The rules on child maintenance are changing and depend on the circumstances of each individual case.
Child maintenance cases generally fall into one of the following categories:-
- An application has already been made to the Child Support Agency, or an application is made for 1 children 2013: Child Support Agency
- New applications from 2014: Child Maintenance Service
- Voluntary Family Based Arrangements
- There are court proceedings, usually as part of a divorce or dissolution: Court Proceedings
The first port of call for information on child maintenance is the website www.cmoptions.org.uk.
- CSA – Child Support Agency
- CMS - Child Maintenance Service
- PWC - Parent with Care
- NRP – Non Resident Parent
Child Support Agency
If the CSA is already involved, any assessment remains in place. The CSA will continue to exist to administer such assessments.
From 2014 the CMS took over the functions of the CSA for all new cases.
The CSA calculation is based on net income, the NRP is required to pay child maintenance as follows:-
- 15% - 1 child
- 20% - 2 children
- 25% - 3 children or more
For assessments under the CSA scheme and the new CMS scheme the amount of maintenance is reduced if the child stays over night with the NRP for one night or more each week.
It is also reduced if the NRP is paying maintenance for other children, or there are children living in the same household. There are different rates for cases in which the NRP has a low or income or is on certain state benefits.
For more information and a child maintenance calculator visit the website www.cmoptions.org.uk.
Child Maintenance Service
The calculation is based on gross income and requires the NRP to pay child maintenance as follows:-
For gross income of up to £800 per week, the calculation is:-
- 12% - 1 child
- 16% - 2 children
- 19% - 3 children or more
For income between £800 and £3000 per week, the NRP is required to pay:-
- 9% - 1 child
- 12% - 2 children
- 15% - 3 children or more
There is an initial charge of £20 to use the CMS.
If the CMS acts as a collection agency, there is a charge of 20% which is added to the amount the NRP is required to be pay and the PWC has to pay 4% of the maintenance they receive.
Family Based Arrangements
Rather than using the CSA or CMS parents are encouraged to use the calculation to prepare their own Family Based Arrangement. Guidance on Family Based Arrangements is on the cmoptions website, the form can be downloaded here.
This is very much the approach favoured by government which views child maintenance as a private arrangement between individuals.
Where there are financial remedy proceedings a court can make a child maintenance order if the parties agree. However, after 12 months either party can make an application for a child maintenance assessment.
In certain circumstances, for example, if the NRP has a high income, an application can be made to the court to ‘top up’ any assessment.