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Child Maintenance Variation and Departures


Child maintenance is calculated according to a particular formula backed by legislation. That calculation may be increased or decreased through the Variation Scheme (or Departure Scheme for CS1/1993 cases), which offers a small opportunity to have additional factors considered. 

A Receiving Parent, or PWC may apply for a variation in order to increase the maintenance calculation, and a Paying Parent, or NRP may apply to have certain costs taken into consideration which may result in a reduction in their liability.

Any application for a Variation can be made in writing, or verbally, but in some cases a variation form is required.  If a form is sent, it must be returned within one month otherwise the application may be rejected. 

Grounds for departure/variation include:

Departures: (CS1)

  • Lifestyle being inconsistent with declared income
  • Assets capable of producing an income
  • Diversion of income
  • Excessive housing costs included in the assessment
  • NRP partner ability to contribute towards the NRP housing costs
  • Excessive travel to work costs included in the assessment/should be disregarded in full
  • High contact costs to maintain access to the qualifying children
  • Cost of supporting a stepchild (limited circumstances apply)
  • Travel to work costs
  • Costs of long term illness/disability (for NRP or dependant)
  • Debts incurred from the previous relationship
  • Pre April 1993 property settlement

Variations (CS2)

  • Lifestyle being inconsistent with declared income
  • Assets capable of producing an income
  • Diversion of income
  • Income not taken into account within the formula
  • Costs to maintain access to the qualifying children
  • Costs of long term illness.disability of relevant child
  • Debts incurred from a previous relationship
  • Boarding school fees payable for qualifying child (certain elements only)
  • Costs from paying a mortgage on the home of the PWC/Qualifying children

Variations (CS3)

  • Unearned Income
  • Additional Income
  • Diversion of Income
  • Contact Costs
  • Certain school fees
  • Cost of supporting long term illness/disability
  • Prior debts


Each of these categories are restricted in their own right, so will not automatically guarantee a change in maintenance payments.  However, if a decision is made that you disagree with, you need to follow the process for Mandatory Reconsideration, followedby an application to HM Courts and Tribunals.  

Any variation decision, or refusal to make a variation can be appealed by either party.  Child maintenance payments can often see dramatic changes if a variation decision is confirmed through HMCTs, so it is important to prepare and present your case carefully.

To discuss your case and how to proceed with an application for HMCTs, please take advantage of our subscription service allowing you access to the helpline.