How can you claim additional child maintenance from a high-earning parent?

by Kidd Rapinet on July 5, 2024
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When it comes to ensuring adequate financial support for your child, the income of the non-resident parent plays a crucial role. In cases where the non-resident parent is a high earner, standard child maintenance calculations might not reflect the child’s needs or the parent’s capacity to pay.

How does the CMS calculate child maintenance?

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) uses a standard formula to calculate the amount of maintenance a non-resident parent should pay. This calculation is based on the parent’s gross income, the number of children requiring support, and the amount of time the children spend with each parent. However, this standard formula only applies to incomes up to £3,000 per week (or £156,000 per year).

Child maintenance for high earners

If the non-resident parent’s gross income exceeds £156,000 per year, the CMS can only calculate child maintenance based on the first £156,000. Once the paying party’s income exceeds this, the Child Maintenance Service will make a maximum assessment.  This maximum assessment allows the court to award maintenance in excess of the CMS assessment, sometimes referred to as a top up maintenance.

How to apply for top-up maintenance for your children

  1. First, you must apply to the CMS to get a standard maintenance calculation. This is a prerequisite before applying to the court for additional support.
  2. Once you have the CMS assessment, you can apply to the family court for a ‘top-up’ order. This application asks the court to consider the non-resident parent’s higher income and determine if additional maintenance should be awarded.
  3. To strengthen your case, gather evidence that demonstrates the non-resident parent’s actual income and financial resources. This might include salaries and wages, self-employed earnings, bonuses, commission, overtime payments and royalties, overseas earnings if these are taxable in the United Kingdom.
  4. You must also provide a detailed account of the child’s needs and expenses. This includes costs related to education, extracurricular activities, healthcare, and general living expenses. The court will assess whether the child’s standard of living should reflect the non-resident parent’s higher income.

What are the Court’s considerations when making an order for top-up maintenance?

The court will consider various factors, including the non-resident parent’s income and assets, the needs of the child, and any special circumstances that may warrant higher maintenance. The goal is to ensure the child benefits from the same standard of living they would have if both parents lived together.

The court has authority to make a child maintenance order which is usually in respect of a divorce-related financial claim or an application made pursuant to Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989.

In contrast to the CMS, the court has the jurisdiction to determine the proper amount of child maintenance in a discretionary manner. They are not constrained by the same guidelines and calculations that the CMS must follow.

Typically, the party requesting top-up child maintenance would get 9% of the paying party’s gross income between £156,000 and £650,000 if there is just one child, 12% if there are two children, and 15% if there are three or more, however, these sums would be in addition to the maximum assessment made by the CMS, which varies according on the situation and can be anywhere from £1,100 to £2,100 each month.

This article was brought to you by Kidd Rapinet’s family solicitors. You can book an appointment with any of the family lawyers across our other offices in Aylesbury, Canary Wharf, Farnham, High Wycombe, Maidenhead or Slough, using the form provided.  Please use the links provided to find more information on divorce or separation, child arrangements and other areas of family law.

These materials and content have been prepared for the benefit of their viewers/readers. They are intended for marketing purposes only and are of a general nature and do not constitute legal advice applicable to any particular facts or circumstances. Kidd Rapinet LLP and/or the author(s) accept no duty of care, responsibility or liability for any loss or damage which you or any third party may suffer as a result of any reliance or use by you or them of these marketing materials and content, except to the extent it is not legally possible to exclude such liability. If you require legal advice on your own situation, please contact us so we can discuss how we may assist.

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