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FAQs

From the list below choose one of our FAQs topics, then select an FAQ to read. If you have a question which is not in this section, please contact us.
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Ordering
Does co-habiting impact the financial settlement?

The financial resources of the new partner are relevant, but only indirectly. It is not possible to demand that the new partner has to pay income or capital to the former spouse.

The court can only make orders against a husband or wife of the marriage in question. But if financial resources are being shared, then it does have a knock-on effect on how much can be afforded.

For example, if a husband is sharing the household bills with his new partner then clearly he can afford to pay more by way of maintenance to his wife or to their children.

Similarly, if a wife has started to live with her new partner who already has a home, then arguably she does not need as much as she would otherwise to buy a new home. Dividing the assets may be simpler or more difficult depending on the case. But the person cohabiting is likely to do less well.

Who can apply for child support?

The Child Support Agency will usually only work out and collect child maintenance if someone applies for it. The Child Support Agency can accept applications from parents with care, non-resident parents, children who are aged 12 or over in Scotland and other people caring for qualifying children if all the people involved live in the UK. Special rules apply if:

  • the parent with care is on Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance;
  • there are already maintenance arrangements for the qualifying child; or
  • either of the parents live outside the UK.

Which children are covered by child support?

The Child Support legislation governs the level of child maintenance that should be paid by a natural parent (not a step-parent, even if he or she has in the past assumed financial responsibility for the child) who is not resident in the child's household to the parent with care.

It does not cover:

  • step children;
  • school fees;
  • where the absent parent is resident outside the UK;
  • if the parent with care is resident outside the UK;
  • if the child is resident outside the UK.

It covers natural children up to the age of 17, or 19 if they are in certain types of full time education.

What child support can a court order?

The court still retains its powers to make orders for the payment of school fees, maintenance for step children or disabled children and for those in further education and in certain other specific situations. It can also order that capital sums be paid for children, or property be made available for them, in certain circumstances.

If maintenance has been agreed does the Child Support Agency have to become involved?

The CSA will automatically become involved if the parent with the care of the child is in receipt of Income Support, otherwise the CSA is only involved at the request of one of the parents.

How is child support calculated?

The new Child Support legislation sets out a very simple basic formula to calculate the level of child maintenance payable by the non-resident parent. Unlike the original scheme, this is based solely on the net income of the non-resident parent and the number of natural children he or she has not living in his household.

Do i have to use the CSA to manage child support?

No you can agree a figure between you, unless you as the parent with care of the children receives certain means-tested benefits, in which case you are obliged by the DSS to apply for an assessment by the Child Support Agency. If that you refuse to make an application, you may be penalised by having your benefit payments reduced by a draconian amount - 40% - for an unlimited time.

Other single parents who do not receive benefits may apply to the CSA for an assessment if they wish to, as long as there is no Court Order in force regulating payments. They may however prefer to agree a figure for child maintenance, bearing the Child Support Act calculation in mind.

What will happen to my pension?

This is a complicated issue, which requires careful consideration. There are so many factors involved, that it is not possible to give you a simple answer here. The sort of things that affect this question are:

What is offsetting?

Offsetting involves a trade off, using other capital assets to offset the value of the pension. For example "I will take more of the proceeds of sale of the house and/or savings, but will not claim any of your pension".

Disadvantage: there may not be enough capital around to make both of you self-sufficient after retirement - it may still be necessary to pay maintenance anyway.

What is earmarking?

Earmarking allows an order to be made now against the pension income or lump sum which arises to one party on retirement. For example " I will get an order now against your pension which the pension trustees will carry out, giving me an income by way of maintenance and part (or all) the lump sum that you get when you retire".

Disadvantage: the maintenance comes to an end if the person receiving it remarries; although the lump sum does not lapse (unless that is expressly agreed). It is difficult to administer, especially if it is a long time until retirement. There are still uncertainties.

Earmarking is not available in cases where the divorce petition was filed before July 1996.

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