Creative Accounting

Helpful suggestion from a District Judge the other day: when making a shared residence order couple it with a condition pursuant to s11(7) Children Act 1989 providing that the parent in receipt of Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits / Working Tax Credits pay to the other each week / month a sum representing the pro rata proportion of those benefits commensurate with the proportion of time the other parent will be spending with the other. This is a useful if artificial mechanism for apportioning the finances between parents who are each incurring the costs associated with having a child live with them in circumstances where the relevant authorities will only treat one parent as being entitled to benefit. Child Tax Credits can’t cope with shared residence, so these orders can help to realign the position to make the unworkable workable. Of course it would be easier for HMRC to agree to pay a lower rate of CTC to each parent but hey ho. Alternatively a consent pps order could be made.

When made under s11(7) such an order would be prima facie enforceable like any other s8 order, although who can guess how keen a court would be to enforce this kind of order in practice when parliament has deliberately taken most issues of child maintenance out of the hands of the court.

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