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How is Child Maintenance Worked Out?

Working out child support payments often follows a parental separation. There are several methods to calculate how much child maintenance you should pay.

HOW IS CHILD MAINTENANCE CALCULATED? This guide explains how CSA calculate payments and how the different processes work.

The rules of the Child Maintenance Service work out the amounts. You can use this system to calculate how much child maintenance you should pay.

The online calculator estimates the rates and helps you determine the amount to pay. It is useful if you want to arrange the payments yourself.

You can discuss your arrangements with the Child Maintenance Options department. They can also show you how to use the application process. Extra help is available from the Child Support Agency for some cases.

The CSA sometimes move cases over to the Child Maintenance Service for handling. They will notify you if this happens. There are 3 different types of child support schemes:

  1. 1993 scheme‘: Cases opened before March 1993 handled by the Child Support Agency.
  2. 2003 scheme‘: Cases opened after March 2003 and handled by Child Support Agency.
  3. 2012 scheme‘: Cases handled by Child Maintenance Service.

Child Maintenance Scheme Before 2003

The Child Support Agency use an old set of rules for cases opened before March 2003. The CSA refers to these as ‘1993 scheme‘ cases. You might find that your ‘1993 scheme‘ case moves to the CSA’s ‘2003 scheme‘.

Note: The CSA and Child Maintenance Service use different methods to calculate the amount.

How Does Child Maintenance Service Work?

The Child Maintenance Service works in accordance with parental separation and divorce. As a rule, they calculate the amount of financial support using these 6 steps.

1. Working Out Gross Income

The Child Maintenance Service determine the yearly gross income of the paying parent. This information comes from HM Revenue and Customs.

They also check whether they are getting any benefits. Tax credits, loans, and student grants do not count as income.

2. Checking things that affect Gross Income

Child Maintenance Service also check for other things which could alter the gross income. As a rule these include pension payments or supporting other children. The next step is to convert the yearly gross income into a weekly figure.

3. Child Maintenance Rates UK

The gross weekly income of the paying parent determines one of these five child support rates.

Paying Parent Gross Weekly Income Child Maintenance Rates UK
Not known or not provided £38 for 1 child, £51 for 2 children, £61 for 3 or more children
Less than £7.00 No Payment
£7.00 to £100.00 (or if the paying parent is getting benefits) £7 Flat Rate
£100.01 to £199.99 Reduced Rate (calculated by formula)
£200 to £3,000.00 Child Maintenance Basic Rate (calculated by formula)

Note: A receiving parent can apply to the courts for extra child support if the gross weekly income for the paying parent is over £3,000.

How is Child Maintenance Calculated?4. Are Other Children Involved?

The Child Maintenance Service checks to see if your situation involves other children. They want to know if the paying parent has to pay for any other youngsters. This includes any kids who are living with them.

will also question whether you have made any individual arrangements with an ex-partner.

5. Weekly Child Maintenance Amount

The final decision gets made by Child Maintenance Service based on the first 4 steps. This information determines how much your weekly will be.

6. Shared Care Nights

Shared care nights refers to a child of the paying parent stays with them overnight.

The Child Maintenance Service deducts an amount from the weekly amount. The deduction gets based on the average number of ‘shared care’ nights that they stay each week.

The payments get reviewed each year and a change in circumstances may affect the amount. You should inform the Child Maintenance Service about any changes to your circumstances.

More information and guidance is available in these government publications:

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.

Child Maintenance Service Fees and Charges

If you are using the Child Maintenance Service there will be extra fees and charges introduced from June 2014:

You may also have to pay fees for ‘Collect and Pay‘ cases. These cases are where the Child Maintenance Service collects and passes on the payments. It may affect how much parents pay and receive.

There is no collection fee if you use Direct Debit. But, you may have to use Collect and Pay (with collection fees) is you miss payments.

Child Maintenance Payments and Universal Credit

Note: Claiming Universal Credit can affect your child maintenance payments.

Paying Parents

The payments for child support get deducted from the monthly UC if the paying parent does not have ‘earned income’. Usually, earned income comes from salary, taxable social security income, pensions, or retirement annuities.

In cases where the paying parent has earned income, child maintenance payments get determined by:

  • Calculating the amount from that income (Universal Credit is not included in the workings).
  • Collecting them directly (they are not deducted from Universal Credit payments).

Receiving Parents

CSA contact the receiving parent if your case is a ‘1993 scheme’. They will discuss how receiving Universal Credit may affect your maintenance payments.

When Child Maintenance Payments Stop

As a rule, the payments will stop when the child reaches 16 years old. It increases to 20 if they stay in full-time education up to A-level (or equivalent).

What if the paying parent stops being eligible for the ‘nil rate‘? In this case, the payments would start again by automatic process. There is no need for the receiving parent to re-apply for child maintenance.

How is Child Maintenance Calculated and How Much Should You Pay?