Variation grounds – Child Maintenance Service

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The regulations that govern the operation of the 2012 Child Maintenance Service provide for both paying and receiving parents to be able to make applications to apply for a  variation to alter the amount of maintenance due to be paid under the basic formula.

Paying Parents

Paying parents can apply to vary the amount of maintenance due by applying for the following to be considered:

  1. Contact Costs (including fuel, tickets for travel, tolls paid during the journey, cost of car hire and, where a return journey on the same day is impractical, overnight accommodation).
  2. Expenses incurred in caring for a relevant other child with long term disability or illness.
  3. Prior debts incurred (in relation to the qualifying child) by the non resident parent before they became the non resident parent.
  4. The “maintenance element” of boarding school fees.
  5. Certain mortgages, loans or insurance policies.

The financial threshold for consideration is £10 per week.

Receiving Parents

Receiving parents can apply to vary the amount due by asking for the following to be considered:

  1. Unearned income. Where the amount of unearned income exceeds £2,500 per annum the resident parent can apply for it to be taken into account for the purposes of child maintenance. Where this ground is applied the CMS will have reference to the latest information available from HMRC for the most recent tax year.
  2. Non resident parent on a flat or nil rate with gross weekly income. This income must exceed £100 per week and this ground applies to a very specific sub set of the population including prisoners, children, people receiving an allowance for skill based training, and people resident in a care home.
  3. Diversion. The Secretary of State can apply a variation where they are convinced that a paying parent has unreasonably reduced the amount of income that would be taken into account as gross weekly income or unearned income. This ground would include diversion to people other than the paying parent.

Provision of Information

If  either a paying parent or a receiving parent is applying for a variation then the onus is on them to prove that the variation should be granted (not on the other party to prove it shouldn’t be or the CMS to do the investigative work).

Whatever is sent in support of the application is likely to be sent to the other party so that they will have a chance to respond (and whatever they provide by way of response may be sent to the applicant).

If you’re not satisfied with the way that the CMS has handled you case you should complain to them and involve your MP. See our pro forma complaint letter which you can alter to suite the circumstances of your case. 

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