How much maintenance should be paid under a Child Support Agency (CSA) arrangement is worked out according to a formula based on income after tax of the parent without the main day-to-day care, the number of children they have and the number of nights that the children stay with them each week.
As a very rough guide, you can expect to pay/receive:
- 15 per cent of net income of the parent without main day-to-day care's for one child
- 20 per cent for two children.
- 25 per cent for three or more children.
The income of the parent who will receive the maintenance and that of either parent’s new partner is not taken into account.
A reduced rate is payable if the parent without main day-to-day care earns between £100 and £200 a week. The usual minimum payment is £5 a week. This isn't payable if the child stays with that parent for more than 52 nights each year, if the parent is under 18 or is in prison or getting some types of state benefits.
If the parent without main day to day care has income after tax of more than £104,000 per year, an application can be made to the court for extra maintenance above the CSA arrangement.
There are some other important circumstances when the CSA cannot make an arrangement and the court will need to do so. See When to use a court.
The formula that is used is applied fairly strictly so there is only very limited scope to change a calculation once it has been made by the CSA. Try the calculator on the Child Maintenance Options website to get a good idea of how much maintenance is likely to be payable.
If you are paying child maintenance in accordance with the CSA calculation and your circumstances change, for example, you lose your job or have children to support in a new relationship, you can go back to the CSA and ask for a review of the amount you pay.
- What are the financial needs of the children (each parent may have to account for accommodation, food, schooling, travel, clothing, savings, presents, phone bills, holidays and entertainment)?
- How much should any maintenance be?
- Decide whether to make a private agreement for child maintenance or to use the CSA.
- Set up a system for paying maintenance – e.g. a standing order.
- Consider life insurance to cover maintenance you receive.
- Review maintenance whenever circumstances change.
- Check whether you are entitled to tax credits and any State benefits.
- Are there any other cash costs not covered by day-to-day maintenance that will need to be met (e.g. school fees)? Who will pay these?
- If the person who previously got child benefit no longer has main day-to-day care of the children, contact the Child Benefit Office.