Maintenance for Children

July 14, 2014 10:33 am - Categorised in: , ,

Most people will be aware that for many years now, the Court has only had jurisdiction to deal with child support (or child maintenance as it always used to be called) in very exceptional circumstances.  In the vast majority of cases, child support has been dealt with by the Child Support Agency (“CSA”).  Did you know, however, that the basic formula used for years to calculate how much child support should be paid, has changed, with almost no publicity?

As of 29 July 2013, the old formula (which with certain adjustment, had 15% a payer’s net income being paid for one child, 20% for two children and 25% for three or more children) has been replaced.  For new cases, even the CSA has been substituted by the “Child Maintenance Service” (“CMS”).  (So we can start calling it child maintenance again!).

All new applications for maintenance calculations will be allocated to the new scheme.  (Existing cases will continue to be administered under the “old rules” for the time being.  The government intends that even these cases will all be closed off by 2017 at the latest).

Summarising, the new regime, where the payer does not earn more than £800 per week (£41,600 per year) gross (ie before tax & NI but after pension contributions) has the payer paying the following child maintenance from his/her gross income:

  • 12% for one child
  • 16% for two children
  • 19% for three or more children

(There are different rates where the payer earns from £41,600 to £156,000 per year).

Deductions from the maintenance payable are made as follows if the payer has other children (eg children of a new partner or step-children) living with the payer:

  • 12% for one child
  • 16% for two children
  • 19% for three or more children

Deductions are also made for shared care/overnight contact:

  • 1/7 for 52 to 103 nights a year
  • 2/7 for 104 to 155 nights a year
  • 3/7 for 156 to 174 nights a year
  • 1/2 for 175 or more nights a year

No maintenance is payable if care is truly shared on a basis of equality.

Maintenance dealt with by the CSA used to be payable for children in full-time education up to the age of 19 years.  Under the gross income regime if you have children in full-time education, maintenance is payable until they are 20 years old.

Under the old regime, it was possible to apply for an increase of child maintenance on various grounds.  Under the new regime, increase applications can only be made if the payer is believed to have:

  • Unearned income (of at least 2,500)
  • Diverted income

“Diverted income” arises where the payer is able to control how much income he or she earns or diverts his or her income to a third party to reduce what he or she appears to be earning.

It is still possible to ask the CMS to review its maintenance decision if, for example, it is felt (and can be proved) that the payer has misrepresented his or her income.  A review can only be sought, however, within 30 days from the date the original decision is notified.

Government is still considering proposals to bring in various fees payable under the new scheme – an application fee of £20 (usually paid, therefore, by the parent with care of children) and a collection fee, payable ON TOP of a payer’s child maintenance liability.  In addition, if a parent with care opts to have their child maintenance paid through/collected by the CMS, they will also pay a fee, deducted from their child support.  There will be no collection fees at all though if child support is paid directly from one parent to the other.  Separate fees are proposed where the CMS has to enforce payments (eg for a deduction from earnings order).

The moral to the above has to be to try and make your own arrangements (still permitted, even encouraged) for the financial support of our children rather than have the CMS do it for you.

More information is available online at

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