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How much Child Maintenance (CSA) should I pay?

Understanding the key points about child maintenance (CSA) during a divorce is difficult for anyone.  Separating from your spouse throws up many questions regarding the care your children – who will they live with? Will they still be able to go to the same school? And, maybe most importantly, how will you be able to support them financially?

With the news awash with stories of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s shock divorce, we take a look at the issues about child maintenance.

child maintenance (CSA)

Are issues about child maintenance the same as spousal maintenance?

Although child and spousal maintenance are not the same thing, they are sometimes grouped together and paid to the children’s main carer as a kind of ‘global maintenance’. This type of maintenance is paid to support the whole household, rather than just the children. In this scenario, you may want to agree with your spouse that you’ll review the situation when any of the children turn 18.


Is it a good idea to apportion maintenance between my children and myself?

If any of your children are about to turn 16 or are finishing full time education, you should be careful how you apportion the maintenance payments. This is because these scenarios can trigger the end of the maintenance for the child and could leave your household short of money.


How do I apply for child maintenance?

You and your spouse may be able to agree an amount between yourselves, without any external involvement. If you cannot come to an agreement either between yourselves, or through processes such as mediation, you are able to apply to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).


How much child maintenance can I expect to receive?

Child Maintenance Options has a calculator on their website that you can use to see how much you may receive in child maintenance from your spouse. The calculator can also be useful even if you don’t intend to apply to the CMS, as it can provide a starting point for your discussions with your spouse.


Do I have to pay for child maintenance?

The CMS charge a £20 application fee and have enforcement charges if your spouse doesn’t pay. If you decide to use its ‘Collect and Pay’ service – where it collects the money from your spouse and pays it to you – there are fees associated with this.


Are there circumstances when applying to the CMS wouldn’t be a good idea?

If you or your spouse are high net worth individuals with complex finances, applying to the CMS may not be the best option. Also, you wouldn’t be able to apply to the CMS if either you or your spouse lives abroad. If any of these circumstances apply to you, it is best to get specialist legal advice with a solicitor experienced in working with high net worth or international individuals as soon as possible.

Before making any final decisions about child maintenance amounts and how they will be handled, it is important to get specialist legal advice about your situation from a specialist divorce lawyer.


How much child maintenance (CSA) should I pay? Child maintenance rates calculator

Breaking up with a partner can take its toll, both emotionally and financially. If you’re trying to plan your finances and are asking yourself ‘how much child maintenance should I pay’, a child maintenance calculator (or CSA calculator) is a must.

In this article, we’ll help to answer the common ‘how much child maintenance should I pay’ question, so you can make sure you budget for the cost. We’ve even added our own CSA calculator (or child maintenance calculator) to help you work out your potential payments.


How much child maintenance (CSA) should I pay?

‘How much child maintenance should I pay’ is a common concern for the parent who is not the main carer of the child. While making sure your child is provided for is important, it’s also vital that you are able to budget for life as a newly single person. A child maintenance calculator, or Csa calculator, is an essential part of this planning, as once you have this approximate figure at hand, you can begin to budget for your other expenses.

In truth, the answer to the question ‘how much child maintenance should I pay’ will largely come down to your income (and things, such as pension payments, which affect this income). Pay too much and you could find yourself struggling to cover your own living costs. Pay too little and you may not be covering your share of your child’s day-to-day living costs.

If you and your ex-spouse can agree on the amount of child maintenance the ‘non-resident’ parent will pay, then there may be no need to involve the Child Maintenance Service. This is known as a ‘family-based arrangement’.

This type of arrangement is not usually legally binding. If you would like to make a legally binding agreement with your ex-partner, you may be able to go to court to do this.


How is child maintenance (CSA) calculated?

If you and the other parent (the day-to-day carer of the child) cannot agree on an amount, the Child Maintenance Service can assess how much you should pay in child maintenance (try our CSA calculator at the bottom of this page to get an idea of the possible outcome).

Even if you are still hoping to reach an agreement between yourselves, looking at the ‘6 steps’ (as per the government’s website) the Child Maintenance Service normally follows to calculate the amount of child maintenance that should be paid every week by the ‘paying parent’ to the ‘receiving parent’, can serve to aid discussions:

1. Calculating income

The Child Maintenance Service requests the paying parent’s gross yearly income from HMRC.

2. Does anything affect this income?

Anything that could “change the gross income amount”, such as pension payments, is looked at by the Child Maintenance Service. The gross income a parent receives every year is then converted into a weekly amount.

3. The rate is then calculated (see our CSA calculator)

Depending on how much the gross weekly amount, calculated above, is, the rate of child maintenance is either a standard rate or worked out using a formula.

For more information about this, take a look at the table on the government’s website.

4. Are there any more children?

The Child Maintenance Service also looks at whether the parent in question has to pay child maintenance for any other child/children.

5. Amount to pay

The information gathered by the Child Maintenance Service in the previous four steps, will enable it to work out what the weekly amount of child maintenance should be.

6. Does the child stay overnight with the paying parent?

If the child in question stays overnight with the parent who is due to pay the child maintenance, the Child Maintenance Service can make a deduction on the above amount to reflect this. This will be based on the average number of what are known as ‘shared care’ nights per week.


CSA calculator or child maintenance calculator

A CSA calculator (or child maintenance calculator) could serve as a starting point to help you and the other parent to reach an agreement and enable you to answer the question ‘how much child maintenance should I pay’.

To this end, we have developed a child maintenance calculator (or CSA calculator) so you can see how much child maintenance you may be required to pay.

While a child maintenance calculator (or CSA calculator) is a useful starting point, we would always recommend seeking legal advice if you are unsure about any aspect of child maintenance.

For more information on this subject please visit our Legal Library.


Contact us to see how we can help you to deal with the issues about child maintenance (CSA)

For more information on child maintenance call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email mail@austinkemp.co.uk.

Our expert divorce solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in our:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Sheffield Office: Pinfold Street, The Balance, Sheffield, S1 2GU

Manchester Office: King Street, Manchester, M2 4PD

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London Office: 01 Nothumberland Avenue, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5BW

Please contact us for more details of our offices.

27th September 2016

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