Each month, our advisers answer your questions. See what questions were asked in June, and what advice we gave.

Melanie – disability and tax credits

I m in receipt of severe disability premium and ESA.i also have been transferred from DLA to PIP(high rate care and mobility). My benefits are protected as my area is now full universal credit.. I am very worried that when my son turns 18(he can live at his dads then until university) so I will be single with no dependants.will this be considered a change in circumstance and subsequently lose all disability benefit(severe Disabilty premium and esa premium. Will the loss of child tax credit and change in housing benefit mean that I lose protected status because of change in circumstance. I have been in receipt of DLA et c long before I became a single parent. Also my rent is due to go up(private rented} would this also be considered change of circumstance? A large amount of my pip goes towards the rent so I don’t think I could survive if I lost over £300.00 a month.

Our advice

Dear Melanie,

Child tax credits and child benefit don’t automatically end when your son reaches 18 years old. You can continue to receive child tax credits and child benefit for a qualifying young person until they reach 20, if they’re in full time non-advanced education. You can find out more information about child tax credits and child benefit for young people aged 16 and over in our interactive guide.

If your son is in full time non-advanced education and goes to live with his father when he turns 18 years old, you’ll need to report this change of circumstances to child tax credits. If you have no other dependent children then your child tax credit will stop. You’d also need to report this to housing benefit along with the change in the rent so that your award can be reassessed. This change of circumstances won’t trigger a universal credit claim, and your severe disability premium, ESA and PIP will not be affected. For more information on changes of circumstances that trigger a universal credit claim, please see the moving on to universal credit section on our universal credit Q&A.

You may still qualify for child benefit for your son when he lives with his father, if you contribute financially to his upbringing by an amount equal to the rate of child benefit.

If your son plans to remain living with you after he goes to university, please call our helpline on 0808 802 0925 to speak to one of our advisers for further advice.

Nicola – child maintenance

I don’t think my ex husband has fully declared his earnings with child maintenance, he doesn’t appear to have ever had a pay raise in years, he keeps telling them the same info. Can they request his P60? or his HMRC details ? they seem to be taking what he says at face value He’s a director and tries to pay in dividends and other formats to avoid child care. In addition his new partner is pregnant and this will be his third child (two are with me) will this affect their maintenance? I do get a reasonable amount but the child do a lot of activities and money is very scarce.

Our advice

Hi Nicola,

There are different rules about how and when information about your ex-husband’s income should be obtained and reviewed, and what you can ask them to do, depending on whether you have a case with the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) or still have a case with the Child Support Agency (CSA). We’d need to know which service you are using before we can advise you on this.

You can ask the CMS or the CSA to look at your ex-husband’s income that has not been included in the calculation, including dividends. This is called a variation. If you have a case with the CMS you can find more information about requesting a variation in our factsheet Challenging your Child Maintenance Service calculation. If you have a case with the CSA you can find more information in our factsheet Challenging your Child Support Agency maintenance calculation.

When your ex-husband’s third child is born, this will affect the amount of child maintenance you receive. If you have a case with the CMS, you can find information about how it affects the calculation on our factsheet Using the Child Maintenance Service. If you still have a case with the CSA, you can contact our free helpline on 0808 802 0925 to speak to one of our advisers about how it affects the calculation.

Rebecca – housing

Hi, I’m in quite a bad situation at home and need to get out my house I share with my child’s father. The trouble is I can’t afford to leave. The council won’t help me as we already had help with our deposit. He won’t sign the debt over in too his name and there is not a hope in hell that I can get the money together. Do you have any other suggestions on what I can do? Thank you

Our advice

Hi Rebecca

If you don’t feel safe to stay in your home because your partner is abusive to you, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247. They can help you find safe emergency accommodation. The Rights of Women guide on domestic violence, housing and homelessness contains information about your housing options. You may be able to make a homeless application to your local council on the grounds that it’s not safe for you to remain in your home and they’ll provide you with emergency accommodation while they look into your application

For advice about finding housing and help with deposits, you can ring the Shelter helpline on 0808 800 4444. There are some schemes which help people to find private rented accommodation and these can sometimes help with deposits. You can search for schemes in your local area on the Crisis website.

There is information on our website about renting options for single parents. Also, you can find general information about your housing rights when you separate here.

If you need to speak to someone about your situation at home you can ring the Gingerbread Helpline on 0808 802 0925.

