The parent with primary care of the child/children in question will be entitled to child maintenance from the other party to assist in the cost of the upbringing of the child/children in question.
If both parents live in the United Kingdom the Court does not have the power to deal with basic child maintenance entitlement but can assist with other financial provision for the child e.g. payment of school fees.
Usually the parties will be directed to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) website, who deal with all new applications to have an assessment calculated via the CMS online calculator. Existing applications will be dealt with by the CSA.
If you can agree to a maintenance figure the Court can approve the agreement in a financial Order setting out the terms of your financial settlement. However either party is at liberty to go to the CMS upon the expiry of one year from the date of the Court Order.
Parties are encouraged to agree child maintenance between themselves. If agreement is reached this is called a “family-based arrangement”. This is a private arrangement and no one else will be involved.
The CMS is for when parents can’t agree a family-based arrangement.
The CMS can:-
- Try to find the other parent to sort out child maintenance;
- Sort out disagreements about parentage;
- Work out how much child maintenance should be paid;
- Arrange for the “paying” parent to pay child maintenance – this is the parent who doesn’t have main day to day care of the child;
- Pass payments onto the “receiving” parent – this is the parent who has main day to day care of the child;
- Review payment when changes in parents’ circumstances are reported and annually;
- Take action if payments are not made.
With effect from the 30th June 2014 application fees and enforcement charges are to be paid to the CMS.
With effect from August 2014 if the “collect and pay” service is used you will have to pay fees to the CMS for collecting and paying out child maintenance.
The CMS uses different calculations to work out child maintenance payments than the CSA used. CSA calculations were based on the paying parent’s net income and calculated at 15% for one child, 20% for two children and 25% for 3 or more children. Subject to certain reductions for overnight stays and other children of the family residing with the paying parent.
The CMS use the following steps to work out maintenance:-
- They will obtain from HM Revenue & Customs “HMRC” the paying parent’s gross income and check if they are receiving benefits.
- The CMS will check for items that could change gross income such as pension and other child support and convert the yearly gross income figure into a weekly figure.
- The CMS will then apply one of five rates based on the gross weekly income of the paying parent – the nil rate; the flat rate; the reduced rate; the basic rate; and the basic plus rate.
- The CMS will then take account of the number of children the paying parent has to pay maintenance for, including other children living with them.
Using the information from the first four steps above the CMS decides the weekly child maintenance amount.
Where there is shared care i.e. where a child stays overnight with the paying parent the CMS will make a deduction to the weekly child maintenance amount based on the average number of shared care nights per week.
If there is no Order either party can apply to the CMS for an assessment at any time. If one party is abroad the Court can deal with child maintenance and the CMS cannot make an assessment unless the payer works for a UK Government or a company with head quarters in the UK.
The above is an overview/general information in relation to child maintenance and it is recommended that you use the Child Maintenance Service online calculator in your own circumstances.
Should you require any advice or assistance with regard to Child Maintenance then please contact our family law expert.
Please call us now on 0116 233 5522 or complete the
Online Enquiry form on the right of this page and we will be delighted to help you.