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How the Child Support Agency Works

What is the UK Child Support Agency (CSA) and is it still working? It was first launched in 1993 as part of the Department for Work and Pensions.

CHILD SUPPORT AGENCY: The CSA implemented the Child Support Act 1991 and the legislation that followed it.

The Child Maintenance Service is now its successor and replaced the CSA in 2012.

The Child Support Agency does not handle new cases any longer. But they will still help with any open cases started before November 2013.

Note: You should raise all new cases about child maintenance with the Child Maintenance Service.

This section explains how the Child Support Agency works out rates for maintenance. You can also find information on the 4 different CSA rates that they use.

Several factors influence the way the Child Support Agency work out payments, including:

  • The net weekly income of the paying parent.
  • How many children need child maintenance.
  • How often they stay overnight (shared care) with the paying parent.
  • Whether the paying parent (or civil partner) gets Child Benefit for any other dependents.
  • Does the paying parent pay child support for any other youngsters.

Definitions: The ‘receiving parent’ is the parent with main day-to-day care of the child. The ‘paying parent’ is the parent without the day-to-day care of the child.

How Does CSA Work Out Net Income?

If you are the paying parent, the CSA need information about your income amount. As a rule, they get it from your employer or from HM Revenue and Customs. Gross income of the paying parent includes:

  • Earnings received from employment.
  • Taxable profits from being self-employed.
  • Money from a workplace pension or a personal pension.
  • Tax credits (may apply in some cases).

Net income is the figure that gets left when the following get deducted from the amount:

What if the Paying Parent Pays for other Children?

In some cases the paying parent pays child maintenance to several receiving parents. When that happens the CSA will:

  • Calculate the total amount of child maintenance they are paying.
  • Divide the amount between all receiving parents according their number of dependent children.

The Child Support Agency produce an online leaflet which explains how child maintenance is worked out.

How is CSA Worked Out?

As a rule the Child Support Agency uses four rates of child maintenance. They work out a weekly amount based on the paying parent’s income. These rates used by the Child Support Agency apply to cases opened after March 2003.

CSA Nil Rate

The nil rate used by the CSA means the paying parent is not required to pay child maintenance because:

  • They are a student.
  • Their age is 16 or under (18 or under if in full-time education and not higher than A-level).
  • The parent is 16 or 17 years old and gets certain benefits (or their civil partner gets certain benefits).
  • The person is in prison.
  • They get an allowance for Skillseekers training or work-based training (in Scotland).
  • The parent lives in a care home or an independent hospital and they get financial help with the fees.
CSA Flat Rate

CSA flat rate is currently £7 per week. The rate does not change even if there is more than one child involved.

The CSA use the flat rate when the paying parent’s income is £7 to £100 a week (if they do not qualify for the nil rate). CSA flat rates also apply for those getting certain benefits, including:

In cases where the paying parent lives with a partner, the CSA flat rate gets used if the partner receives:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
CSA Reduced Rate

The CSA use the reduced rate if the net weekly income is over £100 and less than £200 for the paying parent. In this case, the parent would pay the £7 flat rate plus a percentage of their net weekly income.

CSA Basic Rate

The CSA basic rate gets calculated as a percentage of the paying parent’s net income. Basic rates apply when the parent has a net weekly income between £200 and £3,000. The percentage amount depends on:

  • How many children need child maintenance.
  • The number of other youngsters the paying parent (or civil partner) gets Child Benefit for.

How Does Child Support Agency Work: CSA Rates in United Kingdom