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Children: Maintenance

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is planning to take account of the costs of both parents in looking after their children in the child maintenance system. (206200)

Maintenance calculations under the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (C-MEC) will reflect the principles introduced with the simpler formula in 2003, that is, a structure of percentage rates based on the non-resident parent's income and number of qualifying children. The percentage rates strike the right balance between the needs of the child and the other expenses that non-resident parents have to meet.

A reduction in the amount of child maintenance otherwise payable will continue to apply where the non-resident parent shares the care of a qualifying child for 52 or more nights a year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what account the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission will take of the savings and capital of non-resident parents (a) before and (b) after an application for maintenance is made by the resident parent. (206202)

Savings and capital can be taken into account only once maintenance has been applied for. A parent with care can apply for a variation to the standard maintenance calculation where the non-resident parent has significant assets, investments and other forms of capital, which amount to more than £65,000.

However, a variation will be allowed only where it is "just and equitable" to do so. Broadly this means that the result of the variation must be fair taking account of all the circumstances of the case, and, in particular, the welfare of any child likely to be affected. This includes the child for whom maintenance is paid as well as any other children living with either parent.