§ Annabelle Ewing
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidelines his Department issues on the timescale for switching over to the other parent, as the children's primary carer, as the new recipient of child benefit in cases of marital breakdown or spousal desertion. 46W
§ Malcolm Wicks
The rules governing the transfer of child benefit from one person to another are statutory, and are contained in the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992. Generally, child benefit cannot be transferred from one person to another in any circumstances until three weeks after the week in which a competing claim is received, for example following a marital breakdown or spousal desertion.
However, where someone has been receiving child benefit on the basis that a child has been living with them, absences from one another are disregarded for up to eight weeks in any 16-week period. Following a separation therefore, both parties will continue to meet the "living with" condition for a short period, and in default of an agreement between them it falls to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in his discretion to determine which of them is entitled for this period.