On Monday the Department for Work & Pensions announced that the new Child Maintenance Service was open to all new applicants. Just to clarify, this means that anyone wishing to apply for child support maintenance must now apply to the Child Maintenance Service, rather than the Child Support Agency. The Child Support Service will eventually replace the Child Support Agency, once the Agency’s caseload has been transferred. The ‘big idea’ behind this latest reform to child support is that the new Service will encourage more parents to come to their own arrangements, thereby saving the state the expense of assessing and collecting it for them. It is, of course, just more government spin, covering up a reduction in expenditure and pretending to deal with the horrendous failures of the past. The fact of the matter is that many parents already sort out child support/maintenance by agreement. Okay, a few more might be persuaded to do so in future, but the real issue has always been those who wilfully refuse to pay – all the new system will do is force those parents with care in such cases to have to pay for a service that was previously free.
Otherwise, I suppose the thing most discussed by family lawyers over their post-work glasses of Merlot this week must still be the decision in Young v Young, despite it being handed down at the end of last week. The judgment continues to be subjected to detailed analysis by learned jurists, even though the mainstream media has, for the time being at least, moved on to other juicy morsels. Whether this in-depth scrutiny will yield any profound insights remains to be seen but as has been pointed out on Twitter, in Dispute Resolution Week the case did stand out as an excellent advert for the merits of resolving disputes amicably!
And finally, I have only one thing to say about the lurid headlines this week involving a newly-divorced TV gourmand and an art collector: soiled garments are preferably cleansed in private.