Understanding the changes to child maintenance

The introduction of the Child Maintenance Service (CSA) last year has brought about a raft of changes to the process and management of child support payments. Associate Solicitor, Louise Daniels, explains one of the key changes introduced this Spring.

Change from net income to gross income

Previously, calculations were made using the paying parent’s net income, however for all new applications that involve families with two or three children (both children having the same parents) the amount of child maintenance payable will now be made by reference to the non-resident parent’s gross income.

The CSA will continue to deal with all other new applications in relation to just one child under the previous scheme. In these cases the non-resident parent will continue at pay 15 per cent of their net income for one child.

For paying parents earning between £200 and £800 per week, the following rates of payment will apply:

(a)   12 per cent of gross income for one child

(b)   16 per cent of gross income for two children

(c)   19 per cent of gross income for three or more children.

 For paying parents earning between £800 and £3,000 per week, child support is payable as follows:

(a)   9 per cent of gross income for one child

(b)   12 per cent of gross income for two children

(c)   15 per cent for three or more children.

A discount will be applied, for other children living in the non-resident parent’s home (eg children of a new partner or step children) at the following rates:

(a)   11 per cent for one child

(b)   14 per cent for two children

(c)   16 per cent for three or more children.

A further reduction will be applied, if a child stays overnight with the paying parent for at least 52 nights of the year.

If there is truly an equal shared care arrangement no maintenance is payable, however if one parent receives child benefit then it is presumed that that parent is providing care for the child and should receive child maintenance.

Such payments can now under the new regime be extended until the child is aged 20 if the child continues in full time education.

It is possible to deduct pension contributions from the gross income figure in the new scheme or apply for ‘Top up Awards’ if the non-resident parent is a high earner and their gross income exceeds £156k pa.

For more information on how to make an application for child maintenance or advice on how to reach agreement in respect of child maintenance with your spouse, please contact Louise Daniel on 01706 213 356 or email louise.daniel@whnsolicitors.co.uk