Explanatory Memorandum

Child Maintenance Act (Northern Ireland) 2008

2008 CHAPTER 10

2 July 2008

Commentary on Sections

Part 2 – Child Support etc.

Collection and enforcement

Section 12: Use of deduction from earnings orders as basic method of payment

Section 12 concerns Article 29 of the Child Support (Northern Ireland) Order 1991, which sets out provisions for the collection of child support maintenance. Paragraph (3)(b) of Article 29 provides the Department with the power to make regulations as to the method by which payments of child support maintenance should be made.

This section inserts new paragraphs (4) and (5) into Article 29 of the Order to make it clear that such regulations can include deduction from earnings orders as an initial method of collection. The intention is to pilot the use of deduction from earnings orders as a primary method of collection for employed non-resident parents.

New paragraph (4) requires that any regulations which allow deduction from earnings orders to be used as an initial method of collection also include provision that this method should not be used where there is good reason not to use it. The regulations must also include a right of appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction against a decision that there is no good reason not to use a deduction from earnings order to collect maintenance.

New paragraph (5) prevents a court of summary jurisdiction, on an appeal made under regulations under paragraph (4), from questioning the maintenance calculation by reference to which the deduction from earnings order was made.

New paragraph (6) provides that regulations may include provision with respect to the period within which an appeal must be made and the powers of the court of summary jurisdiction in relation to such an appeal.

New paragraph (7) enables regulations to set out what matters should be considered (or not considered) in determining whether there is a good reason not to use a deduction from earnings order as an initial method to collect maintenance. For example, the regulations could provide that there would be a good reason not to use a deduction from earnings order if doing so could compromise the employment status of a non-resident parent, or raise privacy issues. It also enables regulations to prescribe circumstances in which a good reason not to use a deduction from earnings order does, or does not, exist.