"Children First" & Sharing of Care: Problems with the proposed formula, and a revised proposal
by Barry Pearson
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Examples

Example 1: The anomaly where sharing is nearly equal

This anomaly is that, even where the parents split care of the children more-or-less evenly, there is a massive financial gain in being granted "PWC" status, and a corresponding massive financial loss in being granted "NRP" status. This is out of all proportion to any estimate of the cost of bringing up children.

Consider: both parents ("P" and "Q" respectively) earn £465 net income, and have one child, with no other children or other conditions to complicate this example. (These incomes are chosen to make the maintenance liabilities round numbers, but equivalent results are obtained for any other common value).

Green paper:

This shows how much Parent P pays to Parent Q if P cares for that number of nights per week. A negative number means that P receives from Q.

Nights with P: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
P pays Q: £70 £60 £50 £40 -£40 -£50 -£60 -£70

It is seen that at first the difference in payment for each additional night spent caring for the child is £10, about £500 per year. Perhaps this is felt to be the cost of caring for a child for an extra night.

But the extra night between 3 and 4 nights makes a net difference of £80, or about £4000 per year. This could be for just a few nights difference - it is really the effect of having PWC or NRP status, rather than much to do with the cost of caring for a child for an extra night.

Clearly, such a large amount of money for such a small difference is unjust and is expected to cause the parents to behave badly, and especially to do everything possible (including lying if necessary) to be considered the PWC.

Revised proposal:

The revised formula avoids this polarisation. This shows how much Parent P pays to Parent Q if P cares for that number of nights per week (net).

Nights with P: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
P pays Q: £70 £50 £30 £10 -£10 -£30 -£50 -£70

(Eg. at 1 nights, P pays Q £60, Q pays P £10; at 2 nights, P pays Q £50, Q pays P £20).

At the extremes (no sharing) the liability is the same - all of the Green Paper's formula (or any other formula) applies. In between, there is a smooth switch of liability from one to the other.

(An alternative of decreasing liability by two sevenths instead of one seventh per night has a similar effect in the case of parents with similar incomes, but has poor behaviour otherwise, see earlier).

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Page last updated: 6 July, 2004 © Copyright Barry Pearson 1998