If both parents and the child are habitually resident in the United Kingdom, the Child Support Agency has overriding jurisdiction in relation to the assessment and payment of child support (maintenance for a child). It applies to all children, whether or not their parents are married.
Child support is assessed by the Child Support Agency according to a formula which was introduced on 3rd March 2003. Under this formula, non-resident parents pay 15% of their net income for one child, 20% for two children, and 25% for three or more children. The calculation of the percentage is capped so that a non-resident parent will only pay child support on the first £104,000 of their net income.
When calculating net income, the Child Support Agency will exclude expenses and payments in kind. The Agency will also deduct pension payments but not housing costs.
The level of child support may be reduced if, for example, the non-resident parent has a second family, or is already paying boarding school fees for the child or the child stays with the non-resident parent for an average of not less than one night a week or a capital transfer has been made to the parent with care before April 1993.
The level of child support may be increased if, for example, the non-resident parent has assets of over £65,000 in addition to his home and business.
However, the income of the parent with care is not taken into account.
In cases where the net income of the non-resident parent is more than £104,000 a year, the parent with care can apply to the court for an order for additional maintenance for the child to cover expenses such as the costs of a nanny. These are known as “top up” orders. Furthermore, whatever the assessment made by the Child Support Agency, the court still retains the power to make orders to cover the cost of school fees. Unlike top up orders, no thresholds have to be met.