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CHILD SUPPORT: Brough v Law [2011] EWCA Civ 1183

Date:10 NOV 2011

(Court of Appeal; Pill, Rimer and Lewison LJJ; 20 October 2011)

In a maintenance assessment the absent father was assessed at a nil liability. Seven years later he was assessed at £94.21 a week. The father applied for cancellation of assessment relying on brief reconciliation (6 weeks) just after the nil liability assessment. The Secretary of State agreed and cancelled the assessment. The mother appealed. The key issue was the meaning and effect of the Child Support Act 1991, Schedule 1, para 16(1)(b).  

Under the Child Support Act 1991 Sch 1, para 16(1)(d) a reconciliation must last for 6 months or more before a maintenance assessment permanently ceased to have effect. Reference in para 16(1)(b) to there no longer being ‘any qualifying child' was not about the particular child no longer ‘qualifying', but about there no longer being a qualifying ‘child', covering, for example, the death of the child, or the child becoming too old to be a child. Any other interpretation made para 16(1)(d) redundant.