Child support

Child support

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is now responsible for the child maintenance system in Great Britain. It both funds information and support for separating parents and runs the child maintenance schemes. As of the beginning of 2014 all CSA maintenance cases will be closed or transferred to the new Child Maintenance Service

The government is keen for families to make their own private arrangements for child support.  However if they cannot do this there are other options.

  • The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) which is available for those parents unable to make their own arrangements can provide something known as Direct Pay. The CMS will work out payment amounts due but will not get involved in collection or enforcement. This can be a good option for parents who cannot agree how much payment should be.
  • The CMS can get involved in enforcing the payments. This cannot be set up within 12 months of a consent order. There is a fee of £20 to use this service.
  • CM Options is another service provided by CMS to give information and support to parents to help them decide what to do about child support. The website to refer to is

Child Maintenance Calculator
This calculator (on the CM options website) can give you and idea of how much you can expect to receive or pay in child maintenance.

CM Calculator

The formula for working out payments
(Gross income is defined as before tax and NI is taken off but after pension contributions are deducted)

Gross weekly income up to £800    BASIC RATE applies
One child            12%
Two children            16%
Three more children        19%

Gross weekly income between £800 and £3000    BASIC PLUS applies to the excess over £800

(£3000 is the highest gross that will be taken into account)
One child            9%
Two children            12%
Three or more children    15%

e.g. Andy has three children and has a gross weekly income of £1200 after deduction of pension. To calculate child support he would have to use the basic plus rate.
Andy will pay 19% of £800 = £152. He will also have to pay 15% of £400 = £60. Total £212

Default maintenance position
If parents cannot agree on how much maintenance should be paid the paying parent might have to pay a default rate based on the number of children until the CMS has the information required

One child            £39 a week
Two children            £51 a week
Three or more children    £64 a week

Note that the age limit of the child has increased to 20 from 19,  provided the child is eligible for child benefit

Second family children
Second family children living with the non-resident parent (NRP) are referred to as the ‘relevant other children’. The number of ‘relevant other children’ in the household reduce the gross weekly income of the NRP by a percentage as follows:

For one ‘relevant other child’ reduce gross weekly income by 11%, for two relevant other children reduce gross weekly income by 14% and  for 3 or more relevant other children reduce gross weekly income by 16%

Eg Peter earns gross £500 a week, after deduction of pension.  He has 2 children not living with him by his ex-wife and 1 child by his new partner.  To calculate child support deduct £55 (11% of his gross income). This leaves a balance of £445. For the 2 children not living with him he pays 16% of the balance, £71.20

Reduced rate for gross income between £100 and £200 a week
The amount of maintenance to be paid is worked out as a flat rate of £10 in the first £100 of gross income plus a percentage of the gross weekly income over £100. The percentage varies according to the number of qualifying and relevant other children to ensure that liabilities increase smoothly as gross income increases from £100 to £200.

Parents on benefits will pay a flat rate of £10 a week

Shared Care
If parents share care of their children, then the amount of maintenance to be paid by the non-resident parent can be reduced to reflect this. If there is to be shared care arrangement that the number of nights spent with the non-resident parent is 1 then a deduction of one seventh will be made. If two nights a week are spent with the non-resident parent then a deduction of two sevenths will be made.

Eg Chris has 1 child with his ex-wife who does not live with him.  Chris earns £450 gross per week, after deduction of pension.  His daughter Amy spends 1 night a week with him.  He is liable to pay 12%, £54 a week, less one seventh, £7.70 so Chris will pay £46.30 a week.