obtaining a driving licence (a “disqualification order”); or

(b)make a disqualification order but suspend its operation until such time and on such conditions (if any) as it thinks just.

(2) The court may not take action under both Article 37 and this Article.

(3) A disqualification order shall state the amount in respect of which it is made, which shall be the aggregate of—

(a)the amount in respect of which the liability order was made or so much of that amount as remains outstanding; and

(b)an amount (determined in accordance with regulations made by the Department) in respect of the costs of the application under Article 36A.

(4) A court which makes a disqualification order shall require the person to whom it relates to produce any driving licence held by him, and its counterpart (within the meaning of Part II of the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981).

(5) On an application by the Department or the liable person, the court—

(a)may make an order substituting a shorter period of disqualification, or make an order revoking the disqualification order, if part of the amount referred to in paragraph (3) (the “amount due”) is paid to any person authorised to receive it; and

(b)shall make an order revoking the disqualification order if all of the amount due is so paid.

(6) The Department may make representations to the court as to the amount which should be paid before it would be appropriate to make an order revoking the disqualification order under paragraph (5)(a), and the liable person may reply to those representations.

(7) The Department may make a further application under Article 36A if the amount due has not been paid in full when the period of disqualification specified in the disqualification order expires.

(8) Where a court—

(a)makes a disqualification order;

(b)makes an order under paragraph (5); or

(c)allows an appeal against a disqualification order,

it shall send notice of that fact to the Department; and the notice shall contain such particulars and be sent in such manner and to such address as the Department may determine.

(9) Where a court makes a disqualification order, it shall also send the driving licence and its counterpart, on their being produced to the court, to the Department at such address as the Department may determine.

(10) Article 110 of the Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (application of sums found upon defaulter) shall apply in relation to a disqualification order under this Article in relation to a liable person as it applies in relation to the enforcement of a sum mentioned in paragraph (1) of that Article.

(11) The Department may by regulations make provision in relation to disqualification orders corresponding to the provision it may make under Article 37(11).]

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Arrears of child support maintenanceN.I.

38.—(1) This Article applies where—

(a)the Department is authorised under Article 7 or 9 to recover child support maintenance payable by [F38an absent parent] [F39a non-resident parent] in accordance with a [F40maintenance assessment] [F41maintenance calculation] ; and

(b)the [F42absent parent] [F43non-resident parent] has failed to make one or more payments of child support maintenance due from him in accordance with that [F44assessment] [F45calculation].

[F46(2) Where the Department recovers any such arrears it may, in such circumstances as may be prescribed and to such extent as may be prescribed, retain them if it is satisfied that the amount of any benefit paid to or in respect of the person with care of the child or children in question would have been less had the [F47absent parent] [F48non-resident parent] made the payment or payments of child support maintenance in question.

(2A) In determining for the purposes of paragraph (2) whether the amount of any benefit paid would have been less at any time than the amount which was paid at that time, in a case where the [F49maintenance assessment] [F50maintenance calculation] had affect from a date earlier than that on which it was made, the [F51assessment] [F52calculation] shall be taken to have been in force at that time.]

(3) [F53In such circumstances as may be prescribed, the [F54absent parent] [F55non-resident parent] shall be liable to make such payments of interest with respect to the arrears of child support maintenance as may be prescribed.]

(4) [F56The Department may by regulations make provision—

(a)as to the rate of interest payable by virtue of paragraph (3);

(b)as to the time at which, and person to whom, any such interest shall be payable;

(c)as to the circumstances in which, in a case where the Department has been acting under Article 9, any such interest may be retained by it;

(d)for the Department, in a case where it has been acting under Article 9 and in such circumstances as may be prescribed, to waive any such interest (or part of any such interest).]

(5) [F57The provisions of this Order with respect to—

(a)the collection of child support maintenance;

(b)the enforcement of any obligation to pay child support maintenance,

shall apply equally to interest payable by virtue of this Article.]

(6) Any sums retained by the Department by virtue of this Article shall be paid by it into the Consolidated Fund.

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F461995 NI 13

F53Art. 38(3) repealed (22.11.2000 for certain purposes and 3.3.2003 for further certain purposes otherwise prosp.) by Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act (Northern Ireland) 2000 (c. 4), ss. 17(1), 67, 68(2), Sch. 9 Pt. I; S.R. 2000/358, art. 2(b), Sch. Pt. II; S.R. 2003/53, art. 3(1), Sch.

