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Solicitor raises concerns over child support reform plans.

CHILD support specialist Stephen Lawson is leading a national fight from the legal profession to win a fair deal for parents.

He recently met work and pensions minister Maria Miller MP to raise concerns over proposals for the future of the Child Support Agency (CSA).

The Government wants to encourage parents to resolve their own maintenance issues and, if this proves impossible, to charge them for using the CSA.

It also wants parents to enter into voluntary "familybased" or private agreements, but offers no redress to single mothers or fathers when the non-resident parent fails to pay up.

Mr Lawson, a partner with Forshaws Davies Ridgway, based at Frodsham, Cheshire, is concerned the reforms will result in a poorer service for hard-up single parent families, particularly where the absent parent is deliberately evading his or her maintenance duties.

He said: "The CSA has run up a massive backlog of pounds 3.8bn in uncollected maintenance payments since it was set up in 1993, so it has a mixed record of delivery.

"We believe it is unfair to charge parents up-front fees when there is no guarantee the CSA will be successful in chasing up difficult cases. It is a fine aspiration to want all parents to sort out their own affairs, but in some cases it is just not practical."

The Government is due to respond to the consultation in early summer.

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Concern over CSA proposals - Stephen Lawson, from Forshaws Davies Ridgway
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 12, 2011
Words:244
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