Get in touch Get in touch on Twitter
Top Stories All News Send us a Story Get Legal Advice Contact your MP Join Us - Be Heard
Falsely accused man forced to pay £4000 in fees by Child Maintenance Service despite protests
• Man says he does not know woman who made claim against him
• Assumed as father by CMS despite not being on birth certificate
• CMS enforced uncontestable DEO to collect £212 per month
• Sent letters threatening prison and driving licence removal
• Case should have been resolved in 4 weeks but lasted over 2 years
A man from Coventry is seeking compensation after being incorrectly identified as the parent to a child and charged over £4000 in fees by the Child Maintenance Service.

Alex Jones says he made numerous attempts to arrange a DNA test through the agency but was repeatedly ignored despite denying he was the father from the outset. The CMS assumed he was the father even though he was not named on the childs birth certificate and was not married to the mother, both of which are the agencies own criteria for assuming parentage.

He is now seeking compensation after suffering from depression which he says was brought on by constant harassing calls and threatening letters. Alex also claims he has been left in financial hardship after having upto 35% of his monthly salary being forcibly taken through a detachment of earnings order (DEO) arranged by the CMS.

A crowd funding campaign has since been started by Alex at CrowdFunder.co.uk to take legal action he hopes will stop unfair Child Maintenance Service rules with a Judicial Review to challenge:

1. The Child Maintenance Services' regular breaches of the Data Protection Act.
2. The CMS' consistent breach of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the ECHR.
3. The CMS' ability to enforce a DEO without a court order or any external oversight.
4. The CMS' ability to make parental responsibility assumptions without a B/C, marriage certificate, or DNA test.
5. The CMS approach in sending misleading letters and letters threatening driving licence removal and imprisonment.
6. The CMS' failure to consider the impact their decisions have on paying parents.
7. The CMS' failure to carry out more stringent checks to avoid malicious, false or fraudulent maintenance claims.

Here is his story

My case began in April 2015 when a woman made claim for child maintenance following the birth of her newborn child and named me as the father. I did not know the woman. I was contacted by the Child Maintenance Service and I immediately sent them a letter to inform them I do not have a child and I do not know the lady they stated as the mother.
Despite this, the CMS refused to action my denial until April 2017. A whole two years later.

This was my first of many letters I wrote to them but nearly all were ignored. Over the next 6 months I sent them more letters consistently insisting I cannot be the father and requesting a DNA test to disprove their claim.

> 16/06/2015 - Letter to CMS

I was unable to contact the childs mother to arrange a private DNA because I had no way to reach her, so the CMS ignoring my letters and my clear denials from the outset meant my options were very limited.

As they failed to address the paternity dispute, on 11 August 2015 they completed a maintenance calculation and determined that I must pay £40.44 a week for XXXXXXXX from the date of his birth. This calculation was based on my income from 2014 and the information was obtained without my permission from my employer or HMRC.

"Just stealing extremely private information about me without a good reason, this cannot be fair"

Based on their calculations, I was instructed to make monthly payments of £211.55. On receiving this demand, I once again wrote to them another letter to inform them there is no way I can be the father to this child, and how unfair it was that someone had just rang their service, gave them my name and I am now expected to pay for their child.

> 11/11/2015 - Letter to CMS

At this point had the CMS carried out really basic checks such as asking me 'do you know this woman?, have you ever been married to her? or do you already have kids with her?', it would have been clear even without DNA test results that her claim had no basis whatsoever. All the answers to these questions would have been, no, no, and no.

Not only did they not acknowledge receipt of my letters which were sent recorded delivery, they also completely ignored what I was saying. In my honest opinion, it seemed the CMS were more determined to collect money from me rather than establish if they had a valid claim or if I was the correct person to be chasing for maintenance payments.

Further letters were sent stating what I had already stated before that, 'I am not the father'. Instead, the replies were simply calculations of what a must pay and threats to remove my driving licence or send me to prison if I didn't pay.
On the 28th January 2016 and for the following five months the CMS took £348.39 from my salary. This included arrears from the beginning of the case and was taken through a detachment of earnings order. The order is made by the Child Maintenance Service to collect fees but has no legal basis. It is not contestable, and has no external oversight.

"Imagine my absolute amazement waking up on payday to find £350 had been stolen from my wages, apparently legally!"

Had my case been presented to any judge in court or an impartial body, the first question for the CMS would have been 'why are you seeking to enforce an order for child maintenance payments?'. The second question would have been on what basis?
Since when does someones say so provide evidence of the truth. The case would have been thrown out of any courtroom as there was absolutely no evidence that I was the father to XXXXXXXX. Infact, to the contrary, all my letters and denials indicated the complete opposite. An independent person would have ordered, insisted, on a DNA test to before enforcing the order, and before any of my hard earnt money had been taken.

I felt like I had been accused of a crime, convicted with no evidence, then forced to serve an 18 year sentence without ever having my voice heard, for a crime I did not commit (even though a child being born fatherless is not a crime). I continued to send letters for a DNA test to be carried out as soon as possible, but as had become the norm, they were just ignored.

