CSA Process

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  • #50718 Report


    Hi, I’m new here.

    I’m interested in what happens or what to expect when one parent approaches the CSA.  My ex and I split three years ago. We have three children, all at school for another few year. We each have a home and live near one another.  We get on reasonably well, but not always.  We were never married and have separated everything. There is no formal custody order. We have the children equal nights. I’ve probably had them more nights over the three years but it’s only a difference of say 20-30.  We do equal school runs and manage day-to-day care when the kids are with us because we do a week-on/week-off system.  I stayed in the family home and bought my ex’s share.

    When we split, I was working full time and was the main bread winner.  My ex was self employed and could work anytime, depending on what clients wanted. This included day times, evenings and weekends.  In fact, when we were together, I’d work 9-5 and my ex would often go out and work in the evenings.  My ex earned very well from this work – £60ph, often cash.  But I was still earning more and could afford to give my ex some “maintenance each month”.  It was expected that my ex would buy the children’s clothes while I was paying for bus fares and lunches, plus my home costs about twice as much to run.  I know that the cost of your chosen home isn’t a factor, but I’m just explaining the situation.

    Because of our work patterns, my ex has more time during the day, hence my ex was to buy clothes but is also more available to do school runs. However, I have enough flexibility at work now that I don’t need help with school runs on my nights, albeit that the kids have to get the bus home to me.  But I do still work until 5 on those days.   But I don’t work evenings or weekends, whereas my ex can often go out and leave the kids at home to see a client.

    Over the past 18 mths or so, I’ve said that I want to move to a fairer arrangement where we just split everything, rather than me pay a lump sum, which I’m only doing voluntarily because I earn more.  My ex claims CB and both tax credit benefits.  Therefore I can’t.  But my ex has a degree and is a qualified healthcare professional, but chooses not to work.  My ex, being self employed and due to the nature of work, isn’t able to work during the pandemic but has turned down the opportunity to go back to the NHS or look for alternative work.

    So, that’s the position.  Recently we discussed money and had a blazing row.  There was mention of the CSA, which I was unhappy about.  As far as I’m concerned, our arrangement is one of shared care but our circumstances are different. I work more than my ex does but have some flexibility and have the kids just as much.  But  my ex claims the benefits.  It’s not that my ex can’t work (except during this panemic), it’s just that my ex’s work is a lot more flexible than a 9-5 job and chooses to work when it suits.  We share the cost of virtually everything for the kids except the cost of our homes and what we choose to do with our children in our spare time.  And my home costs a lot more to run.

    What happens if a claim is made with the CSA?  Will I get contacted?  How will they assess the position?  Will it be discussed with me?  Does it sound like a valid shared-care situation?  Can a parent simply choose to work less and then claim that they are the main carer because of this in a bid to win child maintenance from the other?





    #50720 Report



    with CMS, they will very likely decide that the parent that gets child benefit is the primary carer for the kids. They state that they accept formal and informal evidence about shared care arrangements, but often it leads to disputes if there’s no court order. I would urge you both to keep things amicable and try to keep CMS out of it. with them any pay rise, bonus or over-time you do, means you have to pay more in maintenance.

    #50722 Report


    Thanks for this.  And yes, this is exactly why I want to keep them out of it. We have flexibility at the moment and this is the first time we’ve argued about it in nearly 3 years so I want to avoid conflict but also want fairness.  You have to admit that if one parent is doing half the child care, paying more to house the kids, paying at least half of all costs associated with them, on the face of it it’s pretty unfair that they should be paying maintenance too.  The money I pay supports my ex, not my kids.  I already support my kids.  My ex goes abroad fairly frequently (while it was allowed) and has been spending 3-4 days on beaches in the UK in a camper van both during and before lockdown nearly every week that the kids are with me.  Whereas I work full-time because I couldn’t afford a house if I didn’t and my ex doesn’t have to because my ex claims about £1200 a month in benefits.

    Nonetheless, I’d heard this about child benefit somewhere else and was worried about this.  So I note what you say and will take it on board.

    #50725 Report


    what if you pay all associated costs while kids are in your care, and he pays all associated costs when kids are in his care. does that work?

    #50728 Report


    I would try and keep the CMS out of it.

    it is a very rigid system that applies a set of rules irrespective of underlying circumstances. As already stated as he gets the Child Benefit he will be deemed to be the parent with care. Hence, they will look at your income (from HMRC sources) to determine your liability and would then reduce this by a scale dependent upon the time that the children spend with you.

    if you google CMS calculator and put in your details it will show you what the liability would be. Given that you have stated that the care is virtually shared equally it is likely that any liability would be reduced substantially.

    a better option (after using the CMS calculator) might be to agree this figure mutually with your ex-h rather than make an application to the CMS. My experience of them has been dire as a receiving parent. (I’ve had circa 9 letters in the past 2 months all with different numbers varying from 0 to circa £900 pcm – not that I receive anything). It becomes really time consuming and is prone to error.

    #50765 Report


    @Steve – this is what I’m trying to suggest with my ex.  Seems fair to me.  I’m actually going to suggest that I pay all the clothes, the phone bills, the payment card subscriptions, the school trips, the football club fees etc etc. instead of paying maintenance.  I’d actually be happy with this.  I’m good with money.  I’ve been providing for myself since I was 2o.  My ex is utterly useless.


    – thanks for this.  I’m taking your advice on board. It seems crazy to me that one parent can be automatically deemed to be the main carer just because they receive the CB when everyone’s situations are different.  I’m already the biggest financial contributor to the kids’ upbringing.  But I note the problems you’re having with the CMS and will mention this when I sit down with my ex to work this out.  What I pay now is based on the CMS calculator, but I always  believed that in shared care arrangements no parent is liable to pay the other maintenance.  I did it voluntarily because I earned more, but that was 3 years ago and I never intended to do it indefinitely.

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