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Financial Provision for Children
When parents have separated, clear advice is needed at an early stage to help you work out an appropriate level of child maintenance for your children.
In circumstances where an agreement is not possible, an application can be made to the Child Support Agency for a child maintenance assessment. The court now only has a very limited jurisdiction to make maintenance orders and an assessment of child maintenance is now largely the domain of the CSA.
The amount of child maintenance payable will vary depending on the number of children you have, the amount of the non-resident parent's net income and their personal circumstances as well as the amount of time the children spend with the non-resident parent.
Our family lawyers can provide you with expert advice on the factors that will determine whether an application to the CSA is necessary and likely outcome.
Variation Reviews and Appeals
If a child maintenance assessment has been made by the CSA and you are unhappy with the decision, there are various routes available to challenge an assessment.
It may be possible to obtain a variation of the assessment if you think that the CSA has got it wrong.
If new information has come to light, it may be possible to ask the CSA to review their decision and in some circumstances it may be necessary to mount an appeal against the decision of the CSA. Often in these circumstances, once a decision has been made by the CSA, time is of the essence if you wish to challenge the decision and you should contact our team of specialist lawyers for advice.
The CSA can only make an assessment against a biological parent. In some circumstances, a request can be made directly to the CSA for DNA testing in the event of a paternity dispute. However, there are circumstances where the CSA decline to get involved in paternity disputes. In those circumstances, if paternity is in issue, we can provide you with advice on settling a paternity dispute and guide you through the process of making an application for a declaration of parentage through the court if this is necessary.
What is CMEC?
The Child Support Agency (CSA) has become part of and will eventually be replaced by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC).
Some of the key features of CMEC will mean enhanced powers of enforcement for the collection of child maintenance and will result in assessments that are based on the non-resident parent's gross income.
If you already have a case with the CSA we can advise you how and when these changes will affect your case and if you are making an application for a child support assessment, what impact the introduction of CMEC will have on the outcome.
Applications to court for child maintenance
In some circumstances the court does still retain jurisdiction to make financial orders in connection with the children.
In cases involving wealthy parents, it may be possible to make an application to the court for a top-up to any CSA assessment. If you are concerned about payment of school fees or medical expenses then it may be possible to make an application for a maintenance order to cover these costs.
In specific circumstances, the court does still have jurisdiction to make orders for lump sums and property settlement orders for the benefit of children whilst they are dependents.
There are complex rules relating to capital settlements for children which involve a detailed consideration of both parents financial circumstances and consideration of the tax implications of setting up such a settlement.
Our family lawyers can expertly guide you through the process of making such an application and the likely outcomes.