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Scotland Act 1998


The provisions of the Child Support Acts give the Secretary of State for Social Security a duty to determine whether there is a liability to pay maintenance in respect of a child not living with both parents, to require an application for maintenance to be made for the child (when benefit is claimed), to assess and collect any amounts due and to enforce payment.  In order to give effect to these responsibilities, the Secretary of State is given powers where necessary to establish or assume paternity.  The Acts limit the jurisdiction of the courts to make individual decisions on child maintenance in circumstances covered by the Acts. The Acts apply - and supersede Scots family law - where a person responsible for a child who is not living with both parents makes a claim to an income-related benefit and in certain other limited circumstances.  In Scotland the Acts also permit an application for maintenance by the child personally, if aged 12 or more.

The Scottish Parliament is, however, able to legislate on issues concerning the maintenance of dependent children, as part of Scots family law, in circumstances or cases which are not covered by the subject-matter of the Child Support Acts. For example, aliment is excepted from the reservation because it is that part of Scots private law which deals with the obligations of one person to pay maintenance in respect of children and others. The Parliament is not able to legislate, for instance, to remove or exempt child maintenance provision from the jurisdiction of the Acts. Nor can the Parliament establish different formulae for the calculation of maintenance for child support purposes under the Acts as they apply in Scotland. But the Parliament could for example establish general criteria for the presumption of paternity, since this is a matter about which the Child Support Act provisions rest on general civil law.

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