Home > Child Support Defined > Income: Protected, Assessable and Exempt

Income: Protected, Assessable and Exempt

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 9 Oct 2023 |
Income Child Support Csa Payment

Although there have been reforms relating to the way in which child support payments are calculated, any child support payments that were calculated in 2003 and before then are still classified as coming under the ‘old rules.’ These were very complicated calculations and took into account a large volume of information that sometimes resulted in surprising outcomes.

Under the old rules, there are several classes of income: protected, assessable and exempt income. These three classes of income are treated in different ways by the CSA under the old rules for maintenance calculations.

Exempt Income

Income is classed as exempt if it is necessary for essential expenses for the parent. This applies to both parents - resident and non-resident. The way the amount of exempt income is calculated is as follows:
  • a personal allowance for single people over the age of 25 years
  • an allowance for a child living with the parent (their own child)
  • if there is such a child, a family premium
  • a disabled premium for any qualifying child or parent
  • a carer premium
  • housing costs
  • travel costs for the purpose of employment, if travel for work is over 240 km per week.

Assessable Income

After basic living expenses have been deducted from a parent’s income, the rest of the income is assessable income. It is a portion of this remaining income that is used for the purpose of child support payments. If a parent is in receipt of benefits such as jobseeker’s allowance, income support or pension credit they are treated as not having any assessable income. Similarly, if a parent ‘with care’ is on working tax credit, they are treated as not having any assessable income.

The CSA does not take into account the non-resident parent’s partner’s income when calculating the amount of assessable income. If two people (the non-resident parent and his partner) work together, for example, in a joint business venture they will be treated as earning half of the total amount of income each.

Self employed non-resident parents’ income is calculated on taxable profits from self-employment. The CSA can demand a copy of the tax calculation notice (and any amendments thereto) for the purpose of obtaining the amount of assessable income. In the alternative, the parent can provide gross receipts instead. The calculation is then made by taking this figure and deducting tax, NI contributions, half of any pension premium, any VAT paid over that which has been received, and reasonable business expenses.

Protected Income

Once a calculation for child maintenance has been made, a figure will be proposed that is the suggested maintenance payment for a particular parent. However, it is also the case that non-resident parents will never be made to pay more than 30% of their net income for the purposes of child support. If the proposed maintenance amount totals a greater percentage of net income than 30%, it will be reduced so that it does not exceed the 30% cap.

