Chapman Pieri Solicitors, Southgate - Child Maintenance

22nd February 2015

Chapman Pieri Solicitors, Southgate - Child Maintenance

by Karen Chapman

Hi there, I am Karen Chapman, the other half of Chapman Pieri Solicitors and this is my first article for Palmers Green Life. I hope you are all well and keeping wrapped up in this icy February weather.

I thought I would write about Child Maintenance as this is a subject that often comes up when dealing with family matters regardless if the parties are married or not. There have been a number of changes to the collection and assessment of child maintenance in the previous year and so this article is intended to provide a brief overview of the steps involved in an assessment by the Child Maintenance Service “CMS”.

Most parents can approach the CMS for an assessment.

There are 4 rates of Child Maintenance:-

Nil rate

As the title suggests the parent the child doesn’t live with doesn’t have to pay child maintenance because e.g. they are a student, aged 16 or under (or 20 or under if they’re in full time education), get an allowance for work-based training or live in a care home or independent hospital.

Flat rate

This is £5 per week no matter how many children are involved. It is used of the paying parent’s gross income is between £5 and £100 and they don’t qualify for the nil rate

Reduced rate

This is used if the paying parent’s gross income is between £100 and £200 it is calculated as £5 per week plus a percentage of the paying parent’s income

Basic rate

This is a percentage of the paying parent’s gross weekly income. Pension contributions may be deducted.

The rates are as follows:

Gross weekly income up to £800 per week:-

One child 12% Two children 16%

Three or more children 19%

Gross weekly income between £800 to

£3,000 per week:-

One child 9%

Two Children 12%

Three or more children 15%

Working out income

The CMS will be able to establish the paying parent’s yearly gross income from information supplied to HMRC and check if they are getting benefits. Unearned income such as dividends drawn through a company, investment and property income is in the first instance excluded.

Gross income includes any bonus, commission or overtime payments. It also includes receipts from any pension scheme, tax credits, employment credits and disabled persons tax credits. Gross income excludes investment income, State benefits, student grants and loans.


The amount of child maintenance will also be affected by the number of other children the paying parent or their partner receives child benefit for “relevant other children” and the number of overnight stays with the paying parent.

Percentage reduction for relevant other children

For relevant other children in the paying parent’s household, a percentage reduction will be applied to the assessment being either 11%, 14% or 16% for one, two or three or more children respectively.

Shared care

Where the paying parent has overnight contact, a reduction to their child maintenance liability will apply to child maintenance which is broadly as follows: Fewer than 52 nights – no reduction

Between 52 and 103 nights – 14.29%

Between 104 and 155 nights – 28.57%

Between 156 and 174 nights – 42.86%

More than 175 nights – 50% plus £7 each week for each child


Either the receiving parent or paying parent can ask the CMS to take account additional information or circumstances by initiating a variation application. This is appropriate where the standard formula does not do justice to the case. The categories of variation application that may lead to an assessment being reduced are if the paying parent has significant costs in maintaining contact with a child, or must meet costs relating to long term illness or disability of a child living with him or her. Other criteria include seeking reductions due to paying debts for the joint benefit of both parents, paying for the child’s boarding school fees or paying the mortgage on the property where the child lives.

The categories of variation that might increase a maintenance liability are if the receiving parent applies for the paying parent’s unearned income into account, such as income from property rental, dividends and interest. It is also possible to apply on the basis that the paying parent is diverting his income e.g. making excessive pension contributions, funnelling his earnings through a partner or failing to pay a proper salary.

There is also an appeal system if either parent believes the maintenance calculation is wrong or that a variation application has not been dealt with properly.


The application fee will be a £20 charge payable by the applicant for a maintenance calculation. The person with care will be charged a 4% collection fee on any child support collected through the CMS. The non-resident parent will be charged a 20% collection fee on top of the weekly amount of child maintenance he or she is liable to pay, if the CMS collection service is used. The aim is to encourage more parents to endeavour to agree the level of child support between.

If you require advice on Child Maintenance Agreements or any other related family matters, please don’t hesitate to call us on 020 8882 9850 to arrange a fixed fee initial consultation for just £75 plus VAT.

Should you require any further information, please give us a call here at Chapman Pieri Solicitors on 020 8882 9850 to set up an Initial Consultation or alternatively you can email us at: Please have a look at our website where you will find a lot of helpful information:

Address: Southgate Office Village, Block C, Ground & First Floors, 284B Chase Road, Southgate, London, N14 6HF.