We will help both Parent with Care (PWC) and Non-Resident Parent (NRP) with our expertise.
One of the key considerations for separating parents is how to provide ongoing financial support for children. One method is child support, also known as child maintenance. What is child support and how does it work?
Under the child support legislation, parents are given the title of parent with care (PWC) or non-resident parent (NRP). This is dependent on who the child normally lives with. Disputes about residency may be resolved in the family courts. However, even where a court grants joint residency, child support rules still require one parent to be the PWC and the other to be the NRP.
Child support is money paid by the NRP to the PWC to help provide for a child’s financial needs. It may also be paid to another carer such as a grandparent or a guardian, who the child normally lives with.
A parent with care or a non-resident parent can apply to the Child Support Agency (CSA) to work out child support and set up arrangements for payment. In Scotland, a child over 12 years of age but under 19 and in full-time education may also apply.
When a parent with care, or their current partner, claims Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, their claim will also be treated as an application for child maintenance. It is possible to ask the CSA to deal with your child maintenance case even where you have previously made a private arrangement, although some restrictions may apply.
Non-resident parents encounter a variety of problems with the CSA most notably:-
1. Demands for large arrears. These frequently result from incorrect penalty assessments backdated over many years. On investigation we frequently find that the CSA in fact used an incorrect address and therefore the NRP is being charged for arrears when he did not even know he had an assessment.
2. Large unaffordable assessments. Frequently occur in old style CSA cases. This is because child support can be payable at a marginal rate of 50p or even 85p in the pound which means that even minor miscalculations by the CSA of income or qualifying outgoings can dramatically increase the amount of maintenance payable causing over inflated claims and ultimately penury for the NRP.
3. Ignoring new circumstances. This is a common problem, particularly bearing in mind the downturn in industry over the past few years. Although we have a huge increase in the number of Civil Servants employed in the UK traditional industries are losing ground and as a result short working time, lay offs and “renegotiated” contracts (invariably leading to lower wages) are common place. When NRPs tell the CSA this they find that they receive little or no response save and except demands that the previously assessed maintenance is continued. They occasionally may receive reassurances that their new circumstances are being examined but nothing happens. We can break this cycle and ensure that changes of circumstances are actioned and dealt with.
4. Overactive enforcement. This is a relatively recent phenomenon. The Agency used to be a byword for issuing threats but not actually carrying them out. This company has however noticed a marked increase in the number of clients approaching this company with Liability order Applications and, of much greater concern, applications to commit to prison. The CSA can enforce debt owed via:-