Duty to Child Maintenance
Each parent of a child is responsible for his maintenance. By law, a child is an unmarried person under the age of 16 or a person who is unmarried, under the age of 20 but in a full-time education which is not considered as advanced education.
The Child Maintenance Support is awarded by law to provide financial support to a qualifying child under the Matrimonial Causes ACT 1973 on a marriage breakdown.
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What is Included?
- Duty to Child Maintenance
- Qualifying Child
- Non- Resident Parents
- Courts or DWP?
- CMS Calculations
- Wealthy Parents
- Educational Expenses and Disability
- Maintenance Agreement
- Child Maintenance Calculation
- Rates for Child Maintenance Support
- Basic Rate
- Examples when the Gross income is up to £800 per week
- Example when Income is between £800 and £3000 per week
- Non-Resident Parent with other Resident Children
- Example when the Gross income is up to £800 per week and
The important question is who is a qualifying child? A qualifying child is a child of natural or adoptive parents but one of his parents, biological or adoptive, is a non-resident parent i.e., not living with the child anymore: or Both of his biological or adoptive parents are not living with him.
Non- Resident Parents
These non-living biological or adoptive parents will be treated as non-resident parents as they no longer live with the subject child.
Courts or DWP?
It may come as a surprise for many people that it is not the courts which have the jurisdiction in Child Maintenance Support (CMS) matters, but the Department of Work and Pension would oversee the calculations and payments of CMS. In a select few circumstances the Applicant can revert to Courts, for example, the maintenance of stepchildren, who are children of the family and those children who are too old to be classified as qualifying children as stated above, for example, a child over the age of 20 years but who is still in full-time education or training.
The Courts also have retained jurisdiction to make capital orders on behalf of children, for example, lump sum or property adjustment orders, further the Courts have retained the sole jurisdiction and powers to vary or revoke existing maintenance orders.
The Child maintenance support is calculated and paid under the Child Support Act 1991 formula.
In cases where the average earning of the non-resident parent is over £3,000 per week after the payments of CMS, then such parents can be compelled to contribute more to maintenance. The Court has the sole jurisdiction to decide the level of the supplementary amount in each wealthy non-resident parent’s case.
Educational Expenses and Disability
Where the qualifying child is in education and the CMS award is not sufficient to pay the child’s some or all expenses, then a resident parent can ask the Court to compel the non-resident parent to pay supplementary maintenance. Similarly, if the child has a disability, the court can make an order to supplement the existing maintenance to meet expenses attributable to the disability.
Under Family law rules, It is not necessary for the resident and non-resident parents to apply for maintenance. The parties can mutually agree to arrange maintenance for children without going to Child Maintenance Services. As a matter of fact, it is preferable for parents to come to an agreement between themselves over the child maintenance and application should only be made when it is not possible to agree mutually or the non-resident parent is trying to evade his responsibilities.
It is important to understand that although the maintenance agreements are not the Court orders, however, they are enforceable as any other binding contract. Once the agreement is reached many parents prefer this agreement to be endorsed by the court if so the parents can apply to Court for a consent order which will change the mutually agreed maintenance order into a court order on the same terms.
Child Maintenance Calculator
The Child Maintenance UK is calculated by using a formula. The formula is based on the;
- Non-resident parent’s gross income; and
- The number of children for whom the non-resident parent is financially responsible.
- In calculating the gross income, tax and national insurance contributions are taken off and pension contributions will be deducted.
- Generally, this figure is taken from the latest available information held by HMRC.
Rates for Child Maintenance Support
The Child maintenance is calculated at the following rates;
- Basic Rate
- Reduced rate
- Flat rate
- Nil rate
Under the Basic rate, the gross income of the non-resident parent per week is divided into two tiers,
1. Gross income up to £800 per week; And
2. Gross Income over £800 but not more than £3000
Based on the income the non-resident parent will pay the following proportions of his gross income in child maintenance.
|No Children to for CMS Payment||Gross Income up to £800 per week||Gross Income between £800- £3000 per week|
|1||12% of gross income||9%|
|3 or More||19%||15%|
Examples when the Gross income is up to £800 per week
John has separated from his wife and his gross income is £800. The CMS payable will be as follows.
£800 × 12% = £96/per week
For 2 Children
£800 × 16% = £128/per week
£800 × 19% = £152/ week
£800 × 19% = £152/ week
For more than 3 children, the amount in CMS will be same as for 3 children i.e. £152/ per week
Example when Income is between £800 and £3000 per week
John has separated from his wife and his gross income is £1100 per week. The CMS payable will as follows;
first £800 × 12% = £96
(1100 – 800) second £300 × 9% = £27
Total payable per week (96 + 27) = £123
first £800 × 16% = £128
(1100 – 800) second £300 ×12% = £36
Total payable per week (128 + 36) = £164
3 or more children
first £800 × 19% = £152
(1100 – 800) second £300 ×15% = £45
Total payable per week (128 + 36) = £197
Any income over and above £3,000 per week is ignored however, there are provisions available to request the court to look into the income of wealthy parents as stated above.
Non-Resident Parent with other Resident Children
Where a non-resident parent has other children living with him or for whom he or any partner he is living with receives child benefit, then, his gross income will be reduced by the following amount before the basic rate formula will be applied;
|No of Other Children living with Non-Resident parent or his/her partner he/she is living with||Reduction in Gross Income|
|3 or more||16%|
Example when the Gross income is up to £800 per week and
John has separated from his wife and his gross income is £800. But John has 1 child with his current partner. The CMS payable will be as follows.
1 child from a previous wife
Reduction in gross income £800 × 11% = £88
Gross Income available for CMS Calculation £800 – £88= £712
CMS payable = £712 × 12% = £85.44
This method is applicable in cases where the gross weekly income of the non-resident parent is more than £100 but less than £200. The CMS payable will increase in proportion to the amount by which the non-resident parent’s income exceeds each £100.
This will be applicable where the non-resident parent’s gross income is less then £100, and he is in receipt of certain benefits. The amount payable per week is £7.
This will be applicable where the non-resident parent’s gross income is less than £7 and he is in receipt of certain benefits. The amount payable per week is nil.
There are special rules where the non-resident parent has more than one qualifying child but these children are looked after by more than one person. For example, John has 3 qualifying children. The 2 of them are living with Anna and 1 is with Lisa. John’s gross income per week is £800. The CMS will be calculated on the basic rate that is
3 or more children: £800 × 19% = £152 however, the £152 will be divided into 3 and Anna will get 2/3 of £152, which will be £101.33 and Lisa will get £50.66 for her only child.