Fathers to Evade Child Payments

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NEW child maintenance laws will help wealthy fathers to evade paying financial support to their former wives and children, campaigners have warned.The new system is being introduced by the UK government to reduce the overall bill for chasing fathers through the courts in lengthy and expensive cases in which income levels and the value of assets are disputed.But lawyers who represent mothers in child maintenance cases believe the new rules - in which some assets will no longer be taken into account - will make it easier for some rich fathers to conceal their wealth.John Fotheringham, an Edinburgh specialist in both child and family law, is to outline concerns to UK Department of Work and Pensions officials on behalf of the Law Society of Scotland.Opposition politicians and charities in Scotland have also criticised the new system, saying it was "truly shocking" that the new rules would make it simpler for wealthy parents to evade their responsibilities."The cases that are causing the Child Maintenance Service difficulty are being removed precisely because they cause it difficulty, not because it is just that they fall out of the system," Fotheringham said."It's those who are fairly wealthy, and will be able to declare only a small amount of that, who will benefit because of the changes. We're talking about people who have wealth, but have just not declared it. "He added: "It's being done to cut costs. But part of the collateral damage is that you are going to make life easier for those who wanted to evade the system."An estimated 900,000 children currently benefit from child maintenance payments in the UK but the system is astronomically expensive to administer, coming in at around GBP500 million a year. Ministers want to change how income is assessed from what parents choose to disclose to payments based on more accurate latest tax-year gross figures gathered by HM Revenue & Customs. As a result, two regulations embedded in current rules - sections 18 and 20 which deal with assets - will be scrapped. …