MAINTENANCE AND CHILD SUPPORT
Child maintenance is financial support that helps towards a child's everyday living costs when the parents have separated.
It's for children who are either:
- under 16
- under 20 and in full-time education (but not higher than A-Level or equivalent)
The parent who doesn't have day-to-day care of the child (the 'paying parent') pays child maintenance to the parent or person who does (the 'receiving parent').
The 'receiving parent' could be a grandparent or guardian as well as a parent. You can arrange this yourself or through the:
- Child Support Agency (CSA)
- Child Maintenance Service
These organisations are called 'statutory child maintenance services'. They'll work out how much should be paid, and they can also collect the payments for you.
On application, you'll be told which organisation will handle your case.
You can use the child maintenance calculator on the CSA website to get an idea of what payments might be. In very broad terms the basic figure is based on a percentage of the absent parent's net income after certain deductions. For one child it is 15% for two children it is 20% and for three or more children it is 25%.
There will be adjustments or "departures" where the absent parent has children living with him/her.
If the absent parent does not live within the jurisdiction of the CSA/CMEC authorities then the court will have the authority to determine the amount, though it should be noted the court will follow the CSA guidelines on the whole.
There are some occasions where the absent parent has a high income which exceeds the maximum net income applicable to the CSA (currently £2,000 per week). In those circumstances provided there is a CSA assessment in place the parent with care can apply to the court for a top up.
Consideration should also be given to any remedies available under Schedule 1 of the Children Act when assessing the financial needs of children.
Further information on Child Support and Maintenance can be found on the Durham Legal Services website.
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