How Much Maintenance Should I Pay For One Child?

Child maintenance is now collected by the Child Maintenance Services (CMS) but some of the old cases are still dealt with by the CSA for cases that were opened before 25th November 2013.

The ‘paying parent’ is the parent who doesn’t have main day-to-day care of the child. The ‘receiving parent’ is the parent with main day-to-day care of the child.

The Government is keen for parents to make their own arrangements for child maintenance but where that is simply not possible for any reason then an application can be made to the CMS who will calculate the amount that the paying parent will be liable to pay.

Parent Responsibility

Every parent has a financial responsibility to provide for their child until the age of 16 years when they are legally allowed to leave school and get a job. It does depend on whether your child chooses to leave school or to stay within some form of education.

If they continue in full-time non-advanced education, not higher than A-level equivalent, for at least 12 hours a week, then your maintenance payments will continue until your child finishes or until they turn 20 whichever is the soonest.

CMS Services

There are three basic services:

Direct Pay. This is where the CMS will do the calculations for you but they will not be involved in the collection of the monies from the paying parent nor with enforcement if the paying parent chooses not to pay.

This option would be used by parents where the amount cannot be agreed between them but the paying parent is willing to make the payments as assessed by the CMS.

Collect and Pay. From August 2014 you have been able to choose this service. You will have to pay a fee to the CMS for their collecting and paying the child maintenance to you. This fee will be payable each time a payment is made or  received.

Paying parents will pay 20% on top of their assessed child maintenance payment and the parent receiving the child maintenance will pay (by way of deduction) a 4% fee.

Enforcement. This is where there has been an assessment but the paying parent is refusing to make payments. If the child maintenance was agreed and the amount to be  paid was included in a financial order the CMS cannot be involved in enforcement of payment within 12 months of the date of that order. You would need to look to  enforce the order within the courts.

Formula for parents to calculate payments

Under the old CSA rules the calculation was based on the paying parent’s net income. Under the current CMS the formula has changed and it is now based on the paying parent’s gross income.

Gross income for the purposes of the CMS formula is PAY less TAX and NI deductions and less PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS. There is then a sliding scale:

Gross weekly income between £100 and £200 a week

In this case the paying parent liability for child maintenance is worked out at a flat rate of £10.00 for the first £100. For income over £100 but not more than £200 the percentage will vary and take into account other matters such as other qualifying children.

If the paying parent is in receipt of benefits they will just pay the flat rate of £10 a week

Gross weekly income up to £800

BASIC RATE applies

One child                              12%

Two children                        16%

Three or more children         19%

BASIC PLUS applies to the gross weekly income excess over £800 and up to £3,000

One child                               9%

Two children                        12%

Three or more children       15%

Example 1

Tom has one child and earns a gross weekly income of £500 after the deductions of Tax, NI and Pension contributions. Not taking any overnight stays into consideration for the purpose of this example maintenance is calculated on the BASIC RATE

Tom will be liable to pay a total weekly payment of £60.

Example 2

Tom has one child and earns a gross weekly income of £1,000 per week after deductions of Tax, NI and Pension contributions. This will be calculated on the BASIC RATE and the BASIC PLUS.

UP TO £800 x 12% = £ 96.00 and then the BASIC PLUS for the additional £200 x 9% = £18.00

Tom will be liable to pay a total weekly payment of £114.00

 Second Family Children

Children living with the paying parent in their household will be taken into account as other qualifying children. Depending on the number of qualifying children the gross weekly income of the paying parent will reduce by a given percentage.

One child                               11%

Two children                         14%

Three or more children         16%

Second Family Reduction Example

Tom has one child living in his household and his gross income after deductions of Tax, NI and Pension is £500. He has one child not living with him and for who Tom has a child maintenance liability.

Calculated as £500 – 11% = £55.00. This leaves a balance of £445. The child maintenance liability would be calculated on the £445.00 at 12% = 53.40

Tom will be liable to pay a total weekly payment of £53.40

Overnight Stay (Shared Care)

If parents share the care of their children which includes overnight staying then the child maintenance liability reduces depending on how many nights a week the child spends with the paying parent. If the child spends one night a week with the paying parent then the maintenance is reduced by one-seventh. If two nights a week then two-sevenths.

Shared Care Example

Tom has one child who does not live with him. He earns £500 per week gross after the deductions. His son spends one night a week with him.

He is liable to for child maintenance at a rate of £60 per week but taking the one night a week into account that maintenance is reduced by £8.57 and so the total weekly maintenance Tom will need to pay will be £51.43

If you wish to discuss any issues relating to this matter or other family law please call one of our solicitors at Bevan Evemy Solicitors on 0333 320 8600.