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Child Support Agency


The Child Support Agency was formed to deal with Child Maintenance and jurisdiction was removed from the Courts. The Courts can still make Orders in respect of Child Maintenance in divorce proceedings but only if the parents are in agreement and normally they would expect the Court Order to be in line with a Child Support Agency (CSA) assessment. Either parent can apply to the CSA for an assessment 12 months after the Court Order has been made, so the Court Order can be overturned after just a year.

The Child Support Agency Formula

The CSA assessment was initially very complicated and was replaced in March 2003 with a simple formula. However, due to under resourcing, all claims actioned prior to March 2003 are still assessed on the old calculation and no date has yet been set about when they will transfer over to the new system.

In 2014 the Child Support Agency has been replaced by the Child Maintenance Service, the calculation is now based on gross income. The 1993 scheme and 2003 scheme are managed by the Child Support Agency.

Divorce and Separation Legal Advice

How much will the non-resident parent pay via the Child Maintenance Service?

How the weekly child maintenance is calculated

  1. Income
    The Child Maintenance Service uses the taxable gross annual income after pension contributions. Special expenses can be taken into account as well as additional income.
  2. Other Children
    If the income is between £200 and £3000 per week, children living with the paying parent are taken into account.
  3. Child Maintenance Rates
    There are 5 rates based on the gross weekly income of the paying parent:

    Below £7 Nil
    £7 to £100, or if the paying parent gets benefits Flat
    £100.01 to £199.99 Reduced
    £200 to £800 Basic
    £800.01 to £3,000 Basic Plus
  4. Children Who are Paying Parent must pay Child Maintenance for:
    • any children living with a receiving parent
  5. Weekly Amount of Child Maintenance
    Basic Rates:
    This applies if the weekly income is between £200 and £800

    1 12%
    2 16%
    3 or more 19%

    Basic Plus Rates
    For income between £800 and £3000 per week the following applies:

    1 9%
    2 12%
    3 or more 15%

    As well as paying the amount listed in the Basic Rates for income up to £800

  6. Shared Care
    If the child stays overnight with the paying parent on average 1 night per week or more it is reduced as follows:

    1 night or more a week 1/7
    2 nights a week 2/7
    3 nights a week 3/7
    Equal time with both parents 50% reduction plus £7.00 per week

How Much Will The Non-Resident Parent Pay Via the 2003 Scheme?

  1. The parent with care’s (PARENT WITH CUSTODY) income is now ignored, as is the income of any new partner the non-resident parent (PARENT WITH ACCESS) may live with.
  2. The non-resident parent’s income is assessed after deducting, Income Tax, National Insurance Contributions, Pension Contributions and certain allowable expenses.
  3. There is a maximum net income of £2,000.00 per week. Beyond that the parent with care can apply to the court for a TOPPING UP ORDER.
  4. Further deductions are made for each child living with the non-resident parent as follows:
    1 child 15%
    2 children 20%
    3 or more children 25%

    This is regardless of any financial support these children receive from their parents.

  5. The non-resident parent’s liability is calculated as a percentage of his/her remaining net income as follows:
    1 child 15%
    2 children 20%
    3 or more children 25%
  6. This liability is reduced if the child stays over night with the non-resident parent for more than one night a week as follows:
    1 night or more a week 1/7
    2 nights a week 2/7
    3 nights a week 3/7
    Equal time with both parents 50% reduction plus £7.00 per week
  7. Are any upward or downward variations relevant?
    • Downward Variation – For example, if the non-resident parent is paying debts which were accrued for the benefit of the family prior to the separation and divorce, or if the non-resident parent is paying the mortgage on the house the child and the parent with care are living in.
    • Upward Variation – For example if the parent with care can show that the non-resident parent’s lifestyle exceeds his/her declared income.
  8. Different rules apply for those on low incomes or in certain circumstances, such as students and prisoners.

Legal Guidelines

The Child Support Agency (CSA) has not been successful in collecting child maintenance from absent parents who are unwilling to meet their parental obligations and substantial arrears have accrued.

Child Support

Failure to support a child is a serious failure in parenting, but something which the Courts are unable to consider in Contact Applications or other Court Applications concerning a child. Worse the Courts are unable to become involved in enforcement of non-payment, although the creative use of a Limpsum Application may be of use in certain circumstances especially if the non-resident parent is wealthy.

The Child Support Agency’s failures are well publicised and its very existence is in question. Under review are new forms of punishment for non-payment and increased forms of enforcement. The formula can be worked out individually by visiting its website.

Where parents are able to reach an agreement it is unnecessary to make an application to the CSA. It is also possible to have the CSA make an assessment and for payments to be made direct between parents rather than involve an under resourced CSA in collection.

Lynne Bastow Divorce Solicitor

Meet Lynne Bastow

With over 16 years experience, Lynne can provide excellent and valuable advice and has a friendly, positive approach towards all her clients, ensuring you get the best service possible.

Read Lynne's Books

If you need more information on divorce, Lynne has published two informative guides on divorce, which you can purchase from Amazon.

The Little Book of Divorce

The Little Book of Divorce

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The Little Book of Divorce Dilemmas

The Little Book of Divorce Dilemmas

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