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Children: Maintenance

Volume 471: debated on Monday 28 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the rationale is for taking a parent's new partner's income into account in setting contributions under the old Child Support Agency rules; and if he will give consideration to amending the old rules to reflect the situation under the new rules. (179729)

Statutory maintenance schemes have been designed around the principle that the responsibility to support a child applies to its natural or adoptive parents.

Responsibility does not extend to a parent's new partner. In the old child support scheme, the non-resident parent's partner's income may be taken into account in order to assess the extent to which the partner may be expected to contribute financially to the upkeep of any children of their relationship, and to ensure that that family has sufficient disposable income to meet their day-to-day needs. This could affect the amount of maintenance that the non-resident parent must pay.

Under the new child support scheme, introduced in March 2003, the method of calculating child support maintenance was simplified in a number of ways, which included removing the need to take into account the non-resident parent's partner's income.

Currently there are no plans to change the old rules to reflect the new rules. However, once the future scheme, currently being debated by Parliament in the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill, is fully implemented, all cases will operate on a single set of rules and, as with the new scheme, no account will be taken of a parent's new partner's income.