Do you know how much Child Support you are entitled to?

Do you know what legal responsibilities each parent has to follow to provide support to their children?

Do you know how Child Support affects your benefits?

With the law constantly changing, it is hard to keep on top of how much Child Support you should be getting and when. (And) trying to find out the answer to this question is near impossible, especially when you do not have the time to do so.

We can provide you with the information and tools to know exactly what to expect from a non-resident partner or to resolve the difficult issue of child maintenance.

Let us help you get the support and advice that you deserve, to clear up any confusion related to Child Support.

Child contact, Child Maintenance, Father''s rights, CSA Everyone understands that his child needs a financial support. Child maintenance is the financial support that helps towards a child's everyday living costs when parents separate. It is for children who are either under 16 or 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 pays child maintenance to the parent or person who does.

Child maintenance is changing.

From 10th December 2012, a small group of parents with four or more children making a new claim would be under the new system. Once the system is working well, it will be expanded to all new claims. The Child Support Agency will eventually close and all claims will be dealt with by the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS). The new child maintenance service will refer to the parent who looks after a child most of the time as the 'receiving parent' (in old interpretation this is PWC - 'Parent With Care') and the parent who does not live with the child most of the time and will be liable for child maintenance as the 'paying parent' (in old interpretation this is NRP - 'Non-Resident Parent').

Eventually all existing cases will be dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service. Existing claimants will be given the option of making their own arrangements (see Family Based Arrangements) or transferring to the new Child Maintenance Service. It is expected to take until 2017 for all cases to be totally transferred. There will be an application fee of £20 charged to choose to use the Child Maintenance Service. After this assessment has been made, you have a choice as to whether you continue to use the service to collect the payments. If you make your own arrangements for payment, there will be no further charges. If however, you with the CMS to collect and process the payments for you, there will be a charge taken from each payment. The paying parent will pay an extra 20% to use the service and the receiving parent will have their maintenance reduced by 7%, so that the charges are shared.

Calculating how much maintenance you need to pay is currently based on net income and depends on the number of children you have. The new system will be based on gross income and again will depend on the number of children you have. You can input your details on the calculator on-line. Calculate Your Child Maintenance to work out how much you might be paying.

If you're living apart from your children and paying child maintenance through the CSA, sometimes it's easy to forget that, especially when it feels like the odds are stacked against you and you're struggling to make ends meet.

But no matter how complicated your situation is, you need to deal with your child maintenance responsibilities. If you don't, things might get even worse.

This guide aims to make it a little bit easier to deal with the CSA so you can carry on supporting your kids, while making sure you don't get into financial hot water.

Unfair payments

Possible you think your child maintenance payments aren't fair.  Especially if you share the care of your children - or if you're at the opposite end of the scale and you don't have any access to them at all.

You might think also that you're being asked to pay unreasonable amounts if you're struggling to make ends meet and you don't think your children are benefitting from the money you pay.

Find out more about how the CSA works, including how payments are calculated.

If you still think you're paying too much, we offer advice on what you can do here.

How Child Support Assessment Works

When a resident parent (also known as a parent with care) makes a claim for maintenance from a non resident parent an administrative assessment is made by the Child Support Agency, on the parent's behalf. This assessment follows a legislative formula and collates information about income and circumstances which is then used to calculate the amount of maintenance that is payable.

How It Works

A claim for child support can be made over the phone or by completing an Application for Child Support assessment form, which must be sent to the Child Support Agency (CSA). Each claim is unique and assessment takes into consideration personal circumstances. Detailed information relating to parental income must be carefully assessed before a calculation, of how much maintenance is payable, can be made. In some cases - if the CSA has to trace a non resident parent - this may take considerable time.

Calculation

Your Child Maintenance can be calculated by two ways - by old or new rules. If your case was opened before 2003 your maintenance will calculated by old rules.

More information you can find on gouvernment site

https://www.gov.uk/how-child-maintenance-is-worked-out/child-maintenance-before-march-2003

The child support assessment formula calculates payable maintenance by assessing the cost of raising the child, considering the income and circumstances of both parents and the level of care and support each parent is able, and willing, to give the child. Calculation is made using the weekly net-income of the non resident parent. This can be a basic rate or percentage.

