What is the Child Maintenance Tribunal?
Updated: Aug 17, 2021
What is the Child Maintenance Tribunal?
The Child Maintenance Tribunal in the UK is an independent body that helps in reconsidering or appealing against decisions made by Child Maintenance Services. It is also known as the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal.
The Child Maintenance Tribunal is part of the Social Entitlement Chamber. It is one of seven Chambers of the First-Tier Tribunal in the UK to handle legal disputes.
Please do note that this article is not and should not be treated as legal advice. This is just the layman understanding of the child maintenance tribunal.
You can only move your appeal to the Child Maintenance Tribunal after the Child Maintenance Service provides their decision. Once you receive it, you have one month's duration to appeal against it. However, when you do so, you have to furnish a valid reason for appeal. It is only under these circumstances will the Child Maintenance Tribunal consider your request. The court will also consider the other parent's opinion before they accept your appeal.
You can only appeal against a decision if you have a valid reason for the same. Not just because you feel that the decision is wrong.
Here, you can consider appealing against the decision. Whereas on the other hand, there are a few cases when you cannot move forward with an appeal. It includes denial of parentage or matters of administrative decisions.
What is the procedure I have to follow while appealing to the Child Maintenance Tribunal?
The procedures involved in appealing to the Child Maintenance Tribunal are similar to other court proceedings. However, you can always seek assistance from us while requesting an appeal. Before you apply, you have to receive the Child Maintenance Tribunal's decision. If you see it as wrong or unacceptable, you can contact the Child Maintenance Service. You have to do this before placing your appeal.
You can request the Child Maintenance Service to reconsider your application. It is commonly known as Mandatory Reconsideration. You must explain the reasons why you disagree with their decision. Upon receiving your Mandatory Reconsideration, the Child Maintenance Service will facilitate you with a Mandatory Reconsideration Notice. Once you receive it, you can either move forward with your appeal or not. If you find the Notice satisfying, you do not have to proceed to the Child Maintenance Tribunal.
If you consider it necessary to appeal, you have to submit an SSCS2 form. (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/appeal-a-child-maintenance-group-decision-by-the-dwp-form-sscs2) Along with that, you have to provide a copy of the Mandatory Reconsideration Notice and other evidence.
As mentioned, you can opt for the SSCS2 form. You can also write a letter that will clearly state the factors instead of filling in the SSCS2 form. Here, you need to explain the reason for your disagreement with the decision. You have to sign or take assistance from someone authorised. Along with that, you will have to add copies of the Mandatory Reconsideration Notice.
Once the Child Maintenance Tribunal receives your appeal, there will be a hearing within 14 days. As part of the hearing, there will be a financially qualified panel member, probably an account. He or she will assist in the evaluation of the decision formed by the Child Maintenance Service. If you require any support related to Parental Responsibility, you can find all the relevant information here.
How do I fill out the SSCS2 form?
If you appeal to the Child Maintenance Tribunal, you will need to complete the SSCS2 form. There are nine sections that you have to fill out while you complete the form. You have to provide the Mandatory Reconsideration Notice along with the form.
Below is the layman view of the nine sections that you have to fill out in the SSCS2 form.
In Section one, you have to explain why you are appealing against the decision made by the Child Maintenance Service. You will also have to include the Mandatory Reconsideration Notice along with it. It contains details that show that the Child Maintenance Service has reevaluated the decision. However, before you submit the form, you have to ensure that you have read their decision.
In Section two, you have to include your details. You have to mention if you are the paying parent or the parent who receives payment for the child. If you are someone who is neither the paying nor receiving parent, you have to specify what your role is.
In the third section, you have to provide the details of your representative, if you have one. When it comes to Child Maintenance cases, you can have a legal advisor or a friend as your delegate. If you have a representative, ensure that he or she fills in the ninth section as well.
In the fourth section, you have to facilitate details of the other person involved in the case. If there is more than one person, you can use an additional sheet for that purpose.
In the fifth section, you can mention your decision to disclose your residential address to the other person. If you decide not to include it in the information shared with your ex-partner, you can request the tribunal to remove it.
In the sixth section, you have to explain why you disagree with the decisions made by the Child Maintenance Service. If you fail to complete this form, the tribunal will return it to you.
In the seventh section, you have to mention how you would like to have the hearing. You have to explain if you intend to take part in the hearing. The other party will also have to facilitate the information on their preference.
