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.
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.
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.
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.
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.