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A Step by Step Guide to Working Out Child Maintenance

Solicitors in London

A Step by Step Guide to Working Out Child Maintenance

News article published on: 18th June 2014

Child maintenance is regular, reliable financial support that helps towards a child’s everyday living costs.

The Child Maintenance Service and Child Support Agency use various methods to calculate child maintenance but usually follows 6 steps when working out the weekly amount of child maintenance.

The ‘paying parent’ is the parent the child doesn’t live with. The parent or carer they live with is the ‘receiving parent’. Once it’s been decided, it’s reviewed annually, and any changes in circumstances are taken into account.

1 – Calculating Income

The paying parent’s yearly gross income is ascertained from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Benefits (tax credits, student grants and loans) do not count as income.

2 – Things affecting income

The Child Maintenance Service will look at things that may alter the gross amount of income, such as pension payments or other children being supported. They then convert the yearly gross income into a weekly figure.

3 – Child maintenance rates

One of 5 rates will be applied, based on the gross weekly income of the paying parent:

Gross weekly income

Rate

Below £7

Nil

£7 to £100, or if the paying parent gets
benefits

Flat

£100.01 to £199.99

Reduced

£200 to 800

Basic

£800.01 to £3,000

Basic Plus

If the paying parent earns more than £3,000 gross per week, the CSA does not have jurisdiction and the Court will decide the level of child maintenance, if the parents cannot agree a figure.

4 – Other children

The number of children the paying parent has to pay child maintenance for will also have to be taken into account. This is including other children living with them and any arrangements that have been made directly with an ex-partner.

5 – Weekly amount of maintenance for Children

Basic rate and Basic Plus rate

Basic rate

The Basic rate of child maintenance applies if a paying parent’s gross weekly income after Step 2 is £200 or more, up to £800.

If the Basic rate applies, the amount of child maintenance depends on the number of children the paying parent must pay child maintenance for at Step 4:

  • If a paying parent has to pay child maintenance for one child, they must pay 12 percent of their gross weekly income.
  • If a paying parent has to pay child maintenance for two children, they must pay 16 percent of their gross weekly income.
  • If a paying parent has to pay child maintenance for three or more children, they must pay 19 percent of their gross weekly income.

Basic Plus rate

If a paying parent’s gross weekly income after Step 2 is more than £800 up to a limit of £3,000, the Basic Plus rate of child maintenance applies as well as the Basic rate.

If the Basic Plus rate applies, the amount of child maintenance depends on the number of children the paying parent must pay child maintenance for at Step 4:

Number of children needing child maintenance

Percentage applied to the first £800 of gross weekly income

Percentage applied to gross weekly income over £800 (up to a limit of £3,000)

1

12%

9%

2

16%

12%

3 or more

19%

15%

 6 – Shared care arrangements

This takes into consideration circumstances when a paying parent’s child stays overnight with them.

In these cases, there will be a deduction made to the weekly child maintenance amount based on the average number of ‘shared care’ nights a week.

More information can be found on www.gov.uk/child-maintenance

Lisa is an experienced family lawyer specialising in all aspects of family law.

Follow Lisa on twitter @LisaPepperLaw.

To contact Lisa you can call us or fill in our online enquiry form.

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