Rainscourt Family Law Solicitors

How Much Child Maintenance Should a Non-Resident Parent Pay?

There are five different methods of calculating the amount of child maintenance payable, with the rate applied depending on the non-resident parent’s gross weekly income, whether they claim certain welfare benefits, and the circumstances of the non-resident parent.

These are the five rates used to calculate the amount of child maintenance that a non-resident parent has to pay:

  • nil rate – gross weekly income below £7 or people in certain situations e.g. young people, prisoners;
  • flat rate – gross weekly income of between £7 and £100, or receipt of certain means-tested benefits;
  • reduced rate – gross weekly income of between £100 and £200;
  • basic rate – gross weekly income of between £200 and £800;
  • basic and basic plus rates combined – gross weekly income between £800 and £3,000.

The basic rate is calculated as a proportion of the non-resident parent’s gross weekly income, with the proportion depending on the number of children the non-resident parent pays child maintenance for (up to three qualifying children) and also how many children the non-resident parent cares for (relevant children).

Under the basic rate, if the non-resident parent has any relevant children (other children the paying parent supports), then their gross weekly income is adjusted before child maintenance is calculated. The adjustment rates are:

• one relevant child – 11% reduction;
• two relevant children – 14% reduction;
• three or more relevant children – 16% reduction.

The basic rate is then applied to the non-resident parent’s gross weekly income adjusted for any relevant children; the basic rate applied depends on the number of qualifying children the non-resident parent has to pay child maintenance for:

• one qualifying child – 12%;
• two qualifying children – 16%;
• three or more qualifying children – 19%.

When a non-resident parent has gross weekly income above £800, then to calculate their child maintenance liability:

• the basic rate is applied to their gross weekly income up to £800; and
• the basic plus rate is applied to their gross weekly income above £800.

Before the rates are applied, first the non-resident parent’s gross weekly income is adjusted if there are relevant children to be taken into account:

• one relevant child – 11% reduction;
• two relevant children – 14% reduction;
• three or more relevant children – 16% reduction.

The basic and basic plus rates are then applied to the non-resident parent’s gross weekly income adjusted for any relevant children; the basic and basic plus rate applied depends  on the number of qualifying children the non-resident parent has to pay child maintenance for:

• gross weekly income above £800
─ one qualifying child – 9%;
─ two qualifying children – 12%;
─ three or more qualifying children – 15%.

The amounts of child maintenance calculated under the two rates are added together, giving the non-resident parent’s child maintenance liability.

Reductions for shared care

Where the child for whom the non-resident parent is paying child maintenance stays with the non-resident parent for at least 52 nights a year (i.e. on average, one night a week), then the amount of child maintenance that is payable is reduced by:

• 1/7th for 52 to 103 nights of shared care per year;
• 2/7th for 104 to 155 nights of shared care per year;
• 3/7th for 156 to 174 nights of shared care per year;
• a half for 175 or more nights of shared care per year, plus an extra £7 a week reduction for each child in this band.

Child Maintenance

Child with Pretzel by Sascha Kohlmann

 

The House of Commons Library publishes a briefing note which sets out how the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) calculates the amount of child maintenance payable under the 2012 statutory child maintenance scheme.

Download the report here

The standard method of calculating child maintenance does not take into account, for example, the taxable unearned income of the non-resident parent or certain expenses that a non-resident parent might incur. In such cases, an application for a “variation” can be made to the CMS – for more information, see the Library briefing paper Child maintenance: variations, including “unearned income” rules (UK excluding NI).

This blog contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.

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