Child Support Act 1995

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1995 c. 34


Child Support Act 1995

1995 CHAPTER 34

An Act to make provision with respect to child support maintenance and other maintenance; and to provide for a child maintenance bonus.

[19th July 1995]

B e it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Application for a departure direction

Application for a departure direction

S-1 Applications for departure directions.

1 Applications for departure directions.

(1) In the 1991 Act, insert after section 28—

Departure from usual rules for determining maintenance assessments

‘Departure from usual rules for determining maintenance assessments

S-28A

28A Application for a departure direction.

(1) Where a maintenance assessment (‘the current assessment’) is in force—

(a) the person with care, or absent parent, with respect to whom it was made, or

(b) where the application for the current assessment was made under section 7, either of those persons or the child concerned,

may apply to the Secretary of State for a direction under section 28F (a ‘departure direction’).

(2) An application for a departure direction shall state in writing the grounds on which it is made and shall, in particular, state whether it is based on—

(a) the effect of the current assessment; or

(b) a material change in the circumstances of the case since the current assessment was made.

(3) In other respects, an application for a departure direction shall be made in such manner as may be prescribed.

(4) An application may be made under this section even though—

(a) an application for a review has been made under section 17 or 18 with respect to the current assessment; or

(b) a child support officer is conducting a review of the current assessment under section 16 or 19.

(5) If the Secretary of State considers it appropriate to do so, he may by regulations provide for the question whether a change of circumstances is material to be determined in accordance with the regulations.

(6) Schedule 4A has effect in relation to departure directions.’

(2) Schedule 1 inserts in the 1991 Act a new Schedule 4A which makes supplemental provision with respect to procedural and other matters.

S-2 Preliminary consideration.

2 Preliminary consideration.

In the 1991 Act, insert after section 28A—

S-28B

28B ‘Preliminary consideration of applications.

(1) Where an application for a departure direction has been duly made to the Secretary of State, he may give the application a preliminary consideration.

(2) Where the Secretary of State does so he may, on completing the preliminary consideration, reject the application if it appears to him—

(a) that there are no grounds on which a departure direction could be given in response to the application; or

(b) that the difference between the current amount and the revised amount is less than an amount to be calculated in accordance with regulations made by the Secretary of State for the purposes of this subsection and section 28F(4).

(3) In subsection (2)—

‘the current amount’ means the amount of the child support maintenance fixed by the current assessment; and

‘the revised amount’ means the amount of child support maintenance which, but for subsection (2)(b), would be fixed if a fresh maintenance assessment were to be made as a result of a departure direction allowing the departure applied for.

(4) Before completing any preliminary consideration, the Secretary of State may refer the current assessment to a child support officer for it to be reviewed as if an application for a review had been made under section 17 or 18.

(5) A review initiated by a reference under subsection (4) shall be conducted as if subsection (4) of section 17, or (as the case may be) subsection (8) of section 18, were omitted.

(6) Where, as a result of a review of the current assessment under section 16, 17, 18 or 19 (including a review initiated by a reference under subsection (4)), a fresh maintenance assessment is made, the Secretary of State—

(a) shall notify the applicant and such other persons as may be prescribed that the fresh maintenance assessment has been made; and

(b) may direct that the application is to lapse unless, before the end of such period as may be prescribed, the applicant notifies the Secretary of State that he wishes it to stand.’

S-3 Imposition of a regular payments condition.

3 Imposition of a regular payments condition.

In the 1991 Act, insert after section 28B—

S-28C

28C ‘Imposition of a regular payments condition.

(1) Where an application for a departure direction is made by an absent parent, the Secretary of State may impose on him one of the conditions mentioned in subsection (2) (‘a regular payments condition’).

(2) The conditions are that—

(a) the applicant must make the payments of child support maintenance fixed by the current assessment;

(b) the applicant must make such reduced payments of child support maintenance as may be determined in accordance with regulations made by the Secretary of State.

(3) Where the Secretary of State imposes a regular payments condition, he shall give written notice to the absent parent and person with care concerned of the imposition of the condition and of the effect of failure to comply with it.

(4) A regular payments condition shall cease to have effect on the failure or determination of the application.

(5) For the purposes of subsection (4), an application for a departure direction fails if—

(a) it lapses or is withdrawn; or

(b) the Secretary of State rejects it on completing a preliminary consideration under section 28B.

(6) Where an absent parent has failed to comply with a regular payments condition—

(a) the Secretary of State may refuse to consider the application; and

(b) in prescribed circumstances the application shall lapse.

(7) The question whether an absent parent has failed to comply with a regular payments condition shall be determined by the Secretary of State.

(8) Where the Secretary of State determines that an absent parent has failed to comply with a regular payments condition he shall give that parent, and the person with care concerned, written notice of his decision.’

S-4 Determination of applications.

4 Determination of applications.

In the 1991 Act, insert after section 28C—

S-28D

28D ‘Determination of applications.

(1) Where an application for a departure direction has not failed, the Secretary of State shall—

(a) determine the application in accordance with the relevant provisions of, or made under, this Act; or

(b) refer the application to a child support appeal tribunal for the tribunal to determine it in accordance with those provisions.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), an application for a departure direction has failed if—

(a) it has lapsed or been withdrawn; or

(b) the Secretary of State has rejected it on completing a preliminary consideration under section 28B.

(3) In dealing with an application for a departure direction which has been referred to it under subsection (1)(b), a child support appeal tribunal shall have the same powers, and be subject to the same duties, as would the Secretary of State if he were dealing with the application.’

S-5 Matters to be taken into account.

5 Matters to be taken into account.

In the 1991 Act, insert after section 28D—

S-28E

28E ‘Matters to be taken into account.

(1) In determining any application for a departure direction, the Secretary of State shall have regard both to the general principles set out in subsection (2) and to such other considerations as may be prescribed.

(2) The general principles are that—

(a) parents should be responsible for maintaining their children whenever they can afford to do so;

(b) where a parent has more than one child, his obligation to maintain any one of them should be no less of an obligation than his obligation to maintain any other of them.

(3) In determining any application for a departure direction, the Secretary of State shall take into account any representations made to him—

(a) by the person with care or absent parent concerned; or

(b) where the application for the current assessment was made under section 7, by either of them or the child concerned.

(4) In determining any application for a departure direction, no account shall be taken of the fact that—

(a) any part of the income of the person with care concerned is, or would be if a departure direction were made, derived from any benefit; or

(b) some or all of any child support maintenance might be taken into account in any manner in relation to any entitlement to benefit.

(5) In this section ‘benefit’ has such meaning as may be prescribed.’

S-6 Departure directions.

6 Departure directions.

(1) In the 1991 Act, insert after section 28E—

S-28F

28F ‘Departure directions.

(1) The Secretary of State may give a departure direction if—

(a) he is satisfied that the case is one which falls within one or more of the cases set out in Part I of Schedule 4B or in regulations made under that Part; and

(b) it is his opinion that, in all the circumstances of the case, it would be just and equitable to give a departure direction.

(2) In considering whether it would be just and equitable in any case to give a departure direction, the Secretary of State shall have regard, in particular, to—

(a) the financial circumstances of the absent...

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