Doctor struck off after hiding his £100,000 salary to avoid paying child maintenance

A tribunal in Manchester recently ruled Dr Collen Nkomo unfit to practice medicine due to his ‘calculating and persistent’ actions to hide his salary in order to avoid paying child support.

The 40-year-old paediatrics specialist and father of three was working as a locum GP in addition to taking on shifts at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool where he was earning up to £10,000 a month.

Nkomo, who lives in Altrincham, Greater Manchester, repeatedly lied to the Child Support Agency (CSA) about his income to dodge paying £40,800 in child maintenance payments for more than two years (April 2013 to November 2015).

The CSA began investigating when Zimbabwe-born Nkomo stated he was unable to make payments to the mother of the child from whom he had split.

Inquiries discovered that Nkomo had been earning £115,000 over one 15-month period and £30,000 in only three months. Nkomo had more than £126,000 transferred across 12 accounts – six Halifax and six HSBC accounts – from his work for a variety of medical organisations.

In 2017, Nkomo was given a 20-month prison sentence after he admitted fraud in addition to a drunk-driving conviction. The NHS doctor has since attended a ‘separated parents’ course and is now paying off the arrears at £500 a month.

Having qualified as a doctor in 2002 and working in the UK since 2013, Nkomo’s misconduct was rendered ‘fundamentally incompatible’ with being a doctor by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal.

Nkomo claimed he had a ‘horrible split’ from his ex-wife and was denied access to see his nine-year-old son, however, accepts that ‘this is not an excuse for what happened’.

‘Worryingly high’ number of UK parents failing to meet their obligations

Unfortunately, Nkomo’s case is not all that unique. At the beginning of this year, the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that a shockingly high number of parents were failing to make their child maintenance payments.

Between April and June 2018:

  • 51% of parents in Tandridge failed to meet their obligations to their child,
  • Nearly 40% of the 460 parents in the Highlands had their payments in arrears,
  • 38% of 610 parents in Peterborough were due to pay support, and
  • 37% of the 370 parents in Aberdeenshire failed to keep up with their payments.

What is child maintenance?

On separation, financial support – known as child maintenance – can be requested from a partner to help with the everyday living cost of a child. This can include childcare, activities, and hobbies of the child.

Some couples decide to arrange this themselves – a ‘family-based arrangement’. According to support site Child Maintenance Options, over half a million families choose to make an arrangement between themselves, deciding on the amount and type of child maintenance. However, if the parents do not agree, many will rely on the involvement of the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to help find a suitable arrangement for both parties.

While child maintenance is a legal responsibility, it is crucial to remember that the money can help the child get the best start in life. Regardless of where the child lives, child maintenance assists with the daily cost and upkeep of the child and is a responsibility of any parent, no matter which house the child should stay.

Am I eligible for child maintenance?

A parent can request child maintenance from an ex-partner if the child is:

  • under 16
  • under 20 and in full-time education
  • under 20 and living with a parent registered for Child Benefit for them

What are the current laws on child maintenance in England?

There are currently three types of child maintenance schemes:

  1. Child Maintenance Services cases (2012 scheme)
  2. Child Support Agency (CSA) cases opened after March 2003
  3. CSA cases opened before March 2003

The amount of child maintenance received will vary on the individual case and is based on the gross weekly income of the ‘paying parent’. The paying parent is the partner who doesn’t have the main day-to-day care of the child, while the receiving parent is the partner with daily responsibilities of the child.

The CMS uses a set mathematical formula to calculate how much child support is payable. As of the 20th December 2018, some amendments were made to the current method to take into account those parents who are complex earners (earn money through channels such as self-employment). The government will now include other types of income when calculating child maintenance including:

  • assets,
  • income from land or property,
  • foreign income, and
  • unearned income such as inheritance.

Contact Lindsay Jones Specialist Child Maintenance Lawyers Cheshire, Manchester, Altrincham, Lymm, Knutsford & Wilmslow

If you need proactive legal representation for a child maintenance issue, get in touch with Lindsay Jones today via the online contact form.

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