Child support—general considerations

The following Family practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Child support—general considerations
  • Jurisdiction
  • The statutory scheme
  • CSA 1991
  • Jurisdiction of the courts

Child support—general considerations

This Practice Note details the jurisdiction in relation to child support, via the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), and in limited circumstances via the courts. The courts may have jurisdiction to make or vary orders for maintenance for children, for example, where the payer’s income exceeds a specified amount and a top-up order may be made, or where a child has a disability or special needs. The statutory child support scheme is also considered. It is primarily concerned with the children of spouses/civil partners or former spouses/civil partners. For practical guidance in relation to the children of cohabitants or former cohabitants, see also Practice Notes: Statutory child support scheme and Maintenance provision for children under Schedule 1 to the Children Act 1989.

Regarding the jurisdiction of the courts generally to make orders in financial order proceedings on divorce or dissolution, see Practice Note: Financial proceedings—orders that can be made by the court.


The statutory scheme

With effect from April 1993, maintenance for children, whose parents lived apart, was determined by the Child Support Agency (CSA), as established by the Child Support Act 1991 (CSA 1991) (as amended). Subsequently the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (C-MEC) was established by the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 (CMOPA 2008) until August 2012. In August 2012, statutory child maintenance came under the auspices of the Department of Work

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