Child Maintenance Variation and Departures

Child maintenance payments can often be changed through the variation or departure schemes.

CSA Variation (Departure)

Child maintenance is calculated according to Child Support Act 1991.  A parent may also apply for a Variation (or Departure if your case is assessed on the old rules/CS1 scheme) which allows the CSA to “vary” the formula based maintenance calculation.  Maintenance can often increase as a result of a variation, so it is crucial that parents seek appropriate advice about child support variations/departures.

If a PWC believes a variation will help to increase the current rate of maintenance, an application for a variation form should be made, or a written request for a variation, citing the appropriate grounds can be sent as opposed to completing a form. If a form is sent, it must be returned within one month to limit any delay in the application being effective on the case.

Likewise, an NRP may be able to use the variation scheme to help reduce the amount of maintenance payable.   Variation/departure decisions often find themselves before the HM Courts and Tribunal service, and that decision is more absolute than a variation/departure decision made by CSA. It is important to be appropriately prepared to argue your case.

For assistance on how to complete the forms, you will need to take advantage of our Subscription service, allowing you access to our helpline, and the support and guidance on grounds that may be successful. Additionally, if an application has been made against you, we can discuss how best to prepare the appropriate responses.

Grounds for departure/variation include:


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


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

Under CS3, the rules will reflect very similar to the Variation Scheme, but the option for Lifestyle Inconsistent with Declared Income, and Assets Capable of Producing an Income are to be withdrawn.  These two grounds will therefore not apply to any variation applied for under CS3 rules.

Any departure or variation decision can be appealled by either party. If a departure or variation decision has been made and you do not agree with it, you must exercise your right of appeal. In that respect, you may need to consider our Appeal package as opposed to the Departure/Variation package.