F56Art. 38(4) repealed (22.11.2000 for certain purposes and 3.3.2003 for further certain purposes otherwise prosp.) by Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act (Northern Ireland) 2000 (c. 4), ss. 17(1), 67, 68(2), Sch. 9 Pt. I; S.R. 2000/358, art. 2(b), Sch. Pt. II; S.R. 2003/53, art. 3(1), Sch.

F57Art. 38(5) repealed (22.11.2000 for certain purposes and 3.3.2003 for further certain purposes otherwise prosp.) by Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act (Northern Ireland) 2000 (c. 4), ss. 17(1), 67, 68(2), Sch. 9 Pt. I; S.R. 2000/358, art. 2(b), Sch. Pt. II; S.R. 2003/53, art. 3(1), Sch.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .F58F59N.I.

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F58prosp. insertion by 1995 NI 13

F59prosp. in pt. subst. 2000 c. 4 (NI)

[F60Repayment of overpaid child support maintenanceN.I.

38B.(1) This Article applies where it appears to the Department that [F61an absent parent] [F62a non-resident parent] has made a payment by way of child support maintenance which amounts to an overpayment by him of that maintenance and that—

(a)it would not be possible for the [F63absent parent] [F64non-resident parent] to recover the amount of overpayment by way of an adjustment of the amount payable under a [F65maintenance assessment] [F66maintenance calculation]; or

(b)it would be inappropriate to rely on an adjustment of the amount payable under a [F67maintenance assessment] [F68maintenance calculation] as the means of enabling the [F69absent parent] [F70non-resident parent] to recover the amount of the overpayment.

[F71(1A) This Article also applies where the non-resident parent has made a voluntary payment and it appears to the Department—

(a)that he is not liable to pay child support maintenance; or

(b)that he is liable, but some or all of the payment amounts to an overpayment,

and, in a case falling within sub-paragraph (b), it also appears to the Department that paragraph (1)(a) or (b) applies.]

(2) The Department may make such payment to the [F72absent parent] [F73non-resident parent] by way of reimbursement, or partial reimbursement, of the overpayment as the Department considers appropriate.

(3) Where the Department has made a payment under this Article the Department may, in such circumstances as may be prescribed, require the relevant person to pay to it the whole, or a specified proportion, of the amount of that payment.

(4) Any such requirement shall be imposed by giving the relevant person a written demand for the amount which the Department wishes to recover from him.

(5) Any sum which a person is required to pay to the Department under this Article shall be recoverable from him by the Department as a debt due to the Crown.

(6) The Department may by regulations make provision in relation to any case in which—

(a)one or more overpayments of child support maintenance are being reimbursed to the Department by the relevant person; and

(b)child support maintenance has continued to be payable by the [F74absent parent] [F75non-resident parent] concerned to the person with care concerned, or again becomes so payable.

F76[(7) For the purposes of this Article any payments made by a person under a maintenance assessment which was not validly made shall be treated as overpayment of child support maintenance made by an absent parent.]

[F77(7) For the purposes of this Article—

(a)a payment made by a person under a maintenance calculation which was not validly made; and

(b)a voluntary payment made in the circumstances set out in paragraph (1A)(a),

shall be treated as overpayments of child support maintenance made by a non-resident parent.]

(8) In this Article “relevant person”, in relation to an overpayment, means the person with care to whom the overpayment was made.

(9) Any sum recovered by the Department under this Article shall be paid by the Department into the Consolidated Fund.]

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F601995 NI 13

F71Art. 38B(1A) inserted (22.11.2000 for certain purposes and 3.3.2003 for further certain purposes otherwise prosp.) by Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act (Northern Ireland) 2000 (c. 4), ss. 19(2)(3), 68(2); S.R. 2000/358, art. 2(b), Sch. Pt. II; S.R. 2003/53, arts. 3, 5, Sch.

F76Art. 38B(7) substituted (22.11.2000 for certain purposes and 3.3.2003 for further certain purposes otherwise prosp.) by Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act (Northern Ireland) 2000 (c. 4), ss. 19(2)(4), 68(2); S.R. 2000/358, art. 2(b), Sch. Pt. II; S.R. 2003/53, arts. 3, 5, Sch.

F77Art. 38B(7) substituted (22.11.2000 for certain purposes and 3.3.2003 for further certain purposes otherwise prosp.) by Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act (Northern Ireland) 2000 (c. 4), ss. 19(2)(4), 68(2); S.R. 2000/358, art. 2(b), Sch. Pt. II; S.R. 2003/53, arts. 3, 5, Sch.

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