In the eighth section, there will be a few questions. It is about your availability, special needs, and requirements (including if you need an interpreter).
In the ninth section, you have to sign it to be valid. If you have opted for a representative in the third section, he/she can also sign it.
By following these procedures, you can complete the SSCS2 form. However, you can always reach out to us and contact us for any assistance.
What are the conditions under which I may or may not appeal the Child Maintenance Service's decision?
There are different conditions under which you can appeal at the Child Maintenance Tribunal. They include:
If the Child Maintenance Service's decision has mentioned a wrong amount
If there is a lack of information and the authorities are unwilling to look into the matter
If there are any changes in your financial condition and the Child Maintenance Service does not consider them,
If you disagree with the decision and wish to cancel it
If your Mandatory Reconsideration Request fails to provide the desired results
Under these circumstances, you can appeal against the decision. There might be other conditions as well. Once the independent body of the tribunal looks into your appeal, you will have to facilitate an explanation. It is best to have any piece of evidence. It would be beneficial to present paperwork that supports your reasoning. The tribunal will also evaluate aspects mentioned by the other parent.
In most cases, there will be a finance person present during the hearing. If there is none, you can request their participation. It will assist in helping with the financial aspects associated with your case.
Akin to the conditions under which you can appeal, there are a few situations where you cannot move for it. They include:
If you have doubts about the child's parentage
If you want a reduction in your earnings order
If you have changes in your life condition
When it comes to personal circumstances, you can request reconsideration under some conditions. They include:
If your pay scale has increased or decreased by 25%
If you have to look after another child financially
If the child has lost the right to Child Maintenance
These are the factors under which you may or may not appeal against a Child Maintenance Service decision.
How can I prepare for a Child Maintenance Tribunal hearing?
Once you submit your appeal and the independent tribunal body facilitates you with a date for the hearing, you have to ensure that you have prepared yourself for the hearing. Since the entire process can be pretty stressful, you need to plan ahead of time. You have to make notes after analysing the case.
Through this, it will be easy for you during the hearing. You have to focus on the pieces of evidence you have to share with the tribunal. It would be highly beneficial to include documents that suggest that discrepancies have taken place in financial matters. Along with the originals, you can always have a few copies of the same.
When the hearing takes place, you can take notes and prepare questions that you would like to ask. Another way of doing it would be forming the questions beforehand. When you do so, you can prepare yourself for the hearing. Apart from that, you can also ask yourself the questions that you might get during the hearing. You can do it before the session at the Child Maintenance Tribunal.
Through this, you will be providing replies relevant to the questions. Another factor that you have to consider with these hearings is that you have to focus on the financial details. You do not have to highlight the relationship you had with your ex-partner. It would be a deviation from the very purpose of the hearing.
What is the process of involving an Ombudsman in your Child Maintenance case?
You cannot directly involve an Ombudsman. You have to undergo a process to bring him or her into your case. To do that, you need to reach out to your local MP. However, before taking it to the Ombudsman, you have to undergo these procedures by presenting your complaint to these officers.
You have to bring your complaint to the caseworker. He or she will have 15 days to provide you with a response. If the caseworker fails to facilitate a fair reply in the given time frame, you can proceed to the next step.
Here, you have to present your case in front of a Complaints Resolution Team. You will then receive a response within two days. The team will then have fifteen days time duration to either resolve or create an agreement.
You can proceed to the Complaints Review Team if you find that the issue continues. The team has to resolve the problem within fifteen days.
If the above methods do not work out, you can then proceed to the local MP and request an Ombudsman. Instead of this, you can even contact an Independent Case Examiner. However, you can only reach out to him or her after attaining the final decision from the Child Maintenance Service. If you have disagreements with the decision, you can connect with the local MP and proceed to the Ombudsman. If you need any paralegal assistance, we are just a click away.
What do I have to expect from the Child Maintenance hearing?
During the Child Maintenance hearing, you will have to present your issue in front of a judge. On request, there will be a financial assistant. He or she would be an accountant who would look into the matter at hand.
Once the hearing starts, the judge will examine the case and evaluate the correctness of the case. The financial panel member will also have a poignant role to play during these reevaluations. If they find that there are some discrepancies in the calculations, they will look into the matter. As part of rectifying the issue, they will reconfirm the details and formulate a decision. You can contact us for any Paralegal assistance.
Please do note that this article is NOT legal advice and should not be treated as legal advice.