How child maintenance is calculated under 2012 scheme

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) follows six steps to work out child maintenance payments. This is reviewed each year and any changes in circumstances are considered. The ‘paying parent’ is the parent the child doesn’t live with. The parent or carer they live with is the ‘receiving parent’.

Step one - working out income

CMS will find out the paying parent’s yearly gross income from information supplied by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and check if they’re getting benefits (student grants and loans don’t count as income).

Step two - looking at what affects income

CMS will check for what could change the gross income amount of the paying parent such as pension payments and other children they support. Then it’ll convert the yearly gross income into a weekly figure.

Step three - child maintenance rates

One of five rates will be applied, based on the gross weekly income of the paying parent:

Gross Weekly Income Rate
Below £7 Nil
£100 or less, or if the paying parent gets certain benefits Flat
£100.01 to £199.99 Reduced
£200 to 800 Basic

£800.01 to £3,000

Basic Plus

Step four - other children

CMS will take into account the number of children the paying parent has to pay child maintenance for, including other children living with them and any arrangements that have been made directly with an ex-partner.

Step five - weekly amount of child maintenance

Using information from the first four steps, CMS calculates the weekly child maintenance amount.

Step six- shared care

This is when a child stays overnight with the paying parent. CMS will make a deduction to the weekly child maintenance amount based on the average number of ‘shared care’ nights a week. 

Collection fees

Parents who pay or receive child maintenance using the Collect and Pay Service will have to pay a collection fee each time they make or receive a payment.

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