Child Support & Maintenance in the UK
In most cases, the Courts no longer have power to make orders for child support except by agreement. Therefore an application has to be made to the Child Support Agency for child maintenance to be assessed. The CSA website can be helpful: www.csa.gov.uk.
New rules on child support payments came into effect in April 2003. In essence, these rules have become the benchmark for calculating child support. The basic principle is that the non-resident parent (NRP) pays 15% of net weekly income (up to a maximum of £2,000) for one child, 20% for two children and 25% for three or more. Net income is calculated by deducting income tax, national insurance contributions and pension scheme contributions. To get an idea of child support obligations, the CSA provides a Maintenance Calculator on its site.
Allowances are made for other children that live with the NRP and apportionment is made for shared care of the children. The CSA can also be asked to vary the amount of child support payable in certain circumstances.
The Courts can still make agreed orders regarding child support. The Court can also make certain other orders, including school fee orders and orders for a lump sum and/or settlement of property under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989. Coming to an agreed arrangement for the amount and frequency of child support payments is the least adversarial option. The parties can come to an agreement with or without the involvement of lawyers, but it is important for the arrangement to be documented in writing.
However, coming to an agreement is not always possible. Under certain circumstances, mediation can be an effective tool for negotiating child support issues. When we feel it is appropriate and in our clients’ best interest, we are able to refer clients to suitable mediators. When mediation fails and the parties simply cannot agree, the CSA has the power to determine the parties’ obligations under child support laws through the Maintenance Direct service.
While child support can be modified or arranged by the parties themselves, it is always advisable to have important legal documents drafted by an experienced lawyer who is well versed in the rules and requirements of the child support obligations under the law. At Prince Evans, Elizabeth Kornat serves as our resident legal expert in all matters pertaining to child support and child custody.