Child maintenance: the old and the new
Separation can be a difficult time for parents. It is common to feel alone and overwhelmed. Meanwhile, you have to make decisions and plans, and carry on parenting despite all the upheaval. Often it is a question of needs must and at the top the list is maintenance, sometimes for the weaker spouse financially but always for any child.
What is child maintenance?
Child maintenance is about providing help with a child’s everyday living costs. This includes things like food and clothes, and helping to provide a home for your child or children.
Child maintenance is usually money that the parent without the main day-to-day care of a child pays to the other parent. But, sharing the care of your children and buying things directly for them can also be included in family-based child maintenance arrangements, if both parents agree to it.
Why is child maintenance is important?
At the moment you may feel unable to discuss child maintenance with the other parent. Or, you just might not want to.
But, child maintenance can make a real difference to children as it can help pay for things like clothing, food and other essentials. It can also help to keep both parents involved with their children’s lives.
Whatever type of maintenance arrangement you put in place, it’s important to remember that it can help to give a child the best start in life. It’s also important to remember that paying child maintenance for your child is a legal responsibility. There are different types of maintenance arrangements:
Family based arrangement
Family-based arrangements are child maintenance arrangements which parents have agreed between themselves. You might also have heard them called family arrangements, voluntary arrangements or private agreements.
More than half a million children in Great Britain benefit from this type of child maintenance arrangement.
Many parents think this type of arrangement is a better option for them and their children because it allows flexibility and no-one else has to get involved.
Statutory child maintenance arrangements
Statutory arrangements are arrangements put in place by the Government’s statutory child maintenance service. The Child Support Agency manages the government’s 1993 and 2003 child maintenance schemes and the Child Maintenance Service has managed the 2012 statutory child maintenance scheme on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions since December 2012.
Consent orders (a type of court order in England and Wales)
Parents living apart in England and Wales can also arrange child maintenance by going through the courts to put a consent order in place.
Calculation of Child Support
A new scheme for calculation of child support was due to come in to force initially in October 2012, then December 2012 and we are now awaiting hearing from the Department for Work and Pensions with a date for these new rules to come in to effect. The new calculation is based on the gross income of the parent paying child maintenance. Child support is calculated by reference to a set percentage, depending upon the number of children that child maintenance is payable in respect of. Currently, calculations are based upon net income as opposed to gross income. The intention of the changes is that parents should pay and receive roughly the same sums currently paid, it is a slight change to calculations.
Here is a comparison between current and the new regime:
1. There is a Court Order made prior to 3 March 2003 which remains in force and states that a non-resident parent must pay child maintenance. The maintenance referred to in the Court Order will be the amount that the parent must pay and neither parent has the ability to revert to CSA in this regard; The CSA will not act where any of the following occurs:
2. Where there is a Court Order in place which was made after 3 March 2003 but that Order has only been in place for a period of less than 12 months;
3. Where there is a written maintenance agreement in place which predates 5 April 1993.
It would only be an application to Court that can vary or discharge the terms of such Orders.
For any questions with regard to child maintenance matters please contact our specialist solicitors that deal with Children Act matters and can help you with family financial matters and the payment of maintenance for children.
James Maguire & Co is a specialist firm of Family Law and Divorce Law solicitors based in Wilmslow, Cheshire. We offer legal advice to parties going through a divorce including the financial issues which flow from this and children matters including child maintenance.
We can also advise on Schedule1 Children Act 1989 applications.
We advise clients in the Wilmslow area and also to the surrounding areas of Alderley Edge, Bramhall, Hale, Altrincham, Manchester and the North West. We are also able to act for clients nationally and internationally subject to the jurisdiction of England and Wales. For advice please contact James Maguire by telephone +44 (0) 1625 529456 or by email james.maguire@family-law