 Children from first and subsequent families are treated in exactly the same way, and a self-support amount is also deducted from each parent's income before assessment is finalised.

There is a basic assessment formula available for parents who require one child support assessment. Parents with other dependent children, or two or more child support assessments must provide additional information in order to process the child support maintenance claim. The same applies for another family member or legal guardian who may live with the child but is not the child's parent.

There are 4 rates of child maintenance by new rules. They're used with the paying parent's income to work out a weekly amount of child maintenance.

Nil rate

This means the parent the child doesn't live with doesn't have to pay child maintenance because they:

  • are a student
  • are a child aged 16 or under (or 18 or under if they're in full-time education not higher than A-level)
  • are a prisoner
  • get an allowance for work-based training or Skillseekers training (in Scotland)
  • live in a care home or independent hospital and get help with the fees
  • are 16 to 17 years old and they or their partner get certain benefits

Flat rate

This is £5 per week no matter how many children are involved. It's used if the paying parent's weekly income is between £5 and £100 and they don't qualify for the nil rate.

It's also used if they get certain benefits, including (but not limited to):

  • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • State Pension
  • Training Allowance
  • War Disablement Pension

If the paying parent lives with a partner, the flat rate will be used if the partner gets:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit

Reduced rate

This is used if the paying parent's net weekly income is more than £100 but less than £200. They pay the flat rate of £5 plus a percentage of their net weekly income.

Basic rate

This is a percentage of the paying parent's net income. It's used if they have a net weekly income of £200 or more. The percentage depends on:

  • the number of children needing child maintenance
  • the number of other children the paying parent or their partner get Child Benefit for

Parentage

To make a legal claim for child support maintenance there are a number of basic requirements that must be checked. The CSA will require proof that the parents were married when the child was born, the non resident parent is named on the child's birth certificate as a parent and a statutory declaration is made by a person stating they are the child's parent.
For a male parent they will also have to prove that they were living with the mother between 20 and 44 weeks before the birth of their child. In the case of an adopted child evidence of adoption by the parent must be presented.

The CSA And Employers

The CSA can enforce maintenance deductions directly from a parent's salary. An employer is able to make deductions for child support from an employee's income. The law imposes penalties for employer obligations that are not met, and these include not keeping appropriate records of the deducted child support and respecting the employee's privacy.
If a non resident parent is not happy with deductions being taken directly from their income employers can discuss the deductions with the CSA. However, employers are obliged by law to make child support maintenance deductions if the CSA has requested that they do.

When you need to pay

Under CSA Regulations, the non-resident parent's responsibility to pay starts as soon as the case is set up. So you won't need to pay for any period before then - but there's no point in delaying payments after that point, as you'll just get into debt.

Child maintenance debt

Known that the CSA don't have the best track record. However this is exactly a reason why Will they really do anything about unpaid child maintenance? Well the fact is, the CSA is catching up with more parents every day who owe child maintenance and hitting them with tough measures which have serious consequences. What's more, child maintenance is considered a "priority 1" debt. That means it's the most serious type of debt - ignoring it is not an option.

Find out what happens if you stop paying.

Help with child maintenance

If you want to speak to someone in confidence about your child maintenance worries, call Child Maintenance Options on 0800 988 0988. This is a free service for separated parents. They can give impartial information about child maintenance and support on issues such as debt.  You can also visit them online at www.cmoptions.org

Please note - Child Maintenance Options can't answer questions about individual CSA cases. If you have a question about your CSA case, you should contact your local CSA office.

However, most fathers know already that really they can't get a good advice from CSA worker because they have just one strong target to take from you money as much as possible.
By this reason you need to care yourself about you. How can you help yourself you can find on this site or by our advice.

Child contact, Child Maintenance, Father''s rights, CSA

 

The Story of one Father

This advice was received from a Father who has been through the 'mill' we publish it at his request without revealing his name.

I wanted to share this with people in my situation, I have spent so many hours,days weeks fighting the system - it all paid off and I simply want to help other dads too.

