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Child support change hits poor

A RADICAL shake-up of child-support rules could be "a cash bonanza for house-husbands", a leading divorce lawyer says.

But the proposed change could hit poor men the most.

A proposed new formula for calculating contributions to a child's upkeep after a break-up no longer takes account of a woman's wealth. Instead, working fathers would pay a fixed percentage contribution, whatever their overall income.

If they have just one child, a basic 15 per cent of their net pay would go towards maintenance, rising incrementally depending on the number of children.

It is also proposed that the current "cap" on a father's contribution be abolished. For three or more children, a father would have to pay 25 per cent.

For example, under the formula, dancer Jimmy Gulzar, estranged husband of pop star Scary Spice, would have to pay her pounds 4,500 of his estimated pounds 30,000 income for their child, although the star is reputed to earn pounds 3m a year. Mick Jagger would pay Jerry Hall 25 per cent of net income for their four children, despite her wealth.

Solicitor Toby Yerburgh, a former member of Prince Charles's divorce team, said: "At the moment, where the wife is rich, the husband can comfort himself that he will not have to pay too much in the way of maintenance for the children, as under the Child Support Act formula the wives' earnings are taken into account."

The new rules, which are expected to be introduced next year, and are now the subject of a Department of Social Services consultation paper, will do away with a complex formula involving 200 variables for calculating child-maintenance contributions.

Mr Yerburgh said lawyers believed house-husbands could be in for a "cash bonanza". A man who looks after the children will receive up to 25 per cent of the mother's pay.