A further calculation that is made in terms of protected income is intended to prevent the non-resident parent and his family being left below the level of income support because of paying child maintenance.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Hi I have £222 deducted from my wages every month to be paid to my Ex wife yet i have not seen my son in over a year because of his mums refusal to let me see him. i used to get letters from CSA on a daily basis and always contested it, i have been to court twice and still she refuses to let me see him, there are no legal reasons why i cant see him just her refusal and her insistence that if i want to see him then i take her to court.My ex wife doesnt work and receives over £1500 a month in various benefits. why should a father pay to the child when the mother refuses access.
Toffee74 - 9-Oct-23 @ 1:01 PM
Do I have to pay child support even though I'm on disability pension?
Chris - 22-Feb-23 @ 11:21 PM
Sam Wilcox, but you left him and you left the disabled child so what are you actually complaining about
Lulu - 15-Feb-23 @ 5:29 AM
Hi Back in the 90ies i split up with my husband and moved out the family home and i took my daught and my ex had my son.... I worked 15 hours a week and picked up £54 a week and i received 5 pound a fortnight income support.... My husband went onto income support and he got money off them andmy son dla and carers allowance and a few months later he got a job found a girlfriend so income support... Dla 310 month and got a job worth over 2 hundred pounds week then moved in with his new girlfriend she was single mother of 2 and they claimed the new tax credits child and working i got that.... The worst bit was he never had to pay me a penny maintenance allbecause he was on the new tax credit...if a man has to go on working tax credids he must be on a low wage so he is exempt from paying CSA...... He was getting a grand a week with all the benefits and her claiming as single mum.... This is the worst bit i a single mum of 1 and gets 54 week working wage and 5 pound a fortnight £5.10 a week i had to pay my ex for my son and nothing for me x now i call that very sexes
Sam Wilcox - 15-Dec-22 @ 11:11 PM
I love to see my son Dexter John Hayes 19 8 15, I cut his cord, owes u thousands, but refuse to pay untill I allowed to know my son OK, Got a son Max who's 20 calls me dad comes see me, had time with him was great dad. Never had chance with dex, WOMAN A, laws an arse,, Let me know dex and I pay, otherwise I rather go to jail
Toby - 8-Nov-22 @ 10:13 PM
I have there kids my girlfriend left me for another man I can't see my kids because she says it causes fight's between her a new boyfriend I have to pay child support I get 593 a month I'm in same three bed house we lived in together the rent is 500 then CSA take 45 I get 43 pounds a month to live on a I can't see my kids
Barnesy - 7-Oct-22 @ 1:03 AM
My husband pays his maintenance through the CSA, and drives well over 240KM per week to work, how can he get the CSA to take this into consideration?
Griffbag - 11-Jun-21 @ 8:35 AM
I have 4 children with my ex partner. After we split all children lived with me & she never sent any money to help with their keep. Now one of our children lives with her the other 3 remain with myself I pay child maintenance to help with her keep as I will always do the right thing for my daughter thru family agreement plan.How should maintenance work in this case scenario should we be paying each other or what? I see my daughter regularly but Their mum doesn't see the other 3 as regularly & will only take one of them maybe for a night or 2 at a time or weekend. We parents dont work so the maintenance is the small standard amount so reason I pay as it is a small amount to pay.
Goldrump - 6-Aug-20 @ 8:42 AM
I have 2 girls with a toxic ex, they don't remember the bad times, they see him, but sometimes don't want to go but I work! He had one leg and is more than capable of working but gets away with just claiming everything and had no respect for money or the free life, he refuses to help with anything for the girls, school uniform or clubs ect, as I've worked over lockdown, he's asking me for their child benefit, he had them 3 days a week for the last 5 weeks, but now it's summer holidays, do j have to give him money knowing it won't be spent on them??
Loz - 17-Jul-20 @ 3:09 AM
Hi just wondered how this works? I have a nearly 10 year old son with learning difficulties and possible ASD his dad has never paid for him as he has a partner and she has 2 children that ain't my sons dad's kids. When they calculate how much my son should get do they put his partners and her children in consideration?
Sam - 25-May-20 @ 3:38 PM
Can some one give advice. I have a court order saying the children live with both parents, date's are set. I do take full responsibility for the children and have the children 150 days a year. I was told the money i earn is 2 support the children and myself. But i am no being made 2 pay child maintenance witchi can't get my head around as the children live with me 5 mouths a year, i can't get any financial help and this money is being taken away from us. I am not a none resident parent and an in need for help and advice
Vincent - 10-Jul-19 @ 8:19 PM
Hi, I never got the chance to be involved with having access to bringing up my son. I have paid maintenance majority of the time of his upbringing. But I have been homeless and in receipt of benefits recently.Transferring from supported housing to council housing. When in receipt of benefits a reduced affordable rate is paid at that time. My question is because of the reduced rate during the time of being on benefits. Is an amount above that then forwarded to be paid when your back in work. In other words just because your paying a reduced rate being on benefit. The full amount still needs to be paid at a later date deducting the benefit rate paid when on benefits. Hopefully this makes sense. Thanks
Mark - 19-Mar-19 @ 6:52 PM
Hi, if I'm not allowed to see my kids and courts taken my legal rights away do I still have to pay my ex for kids I'm never aloud to see ?
Baz - 15-Mar-19 @ 9:07 PM
@Mswills - CMS will take payments but they prefer you to agree between you and it costs both ways. But if your ex pays late then it sounds like he's brought it on himself.
Matt - 11-Jun-18 @ 12:37 PM
My ex is late every month with maintenance payments for my son, I have applied to the csa for them to collect from him as we had a family agreement and it obviously doesn't work. He has now said he is going to contest the claim as he pays but is late sometimes, has anyone been through this and do I have a right to refuse his request to pay me direct to ensure my son gets his money on time
Mswills - 9-Jun-18 @ 5:33 PM
Do apprentices pay child maintenance payments ?
Pez - 5-Jun-17 @ 10:02 PM
Lupita - Your Question:
How can I have my child support case modified and reviewed from the first day ? July 2000 - to present I've requested for a review and since then I've had three children total of 5. I've been a single mother supporting my children which has caused hardship from being homeless numerous times not to mention lose of four years of not seeing my son who lives states away. I can't even travel to see him. The Mendocino county child support seems to be avoiding my request.

