Parents have a financial responsibility to their children in relation to child maintenance costs, whether the parents are married or unmarried.
The first is by way of an agreement between the parents as to the specific amount of maintenance based on both parents’ income, their financial circumstances and the needs of the child. Parents may also agree to contribute to additional expenses for the child, such as school trips, school uniforms and dentist and doctor’s fees.
If the parents are unable to reach an agreement regarding child maintenance costs, the resident parent may wish to make an application to the Royal Court. Both parents will be required by the Court to complete forms disclosing their finances and their assets. Once the forms have been exchanged, the non-resident parent’s lawyer will calculate the amount of child maintenance payable per child, per week based on the non-resident parent’s financial circumstances. The rate will usually be in line with the UK Child Support Agency Guidelines (the “CSA guidelines”); however the Jersey Courts do have discretion in this regard.
The guideline amounts set by the CSA are as follows:
Although the Jersey Courts are not bound by the CSA guidelines, the Court will take into account the guidance of the CSA, which is often a good starting point when calculating child maintenance costs. In addition to the CSA guidelines, the Court will also take into account any issues as to affordability and will consider both parties’ outgoings and liabilities.
Once the Court has made a decision as to the level of maintenance payable, the decision will be reflected in an Order of the Court, which is binding on both parties. Should the non-resident party default, the resident parent may enforce the order in the Petty Debts Court.
Natalie Jenner | Partner | Divorce and Family law
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