My ex-husband owes me over £10,000 through the CSA but they don't seem capable of tracing him, despite having up-to-date contact details. Basically, he's refusing to answer letters and phone calls. Can I apply to have him made bankrupt?
Generally, maintenance awards are not proveable in bankruptcy, which means that you can't rely on this debt to ask for someone's bankruptcy; and the child support debt will not be given any share of the capital resources.
You have no rights to take independent steps to enforce the debt, but there's no need for this approach, anyway, as the powers of the Child Support Agency (now C-MEC, the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission) are very wide-ranging. The challenge that you face is how to ensure that they're used.
First, make personal contact with your caseworker; try and build a personal relationship so the caseworker understands the difficulties that you're facing.
Secondly, and in particular, make clear the impacts that the unsettled debt is having on your child - do this in writing and, as always, keep a copy.
Next, ask in writing for a plan for enforcement and try and get specifics about what steps they will take and by when.
Enforcement strategies that may be used include:
- The agency deducting up to 40% of a person's earnings a month after a deduction from earnings order
- Sending in bailiffs after obtaining a liability order
- Putting a charge on his home for the debt and then applying for the sale of the property
- Removing his passport and imprisonment
These powers are significantly more effective than simply applying to make someone bankrupt, which may mean that a person's assets are shared between other creditors. It could also lead to that person losing their job and therefore not in a position to pay future child support.
Where the Commission will not provide a plan, you should write again (after 28 days) heading your letter 'complaint' asking for the plan and for the delay to be investigated.
If the complaint is not dealt with after 28 days then complain about that, too.
If that fails, your next step is to apply to the office of the Independent Case Examiner.
Question answered by CAB