Calculating Gross Income Maintenance
The calculation of maintenance will be based on Gross Income, including earned income, trading income or pension income (excluding social security pension), bonuses or commissions. Self employed income will be determined by the profits of that trade, or appropriate share of the profits if the business is a partnership. Tax Credits will no longer form any part of the income used within a calculation of maintenance
If the information held with HMRC is unreliable, or non existent, a maintenance calculation can be calculated on estimated earnings based on the nature of employment that the Paying Parent is believed to have.
Historical income will be used as the default, but if the Paying Parent is able to demonstrate that their Current income differs by 25% or more, a recalculation can take place using the current income as opposed to historical income. Any dispute over the calculation should be raised within 30 days of notification.
If a case is calculated on Current Income, the Paying Parent is legally obliged to report any income increase of 25% or more, and any change of employment or working pattern that is likely to achieve an increase in income.
Parents with income below £100 will pay a flat rate of £7pw, or nil if their income is below £7pw. A reduced rate will apply where income is between £100 and £200 per week.
For income above £200pw, there is now a two tier rate of calculation.
For the first £800 of income
12% for 1 child
16% for 2 children
19% for 3+ children
For income in excess of £800
9% for 1 child
12% for 2 children
15% for 3+ children
A discount is applied for any children living in the home of the Paying Parent, known as Relevant Other Children. Rates applicable for Relevant Other Child are slightly lower than those applicable to a Qualifying Child. Some parents argue that a lower percentage for Relevant Other Children penalises one child in favour of another – but this is not so. In monetary value, all children are given the same "allowances," but it may take time for this concept to be fully acknowledged.
For all income:
11% for 1 child
14% for 2 children
16% for 3+ children
Reductions apply to the maintenance calculation if the Paying Parent has overnight access of the qualifying child/ren for more than 52 nights per year. In cases where both parents dispute the level of shared care, legislation will now entitle the Paying Parent to 1 night 'presumed' shared care, resulting in a 1/7th reduction in the maintenance calculation. This will remain in place until either parent is able to provide sufficient evidence to prove a different level of overnight access is in place. Court orders will not necessarily provide sufficient proof of overnight access. Parents are advised to keep a diary of dates where shared care has, or has not occurred.
Maintenance is calculated according to the total number of children that the Paying Parent is liable to pay for - including any children under private arrangements. It is crucial that parents inform CMS of any other children that they pay maintenance for to ensure the calculations include those children.