Pandemic problem solving: What do I do if my child’s other parent can’t pay maintenance?

As COVID-19 spreads around Europe, most people’s knee jerk worry has been the health of themselves and their loved ones.

The second is how they will pay for them to live in a now tightly-restricted economy.

So, what should you do if you’re a primary carer and your child’s other parent can’t pay their maintenance in the current climate?

We’ve gotten in touch with the island’s director of social security, Victoria McLauchlan, to give a breakdown on how this can impact on entitlement to benefits for the primary carer.

The way child maintenance is treated for social security benefits depends on what benefits the primary carer receives.

  1. Income Support & income based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

For these two, maintenance received from the child’s other parent is taken into account in full.

This means that for each £1 of maintenance received per week, their benefits reduce by £1 too – so people should get in touch with social security as soon as possible if the maintenance stops or reduces, as their benefit will usually be increased to cover the full value of the maintenance they’re no longer getting.

  1. Employed Person’s Allowance (EPA)

For EPA, maintenance is treated differently.

If the primary carer gets EPA, the first £25.90 received in maintenance per week does not affect EPA entitlement at all. So, if a person claiming EPA is receiving maintenance below this rate, and it reduces or stops, the amount of EPA they receive will not change.

BUT if they receive more than £25.90 per week in maintenance, then this does have an effect on their EPA. So any reduction (or loss) of maintenance above £25.90 per week will result in an increase in EPA upon reclaim.

Generally, EPA will increase by £0.70 for every £1 of lost maintenance over £25.90 per week.

Normally, changes to EPA only have an impact once the award finishes, and so the increase would be applied at the next reclaim.

Working example: If you receive £50 per week in maintenance and it stopped, your EPA upon reclaim would increase by £16.87 per week (£24.10 x 70%).

All other benefits are not affected by maintenance and therefore will not change if maintenance stops or reduces.

What if I don’t claim benefits and my maintenance stops?

There’s no specific provision from the government to cover this besides the benefits outlined above.

However, depending on how much income the primary carer is left with after the maintenance stops, they may become eligible for one of the income related benefits above.

If you’re unsure, it’s best to get in touch with socialsecurity@gov.im to get tailored advice to your specific circumstances.

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