Further to Fiona’s post, Schedule 10 of the act specifies that “between a husband and wife residing together the wife shall be entitled” and that “between two persons residing together who are parents of the child but not husband and wife, the mother shall be entitled.” This is one area of family law where the legislation is openly discriminatory. When the parents separate the allocation continues, and, as Fiona says, the benefit is intended to be cheap to administer and so cannot be split.
Where care is shared equally the rules (Regulation 20 of the Child Support (Maintenance and Special Cases) 1992 No. 1815) demand that one parent must still be deemed the “absent” parent and must therefore pay child support. Absence is therefore a legal status, not a description of reality, a lesson the Prime Minister needs to learn.
Other benefits and child support tended to follow child benefit, this was ruled discriminatory by the court in Hockenjos v Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, as was the regulation that only one parent could be responsible for a child. The court commented that to allow a father nothing for the maintenance of the child when he shares care virtually equally is so unfair that no reasonable secretary of state could countenance it. Lord Justice Ward observed,
“To be forced to treat only one [parent] as responsible where there is a shared residence order in operation is grotesque.
“It is degrading to fathers who actually - and lovingly - tend to their children. A law so framed is so far removed from reality that it brings the law into disrepute.”
The Government’s shameful response was to replace the Dependent Children’s Allowance with Child Tax Credits in April 2004; in which the test for eligibility is not who is in receipt of Child Benefit but with whom the child normally lives. The European Directive 79/7/EEC which the Government breached in the Hockenjos case does not apply to family benefits. Sadly the “grotesque” discrimination against fathers continues.
All I can advise, Mwahppet, is to lobby your MP remorselessly and join the mothers and fathers who represent the equal parenting movement.
An alternative is for the parent with the lower income to claim the child benefit so that the children have a similar standard of income in both households. I know one separated family with the children half time in each household where this has been done by agreement. The better off parent also pays CSA level child support to the other, in addition to her having the child benefit, for the same reason.
After a week away with OH and his children on a shoe string budget, no shopping, no arcades, no fairs, no meals out, we did have some glorious days at the beach and walks along the coast with packed lunches but my other half broke down and sobbed his heart out because he couldnt even buy his kids a treat.
Things looked really bleak and my very despondant other half was a rock bottom.
Then yesterady, he got really good news, after an appeal to the HMRC he has been awarded child benefit for one child out of three reflecting his share of time with the children. Only £20.30 a week but this will be well spent on his children and will cover a few excursions during the summer and now they can have their swimming lessons in September again.. Dad is smiling for the first time in a long time..
Moral of the story... never give up hope.. this opens a wonderful door for dad!!
Does your receipt of £20 open other doors to you now mwhappet, such as child tax credit, housing allowance and working tax family credit. I wouldn't be surprised if you are entitled to something more because you are in receipt of child benefit for one child.
A visit to CAB should be your next step to check this out.