According to research from parenting charity Gingerbread, the total amount of unpaid Child Maintenance stands at nearly £4 billion.
Organising Child Maintenance following a divorce or separation can seem like a daunting task. But with the right information at hand, you’ll feel confident setting the process up.
With that in mind, we’ve gathered all of the essential information you need to know about Child Maintenance and how to calculate how much is due.
The Importance of Child Maintenance
Child Maintenance helps to ensure your child’s welfare isn’t affected following the split from your partner. The weekly payment can be used for food, clothing, and general living costs for your child. Child Maintenance helps to alleviate any concern parents may have about how to care for their child after the separation.
How Do You Apply For Child Maintenance?
Before you submit your application for Child Maintenance with the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), it is advisable to talk to Child Maintenance Options (CMO).
They will talk through all of the available payment options and help you to identify the best one for you based on your circumstances.
After your payment method has been chosen, CMO will provide you with a reference number that you need in order to submit your Child Maintenance application. You will also need to provide information about your child, contact details for both parents and their bank details.
What Factors Are Taken Into Consideration?
A number of different factors are taken into consideration when Child Maintenance is calculated.
The CMS will ask you a series of questions to determine how much Child Maintenance is due. These include:
- Your age
- Your gross weekly income (This is prior to Tax and National Insurance deductions but post-pension contributions)
- If you receive any benefits
- How many children you will be paying Child Maintenance for
- The number of other children that live with you
- How often your child stays with you overnight
Calculating Child Maintenance
The process of calculating Child Maintenance doesn’t need to be daunting. Leading international family law firm Cordell & Cordell has created a Child Maintenance Calculator to give you an indication of what you or your ex-partner can expect to pay.
Your age can make a big difference to the application process. Parents younger than 16 are not eligible for Child Maintenance.
Your gross weekly income will determine which tax band the calculator places you in. However, as per Government legislation, it’s worth noting that there is an income cap of £3,000 per week. Any income over this amount will not be taken into account.
Benefits also have an impact on the amount of Child Maintenance due. If you receive certain benefits, you may be classed as ‘flat rate’ and be given the minimum amount to pay, or you may not be eligible at all.
The number of children you are paying Child Maintenance for is also taken into consideration. A reduction is then applied to the working figure based on the number of children.
A further percentage reduction is then applied if you are supporting other children in your household – for example, your new partner’s child.
The number of nights that your child stays overnight with you helps to determine the status of shared care with your ex-partner. The calculator will use all of the above data and estimate how much Child Maintenance is due per week.
The figure the calculator provides is an estimate so it’s advisable to refer to the CMS for more information.
What if a Payment is Missed?
If a payment is missed or not paid in full, the CMS is within its rights to obtain the money owed by a number of means.
- Deductions from the paying parent’s salary
- Money owed taken from the paying parent’s bank account
- Instruction to bailiffs to collect goods from the paying parent’s home to the value of the money owed
With the above consequences in mind it’s important to make sure that you or your ex-partner can keep up with the payments when applying for Child Maintenance.
It’s also equally important to inform HMRC and the CMS of any changes to your circumstances. Things that you can take for granted such as changes in salary increases or benefits you receive can have a major impact on the amount of Child Maintenance that should be paid.
Haroop Ahluwalia is a London divorce solicitor at Cordell & Cordell.
He has significant experience in both property and family law. The opportunity to work closely with clients, guide them through each step of the divorce process and help level the playing field in the UK divorce courts is why he chose to practise family law exclusively.
You can contact Haroop on 0330 60 60 161 or by visiting http://cordellcordell.co.uk/.