Child support - your questions answered
- What is child support?
- How do I get the other parent to pay child support?
- How much child support will I receive and how is it calculated?
- What happens if there is more than one child?
- If either parent receives state benefits how will this affect child support?
- When does child support stop?
- Does child support continue if my child goes to University?
- What happens if the other parent stops paying?
- I am paying child support but my work and family circumstances have changed – can I apply for a reassessment?
Child support is paid to the parent who has the day-to-day care of the child by the other parent. It is financial support that contributes towards the child’s everyday care.
There are three ways to arrange the payment of child support:
- By private agreement with the other parent
- Through the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (C-MEC) – more commonly known as the Child Support Agency (referred to here as the “CSA”)
- Via a Court Order in certain circumstances
By private agreement with the other parent
If the relationship between yourself and your former partner is amicable you may wish to come to an agreement yourselves.
You can contact the CSA to set up child support. They will obtain information from both parents and carry out an assessment to calculate how much child support should be paid.
Once the CSA assessment has taken place, the CSA can take payments from the other parent and pass them straight on to the parent with day-to-day care of the child.
The CSA cannot be used where there is a foreign element to your case.
If you are going through a divorce and there is a child involved you may wish to consult a solicitor to deal with child support at the same time that they are dealing with the financial aspects of the divorce. Assuming agreement is reached then that agreement can be included in the overall financial order. If child support is recorded in a Court Order either party can approach the CSA 12 months after the date of the Court Order to obtain a CSA calculation.
In the absence of an agreement, the court now has limited powers to make child maintenance orders but can do so where the payer lives abroad, the payers income exceeds that maximum limit applied by the CSA (cuurently £2000.00 week net) or in some cases for step children.
The amount of child support payable will depend on the following factors:
- The paying parent’s net weekly income;
- How many children support will be paid for;
- Whether or not the child stays overnight with the paying parent and for how many nights; and
- The number of other children living with the paying parent.
Usually, at the basic rate, child support is paid as follows:
- 1 child – the paying parent will have to pay 15% of their net weekly income
- 2 children – the paying parent will have to pay 20% of their net weekly income
- 3+ children – the paying parent will have to pay 25% of their net weekly income.
If the parent who will be paying child support has assets (money or property but excluding his residential home) worth more than £65,000, income will be deemed to have been earned by those assets at the rate of 8%. This prevents a parent who has substantial assets from claiming that they cannot pay child support due to a lack of income.
If the child stays overnight with the parent who is paying child support then the amount paid will reduce in accordance with how many nights per week that the child stays overnight.
If there is more than one child then child support will increase as per above.
The Parent paying the child support
If the parent who is paying child support receives any of the following benefits they will pay child support at a flat rate of £5 a week:
- Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
- State Pension
- Incapacity Benefit
- Training Allowance
- Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments
- War Pension
- Bereavement Allowance.
The Parent receiving the child support
Since April 2010, if the parent who has the day-to-day care of the child is receiving state benefits the amount of child support that they receive will not affect their benefits.
Child support is paid in relation to a child who is under 16 or someone between 16 and 19 who:
- is not, nor has ever been, married or in a civil partnership, and
- is in full-time non-advanced education
A list of what constitutes full-time non-advanced education can be found on the CSA website
University does not constitute full-time non-advanced education and therefore child support will not be paid in relation to a child who is attending University. However it is possible to seek support for children attending university through the court if an agreement cannot be reached.
The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (which administers the CSA) can take action to enforce child support as follows:
- Money can be taken direct from the non-paying parent's earnings;
- Money can be taken from their bank or building society accounts; and
- Action can be taken through the courts.
Failure to pay child support is punishable in the following ways:
- Payment of a substantial fine;
- Removal of the non-paying parent’s driving license for up to 2 years;
- Enforcement Order with an unpaid work requirement;
- Sale of their home;
- Bailiffs to seize their property; and
If the child support is paid in accordance with a Court Order that is dated after 3 March 2003, if 12 months have passed since the date of the order you can contact the CSA for a reassessment.
If you have Court Order which is dated prior to 3 March 2003, or that is under 12 months old, you should consult a solicitor who can make an application on your behalf to vary the child support aspect of the Order. You cannot consult the CSA if you have an order dated before 3 March 2003.
The solicitors in the Linder Myers Family Department are experts in the field of Family Law and can advise you in relation to Child Support. If you have a query please contact Colin Davies on 0161 837 6822.