Divorce and Child Support

When a couple divorces the court’s main consideration when making any decisions is the child’s or children’s welfare as they are deemed to be of paramount importance. Divorcing couples may not always agree either on the terms of their divorce or on a financial settlement. Finances are often the thing that causes the most upset among divorcing couples. Sometimes parents who are not awarded residency rights can become very bitter and may try to avoid paying any child support, even when a judge has made a legal judgment that they should. Once the divorce is final and a financial settlement is worked out, the duties of collecting child support and maintenance are passed onto the Child Support Agency.

No matter how agreeable a divorcing couple might be with each other, it can still cause problems when a non-resident parent is assessed and required to pay an amount that they believe is beyond their ability to meet. The rules on child support when a couple divorces were changed in 2003 when responsibility for chasing (usually) errant fathers for child maintenance was passed over to the CSA or Child Support Agency. When a couple gets divorced there also has to be a settlement of their financial affairs that is overseen and agreed by the courts. It is unfortunately the case that although the court may have made an order for the partner who does not have the children resident with them to pay maintenance, not all of them abide by that ruling.

Child support or maintenance is calculated on the income of the parent with whom the children are not resident. Information is gathered from the parent who has residency and sometimes from the absent parent’s employers. They will also take into account the income of the parent who has custody of the child, the number of children the maintenance is for and whether the non-resident parent has other children either living with them or to whom they pay support.

The amount of income that is paid varies by the number of children residing with the other partner and is usually 15% for one child, 20% for two children and 35% for three children. A lower net weekly amount is payable if the non-resident parent has other children living with them and whom they are responsible for.

The Child Support Agency deal with single fathers as well those who are divorced or separated from the mother and they make more effort to get support when the parent who has residency rights is reduced to living off state benefits. When a divorced mother or father has responsibility for the children and lives on state benefits for any length of time, any support that is paid goes to into the government coffers rather than the child’s parent.

Non-resident parents who have an income of more than £100 a week but less than £200 pay a reduced amount of their income to the resident parent. Child Support replaced the old maintenance payments that were paid through the court.