Our Response:
I'm afraid as we are a UK-based site, with knowledge of only UK-based family law we cannot advise on this.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Feb-17 @ 12:37 PM
How can I have my child support case modified and reviewed from the first day ? July 2000 - to present I've requested for a review and since then I've had three children total of 5 . I've been a single mother supporting my children which has caused hardship from being homeless numerous times not to mention lose of four years of not seeing my son who lives states away . I can't even travel to see him.The Mendocino county child support seems to be avoiding my request.
Lupita - 21-Feb-17 @ 7:31 PM
@steve - I suggest you give Maintenance Options a call on its free helpline, as there are a lot of questions which would take some time to answer this end. You can agree between your ex and you what you pay, so perhaps you could talk to her directly. You can have your travel taken into consideration which comes under special expenses link here.The link to the Child Options helpline is here here . I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Jan-15 @ 2:18 PM
Continuation of above message as only about 75% of that seems to be available to view above! Continued) I have already tried to contact my ex-wife by phone to once again try an amicable solution but as expected she seems to be ignoring my message. Basically I struggled when I was paying CSA before even though I was on 40K-50K salaries then but I know that if I do have to pay now what has been calculated by the government website and on speaking to 'Options' as £144.00 per month plus a potential extra 20% if they collect the money that I will not be able to continue to work and will be back on benefits. I managed to obtain a 2 bedroom flat when I moved back to the north, so my daughter had her own room when she came to stay with me, but if I cannot work I will be 'clobbered' for bedroom tax plus the extra needed on Council Tax. Worst scenario is I will need to move to a 1 bedroom flat and then my daughter will have nowhere to sleep when she comes to visit me 2-3 times a year. Any advise would be so appreciated. Regards, Steve.
Steve - 13-Jan-15 @ 11:39 AM
Hi. I am not 100% sure how this site works but I am hoping someone will be able to help me? I have previously paid CSA payments to my ex-wife for my 15 year old daughter. We separated when she was 3/4 years old and so I was 'locked' into what is now I guess the old CSA system. I have not paid any payments for several years due to being out of work but am now back in work although only earn £15,600 gross per annum. I have just received a letter about the new system from the Child Maintenance Service. I called Child Maintenance Options and was told I will pay around £144.00 per month which will basically mean there is no point me working as I struggle as it is. This was purely based on my current gross income of £15,600 p.a. I have always had regular contact with my daughter and when I could paid via the CSA. I buy her clothes etc when I can and used to see her every other w/end plus 1 full week at Christmas and the same in the Summer. I moved back up north because my mother was ill and I wanted to spend quality time with her before she passed away after living early 30 years in the south. She passed away in Feb. 2013 but even if I wanted to move back down south I couldn't because of the cost of living there. I seriously struggle now to pay my rent, council tax and utility bills plus maintaining my car so I can work and also visit my daughter or bring her up here as often as possible. These visits alone can cost up to £100 in fuel which I don't begrudge but really difficult to find and so limits how often I can visit her in West Sussex. if I am only seeing her for a weekend I have also had to find cheap hotels for us to stay in and now she is 15 she really also needs her own room which doubles the hotel cost. My questions are as follows: 1) Are my rent (due another increase soon), council tax, utility bills, upkeep of my car and food etc taken into account when calculating what I should pay? Information is VERY contradictory on the CSA and Child Maintenance Service sites and certainly the online calculator and advise I got from Child Maintenance Options wasn't considering this. 2) Is the fact that in our divorce I gave my ex-wife the marital home taken into consideration? 3) Are my travel costs and sometimes hotel costs, when I visit or collect my daughter, taken into account when what I should pay is calculated? 4) Are my ex-wife's earnings taken into account? She seems to have a very good life now and will marry again this year. She drives a convertible Audi with personalised number plate and her new husband to be drives a big BMW. I am pretty sure his earnings are not considered and although she has her 25 year old son still living with her he is not my son but did live with us when we were married and I was the principle earner. 5) Finally, is it true that with the new Child Maintenance Service that if they collect the payments they add a FURTHER 20% onto my assessed amount and my ex-wife will lose 4%? I have already tried t
Steve - 13-Jan-15 @ 11:33 AM
@£Betty£ - If you think you have been unfairly treated you can access the complaints and appeals Gov.uk page here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Nov-14 @ 11:30 AM
