Voluntary Payments – The Dangers

Using NRP Partner Income

One of the most common myths about Child Support legislation is that of a Non Resident Parent partner’s income being included in a child support assessment. Although CSA officers have been known to coerce clients into providing income details about their partner, the reality is that partner income is not included in any calculation of maintenance itself, and would only ever reduce a potential maintenance liability not increase it.  There are factors that may appear to look as though an income from a partner has increased maintenance, but  we hope the following explanation will explain why this is not the case.

Partner income is only considered in CS1 cases.  Those cases on CS2 or CS3 will NOT involve partner income in any manner, and CSA staff should not be requesting any such information

Partners of an NRP do NOT have to supply any details about themselves. The liability is not likely to increase by the non disclosure of NRPP income. For non disclosure of partner’s details, CSA can impose an interim assessment, but it has to be of the correct nature.

Interim assessments are found in three categories: A, B and C.

Interim CAT. A.

This interim is designed as a penalty assessment. It is imposed when the NRP refuses to supply necessary information about him/herself which prevents the CSA from making their assessment. Interim CAT A assessments are calculated at one and a half times the full maintenance requirement. This can often lead to an assessment of over £100 a week.

Interim CAT. B.

This interim is imposed for the non disclosure of the NRP partner details. It simply means that the final part of the assessment calculation (the protected income section) is NOT calculated. Thus, the assessment will be based on either the maintenance requirement OR the exempt income sections – neither of which include, or require, partner details.

Under no circumstances should a CAT A Interim Assessment be imposed for non disclosure of the NRP partner details.

If you believe you have had an incorrect interim assessment made, we would suggest that you contact NACSA to seek further advice.

Interim CAT. C.

This interim relates to the self employed. If an accurate assessment cannot be made for reasons beyond control, for example – no accounts being available, a CAT C assessment of £30 (or lower) per week is imposed until the necessary information is available to make the correct calculations. NOTE: if there is a current court order or maintenance agreement in place at the time, a CAT C cannot be imposed. Again, no protected income section is calculated under this interim assessment, therefore eradicating any requirement to supply details about the partner.

How Does the NRPP Income Affect Liability:

There are three areas to a CS1 assessment:

Maintenance Requirement

This is the amount of money the PWC is entitled to claim in accordance with Income Support rates. The CSA’s objective is to recoup as much of this money as possible from the NRP.

Exempt Income

This section provides allowances for an NRP. Allowances are limited and are based on income support rates. Other allowances include housing costs, such as mortgage protection, life insurances/endowments (to cover the mortgage loan only) etc but NOT council tax payments. Allowances are also given for any NATURAL children currently living with the NRP (if your partner is either working or NOT disclosing details, these child allowances will be halved). Again, this section of the formula is based on the NRP alone, therefore partners need not disclose their information.

Protected Income

This section allocates allowances for the NRP to support any second family s/he may have. Allowances are given for all members of the family including partners and all children. Rent or interest part of a mortgage, plus council tax, are also included. There is also a variable additional amount given as an “incentive to work” premium.
Because allowances are given for all members of the family unit, ANY income from ANY source will be considered within the total family income (called disposable income). This will include partners earnings, child family allowances, tax credits any private maintenance received, and to a degree any income received by the child/ren.
The assessment is based on whichever is the lower of these three sections. In many cases, if the NRPP is working the protected income section does not calculate as the lower figure, hence it is not the section which would apply to the case. Usually, the protected income section only applies if the NRPP is not working, but at home looking after children. Or sometimes, if the NRP is on a very low income, the protected income section may apply.

Summary

Non disclosure of partner’s details will result in a CAT B interim assessment, but in many cases this will not make any difference to assessment. BUT – if the PWC makes a departure on the grounds of the partner being employed, and thus able to contribute towards that family’s housing costs, the CSA can award a proportion of the housing costs to the partner. This will result in a greater amount of NRP income being available for the CSA to use in their calculations.

If you still require further information about partner details and how they may affect you, please email enquiries@nacsa.co.uk