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Child Maintenance Act (Northern Ireland) 2008

Section 22: Power to treat liability as satisfied

This section inserts a new Article 38C into the Child Support (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 which provides the Department with regulation-making powers enabling it to offset liabilities to pay child support maintenance (including arrears) in prescribed circumstances.

Paragraph (1)(a) of Article 38C enables the Department to offset liabilities to pay child support maintenance. It is envisaged that offsetting will occur mainly where a child moves from the care of one parent to the other, and therefore the non-resident parent becomes the parent with care and vice versa. If the non-resident parent who becomes the parent with care has built up arrears, some or all of the maintenance liability of the new non-resident parent may be offset against those arrears.

Offsetting may also apply where liability switches from one parent to the other for other reasons, for example, where each parent is caring for one or more children and there is a change in income. Where both parents have arrears these may also be offset against each other.

Paragraph (1)(b) enables the Department, in certain circumstances, to accept payments made by the non-resident parent to prescribed third parties as payments against ongoing liability or arrears.

Paragraph (2) confirms that offsetting maintenance payments and third party payments as described in paragraph (1) will result in the liability of a non-resident parent being met to the extent that it has been set off.

Paragraph (3) applies the offsetting rules only to those cases where the Department is authorised to make arrangements for the collection of the child support maintenance.

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