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.
The basic formula is that a non-resident parent pays to the parent with care the following proportions of net income:
For one child: 15%;
For two children: 20%; and
For three or more children: 25%.
Downward adjustments are made to the basic formula if the non-resident parent lives in a household where there are natural children with a new partner or step-children, and for the number of nights per week on average that the children who are the subject of the assessment stay with him or her.
There is a reduced rate available if the non-resident parent earns between £100 and £200 per week. The usual minimum payment per week is £5, but this will be waived if the child stays with the non-resident parent for more than 52 nights per year, or if the parent is a child, in prison, or on certain benefits.
At the other end of the scale, the child support calculations do not take into account any net income of the non-resident parent over £104,000 per year.
Neither the income of the parent with care of the child nor the income of any new partner on either side is taken into account in the calculations.
There is very little discretion in the new system. Variations from the formula assessment are allowed only on narrow grounds.