Under the 2012 scheme rules, which apply to those cases that entered the
child support system in November 2013 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 can be considered to be the “non-resident
parent” i.e. the paying parent, and on this basis the Child Support Agency will
not have jurisdiction and no child support will be payable.
This 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, albeit at a reduced rate.
These rules were considered to create unfairness in that in a number of
cases, it seemed inappropriate that the non-resident parent should still have
to pay child support, when the children lived with him/her for 50% of the time.
However, under the new rules, it is not difficult to envisage a scenario
where unfairness may arise. 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 equal care in order to enable them to be exempt from having to pay
child support. And likewise some parents may resist equal care even
though this may best suit the needs of the children, in order to avoid losing
It is an established principle of family law that decisions concerning
where children should live must be taken by reference to what is in their best
interest, as opposed to any financial advantage/disadvantage to the
Whilst the new rules will be welcomed by some parents they may, equally,
create problems for others.
Benjamin Carter is a solicitor in the family team: Benjamin.firstname.lastname@example.org