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October 27, 2023

Using Child Maintenance to Coerce and Control is now a criminal offence!

The UK government has introduced new statutory guidance about the definition of coercive control. For parents that use child maintenance to control or coerce their former partners, this could now mean facing prosecution.

Many of you reading this blog will know that not paying child maintenance or not paying it regularly is a very common form of economic abuse that happens after the relationship has ended. It is a tool used to further control and coerce the victims/survivor and can have a massive effect on not just the victims but also the children of the family. If the victim/survivor isn’t getting child maintenance they may find it really difficult to feed and clothe their children. The perpetrator does not see this as being abusive to his children, but he is!

The offence of controlling or coercive behaviour now includes post-separation abuse. This change will plug a big gap in legal protection for victims/survivors.

Coercive control can make people do things they don’t want to do. The abuser may withhold child maintenance payments as a way of getting the victim/survivor to stay in contact with them. Or use the withholding of payments as a lever to get more contact with the children.

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) will have new powers to report suspected cases of coercive control to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which will bring more abusers to justice.

It is important to note though, that post separation abuse which happened before April 2023 is not covered by the new guidance.

It depends on how you feel about it doesn’t it? I never had a single penny from my abusive ex-husband for my daughter. At the time we separated, I would not have got it anyway as he was in prison for stabbing me! but even after that, I felt really strongly that I didn’t want a penny from him. He would of definitely used it to maintain some sort of control over me. He would definitely been one of those people who would not have paid it so that I would eventually have to make contact with him. I didn’t want that. I also didn’t want to be reliant on him, which I would of been had I asked for child maintenance. I was determined to do it on my own and I did. It was hard. I was on benefits and they were barely enough to see me through the week but I managed until I was in a place mentally, where I could cope with work, and then I went out and got work. I am proud that I did it on my own.

Of course, I realise that this does not apply to everyone and some people feel they have no other choice but to apply for Child Maintenance. Therefore, this new guidance is really important for people to know about.

I know you will all spread the word and share the information.

REMEMBER – Knowledge is Power!

  • I first met Sharon back in 2000 when I went into a refuge she worked in after fleeing a violent relationship. I had two babies and virtually just a bag of clothes and a few toys with us. She helped me with appointments with the police, solicitors and..

    A survivor of domestic abuse.
  • I was fortunate enough to meet and work with Sharon when she was the Advocacy Manager at Woman’s Trust and I was working for Westminster City Council. During this time Sharon developed and managed the Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy Service..

    Ainslie O’Connor – Principal Advisor for the Department of the Premier and Cabinet – Adelaide, Australia.
  • Thank you so much for all the support you have given me. You really have been amazing, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to cope with Child Protection without you. The amount of strength you have given me is totally priceless, even with..

    A survivor of domestic abuse.
  • I knew Sharon as a work colleague over ten years ago. At the time, she was supporting vulnerable people, some of them were homeless due to domestic abuse and substance misuse. For me, assisting such people was what anyone in her role would be expect..

    Ted Chanza, Head of Market Operations, Airtel Malawi Ltd, Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa.
  • I have known Sharon for 6 years and have had the pleasure of working alongside her when I chaired the Westminster MARAC. Sharon is a committed, empathetic supporter of women who are or have experienced domestic abuse. She regularly goes the extra m..

    Former Chair of The Westminster MARAC.
  • I was fortunate to have had Sharon as my support worker after 17 years of domestic violence and 4 children that had witnessed and gone through it with me. I was finally strong enough to stand up and protect myself and my children. Without Sharon’s ..

    A survivor of domestic violence.
  • Without the support and constant reassurance of Sharon, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am forever grateful to her. She is extremely dedicated and knowledgeable, having her on my side when dealing with someone as persistent..

    Anonymous survivor of Domestic Abuse.
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