At present there is a transition period whilst the Child Support Agency (CSA) hands over to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
It is common for separating couples to agree an appropriate level of child maintenance between themselves and therefore the CSA/CMS may never be involved. However, even if not directly involved, the principles adopted by these organisations in calculating the appropriate level of maintenance are carefully considered when agreeing matters directly. Broadly speaking, the rule is that the non-resident parent must pay the parent with care:
12% of their gross income up to £800 per week and 9% of their gross income between £801 and £3,000 per week if there is one child
16% of their gross income up to £800 per week and 12% of their gross income between £801 and £3,000 per week if there are two children
19% of their gross income up to £800 per week and 15% of their gross income between £801 and £3,000 per week if there are three children
up to a maximum gross income of £156,000 per annum. Various other factors can lead to an adjustment of these calculations if appropriate, for example if the children spend a lot of time with the non-resident parent or if the non-resident parent has to support other children as well. If the gross income being considered exceeds £156,000 per annum then the court can be asked to “top up” the CMS level of maintenance.
A claim for child maintenance is usually dealt with for married couples as part of an overall negotiated agreement about your financial claims upon divorce and for unmarried couples when considering what other financial arrangements can be made for the child or the applicant upon separation eg when considering your potential property rights or other financial claims on behalf of a child such as capital support from the non-resident parent.