My ex husband opened a case with the Child Maintenance Service so they could over rule our consent order(which I battled for 3 years to get and cost me ££££) which detailed my child maintenance payments. He did this because he chose voluntary redundancy and received a 6 figure lump sum. I've been told by the CMS that he no longer has an income and he's been given a nil assessment. I work full time and juggle two young children by myself and he no longer sees them through his choice. I am exempt from any benefits due to my full time employment. He has numerous holidays...Dubai, Spain, France Egypt and many more skiing holidays, he rents a luxury apartment and is living a fruitful lifestyle. Because he opened the case with the CMS to use their blanket legislation to his advantage, I cannot close the case, it has to be him, but why would he!! After 6 months of pure upset and worry, I had nothing to do but to write to my MP. A blanket "one size fits all" approach cannot work in everyone's scenario. I was listening to a national radio channel a few months back about the CMS and I was able to air my concerns to the Work and Pensions Minister Steve Web. I was reassured and was informed that redundancy money was taken into consideration and that they has access to HMRC records and check them regularly. Calling the CMS with this information "from the horses mouth" so to speak, the staff knew nothing about it and contradicted everything he said. No action was taken. My ex husband was a perpetrator in which I suffered many years of emotional and financial abuse and and support from the Police. 3 years of a battle of a divorce, for it to end up him being assisted to walk away from his responsibilities. The government/CMS have supported him through this process. I'm left speechless.
£Betty£ - 26-Nov-14 @ 3:08 PM
Can you advise how CSA is calculated for self employed people and what expenses are taken into account. I'm self employed, I have a daughter from prev. Relationship but also have two children and a partner who is currently off on maternity leave. I'm providing for my family with no help or benefits. They now want me to pay £50 a week which to me is unaffordable in my current situation, my newborn has a temporary disability which we are having to attend hospital for regular appointments/treatment and to be honest they are just adding to my stress and worry. My current relationship is being affected by all of this and I'm working 6 days to be able to afford to live!!
Confused1 - 2-Mar-14 @ 9:45 PM
Hello Very simply, can anyone tell me whether the CSA are right? I am currently off sick and receiving Statutory Sick Pay which the CSA are using as 'earnings' for their calculation and this is fine. However, I have an insurance pay-out due to being off sick. This is tax-free, I pay no NI or contributions in relation to this pay out and it comes in the form of a monthly cheque until I return to work. The CSA are insisting that I tell them how much I receive as this is classed as 'earnings' - despite it being a fund that doesn't take into account income tax, NI etc! Is this right?
Cosmo - 15-Feb-14 @ 4:10 PM
Can you tell me what the protected income level is please. I have just returned to work and csa hav re calculated my claim. with arrears they will be taking more than half my wages.
boomer - 2-Mar-13 @ 6:21 PM
I would appreciate some advice: My boyfriend currently pays his ex maintenance for their son (aged 17 and in full time education) through the CSA. If we were to live together would my income have to be taken into account by the CSA in the calculation of maintenance payments due? Thanks for your advice.
bobtop57 - 27-Sep-12 @ 2:08 AM
Hi, Just about to start paying through the CSA and been given my assesment( old rules CSA1 ) on the info i gave them that I was renting a room with no utility bills or council tax. Now I just moved in with my partner who is on contribution employment and support allowance so I will now be paying the rent/council tax/fuel bills and i wondered if each of these bills will be taken into account when they reasses me? I am in full time employment and earn £350 weekly/net. I did download a leaflet from there site but after reading it several times i am non the wiser and have a headache. Would realy appreciate some advice put simply. Thanks in advance.
glock182 - 21-Sep-12 @ 9:58 AM
My ex has property valued at well over half a million pounds and is still buying more property for cash,but only pays me (via CSA) £35 a week.No this is not a joke - this is real.How do I go about getting a fair payment each week for our son? He seems to think that if he buys him a vidio game or a new pair of footy boots or takes him to the pictures that he is "doing his bit" and sees no reason to contribute towards food,clothes,shoes,gas,water,electricity etc etc etc. What should I do to have a fair contribution?I am going out of my mind with worry.
Badger - 9-May-12 @ 10:10 AM
After I lost my partnership in a business I had built up over three years, my marriage and contact with my children I went into a physical, and emotional decline which I have only recently been fighting back from. I am now a full time student at University and live entirely on burseries, grants and loans. Previously, although I managed to go on working self employed as a labourer/handyman/gardener my income dwindled, because of physical ilness and injury, year on year to less than £4300 p.a by the time I decided to try university after finally having to give in and sign on. I have always known that I found forms and figures difficult but it was at university that it was discovered that I have a form of Dyslexia which makes understanding even basic mathematics a challenge. I have finally been served with a liability order for over £3677. I cannot afford to pay an accountant or employ a solicitor. I attended court for the summons but waited all day only to be told that the CSA representative had not even told the Magistrate that I was there and the whole thing had just gone through. I have two questions. Do grants, loans and burseries count as income? How can I respond to what has happened. I feel like I'm on the ropes and have no idea how to stop being hit.
John - 2-May-11 @ 2:27 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments