Conflicting advice regarding maintenance payments

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  • #7244 Report

    Colacube
    Participant

    Hi,  I have researched this and approached the cmo and the advice I have received has been conflicting.

    I have for four and half years paid and agreed maintenance amount for my two children to my ex.  This amount (£650 was well over and above the CMS suggested figure) agreed and written into a consent order as a provision for our children.  At the time due to work, I could not have my children anymore than 1-2 nights per week and even then, these fluctuated because of work (I work around the country and is what is expected with my job),  Three years ago, she increased the number of nights to 3 per week even though she knew this would create problems with work and proved because of work this was not always possible.

    Two years ago work changed and we agreed to alter the pattern and for two years I have had my children every alternate week, a pattern the children love and prefer. I have the children additional nights when requested also and the discussions work well when either of us need to make a change. I have NEVER reduced my monthly maintenance and now the arrangements are in place and working well for all, I have addressed the money situation.

    My ex wife works full time and earns a salary the same as me but she still expects me to pay the same amount of money each month (the Divorce was a clean break so no spousal support is paid) even though the care is now split.  She still expects me to take them on holiday each year, take them on outings as she does but I cannot afford to do all of that as well as continue paying her the money each month.  I purchase clothes for here, additional to what she purchases because the constant back and forth with a bag and then not having what has been asked for was just ridiculous. I must point out that all of this happens but it is my new partner that funds this.  The have everything here in their own rooms too.

    Both my ex wife and I are in new relationships, new homes which we have purchased with our respective partners.

    I have requested the following: we pay half each for the basics for the children ie., school uniform, acivities, school dinner, trips, etc and her response is that she is a single parent and is responsible to make ends meet and ensure they do not go without!  Based on this, my contribution over the year with maintenance, holidays, days out, clothes, treats, Birthday and Christmas presents equates to about £13,000.00 per year when she in actual fact is saving the maintenance money in their bank accounts after she has paid for their clothes and holidays.

    Am I in my rights to challenge this? I believe the CMS would take into account that she is on a salary the same as me and agree that I am the one paying double.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Many Thanks

    C

    #7252 Report

    Colacube
    Participant

    No apologies needed……..and I thank you for responding

    I cannot really answer your first question only that she says that is what my money goes to – she has stated that she needs this money for them and I have that obligation to provide for them whilst with her.

    Holidays, treats, trips out when with me are paid for by me (well my partner mostly – it is the only way we can do it to maintain an equal lifestyle to the children in both households)

    Presents for Birthdays and Christmas are not paid for jointly – we buy for here and she for herself.  Her gifts are quite lavish too, mine cannot be unfortunately as she does not have the outlay of £650 pcm to pay out whereas I do before I even start to look at any other expense.

    The only thing provided for here is school uniform – she has only once volunteered to pay me back for a pair of boots for each child for here and never reimbursed for any further clothing items purchased by myself.

    I have used the CMS calculator and it shows a huge reduction but she says this is not an acceptable reflection for their needs and any surplus money she has each month from the maintenance has to go into a fund for Further Education.  I do not have the surplus funds to  save for this in my own right whilst paying out so much and I think by rights I should have that option.  If I was an errant father and neglected my duties I could understand but I am not.

     

    Thank you for coming back to me

     

    C

    The CMO said that if proved she was on equal or relative equal pay to myself and I could show what I have paid additional plus that we have and equal split on time spent with each parent then they could suggest or proposal of 50/50 split on basic needs etc but then another CMO told me that anything I pay extra to the maintenance is voluntary and she is entitled to the full amount each month.

    This is where my confusion lies.

    #7260 Report

    Colacube
    Participant

    Wow Solomum.  Thank you.  I really appreciate this.

    I forgot to mention that school half term holidays they are always with me  and I also have them 3 1/2 weeks of the summer holidays too which always incurs extra expense which is something she does not contribute to and that will also support my case.  I record everything on a calendar even with noted dates to refer back to discussions already.

    You make reference that she may try to withhold contact and this is something I have thought about a great deal however, if she were to do that she would have no child free time and that is something she and her new partner insist upon (he has 3 children that spend two nights per week with them) and I think also if this were to go to the CMS, that they may not take lightly that she was withholding contact purely for monetary gain but hopefully now we won’t have to go down that route.

    I am feeling more confident now with my initial thoughts but were just thrown by the CMO.

    Once again, I thank you for taking time out of your day to help and advise.

    Kindest

    C

     

     

    #7621 Report

    Kate101
    Participant

    Hi, I can sympathise that the CMS can be difficult and unsympathetic to deal with. However if you give them the info about exactly how many nights the kids are staying with you they will calculate maintenance based on that. Explain that circumstances have changed and you need them to update their information. And in my experience, if you show that care is even, that is titled as “shared care” and no maintenance is payable either way. If you give them this info they should recalculate and put everything in writing for you and also communicate this to your ex.

    I think the person at CMS who advised you about “the full amount being payable” was basically saying that you can’t complain if you have voluntarily paid more than they asked in the past. Again, my experience is that they do not have any leeway based on human compassion or your own good intentions to support your family!!! It’s all about the figures for them.  Just go from the current situation and ask them to calculate based on that. I wish you well.

    #7625 Report

    Excellent advice here as always.

    I’d also add that contact and maintenance should always be dealt with as two separate issues.  If for any reason your ex tries to tie the two, don’t engage.

    You do not buy time with your children.  If she chooses to withhold contact on the basis of lower payments (which you don’t think she will so this is good news) you can just bring it back to court who, again, should not entertain the two issues together.

    #7630 Report

    Traveller123
    Participant

    A Consent Order is binding for 12 months.  After that either parent can apply to CMS (Child Maintenance Service) for an assessment.  However, Consent Order is binding until CMS have made their assessment in writing.  CMS will make contact with HMRC and base their assessment on the most recent Self Assessment Tax Return or the P60 issued by Employer.

    If both parents are earning similar amounts and care is shared there may be no maintenance due at all.  Parents are allowed to make any private arrangement they wish, but private agreements can not be enforced whereas CMS can enforce.

    CMS application fee is 20 pounds.  Suggest you make an application just to see where you stand if nothing else?

    Contact and Child Maintenance are two separate subjects.  Neither can be traded for the other.  If RP (Resident Parent) threatens or attempts to reduce child’s contact with NRP (Non Resident Parent) because Maintenance is reduced the NRP could apply to Court for Contact Order.

    Courts do not entertain pleas from RP that as NRP is paying less Child Maintenance then NRP is entitled to less contact.  Ruling will be made on what is in best interests of child.  If Children are considered old enough to understand then courts may take into account their wishes too.

     

     

     

    #7635 Report

    Colacube
    Participant

    Thanks to all of you who have taken time to respond and give me such excellent and reassuring advice.

    I am feeling rather more positive about the situation.

    One child is and the other approaching the age of where their views would be taken into consideration if we have to go down that avenue but when the 50/50 time split was first put into place, they stated that they loved the new arrangement.

    Once again, Thanks to all

     

    C

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