You may expand upon it and publish it (ANONYMOUSLY).

Firstly, I am not interested in any 'father' who has incurred the wrath of the CSA and ex wife if it was them who had an affair and broke up a marriage, at the cost of their children's happiness - we all can make choices and I despise this selfish act.

However, my wife of xx years and mother of xx children had an affair with an ex boyfriend. I found out ...we tried to patch things up, lots of counselling and honest talk, a new house , new job to make a fresh start.

But no, this was not good enough- 12 days after moving into the new house at christmas she was off again on her second affair with her new boss in her new job where she had gone to make a fresh start........all my fault apparantly because after xx months after discovering her first affair I had dared to lose my temper one night and throw a shoe at the wall.(I was still on anti-depressants and was being physically sick 2/3 times a day over the upset). She left the house and took the kids, never to return.

Anyway..then it started ...the mass of forms to complete from the CSA started pouring in. I was now offically "The Absent parent"...apparantly no better a person than the guy who gets a girl pregnant on a one night stand on holiday and does a runner...same rights(or lack of). The CSA hadn't spotted that it was her who had had the affairs and left the marital home.

So I was going to fight....I am not and never have been an absent parent.  So this is how I succeeded...follow it and you have half a chance to keep your kids, the home and not end up destitute financially.

In no specific order........but act IMMEDIATELY :-

Tell your wife nothing but try to extract as much information about her relationship/s from her. Try to stay amicable ...I struggled to do this but it is better if you can.

NEVER resort to any violence to him or her....read no further if you do ...you will lose your kids for certain. ( I was lucky that my wife's ex partner attacked  me and was given what he deserved in 'self defence' - I reported it to the police as an assault .

If he or she attacks you.....make a police complaint and get your solicitor to write and say that you are not happy about the safety of your children. This helped me as it prevented her lover from staying in the same house as my kids and resulted in them staying with me overnight more...they ended up giving up their rented house because of this.

DO NOT leave the marital home even for one night to let her stay........you will have lost it forever.

Try to get your wife to be the one to go without (or if not ) with the children to a relatives or friends. (this seems harsh but believe me...you will soon have the full force of the totally biased legal system crashing around you trying to kick you out - you must stay in that house if you want any chance of keeping your kids)

If she moves out get your solicitor to arrange for her not to come back in unless with a legal agreement ......and then keep majority share of the time there. It is technically incorrect to change the locks..DO IT ..the worst she can do is break in and no charges can be made for doing this to your own property.

(A mother with her children, in your house for more than 2 days a week and you have LOST it all...You WILL eventually be forced out...she will move in , with her new lover, with your kids and you will have to come cap in hand , knocking on YOUR door once every two weekends maximum (if SHE decides  because that is the automatic law, asking her new lover if you can take YOUR kids out......oh and you will be paying the mortgage for him too whilst he sit in your chair and sleeps in your bed ! )

Start writing down EVERYTHING she says and does that can be construed as unreasonable regarding the kids. Tape phone conversations with a dictaphone and save text messages (copy and write down with dates etc). It is virtually impossible to prove she is a bad mother in law(and she probably isn't) but the CSA is very subjective and can be swayed by the overall behaviour of the individuals.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THIS....the whole decision process from the CSA is based on HOW MANY NIGHTS YOUR CHILDREN SPEND WITH YOU PER WEEK (OVERNIGHT).

Keep a written diary - every detail. Try to make the most of the early months when she will be wanting to have free time with her new love - offer to keep them overnight as often as possible and log it. Note that she was away with her lover and was readilly keen to 'palm' the kids off on you.

A private detective is money very well spent for finding out his circumstances as this is needed in some cases for CSA claims. Information is power and you will really need every scrap of information - the system is so heavily weighted agains men.

Try to keep this going as long as possible without your ex wife realising you are 'building a case' against her behaviour. In a joint residency/custody application the judge nearly always states leave things as they are to save confusing the children. If you have had 6-9 months seeing the kids regularly 3-4 nights aweek , that will likely become the legal decision if you then apply for joint residency....so wait and set a precedent first before applying.

