Friday, July 14, 2006
Children - Maintenance
CHILD SUPPORT AGENCY
The Child Support Agency ( CSA ) has responsibility for assessing the level of maintenance the non-resident parent should pay the parent with care on behalf of the child on divorce. The Government intends to scrap the CSA, but it will be replaced by an alternative agency, there are no plans to return jurisdiction to the Courts, except perhaps for Consent Orders made after 03.03.03.
The Court can only become involved in exceptional circumstances, such as:
1. For a step-child who is regarded as a child of the family.
2. When the absent parent is habitually resident abroad.
3. If the non-resident parent's net weekly income exceeds £2,000.00 the parent with care can apply to the Court for a TOPPING UP ORDER.
4. For the costs of education.
5. For help with disability costs.
6. If a Maintenance Order was made by the Court before 03.03.03.
7. If a Maintenance Order was made by the Court after 03.03.03 and the Order is less than 12 months old. After that either party can apply to the CSA for an assessment. (This facility may be removed as mentioned above in which case the Courts will retain Jurisdiction).
WHAT IS THE CSA ASSESSMENT?
For claims made after 03.03.03 there is a simple formula, based upon the absent parent's net income after certain allowable deductions. This formula is explained on the CSA website http://CSA.gov.uk. This formula is also explained on our website http://bsdivorcesolicitors.co.uk
The amount payable is reduced if the absent parent has other children living with him/her.
The assessment is reduced again if the assessed child stays with the absent parent more than a certain number of nights per year.
The parent with care's income is ignored, as is the income of a cohabitee if the absent parent is living with someone.
The absent parent can apply for a downward variation and the parent with care can apply for an upward variation provided you can show that a set category for variation applies.
The formula is simple but the process is not!!!
Where applications were made prior to 03.03.03 the formula is very complex.
These people do exist. There are , of course, some genuine cases, but some parents blatantly refuse to pay anything towards their own children's upbringing. The CSA have various methods of enforcement but have not been successful in making many absent parents pay to support their own offspring. My preferred method of enforcement would be to make them wear billboards whenever they went out in public. They could be similar to warnings you see on cigarette packets:
DATE ME IF YOU DARE - MY CHILDREN COULD BE STARVING AND I DON'T CARE
I LIKE TO SPEND ALL MY MONEY ON MYSELF - SO YOU ARE PAYING FOR MY KIDS
I AM MEAN WITH MONEY - ASK MY KIDS