Nicola – money after separation

I am due to shortly become a single parent as myself and my husband are separating I have also gone for another job whilst I am waiting the response as to whether I will be offered the job or not . I am hoping you may be able to assist on some information on benefits I am living in a joint owned mortgage house I am currently claiming no benefit . I do recieve a monthly child benefit My potential new job would be 25 hours per week @ £8 per hour I have a 13 year old and a 7 year old child . What benefits would I be entitled to and how much are the benefits likely to be . I am currently working less hours in my current job. I hope you may be able to assist I am the main carer as my husband works abroad a lot. Thank you for any information you may be able to offer. Kind regards Nicola

Our advice

Hi Nicola,

Our website has lots of information that you may find useful if you’re thinking about separating from your partner.

The type of benefits you can claim will depend on your circumstances, including where you live, any childcare costs you might have and whether you have savings. You can find information about benefits on our website here.

We’d need more information about your situation to be able to work out what benefits you’re entitled to. You can you can check your benefit entitlement using this online calculator or you can contact our free helpline on 0808 802 0925 to speak to an adviser and get a full benefit calculation.

Katie – help from abroad

My son is 4 years old and has not seen his father in 3 years, we moved to Spain when he was 8 months old and I have tried to keep in contact through text. I flew home so they could meet when my son was 1 years old but we have not heard from him since. He goes on holiday 3 times a year but has never asked to come to where we live. He also doesn’t pay any maintenance. My son has recently started asking questions about his father so once again i have reached out and set up a meeting back home in August. I am starting to regret my decision now as my son is older and if he does not keep up contact after this meeting will it effect my son? Is one meeting every few years better than none?

Our advice

Hi Katie,
Unfortunately we aren’t able to advise you as our advice services are for people who live in England or Wales. Family Lives have a confidential helpline that offers practical parenting support. They can provide advice and tips so that you can support your child.

You’d need to contact an advice service in Spain for advice on family law matters or arrangements for child maintenance.

Aleksandra – contact arrangements

Hi. My names Aleksandra and i am a lone mother from 9th of April. I broke up with my baby’s father as we just argued all the time and I felt like he didn’t take care of us. We don’t have any contact at all. Just sometimes he’s messages asking how the baby is which happens rely and that’s it. He is not coming to visit the baby as he cant take care of him, saying ”Gabriel is crying and I don’t know what to do”. Our baby is the happiest and calm baby in the world, he likes strangers and never cry’s. He only cry’s when my ex partner is coming. What I and people around me thinks is that babies can feel when someones is just a bad person, that he doesn’t love him and he is not interested about him. I am having really bad times now… I live in housing association property with my baby, but I am only getting child tax credit which is £52.88 per week. My rent is £100 per week. I have applied for income support but I’ve been refused as child benefit was on my ex partners account. Now I’ve made a new claim for child benefit but average waiting time is 12 weeks… until I’ll get child benefit i cannot apply for any other benefits. I’ve applied for housing benefit but they stopped it because I was refused with income support. I don’t have any other income and I am not able to get job seekers allowance because I’m not able to work as my son is only 5 months old and I am staying at home with him and taking care of him. I don’t have any furniture at my house I only have my bed, my sons cot bed and TV. I am not able to buy any flooring for the upstairs and only managed to get some flooring in the living room. My mum bought a cooker and fridge for me. I don’t have a washing machine so I need to do the the laundry at my mums house. Sometimes I feel like I am not able to pay my bills for gas electricity water etc.. I don’t even have internet… I am eating dinners with my mum because sometimes I’m not able to do shopping as I need to buy milk and vegetables, nappies and clothes for my baby. My mum is helping me a lot but I know she cannot afford my goods and hers. I have my own life now and I should take care of myself and my baby… Today I contacted child maintenance service and they have told me to contact you as you may be able to help me. Could you please tell me knowing my situation what can I do? Where can I find any help? Thank you.

Our advice

Hi Aleksandra,

This situation sounds really difficult for you.

Your child benefit application may be processed more quickly if your child’s father contacts the Child Benefit Office and confirms that your son is now living with you. If he’s not willing to do this then unfortunately this can cause delays. You can make a complaint if you think the Child Benefit Office is taking too long to process your application. They should contact you about your complaint within 15 working days. Your local Citizens Advice may be able to support you in making a complaint. Once your child benefit has been awarded you can claim income support again and ask for this to be backdated to the date of your first claim. You can ask for your housing benefit to be calculated on your current circumstances and your child should still be included in this claim if he normally lives with you.

Your local council may have a local welfare assistance scheme which can give help in emergencies. You can also check here to see if there’s a foodbank in your area that can help with food in a crisis. Turn2us is a charity which can help you to search for grants towards things such as flooring and furniture. You can contact their free helpline on 0808 802 2000.

There’s more information about financial help in an emergency on our website here.