I'm not sure how anyone else would cope but I began to lose belief that this would ever end. The CMS were not listening to any of my pleas or protests, instead, they kept sending further aggressive threatening letters for non payment. I had no way of contacting the claimant and just the mere thought of the Child Maintenance Service made my blood boil and caused me to feel physically sick. I began suffering from depression and lack of confidence. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure by my doctor and started drinking heavily to suppress my suicidal thoughts. I became withdrawn from any kind of social activities and could not see a way out. My anger turned into despair. Then disbelief. How can it be possible for a stranger to accuse me of being their babys father? Even if that's possible, how though is it possible that this government organisation with rules and procedures can just ignore me? Why are they allowed to check my employment details, demand payment and because I protest, just simply take my money without first making sure they don't have the wrong guy? This seems so so unfair. I felt trapped. I cannot say how many other people have lost their lives but for me ending my life seemed the only way out.

"Going to work and having 35% of the work you do unpaid, taken in maintenance payments to someone elses child was the worst feeling"

This carried on until January 2017 when I made a resolution to fight fight fight. In the space of 2 months I wrote 5 letters and made 6 telephone calls to the CMS. All of them complaints about how my case had been handled. And to my relief on the 28th of May 2017 they finally arranged a DNA test. I had had to borrow to meet my mortgage payments and there was nothing left over for much else. I was then forced to pay the DNA test fee of £258.

My finances for May 2017:
Salary: £1200, CMS fees £348, Cellmark £258. Net income 594. Outgoings: £1140

Making ends meet was just impossible. My health continued to suffer due to the constant stress of trying to juggle meeting all my bills. I fell behind with my council tax and was worried I would lose my home and become homeless.

One 4th June 2017, the DNA test results came back. This was the best day in my entire life. 'Alex Jones, Based on DNA analysis, you cannot 100% be the father to XXXXXXXX. It was like my sentence had been removed and I no longer had to stress about someone elses child.
This was however just the start of my battle for justice.

On 8th July I requested my subject access records (SAR) to find out exactly who had made the claim against me and try to understand why the CMS were so determined to ruin my life. No reply. Again in September and November 2017 I requested all the information they held about my case. The Data Protection Act1998 states I'm entitled to them within 40 days of my request. These were finally forwarded to me on 1st December 2017, a full five months after my first request. And only after I had written to my local MP and the Secretary of State for the DWP to complain. Something I should have done sooner had I known that CMS are allowed to ignore people like me but not an MP.

> 22/09/2017 - Letter to CMS
> 22/09/2017 - Letter to MP
> 22/09/2017 - Letter to DWP minister

Although the DNA test results in June 2017 had categorically proved I cannot be the father of XXXXXXXX, which I knew all along, the CMS have since continued ignoring my letters. I have since written letters, requesting a full explanation, an apology for the way I've been treated and compensation.

You can probably imagine what the outcome has been. They have refused to return my money. I have not received a single pound of the money they forcibly took from me. Or any of the DNA test fee I paid to Cellmark. I have not even had an admission as to why someone can ring them and say Tom Dick is my baby's father and without doing proper checks, the CMS have the powers to assume I am the dad, steal my financial information from my employer, enforce a detachment of earnings order without ever going to court, cause me to have sleepless nights and suicidal thoughts, ignore all my letters, ignore the data protection laws everyone else abides by then refuse to give me my money back.

My last letter to the CMS was in December requesting a resolution to my case. I have heard nothing from them since September 2017.

> 04/12/2017 - Letter to CMS

I have therefore decided to launch a crowd funding campaign to help me challenge some of the unfair laws and procedures the Child Maintenance Service operate under.

I cannot imagine that I am the only person to experience unfair treatment from the former CSA now CMS. I feel any success I have against them will greatly benefit the public and hopefully prevents others from going through the same.

Help me STOP #unfaircsa rules

Please lend your support at:

Follow my progress on twitter at www.twitter.com/civilob

published 28/12/2017

View case related documents:

> 16/06/2015 - Letter to CMS
> 11/11/2015 - Letter to CMS
> 22/09/2017 - Letter to CMS
> 22/09/2017 - Letter to MP
> 22/09/2017 - Letter to DWP minister
> 20/12/2017 - CMS letter to MP

Latest Update

The Child Maintenance Service have since provided a response to Alex's local MP Geoffrey Robinson. The case against Alex still seems to be open however despite the CMS's assurance that it has been closed. Compensation, his maintenance fees and DNA test fee also still remain unreturned.

> 20/12/2017 - CMS letter to MP

Published: February 2018

Share this story:share on twitterShare on Facebook

Share your story
> Tweet Civil Observer on Twitter
> Message us on Whatsapp
> Email us your story

Mistaken man charged thousands in child support fees

Bid to remove CSA powers to enforce unfair judgements

Do women MPs provide better leadership than men?

Legal comparison website hopes to bridge legal aid gap

Many still homeless on the UKs streets in 2018

Child Tax Credit rape clause - is it fair?

Are men fairly treated in rape cases?

Reporting unfairness: Your civic duty