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Reviewing calculations made under the 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

If your maintenance arrangement is calculated by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) under the 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme, it will usually stay in place for a reasonable amount of time. Then it will be reviewed to see if it is still correct.

This page tells you more about when a review will take place and when the arrangement could change.

In Northern Ireland, you can arrange maintenance through the Northern Ireland Child Maintenance Service.

If you want more information about the different ways you can arrange child maintenance, go to Child Maintenance Choices at www.nidirect.gov.uk.

Therefore, when the page refers to the Child Support Agency (CSA) or the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), in Northern Ireland this means the Northern Ireland Child Maintenance Service. When the page refers to Child Maintenance Options, in Northern Ireland this means Child Maintenance Choices.

How long will a maintenance calculation last?

When the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) has made a maintenance calculation under the 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme, the arrangement will stay in place for a reasonable amount of time.

The CMS doesn't say exactly how long this will be for but the first review will usually take place 12 months after the date that maintenance first became due. This is called the effective date. A review will then take place on the same date every year after that. This is called the Annual Review and there is detailed information about how it works on the GOV.UK website.

  • 'The Child Maintenance Annual Review - how it works', at www.gov.uk

If your circumstances change

Small changes in your personal circumstances won't affect your maintenance calculation.

However, if there's a big change in circumstances, the calculation may need to be changed before a review takes place. For example, if you're the parent paying maintenance you should tell the CMS if:

  • your current income changes by 25 per cent or more
  • you have another child with a new partner.

They will decide if the maintenance calculation needs to be changed.

How the CMS gets information to review a maintenance calculation

The CMS uses information which they get from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to carry out the review. HMRC passes on updates about your income as details of the most recent tax years become available.

This  includes your PAYE records as well as any income from self-employment, showed on your self-assessment tax returns. Information about your financial situation over the most recent tax year is called historic information.

If HMRC provides new historic information about your financial situation as part of the annual review, and your financial circumstances have changed, the CMS will make a new maintenance calculation even if the difference is very small.

If the existing calculation was based on historic information

If the existing calculation was based on historic information, and you want the new calculation to be based on current income, you'll have to show that your current income differs from the latest historic information provided by HMRC by at least 25 per cent.

If the existing calculation was based on current income

If the existing calculation is based on current income, the latest historic information provided by HMRC will be compared to that amount. If the difference is still 25 per cent or more, the current income figure will continue to apply. But if the difference is less than 25 per cent, the latest historic income figure will be used.

If the current income calculation has been in place for 12 months

The CMS will carry out a review if the maintenance calculation was based on current income and it has been in place for 12 months.

If you pay maintenance you'll have to send in evidence that shows your latest current income is still at least 25 per cent different from the latest historic information provided by HMRC.

If you can provide this evidence, the new current income will be used to make a new calculation.

If you can’t provide this evidence, the calculation will be worked out again, based on the historic information provided by HMRC.

Can you ask for a review if your circumstances change?

You may be able to ask for a review if your circumstances change.

Other useful information

  • More about how the CMS works out maintenance payments: www.gov.uk
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