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Europe > England Wales > Family Law > Financial Claims for Children > What you need to know

Overview: Family Law, Financial Claims for Children

Working AROUND Child support

What you need to know

The systems by which we provide for our children make little sense until you realise that they have been built up piece by piece, often with a political agenda “tail” wagging the dog. Trying to summarise a complex system, briefly, we have the following:

DIY Ad hoc arrangements that you may choose to make yourself – specifically expressed to be non-binding (or so vague as to be incapable of enforcement.)
Binding agreements A variety of measures setting out the support to be given – these might be made informally and directly (the back of an envelope agreement) or negotiated and formalised through solicitors.
CSA The “Child Support Agency” (otherwise “CMEC, its administering body, the Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission ... sometimes the DWP – the ministerial body with responsibility for it, now emerging as CMS – the child maintenance service – but all referring to roughly the same thing – an administrative agency that determines what payments are made according to a variety of formulae).
It takes in most families but does not apply to
  • Step parent obligations
  • International obligations
  • Older children (most children fall out of the system after A-levels)
The Court, by agreement Parents, can however, (even when the CSA has jurisdiction) agree to use the court. The court then makes an agreed (or “s8(5)” order)
BUT the court cannot stop either party from then applying to the CSA 12 months later.
This later CSA application will discharge the court order.
In other “non-CSA” cases, there is no such option and so the court remains in control:
The Court for other cases The court decides maintenance in other cases, ie
  • Family members out of UK
  • Step-parent support
  • University support
The Court for other needs The CSA does not make decisions about some aspects – these too are thrown back to the court:
  • Where there are costs of disability
  • Where help with school fees are sought
  • Where income is high (currently above £104,000 net) and there is an argument as to whether provision over and above that provided by the CSA is appropriate.

Understanding how these fit together may not be easy. This note focuses upon the challenge presented by the interface between the court (trying to fix an overall package) and the CSA (which overrides the court’s provision as it imposes its calculation).

Last Update: 2013-Jan-14 James Pirrie - Family Law in Partnership
The contents of this page do not constitute legal advice or create an attorney- client relationship with the contributor. Do not apply anything you read here without contacting a professional.
Author: James Pirrie
Law Firm: Family Law in Partnership
Address: 1 Neal St
Covent Garden
London
London
WC2H 9QL
United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 420 5000
Website: www.flip.co.uk