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CSA Shared Care

CSA Shared Care and Child support payments are by far the most controversial element of child support legislation. Under CSA 1 children would need to spend 104 nights per year with the NRP in order to qualify for any shared care allowance. Under CSA2 this changed to 52 nights per year and finally under CSA3 there is a presumption that a child spends 52 nights with the NRP unless the PWC reports otherwise. If there is a dispute about the level of shared care, the Agency normally make a decision based on diary evidence, if either party are still unhappy about this decision then the matter will need to go to appeal.   We feel the best way to explain shared care is to read some of our clients’ experiences.

Stephen Robson “ My ex told the CSA that I don’t have the kids 2 nights a week every week so I was not allowed any allowance.  It was so unfair because when I have the kids I do spend what I can on giving them a good time.  When I contacted Durham Legal Services they told me straight away what to do and how to collect evidence I had the children.  After two months of collecting evidence they informed the CSA and I was awarded 2/7th shared care”.

Not many people realise that the way the Child Maintenances now deal with Shared Care has recently changed. Until very recently even if a Court Order was in place, the CSA would base their decision on what the PWC said or what was happening in reality.  Now if a Court Order or some other formal agreement e.g. a signed agreement drawn up by legal representatives on either side exists, then that will be the shared care which will be allowed in the assessment. If either party claims that does not reflect the reality of the situation, then they will have to get their agreement or Order properly varied and then the CSA will change the assessment to reflect the updated Order.

Sandra Shepard “I had a court order saying the children were to spend 3 nights a week with me.  When the Child Maintenance asked me about shared care I was asked if I had a court order. I told them yes however my husband told the CSA that I was not seeing the children every week which was a bare faced lie.  Durham Legal Services took on my case and got the CSA to believe the court order. The CSA told my ex he would need to go to court to have it changed”.

The major reform regarding shared care can be found under CS3 shared care rules.  If both parents care for the children 50/50 then there is no Child Maintenance Liability. However, it’s not enough to just have the children an equal number of nights: the actual day to day pastoral care and support also needs to be equal.

Raymond Benn “I split with my soon to be ex 7 months ago after a week I had a phone call from the CMS.  A friend of mine told me that because I had the children half the time I did not need to pay any child maintenance payments.  When I told the CMS about this they said that the information was wrong I was assessed to pay £3380 a year.  I told my friend about this and he told me to contact Durham Legal Services.  When I explained to them the care arrangements they told me that I should not be paying any Child Support Payments.  They took over my case and 7 days later I received a letter saying that my annual liability was Nil “ 

Many parents still feel they are still entitled to some form of maintenance even if there is 50/50 shared care.  In the past it has been usual for the higher earner to still pay child maintenance, we recognises this and help parents to understand the new rules and the new approach to shared parenting.

Tony and Helen Newton “When we split we wanted to keep things as normal as possible for the children.  We were both recommended by our solicitors to contact Durham Legal Services to work out the best way to approach child support.  We were aware that 50/50 would mean Tony would not need to pay any child support, but at the same time he earns three times as much and it would mean when I had the children stay with me their standard of living would be less than when they stayed with Tony.  Durham Legal help us through this and we set up a number of funds i.e. school uniform fund and we both pay into it a % of our earning and that works well for us.”

We all like to blow our own trumpet now and then Our Senior Partner Mike Smith LLB has specialised in the field of Child Support for the last 21 years, and has a real passion for shaping Child Maintenance legislation. He was heavily involved with the Upper Tribunal decision GR vs CMEC 2011 UKUT 101 AAC which now gives us the legal definition of person with care. This has become very relevant in light of the new legislation where no maintenance becomes payable when 50/50 shared care is in existence. In cases like this Mike has been using the Footprint System to help parents to make there own arrangements.

Child Maintenance Service Advice

CSA Testimonials

Without doubt I have the most awkward ex partner any man could ever have, you name it I have been accused of doing it. I meet a new partner and things went from bad to worse with my ex taking me to 3 different appeals.

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We are confident not only about the advice we offer but the standard of that advice. Durham Legal Services has represented people with child support problems for the last twenty years. We know we can help you if you have a real CSA problem.

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