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Slater and Gordon Lawyers have the largest team of Family Lawyers in England & Wales. We offer both flexible pricing and fixed fee services for all our family law services including our legal services for children.
We can provide immediate legal representation anywhere in England & Wales from our offices in London, Manchester, Watford, Liverpool, Chester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Preston, Wakefield and Wrexham.
For expert child law advice or to speak with a children law specialist call us on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us and tell us the best time to call you.
Our specialist Children Law Solicitors can help with all child law issues and financial matters relating to children. After a relationship breakdown we do understand that when there are children involved, everyone concerned wants to act in the child's best interest moving forward.
The majority of parents will be able to resolve questions about child support by reference to the Child Support Agency (CSA). Even if the CSA is not formally asked to calculate child support, the formulas will indicate (for most families) what amount is appropriate for a non-resident parent to pay.
However, there are some situations where the CSA will not be able to assist, and where the formulas may be less helpful. These include the following:
In these situations, the Court retains the ability to look at what level of regular financial support by the non-resident parent is appropriate. The Court will be guided by, but not bound by, the CSA formulae.
Beyond the question of regular financial support, there are other types of financial provision to benefit a child/children that a Court is able to consider. One very common example is where there is a dispute about parents’ contributions towards school fees. Private school fees are not dealt with by the CSA, and an application to Court would need to be made if there were any disagreement about who pays the school fees.
In some families, circumstances make it appropriate to look beyond regular payments and school fees to other forms of financial support for the children. These might include security for the obligation to make regular payments, capital sums, the provision of a home or the transfer of a property. These are specialised applications, which cannot be made to the CSA and can only be considered by a Court. They are most appropriate where one parent’s financial resources are significantly greater than the other’s. They are more common between parents who never married or entered into a Civil Partnership.
Where the Court is able to resolve any question of financial support for a child/children, it is required to take all of the family’s circumstances into account. In particular, it must consider the following when it reaches its decision:
Parents are each legally obliged financially to support their children. This obligation runs at least until the children are sixteen. Sometimes it runs for longer, such as where the children continue in full-time education or training. In England, Child Maintenance is generally assessed by the Child Support Agency and collected by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC).
You may be able to apply to the CSA if you are a:
The parent or person with care is the person with whom the child usually lives. The non-resident parent is the parent with whom the child does not normally live. Which parent is which is much easier to determine where there is a Residence Order.
The CSA will not deal with a case if the parent with care or the children live outside of the UK. Also, it will not deal with a case if the non-resident parent lives outside of the UK, unless he or she:
It's well known that there a is set calculation used by the CSA based on the non-resident parent’s net income, the number of children in their household and the amount of time the child spends with him or her.
What is less well known is that the CSA does have some discretion to depart from the basic formula. For example, a non-resident parent may be able to pay less than the formula because he or she (or a family member) has a long-term illness or a disability. A reduction might also be appropriate if the non-resident parent’s costs of contact are unusually high. A non-resident parent might have to pay more than the formula if they own property that should be producing income, or if their lifestyle suggests they have a higher income than has been revealed.
It's also well known that the CSA is extremely disorganised. Calculations by them sometimes take a very long time, and are frequently wrong. Many parents prefer to avoid becoming involved with the CSA by trying to reach an agreement about how much should be paid. Looking to the CSA formula allows many parents to discuss sensibly and agree financial arrangements. These discussions can take place alongside the other matters separating parents need to consider, and using the same resources to help.
We can help deal with child maintenance questions, by helping with CSA calculations, by liaising with the CSA / CMEC, by challenging decisions about the level of maintenance, or by negotiating the level of maintenance outside of the CSA machinery. The CSA only concerns itself with regular financial support (payments made monthly). There are other types of financial provision to benefit children that might be suitable for particular families. In some situations, a Court may be able to decide what monthly payments are appropriate rather than the CSA. Even when a Court is able to decide this aspect of financial provision, it tends to apply the CSA formula as a guide.
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