Changes to Child Maintenance

12 Dec 2013

To quote the famous playwright, William Shakespeare, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

The Child Support Agency has been renamed and this is just one of the changes that you might not otherwise be aware of.  It is now known as the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

The Child Maintenance Regulations 2012 came into force on 10 December 2012.  It was originally anticipated that effects of the major changes to the calculation of child maintenance would not be felt by many until 2014. That is not the case. The catchy titled “Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 (Commencement Order No 11 and Transitional Provisions Order 2013)” came into force on 29 July 2013.  The Order extends the operation of the new Child Support Scheme to all applications made to the CMS on or after that date.

The underlying aim of encouraging parents to agree their own maintenance arrangements by way of a Family Based Arrangement (FBA) remains.

So, exactly what are the changes and how might they affect you?

The old calculation of 15%, 20% or 25% of net income for 1, 2 or 3 or more children no longer applies.  The new formula focuses on the gross weekly income of the non resident/paying parent.

If the paying parents’ gross weekly income is less than £100 they will pay a flat rate of £7 per week.

If the gross weekly income of the paying parent is less than £800 the maintenance payable is calculated using the following formula:

  • One child – 12% of gross income
  • Two children – 16% of gross income
  • Three or more children – 19% of gross income.

If the gross weekly income of the paying parent is more than £800, the above % figures are used to calculate maintenance payable for the first £800 and the following percentages are used for the remainder:

  • One child – 9% of gross income
  • Two children – 12% of gross income
  • Three or more children – 15% of gross income.

Any income above £3,000 gross per week is ignored for the purposes of calculating child support but the resident parent may then apply for a ‘top up’ of maintenance relying on an application under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989.

The paying parent can qualify for a reduction in maintenance if their child/children stay with them over night for more than 52 nights per year.  The amount is reduced by 7ths incrementally.  A reduction can also occur where the paying parent has other children living with them.

Unless there is a significant change in the paying parents’ income, the liability will be fixed for a 12 month term.

If you wish to carry out your own calculation please visit: www.cmoptions.org/en/calculator

Will the new CMS be any better and more effective than the formerly named CSA?

Only time will tell…..