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Child Support Changes

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The original start date of April 2002 was delayed until 3 March 2003 (the reason was put down to IT difficulties) - the announcement from the Secretary of State on 27th January 2003 was as follows: "The Secretary of State, Andrew Smith, announced to the House of Commons today that the changes to child support will come into effect from 3 March 2003. The new rules will only apply to new clients and some existing clients who are involved in a new application".

The following summary on how maintenance is now calculated has been taken from the CSA website www.csa.gov.uk, reference to which should be made for more comprehensive information:

The amount of child maintenance will be calculated using the income of the non-resident parent. This will be done using information supplied by the non-resident parent and may also use information from others including the parent with care or the non-resident parent’s employer. The amount of child maintenance depends on:

  • the number of qualifying children the child maintenance is for
  • the non-resident parent’s net income and circumstances
  • the number of children living with the non-resident parent (called ‘relevant other children’)

The CSA generally work out the child maintenance using the income (earnings) of the non-resident parent, in most cases using the basic rate. But, for non-resident parents who do not earn very much, or who are in receipt of certain benefits, they will use a reduced rate or a flat rate. Non-resident parents with a net weekly income of more than £200 a week will pay a basic rate. This is a percentage of the non-resident parent’s net weekly income. Net weekly income is weekly income (usually earnings) after tax, National Insurance and contributions to a pension have been taken off. Tax credits and occupational pensions can also count towards weekly income.

The percentage of the net weekly income is set out in legislation. It is:

  • 15 per cent if there is one qualifying child;
  • 20 per cent for two qualifying children; and
  • 25 per cent for three or more qualifying children.

If a non-resident parent has children living with them in their current family, they will use a lower amount of net weekly income in working out child maintenance. This is the non-resident parent’s net income reduced by: • 15 per cent if there is one relevant child • 20 per cent for 2 relevant children • 25 per cent for three or more relevant children

Non-resident parents with a net weekly income of more than £100 but less than £200 a week will pay a reduced rate. This rate is £5 a week on the first £100 of net income plus a percentage of the net weekly income over £100. The percentages used are different from the basic rate. They are less for non-resident parents who have relevant other children living with them. Child maintenance is worked out to the nearest pound unless an adjustment for shared care is made.

Sometimes the child maintenance due can take into account exceptional circumstances that are outside the basic rules. For details of these variations and more information generally you are recommended either to phone the CSA national enquiry line on 08457 133 133, visit the CSA homepage www.csa.gov.uk, or alternatively more information can be found on

www.childsupportanalysis.co.uk