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Child Maintenance

What is Child Maintenance?

It is regular, reliable financial support that helps towards a child’s everyday living costs. The parent without day to day care of the child (the non-resident parent) pays child maintenance to the parent with the day to day care (the parent with care). In some cases, the person receiving child maintenance can be a grandparent or guardian.

How is Child Maintenance worked out?

When the CSA/CMS arrange child maintenance, they use information given to them by both parents to decide if someone has to pay child maintenance and to work out how much maintenance should be paid. The CSA/CMS may also use information from other sources including the non-resident parent’s employer or HM Revenue & Customs.

There are currently two methods of calculating child maintenance depending on when the application was made to the CSA/CMS:

(a)       Net Income Scheme

In March 2003 the CSA introduced the “net income scheme”, where the amount of child maintenance was based on the non-resident parent’s net income. This was as follows:

One child: 15% of the non-resident parent’s net income
Two children: 20% of the non-resident parent’s net income
Three or more children: 25% of the non-resident parent’s net income

(b)       Gross Income Scheme

From December 2012 the calculation has been gradually changing to the new “gross income scheme”. Initially the new scheme applied only to those parents asking the CSA/CMS to become involved where the parties have four or more children together. From 25 November 2013 this new scheme now applies to all new applicants.

Under the gross income scheme the non-resident parent will have to pay the following by way of child maintenance:

On gross income up to £800 per week:

One child: 12% of the non-resident parent’s gross income
Two children: 16% of the non-resident parent’s gross income
Three or more children: 19% of the non-resident parent’s gross income

PLUS, on gross income over £800 per week

One child:  9% of the non-resident parent’s gross income
Two children: 12% of the non-resident parent’s gross income
Three or more children: 15% of the non-resident parent’s gross income

What if the child regularly stays overnight with the non-resident parent?

The amount of maintenance would be reduced proportionately if the child/children stays with the non-resident parent for more than 52 nights per year. We can look at this again once the arrangements for contact are clear.

Is there anything else taken into account when working out child maintenance?

In addition there is a reduction in child maintenance where the non-resident parent is responsible for children in their own household (this includes step-children and children with new partners).

From 2014 there will be a charge for using the CSA/CMS. The parent applying for maintenance will have to pay an initial £20 fee. In addition the paying parent will have to pay a 20% handling fee for each maintenance payment, and a further 4% will be deducted from the sum received by the parent applying for maintenance.

For example:

If maintenance is assessed at £100 per week –

The parent applying has to pay an initial £20 fee
The parent paying maintenance will have to pay £120 per week
The parent who has applied will receive £96 per week

You may therefore consider it better to make an agreement with the non-resident parent directly rather than applying to the CSA/CMS.

For more information please see www.cmoptions.org.uk or www.csa.gov.uk.

Contact between the non-resident parent and the child should not be stopped simply because that person is not making child maintenance payments. The court is very clear that matters concerning children and finances should not be linked. The court will take a dim view of any parent who suspends contact for financial reasons.

Child Support Agency

The Child Maintenance Service (CSA/CMS). It is provided by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

The CSA/CMS’ role is to make sure that parents who live apart from their children contribute towards their children’s upkeep by paying child maintenance.

The CSA/CMS use a standard process to work out how much child maintenance should be paid in each case, and to manage the payments.

The CSA/CMS can take legal action if the right amount of money is not paid at the right time.

To get help or more information, please visit the CSA/CMS’ website or phone them:

Web site: www.cmoptions.org
Telephone: 0845 713 3133 or 0845 713 8924

If you have any questions or need any further advice, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will do our best to accommodate you.

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