A man claims the CSA is refusing to return £30,000 in child support payments - despite having proof that the child in question isn't his.
Steven Carter, 49, says he has twice had letters from the Child Support Agency (CSA) promising that if he could prove he wasn't the father he would get his money back. But after an 11-year battle and a DNA test, the CSA now says he's left it too late.
Carter says he was always convinced he couldn't be the father of the girl, now 22, whom he has never met. He'd had two one-night-stands with the mother of the girl, and used protection. The mother, he says, was with a boyfriend at the time.
"She obviously looked at me like a cash cow," he tells the Daily Mirror. "I work in a nightclub and the CSA contacted my employers and took my money. They accepted her word with no proof at all."
As a result, he has been paying £70 a week from his wages for the girl since 1995. He says he's made hundreds of phone calls to the CSA, and been told that he could get a refund if it was proved that he wasn't the father.
CSA refuses refund
Now, though, the CSA is refusing the refund on the grounds that the DNA test was taken after the child had become an adult, with the assumption being that Carter's continued payments meant he accepted paternity.
It says that parentage will be assumed in a number of situations - if the couple were married, for example, or in the case of adoption. It doesn't, though, say anything about continuing payments triggering such an assumption.
"We have not been provided with any legislation from the CSA which justifies them withholding payment to our client," says Carter's lawyer, Kate Baker.
The government is currently phasing out the CSA, replacing it with a new Child Maintenance Service. Parents are to be encouraged to make their own arrangements; otherwise, the non-resident parent will face a 20% surcharge. In addition - and controversially - where there's no agreement, the resident parent will face a 4% deduction, simply for having the law enforced.
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