the 2012 scheme rules (which apply to those cases that entered the child
support system in November 2012 onwards) where parents are considered by the
Child Support Agency to share the care of their children to exactly the same
extent, then neither parent will be considered to be the “non-resident parent”
i.e. the paying parent, and on this basis no child support will be payable.
is a significant change from the rules under the earlier schemes, which specify
that even though the care of the children may be shared to the same extent, one
parent will still be considered to be the non-resident parent and will be liable
to pay child support even though the children spend an equal period of time
with him/her as the other parent.
speaking, it was the parent who is in receipt of child benefit who is
considered to be the “parent with care” and the parent who is entitled to child
support. These rules were considered to create unfairness in that in a
number of cases, it seemed inappropriate that the non-resident parent should
have to pay child support, when the children lived with them 50% of the time.
under the new rules, it is not difficult to envisage scenarios where unfairness
may also result from the new rules. For instance, if one parent lives in
modest circumstances but the other parent is extremely wealthy, then is it fair
that there should be no child support paid in these circumstances? The
other unfortunate repercussion of the new rules is that some parents may seek
shared care to the same extent in order to enable them to be exempt from having
to pay child support. On the other hand, some parents may resist shared
care to the same extent even though this may best suit the needs of the
children, in order to avoid the situation where no child support is payable.
has been an established principle of family law that decisions concerning where
children should live should be taken by reference to what is in their best
interest, as opposed to any financial advantage/disadvantage to the parent.
Whilst the new rules will be welcomed by some parents, they may create problems
and issues that did not previously exist.
Benjamin Carter is a solicitor at
Cripps and a specialist in child support law. You can view his profile here or contact him on Benjamin.firstname.lastname@example.org