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Stop unfairness in Child Support CSA formula

1 Comment 7th July 2010

If you have two parents who have separated, who each have 50/50 shared care of a child, the CSA still has to determine one of the parents to be the Parent with Care and the other parent to be the  Non Resident Parent under the legislation as it is currently drafted based on who gets Child Benefit.  This construction occurs in the The Child Support (Maintenance Calculations and Special Cases) Regulations 2000, Part 3, Para 8.

Child Benefit, is a universal benefit, which has an inherent *built in* priority to the mother, which therefore creates a distortion. 

The combination of these two is that you can have a situtation where the courts have awarded equal care, or majority care to the father, but due to the Child Benefit situation the father will still be considered to be the NRP by the CSA and will have to pay money, every week, to the mother.

My proposal is to remove Part 3, Para 8 (2) b (i) and (ii) which says:

(2) For the purposes of this special case a parent who provides day to day care for a child of his is to be treated as a non-resident parent for the purposes of the Act in the following circumstances –

(a) a parent who provides such care to a lesser extent than the other parent, person or persons who provide such care for the child in question; or

(b) where the persons mentioned in paragraph (1)(a) include both parents and the circumstances are such that care is provided to the same extent by both but each provides care to an extent greater than or equal to any other person who provides such care for that child –

(i) the parent who is not in receipt of child benefit for the child in question; or

(ii) if neither parent is in receipt of child benefit for that child, the parent who, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, will not be the principal provider of day to day care for that child.

 

I am personally affected by this situation, as the father of a child who I have 50/50 shared care of on a week on week off basis.  I also have a 2nd child who lives with me 100% of the time, and yet even with all that (self employed currently losing money) still have to pay £5 per week.

The formula for 50/50 shared care could also be "corrected" from the current 7.5% less a % for other children, less £7 per week with a minimum of £5, however it would be cheaper to remove these cases from the CSA rather than have them in the CSA at a 0 assessment, and would probably be easier.

The alternative solution would be to direct the Child Benefit were allocated on a 6 monthly basis between the parents when 50/50 shared care exists which would take no legislation whatsoever and would remove the financial insentive to claim, however this would have certain costs to the universal CB.

Why does this matter?

Currently, the situation creates an injustice.

This injustice is questionably legal, and probably challengable on similar grounds to Hockenjos, which related to the tie between CB and specific tax benefits.

This is an expensive injustice, as although the "net effect" to the child of moving money between two parents with equal care is the same, it effectively increases the level of poverty in one family situation over the other. 

Furthermore, there is a cost justification.  In my case, far more government money has been spent chasing me, "because I see it as an injustice" and dealing with appeals, than I've ever been liable to pay.  Probably £20k of government funds.  Easily.

The reason is that by being unfair, you create someone with a bitter resentment who truly feels that they are being persecuted, and thus will repeatedly seek justice through all possible means – every time they do that, it costs Courts and Tribunals, Child Benefit, and the CSA.  (I've had no less than 20 tribunal days, 6 child benefit reassessments, and hundreds of calls with the CSA).

Finally, by implementing the proposed change, you would remove about 5% of the CSA caseload, as where  parents had 50/50 shared care, there would be no financial incentive to make a claim.

As it currently stands, no sane woman, even with 50/50 shared care, would NOT go to the CSA and claim claim claim and fight fight fight.  It's free money, with a guaranteed outcome!

 

 

 

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One Response to Stop unfairness in Child Support CSA formula

  1. Martin Lascelles says:

    Absolutely agree. The Australian system works far better and is fair. The government is actively discouraging shared parenting. It makes me so angry. Responsibly “non-resident parents” are penalised financially for sharing up to, and in many case more than 50% of the care of their children, and the so-called “Parent with care” is given the benefit of the doubt and can royally screw their ex-partner with the government’s backing.

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