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The 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme - what to think about before you apply for a variation

This advice applies to Wales

If you use the 2012 Child Maintenance Scheme to work out your maintenance payments and your circumstances change for certain reasons you may be able to ask for a variation. If the reasons why you’re asking for the variation are accepted, the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) will re-calculate your maintenance payments to reflect the changes.

Either of you can ask for a variation at any time if you have grounds for doing so. This can be before the calculation is worked out or if something changes later on.

This page tells you more about things to think about before applying for a variation.

When can you ask for a variation?

You can only ask for a variation for certain reasons. This will depend whether you’re the parent who’s paying maintenance or the parent who’s getting maintenance.

If you’re the parent paying maintenance

If you’re the parent paying maintenance, you can ask for a variation if you have certain special expenses. These include:

  • the costs of keeping in touch with your children
  • additional costs for looking after a sick or disabled child
  • certain loans, debts and fees
  • certain financial expenses, such as mortgage and insurance payments.

If you’re the parent getting maintenance

If you’re the parent getting maintenance you can ask for a variation if you think the parent paying maintenance has other taxable income which hasn’t been included in the maintenance calculation.

Things to think about before you apply for a variation

If you’re considering whether to apply for a variation, you should think about whether it’s likely to be agreed. You should first think about whether you have proper grounds for making an application.

What factors the CMS will take into account

The CMS must always consider the welfare of any child likely to be affected by the variation in payments.

The CMS cannot take into account:

  • the fact that either or both of you didn’t plan to conceive the child
  • who was responsible for the breakdown of the relationship
  • whether either of you now has a new relationship
  • whether contact arrangements are kept to
  • the income or assets of someone else. This could be, for example, a new partner of either of you.

When you can’t apply for a variation

There are circumstances when you can’t apply for variation. This will depend on whether you’re paying or getting maintenance.

If you’re the parent getting maintenance

You won’t qualify to apply for a variation for any of the following reasons:

  • the parent paying maintenance is getting income-based JSA, Income Support or income-related ESA
  • you’re getting a default rate of maintenance because not enough information was supplied to make a calculation
  • you’re applying on the grounds that the parent paying maintenance has additional income and the original calculation was made on the assumption they had an income of £3,000 a week or more. In this case, you could apply to court for more maintenance.

If you think the other parent is withholding or providing false information

It usually won’t be appropriate for you to apply for a variation if the parent who pays maintenance is withholding information or giving false information which affected the original maintenance calculation.

Withholding or giving false information to the CMS is a criminal offence. If you think the other parent is doing this, you should ask for a review or appeal against the calculation instead.

If you’re the parent paying maintenance

If you’re the parent who has to pay maintenance, you won’t qualify to apply for a variation if:

  • your maintenance calculation is £5 per week
  • any special expenses are £10 or less a week, unless the expenses cover the illness or disability of a child living with you
  • your gross weekly income is £3,000 or more, even after deducting the amount for special expenses
  • you’re getting income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Income Support (IS) or income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • you’re paying a default rate of child maintenance because not enough information was been supplied to make a maintenance calculation.

Other useful information

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