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

This document neither agrees nor disagrees with the basic formula in the Green Paper. The following revision would work if a different basic formula applied. It is based on the following principle: "children have to be looked after and paid for, so at any time, a parent either cares for the children or pays whoever does so".

Proposal: "Whatever formula applies for the period when the PWC is caring for the children should also apply mutatis mutandis for the periods when the NRP is caring for the children".

In other words: "Whatever basic formula is thought to be right should be applied consistently, and not just one way".

For example:

- For each night the PWC cares for one child, the NRP pays one seventh of 15% of the NRP's weekly income.
- For each night the NRP cares for that child, the PWC pays one seventh of 15% of the PWC's weekly income.

The consequences depend on the amount of sharing and the relative incomes of the PWC and NRP:

- If there is no sharing of care, this proposal has no effect. The Green Paper formula (or any other) operates unaltered.
- If the PWC and the NRP earn about the same amount, then the effect is to reduce the maintenance liability by about two sevenths per night. The distinction between being PWC and NRP where there are more-or-less equal amounts of caring becomes relatively insignificant and not worth behaving badly over.
- If the PWC earns a lot less than the NRP, the liability falls by about one seventh per night, rather like the current proposal in the Green Paper, which is probably financially reasonable from the children's point of view.
- If the NRP earns a lot less than the PWC, then in fact the net effect is likely to be that the PWC will pay the NRP, which is probably necessary if the NRP gets no benefit assistance for caring for the children for (say) a couple of nights per week.

This scheme is totally symmetrical, hence "fair" (or at least defensible). It tends to be neutral, or possibly favour children while they are with the the poorer-off person, and certainly not favour the better-off person. It appears to favour sharing of care for the children while safeguarding the taxpayer's interests.

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Page last updated: 3 November, 2002 © Copyright Barry Pearson 1998