Totally immersed in what we do. We live and breathe family law
Home » Blog » Does a new partner affect child support in the UK?

Does a new partner affect child support in the UK?

Graphic of builder penguins around igloo shaped like pound sign

Child maintenance payments are regular financial contributions made towards a child’s day-to-day living costs. The ‘paying parent’ makes a regular payment to the parent that has ‘day-to-day’ care of the child. 

It may be that the parents are able to reach a private agreement in respect of the level of maintenance that is paid, in which case there is no need to rely on the Child Maintenance Service (“CMS”) or the Court. Whilst it is generally preferable if parents can reach a private agreement, it is important to note that private agreements are not legally binding. 

Where parents are unable to reach a private agreement, in the majority of cases, it is possible to rely on the CMS  which advises on the level of maintenance to be paid and, where necessary, is able to assist with the enforcement of payments. In a small proportion of cases, the Court can also assist with child maintenance.

In circumstances where a paying parent, or a receiving parent, enters into a new relationship, a question frequently asked is whether this affects child maintenance payments. The short answer is no, it does not have a bearing on the level of payments to be made. That being said, the payments may be impacted if the paying parent begins to support other children. 

What is the Child Maintenance Service?

The CMS is a government body which was set up to deal with statutory child maintenance. The CMS is able to calculate and, if necessary, collect and enforce child maintenance payments. Besides a number of limited exceptions, the CMS is able to deal with all maintenance calculations where both parents and the child live in the UK.

When assessing the level of payments to be made, the CMS will begin by determining the income that the paying parent receives and then consider whether there are any other relevant factors that affect the income. They will then apply the statutory child maintenance rates to determine the level of maintenance that should be paid.  

To calculate child maintenance, the government has a free and easy-to-use calculator which can be accessed here.  Please note that by using this calculator, you will not be entering into any binding agreements.

For the child maintenance calculation to be binding and enforceable, it will be necessary to make an application to the CMS. If necessary, the CMS can also assist with collecting payments, although this will incur an additional fee.  

When does the CMS not have jurisdiction?

Whilst the CMS is able to deal with the majority of maintenance payments, there are certain circumstances where it would be necessary to make an application to the court.  

Please see below a non-exhaustive list of circumstances in which the CMS does not have jurisdiction: 

  • The paying parent’s income exceeds £156,000 pa, in which case the court can make a top up order;
  • The child or paying parent lives abroad, but the court otherwise has jurisdiction to make a maintenance payment;
  • The parties have agreed on a maintenance payment and want that agreement made into an order. Note that this is only effective for a limited period of 12 months (either party can apply for a CMS assessment 12 months following the date of the order); or 
  • The Court may make an order to meet expenses associated with a child’s disabilities. 

Does a new partner affect your child maintenance payments in the UK? 

In some circumstances, it may be possible to vary the child maintenance payments you are making/receiving. However, the relevant legislation explicitly states that ‘the fact that the non-resident parent or the person with care of the qualifying child has formed a new relationship with a person who is not a parent of that child’ is not a factor to be taken into account when determining whether to vary maintenance payments. Therefore, a new partner does not affect your child maintenance payments if you are either the paying parent or the parent receiving the payments.

It is, however, worth bearing in mind that when assessing the level of payments to be made, the CMS takes into account how many children the paying parent supports. The CMS does this by reducing the paying parent’s gross weekly income by a percentage depending on the number of children who they or their partner get child benefits for. Therefore, if the paying parent were to have another child with a new partner, this would reduce their ‘income’ and consequently the payments that they are required to make. 

Something else that affects child maintenance payments is ‘shared care’. This is when a child who qualifies for child maintenance spends at least one night a week, on average, with the paying parent. The CMS will take into account the time spent with the paying parent and reduce the maintenance payments accordingly. By way of example, if the child spends 52 to 103 nights a year with the paying parent, there will be a 1/7th reduction to the child maintenance. The more time the child spends with the paying parent, the greater the reduction will be. If a child spends 50% of their time with each parent, there will be no child maintenance obligation. 

In the majority of circumstances, where there is a dispute regarding child maintenance it will be necessary to refer to the CMS, who apply a stringent set of criteria when determining the level of maintenance to be paid, and whether any variations should be made to existing payments. As set out above, the CMS will not take into consideration whether either parent has a new partner, when deciding whether to make a variation. 

At Rayden Solicitors, we can advise you if you are having difficulties with child maintenance payments. Our specialist family lawyers have years of experience in dealing with these types of parental responsibility matters and will be happy to assist you.

Need Help And Advice?

If you require assistance with any aspect of Family Law, please contact us on 01727 734260.

Contact Us

Speak to us

If you would like to arrange a first meeting or have any questions, please contact us or fill in the enquiry form below.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Related articles