Following on from a family breakdown, the issue of financial maintenance for any children will need to be dealt with.
All parents have a responsibility to provide financial support to their children, regardless of whether or not they have contact with them.
Child maintenance, or child support, is a regular financial payment made towards the day-to-day living costs of the children. The parent who does not live with the child will pay this to the parent who the child lives with.
How much child support should I pay?
A set formula has been put in place that allows us to calculate the financial position at an early stage.
The starting position is now that where a child lives with one parent the other parent would be expected to pay 12/16/19% of their gross income up to an income of £800 per week but 9/12/15% of their gross income if this income is over £800 per week. There would be a reduction if the child/ren were to stay overnight with the paying parent and the reduction would be dependent on the number of nights they stay with them. The paying parent’s gross income will be reduced by 11% if they have one child living with them, 14% if they have two children living with them and 16% where they have three or more children living with them. There are also specific exceptions to these complicated rules.
The courts do have limited powers to make maintenance orders for children:
- If everything is agreed you can have a child’s maintenance order by consent. If we end up with a Consent Order for maintenance for your child/children, you must note that one year after the Order comes in, either of you can go to the CMS for a new assessment.
- If the payer has a significant income, taking them beyond the CMS normal levels
- Where there are education fees to pay
- Where there is an overseas element
What if someone refuses to pay child maintenance?
The fall-back body now dealing with this is called the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), but you must be aware that they charge fees now on a continuing basis and an agreement is always best. Another consideration is that CMS will ask HMRC for a record of the paying parent’s income for the last year and the CMS assessment will be on that information, rather than what is the actual current position
Two members of our Family law team are members of Resolution.
Members of Resolution are required to follow the Resolution code of practice which commits family lawyers to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational way, preserving people’s dignity and encouraging agreements.