Child maintenance – special expenses variations
Can a non-resident parent apply for a special expenses variation in respect of payments to a mortgage on a property in which the resident parent and child live, where the non-resident parent retains an interest in the property?
Information provided by the CMS, both in writing (see here) and also by phone indicates the following:
A paying parent can apply for a ‘special expenses variation’ for … making payments on a mortgage, loan, or insurance policy for the home that the paying parent and receiving parent used to share – the receiving parent and the child or children must still live in the home, and the paying parent must have no legal or ‘equitable’ interest in it (must be at least £10 a week). This is on the basis of the wording of Regulation 67(2)(a)(iv). However, Regulation 67(2)(a)(i) states that this variation is in respect of a mortgage which is taken out by someone other than the non-resident parent.
Regulation 65 of the Child Support Maintenance Calculation Regulations 2012 (the “prior debts “variation) indicates that it is possible to apply for a variation on the basis of a non-resident parent paying a mortgage where that mortgage was taken out to facilitate the purchase of any property, which was and continues to be, the home of the parent with care and the child. This special expense would, in any event, be subject to the rule that it must be “just and equitable” to allow the variation. So the answer to the question above is that the parent may apply, though there is no guarantee the special expenses variation will be allowed. The application should be made under Regulation 65.
The legislation and regulations governing the workings of the Child Maintenance Service are famously impenetrable, and contacting the CMS by phone is quite possibly as frustrating as trying to book an appointment with a GP. However, there is some quite helpful online guidance.