As many of you will know, the Child Support Agency is to be replaced CMEC, the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission and they have now published their proposals for a new statutory child maintenance scheme which, amongst other aspects, includes plans to increase the amount of maintenance paid by parents on state benefits and others declaring low incomes. It seems to me that child maintenance rarely pleases anyone, payers often feel aggrieved and those receiving maintenance generally feel that it fails to take into account what maintaining a child actually costs. So, if no-one is pleased with the current scheme, will a new scheme be any better?
Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller has said that the current system is failing too many children, but increasing payments from non-resident parents on benefits and those on lower incomes seems more like a means to reduce claims on the state rather than help either children or their carers.
The new provisions will be similar to when the CSA intervened before, that is as a fall-back option for parents who cannot reach agreement between themselves. The new statutory child maintenance scheme includes the following proposals:
- A flat rate child maintenance deduction from state benefits to be increased form the current £7 per week
- Payments will usually be based on the non-resident parent’s latest tax year gross income, sourced directly from HM Revenue and Customs
- Maintenance assessments will be reviewed annually – this is new
- Tax data will be used to reduce application times. The CSA currently takes around 3 months to open a case
- Parents who share the care of their children exactly equally will no longer be required to pay maintenance through the statutory scheme
The details of these and other proposals are contained in the document ‘The Child Support Maintenance Calculation Regulations 2012’ – a technical consultation on the draft regulations.
Child maintenance is however, just one aspect that separating couples need to consider. For more information generally about divorce, separation and the financial consequences see www.cotswoldfamilylaw.co.uk or contact Cotswold Family law on 01608 686590.
New proposals on child maintenance