Take as many holidays with the kids during this time. The ex will see this as a 'break' for her and her new partner and see it as good for the kids....it really helps in accumulating the number of nights you have had with them. Add them up - write them down

Eventually you stand a good chance of a joint residency as you will have been having them for more than or at least 50% of the week. You will have the marital home and the judges like it fior the kids to be in their own home.

Get a child welfare qualified solicitor to do this , from the outset get a good solicitor  in a firm where they have specialists...it really is worth the extra.....it will cost you a fortune anyway...but at least it will be successful.

Do not let your heart rule your head in this...go for the beat deal you can get with the kids....you can always relax it on your terms after.....the man otherwise has no legal rights and you will be fighting her AND the law forever. - go for the maximum time with your children

NOW FOR THE CSA BIT.....

With 50/50 joint residency you have a fighting chance with the CSA. Once you have a 50 /50 court order you can now apply to get one of your children (at least) registered for Child Benefit in YOUR name...this is vital.

The CSA in their wisdom base the whole decision on who claims against who, on who's name is on the Child Benefit certificate. TOTALLY illogical they admit but that's how it is.

If you already have them in your name - great things are looking up. Make sure it stays like this. If not , write to the Ch. Benefit office and send a copy of the Joint residency court order asking to have one child or half the total number of kids in your name. They will say no but argue this as it is lawful. Unfortunately if you only have one child they can not split the allocation of that child between you and it can not be changed.

Once you have your name on the Child Benefit for at least one child....GUESS WHAT...the CSA no longer consider you "The absent parent"

You can then raise your own counter claim against your wife to reduce the totallu unfair, crippling, biased assessment that will have been levied on you.

You can even appeal to their Lytham St Annes office to have the original claim from her cancelled. The CSA will tell you all along the way you can not do all of this...you can...they are in total disarray and are bonused (I believe) on how many cases they can 'close'. They want the easy optionat any cost to you - fight it all the time.

Send as much written background as you can - not just the forms. They get thousands of cases, but if you show from the start you are serious and the injured party it does help. Try to send all the evidence in day one.- they are more likely to just accept that you are right and have a genuine claim.

Remember the CSA is run very inefficiently and mostly I was having to tell young clerks the rules to get them to process my claim......do not take no for an answer fro the CSA ...always ask for a senior person, befriend them and speak to them regularly.

Keep copies of everything.

INCREASE YOUR PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS TO 20% OF YOUR SALARY (THE MAX ALLOWED) FOR AT LEAST 2 MONTHS BEFORE YOU ANTICIPATE HER CLAIM. This is offset against your disposable income and reduces your payment significantly.

TRY TO GET A PERSONAL LOAN FROM A BANK OR YOUR EMPLOYER TO HELP 'PAY OFF DEBTS INCURRED DURING YOUR MARRIAGE FOR THE FAMILY. ...DO NOT USE CREDIT CARDS TO PAY IT OFF AS THEY WILL NOT OFFSET CREDIT CARD BORROWINGS

Other loans can be offset when assessing CSA contributions. Private relatives loans are not acceotable.

Ask for a 'DEPARTURES' booklet staright away ....it will show you what you can appeal against once the claim is set...better forewarned.

You have the option to meet with a CSA representative at your home....it is worth doing this.

Watch out for the Working Family Tax Credit...if she is on les than ?23k you may not be able to claim against her...this classifies her as 'almost destitute' for some reason and she will get the supplement and it disqulaifies you from claiming CSA against her...very unfair - but then it all is

That is about all I can pass on for now.

After nearly 2 years I now have joint residency of my kids, I have kept my marital home, the kids love it here, I have a very reasonable CSA contribution (although I don't believe she should have anything from me on her salary of 23k + 5k WFTC last year + all the Ch benefit until recently) and having kept a 5 car just bought for her- on credit card - whoopps !)

I am now counter claiming for one child and have appealed against her own claim to be re assessed or scrapped totally.

A long hard battle - but it can pay off. The most important thing now , is that I have a great relationship with my two wonderful kids and some money to spend on them....it could have been so much worse.