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UC and child maintenance

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Welfare Rights Service, Royal Borough of Greenwich

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Joined: 16 January 2019

Hi, my client has a 17 year old who has completed their GCSE’s and is waiting to join the Air force. The 17 year old is currently living at home with the client.

Client receives maintenance from ex-partner as per a court order from a European country. The court order is in place until the 17 year old turns 21. It does provide details on how much is to be paid to maintain the child, however it is currently paid to the client. The client needs to locate the court order to confirm the details of the order. At present the client uses the maintenance to covers bills, household costs and some of the client’s costs. The client does not have any housing costs. I am waiting for the cl to confirm if the order confirms that some of the maintenance is specifically for the cl.

I am aware that child maintenance is disregarded when calculating income for UC entitlement.

However, would the 17 year old still be considered a child if they are not in FTE? At what point would they stop being considered a child, considering the court order covers them until they are 21.

Could we argue that all of the maintenance payments should be ignored as they are maintenance for the child as the child lives with the cl? I think it would be difficult to continue to argue that the maintenance payments are for the cl’s 17 year old at the point when the 17 year old no longer lives with cl and has their own earnings.

I may be overthinking it but it is likely that the maintenance would wipe out cl’s UC entitlement.

Elliot Kent
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The way that UC works is that there is a list of things (reg 66 UC Regs) which are unearned income, and income other than earnings is only considered if it is on the list.

In other words, it isn’t that there is a special disregard as such for “child maintenance” - it just isn’t on the list so, by default, it gets ignored.

It sounds possible that some of the funds under the court order in this case amount to “spousal maintenance” which is taken into account under reg 66(1)(d) but otherwise the income should not be considered.