Can I Change My Child Support Order?

In the UK, child support is managed by the Child Support Agency (CSA), which has received plenty of criticism in the past for failing to enforce maintenance orders. Without the CSA’s involvement, however, many children would be deprived the basic level of financial support they need from both parents. The CSA is also on hand to help parents deal with changes in circumstances that can affect child maintenance.

Change in Circumstances

Sometimes child maintenance orders require modification. If parents managed to reach an agreement when discussing the terms of the original order, it stands to reason that they might be able to negotiate a revision if personal circumstances change. Communication is obviously important. Former partners who are able to get on well with each other for the sake of their children are in the best position to discuss a new agreement.

Unfortunately, many separations are far from amicable. If parents are hostile to each other, the probability of their agreeing a new maintenance deal is likely to be extremely remote. Fortunately, the CSA invites requests to modify child support, so embittered parents need not always attempt to reach agreement amongst themselves.

In fact, the CSA must be notified in the event of a change in personal or financial circumstances. If the person who pays child maintenance moves home or changes his telephone number he must contact the CSA within a reasonable period of time. Likewise, if his employment circumstances change he should contact the agency without delay.


Modifying Child Maintenance

A child support order is automatically recalculated when the person who pays maintenance experiences a change in earnings of 10 per cent or more. This change can be either an increase or a decrease. Though the recalculation is automatic in one sense, child maintenance will only be amended after the CSA has been notified of the change in circumstances, so it is important to keep the agency informed whenever a change has occurred.

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Some parents are not happy with the original maintenance order. Perhaps child support is insufficient for the needs of a child. Perhaps the person who pays the maintenance has circumvented traditional checks on income and could pay more than he claims. Perhaps a parent wants to make more of a contribution. Many changes to child maintenance are actually made when parental responsibility shifts from the primary carer to the non-resident parent. This often occurs when a child gets older, but it is important to note that a child support order usually lasts until the child reaches the age of 19.

The quickest way to initiate change is to access the CSA’s online child support calculator. Options exist online to enable parents to reassess child support orders and related information. If a modification is necessary, the parent who wishes to make the change should follow the options online or contact the CSA by telephone. A modification may be disputed, in which case the CSA or family court will be required to review all evidence before making a decision.

Discussing child maintenance with a former partner may not always be possible, especially if domestic violence is an issue, but most parents who are able to amicably discuss child support modifications will be able to reach a compromise. If modifications are enforced via the CSA, disputes can place additional strain on all those concerned, so communication is usually a parent’s greatest asset in prompting change.

This article was written on behalf of

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