Do you want to stop a deduction from earnings order? 

We discuss if this is possible in this quick and complete guide. Understand more about these orders here – and search for a debt charity for personalised advice and support. 

What are deduction from earnings orders?

A deduction from earnings order, also called a deduction of earnings, is an order from the courts via CMS for an employer to deduct child maintenance payments straight from the wage of one of their employees. The employee will be a parent who either:

  1. Prefers to pay straight from their employment income (unlikely)
  2. Has not been paying what they owe to the other parent
  3. Frequently pays the wrong amount or pays late

It is more likely that the payment is being deducted this way because the parent has not kept to a previous maintenance agreement and has gotten into arrears. If this sounds familiar, tell Citizens Advice and get tailored support. 

Deduction from earnings Vs similar orders

A deduction from earnings order is specifically used to collect money as maintenance for children. This should not be confused with any other type of earnings orders used so an employer can make a deduction on behalf of the court. For example:

  1. An attachment of earnings is used to pay back creditors can council tax
  2. A direct earnings attachment is used to repay tax credit and benefit overpayments

How much can be taken out of my wages?

The amount of money that can be paid from your net wage is the same as what you would be legally required to pay. This depends on a number of factors, including how much money you earn, how many children are included, and the amount of time you spend with them. 

It cannot cause you to lose more than 40% of your net income! Although there are fixed rates, there is no one-size-fits-all approach because all factors must be considered together. For a detailed breakdown, consider reading this guide.

Protected earnings rate

Everyone receives a protected earnings rate, which is a set figure that you must receive in your net pay each payday. Your place of work cannot withhold any money below this figure to ensure you have enough for essential living, such as rent and food. 

It may be that the full amount owed cannot be deducted because it would send your net pay below the protected rate. 

Can my employer charge me for the deduction from earnings order?

A further £1 can be deducted from your wage by your employer. This is an administration cost for processing the deduction from earnings order. They may or may not choose to deduct this payment. 

What happens if you can’t afford to pay?

If you can’t afford to pay or pay the full amount from your wages, your place of work is required to record the shortfall each week. They must then try to recover the shortfall in future wage payments.

For example, if you were off sick for a period and didn’t receive your usual wage, you may be asked to pay more than usual when you return to work – i.e. and your wage returns to a normal level. 

If you are not able to pay for consecutive weeks, the courts or the CMS may review what you have been asked to pay. The amount may be reduced. 

Request a reduced amount

You can successfully request that the amount paid each payday is reduced if it is causing you financial difficulty. If you can prove that the payments are so high that you cannot pay the transport costs to visit the child, or any other child you are responsible for, CMS are more likely to agree to a reduced amount. 

You must tell CMS if your salary is reduced by 25% or if you have a new child with a partner. These other events could reduce the payments taken from your wages. If you don’t tell CMS they will never know or implement any adjustments.  

Further action

If you are still unable to pay, the CMS could ask the courts for a liability order, which is used to enforce the debt with bailiffs who will take control of goods and sell them to pay off what is owed. Or they could force you to sell a property and use some of the money from the sale to clear your arrears. 

If these methods are not possible, the CMS may ask the court to either:

  1. Repossess your driving licence
  2. Repossess your UK passport
  3. Send you to prison

Can you stop a deduction from earnings order?

You can ask CMS for the order to be cancelled if it is not working in the way it is supposed to. You may not be earning enough for it to have an effect. Or you may be able to stop it if you come to a different arrangement to send payments. You’ll have to contact them and outline your case. 

The only other way to stop paying towards the deduction of earnings is if the CMS writes to you and informs you that any arrears are being wiped. This will typically happen if:

  1. The other parent asks for the arrears not to be collected in this direct way
  2. The other parent dies
  3. CMS come to this decision for another reason

You then may be able to continue any future payments using another method until you no longer have to make these types of payments anymore (see below). 

When does child maintenance stop?

You are required to send complete payments to support the child and their other parents until they are at least 16 years old. You may be asked to continue financial support up to the age of 20 if they are in full-time education. 

Contact Citizens Advice direct for more!

Citizens Advice can help parents struggling with any of the issues above – including those subject to these orders. If you want help, search for their guidance online and contact them for personalised information. Or search our blog page and guides for more discussion about the topics above!

About the author

Scott Nelson

Scott Nelson is a financial services expert, with over 10 years’ experience in the industry, including 6 years in FCA regulated companies. Read more
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