Contact and Child Support - Putting the Horse before the Cart

10 APR 2007

Nick Wikeley, Professor of Law, University of Southampton. Payment of child support is often viewed by parents as a precondition for child contact. However, it is a longstanding legal principle that, notwithstanding the inevitable links between child contact and child support, these are separate issues. Contact must be decided and support is then worked out appropriately.

The difficult relationship between provision for child contact and liability for child support is not made easier by the Government's decision to delay the transfer of parents who are subject to the pre-3 March 2003 Child Support Agency (CSA) scheme to the new one. This article looks at the recent case of Re B (Contact: Child Support) [2006] EWCA Civ 1574 where the link between child contact and child support and the difficulties with the old CSA scheme were caught up in one factual situation. The article considers, amongst other things, whether the child support system contributes to the view that child contact and child support should be interlinked, despite the courts continued emphasis that they should not. What can and should be done to reform the child support system? Is it possible to legislate for a fair outcome for all families? In what ways can policy and legislative reform encourage shared parenting? For the full article see April [2007] Fam Law.

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