Rebecca Tarn, solicitor with Major Family Law, Hexham, Northumberland and Newcastle’s leading family law specialists comments in December 2012 the government introduced the new gross income scheme in relation to the calculation of child maintenance.

The main change introduced by the scheme is that the level of child support payable by a non-resident parent is now based on their gross, rather than net, income. Unfortunately one side effect of the new scheme is that the formula for calculating maintenance is now slightly more complicated.

In simple terms, if the non-resident parent earns a gross income of under £800 per week they will be require to pay 12, 16 or 19 % of their gross pay to the person with care of the children as child maintenance, depending on whether there are one, two or three/more children. For those earning a gross income of between £800 and £3,000 per week their obligation will be 9, 12, or 15 %.

In broad terms the resultant maintenance will be much the same as under the previous formula, although the government has indicated that around half of the cases dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service will see an increase of about £5 per week.

In light of the changes to child support, the Department for Work and Pensions has now provided a new child maintenance online resource to help separated parents work out what they should be paying/receiving.

The online resource is intended to provide up to date information about child maintenance and other issues of interest to separated parents to include the following:

• The changes to the child maintenance regime, including the fees and charges, together with an online calculator

  • practical support for separating parents
  • a guide to mediation, and
  • fact sheets for budgeting and debt

The service can be found at