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
£7 to £100, or if the paying parent gets
£100.01 to £199.99
£200 to 800
£800.01 to £3,000
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
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)
3 or more
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
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