Why the dinosaurs’ days are numbered in the current child support system

By Peter Jones, founder

A senior judge’s call for parents with valuable homes to be forced to pay more child support highlights a loophole in the system which is criticised as being unfair and does not put children’s interests first.

Since 2012, child maintenance payments have been based on income only, with assets not included in calculations by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), which decides the rate. This means that people can live off their capital, declare a low income and pay minimal child support.

While Mr Justice Mostyn has said that the law is unjust and should be changed, in my opinion a more comprehensive solution would be to return child maintenance in matrimonial and non- matrimonial cases to the jurisdiction of the family court. The courts should be accessed through one uniform procedure, regardless of the parent’s matrimonial status.

Here judges have a wide discretion and would ensure that the family assets are shared to achieve fairness – with the first consideration being the welfare of any children.

This would also free up the CMS to concentrate on its other vital responsibilities such as pursuing parents who do not pay and enforcing child upkeep.

In addition, the Matrimonial Causes Act should be re-examined with a view to making it fit for purpose for today’s modern and evolving world.

Drafted forty years ago, it has been criticised for provoking conflict and confrontation. In 2013, retiring High Court judge Paul Coleridge aptly said: “The days of the gladiatorial wars of the titans are over. The dinosaurs have had their day.”

As members of Resolution, all Jones Myers family lawyers are prominent supporters of alternative dispute resolution – striving to resolve family disputes constructively, to try to avoid costly, public and stressful litigation.

Our approach encourages clients to co-operate and reach agreement wherever possible about dividing their assets and securing the future of their children, whose interests should be at heart of everything.

For more information about children’s issues or any aspect of family law, call Jones Myers at our Leeds office on 0113 246 0055, our Harrogate office on 01423 276104, visit www.jonesmyers.co.uk, email info@jonesmyers.co.uk or tweet us @helpwithdivorce

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