UK Family Law Reform

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----- Original Message -----
To: dave.mortimer;
Sent: Thursday, August 24, 2006 4:50 PM
Subject: Sharing Child Benefit?

Dear Dave,

Thank you for your email to Ed Balls of 7th August (attached), in which you asked whether the Government has included a provision for sharing Child Benefit between parents that have shared parental responsibility of their children after separation or divorce, and if not, whether Ed Balls would be prepared to raise the issue. I have been asked to respond.

The law on Child Benefit provides that, where more than one person is responsible for a child and each satisfies the entitlement conditions, payment can only be made to one person in any one week. The law does not allow for Child Benefit to be paid to different people on alternate weeks. Where parents have more than one child, it is possible for each of them to claim for a different child, therefore effectively splitting the support received via Child Benefit.

Where more than one person is responsible for a child, the law leaves it to parents to decide between themselves which one of them should receive Child Benefit. In cases where a voluntary agreement cannot be reached, HM Revenue and Customs Commissioners will make the decision, based on their judgement of which parent is mainly responsible for the child's day-to-day care. Each case is decided solely on its own merits, based on the relevant facts of the case drawn from information provided by each of the claimants. The many factors that are considered include: what any court orders say about where the child lives and who cares for them; how much time the child spends living with each parent; who pays for the child's food and clothes; who arranges and pays for any childcare; and who looks after the child when they are ill and takes them to the doctor. The gender of the parents plays no part in the consideration of these cases.

The Government wants to ensure that the child is the ultimate beneficiary of Child Benefit and believes that this is best achieved by paying it to one parent only. The Government's view is that payment of support to the household with the main responsibility for the child is the most appropriate way to deal with the vast majority of families with children.

I hope you find this information helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Liz Davidson
Financial Support for Children and Young People

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