Since the introduction of the Child Support Agency (CSA) in 1991, the Court can only make
maintenance orders for children:
- Where both parties apply to the Court for a Consent Order in divorce proceedings
- Where a child is in fee-paying full-time education
- Where a child is undertaking a fee-paying vocational course
- Where a child is disabled, and there are care costs
- Where the non-resident parent lives abroad
- Where the child is a step-child
- Where a child is over 19
- To provide top-up maintenance when the non-resident parent's income is £2,000 or more
Unless the child's parents can agree maintenance, the CSA is responsible for assessing how much child maintenance the non-resident parent should pay. The CSA will deal with maintenance for a child aged under 16, and 16-19 if in full-time education.
There are currently two schemes for calculating child maintenance, the 'old scheme' (covering cases until March 2003) and the 'new scheme' (for cases since March 2003).
Under the 'new scheme', the basic rate formula for calculating child maintenance is as follows:
|Number of children||Proportion of net income|
|Three or more||25%|
If the non-resident parent lives with other children, for whom child benefit is paid to him or his partner, his net income is reduced as follows:
|Number of children||Proportion net income is reduced|
|Three or more||25%|
A further reduction of 1/7th is applied for every night on average per week the child stays with the non-resident parent.
In December 2012, new rules were introduced as a result of the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 (CMOPA). Child maintenance will be calculated based on the gross weekly income of the non-resident parent [before Tax, National Insurance and Pension contributions). The new rules will be introduced in stages. Currently, only new cases where there are at least four children will attract the new rules, which will apply to gross weekly incomes of £200 or more.
The new CMOPA rules are:-
|Number of children||Proportion of gross weekly Income|
|One||12% of the 1 st £800 and 9% of the remainder|
|Two||16% of the 1 st £800 and 12% of the remainder|
|Three or more||19% of the 1 st £800 and 15% of the remainder|
A further important change is that the maximum age for a child to be supported increases
under CMOPA from 19 to 20.
For advice on whether an application to Court or the CSA would be in your best interests, please contact Elizabeth Hodder at eah@gross.REMOVE-THIS-BARRIER-BEFORE-SENDING.co.uk or Julie McDonald at jm@gross.REMOVE-THIS-BARRIER-BEFORE-SENDING.co.uk.