Do I still need to pay child maintenance if my children spend 50% of their time in my care?
Even if your children share their time equally between you and your ex-partner, you may still be liable to pay or receive child maintenance.
The Child Maintenance Service calculate the sum to be paid between parents by firstly considering who is the party to receive maintenance. Usually, the paying parent is the parent who does not have the day-to-day care of the children. If however, the parties equally share the care of their children, they will look at which parent is registered with the HMRC to receive Child Benefit. The parent not registered to receive this would be deemed as the paying parent.
After deciding the weekly sum to be paid, which is calculated as a percentage of the paying payments gross weekly pay, the Child Maintenance Service then apply a ‘shared care deduction’ to the figure. If the children spend equal time with both parents, the deduction will be 50%, less a further £7 per child, per week.
Mary and Steve have two children together and neither of them have any other children.
Steve and Mary have equal time with the children however Mary claims Child Benefit. Steve is the paying parent.
Steve earns £500 gross per week.
Steve’s earns more than £200 per week and so his calculation is based on the ‘basic rate’ calculation. For two children this is a percentage of 16% of Steve’s gross weekly pay. In this case, 16% is a payment of £80 per week for both children.
Given that Steve has shared time with his children, he is entitled to a ‘shared care deduction’ of 50% (£40).
This brings his payment down to £40 per week.
He is then entitled to a further deduction of £7 per child, per week (£14 per week) which brings his payments down to £26 per week for both children.
You can see therefore that the shared care element has reduced Steve’s weekly child maintenance payments from £80 to £26 per week.
The Child Maintenance Service has provided a helpful calculator which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-child-maintenance.
If you have any questions regarding what you should be paying or receiving, are struggling to agree maintenance, or have any other family related questions, we would be happy to advise you.