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Child Maintenance - The Basics

View profile for Josh Russell
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Figures from the DWP published recently indicate that 26% of people who contacted the Child Maintenance Service (or CSA, as it used to be referred to) between February 2015 and January 2016 have set up a Family Based Arrangement. But many people do not understand what a Family Based Arrangement is, or what they are entitled to by way of child maintenance or even how it is calculated.

What is Child Maintenance
Child Maintenance is money paid by the “non-resident parent” (the parent that does not live with the child[ren] the majority of the time) to the “resident parent” (the parent the child[ren] lives with the majority of the time) for the benefit of the child or children.

What is a Family Based Arrangement
A Family Based Arrangement is an agreement that two parents come to in respect of child maintenance, without the need for the Child Maintenance Service to impose a figure or deduct the figure from someone’s salary/wages. The agreement can either be more, less or equal to the minimum amount the Child Maintenance Service calculate, but the onus is on both the mother and the father to agree the figure. The government’s Child Maintenance Calculator can be a real assistance here.

How much Child Maintenance
Child Maintenance is calculated based on a number of factors:
1.    The gross income (before tax) of the paying parent
2.    How many children you have
3.    How many nights a year the children stay with the non-resident parent
4.    Whether there are any other children living with the non-resident parent
5.    Whether you are in receipt of any benefits

When does it stop?
The obligation to pay child maintenance continues until the child is 16 or, if they are in full time secondary education, 20.

The law in relation to child maintenance changed recently so that the Family Courts no longer have jurisdiction over the issue of child maintenance. Orders can still be made by the Family Court in respect of child maintenance as part of a divorce settlement, but these orders will only be valid for a period of 12 months, at which point the jurisdiction reverts back to the Child Maintenance Service and the amount awarded can be increased or decreased accordingly. 

If you are uncertain about anything relating to child maintenance please contact one of our family law experts on 01295 270999 (Banbury Office) 01869 252 161 (Bicester Office) 01788 579 579 (Rugby Office).

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