I''ve been separated for 18 months, I live in the FH with my two children aged 8 and 10. My ex moved out, and to save money (he''s a senior manager on £50K per year)he now rents a room at friends 3 bed property. He pays me 20% of his salary as child maintenance, and although he has them during the day every other weekend, he rarely has them overnight,
(unless they visit him at his girlfriend''s house 200 miles away)... his landlord isn''t keen on them staying over.
This arrangement has suited me fine, though recently his landlord has been away more frequently, and the children have been sleeping on the floor in my ex''s bedroom there.
All along, my ex has reduced the child maintenance payments on a monthly pro rata basis for every night they spend with him. I recently found out that this should only apply if they spend more than 52 nights per year with him. They do not. He refuses to adhere to the CSA guidelines on this, and is reducing the payments by £20 per day, simply for providing their dinner and breakfast before school the next day. It is money in his pocket for nothing, meanwhile my fixed costs (bills etc) plus all other child related costs do not change.
Please help! Advise needed as I am not entitled to legal aid as I work 30 hours per week on a low wage as a teaching assistant.
If you''ve got a family-based arrangement in place, I would urge you to try and sort things out amicably with your ex-partner, as family-based arrangement (without the involvement of the Child Support Agency or the courts) are usually the best option for everyone involved. Other people who have been in a similar situation have found that an open and honest conversation with their ex-partner really helps. If you want some help planning your conversation or talking to your ex-partner about money, child maintenance Options has produced a "discussion guide" to help you:
I know it can sometimes be really hard to talk to your ex-partner about money, but there is help available from the child maintenance Options Service. You can find tips and support at www.cmoptions.org.
If you feel that your family arrangement is no longer working, you can use the Child Support Agency (CSA). The CSA is the Government statutory child maintenance service. They can calculate, collect and enforce on a parents behalf. If you''d like some more information about the CSA, you can visit direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/ChildMaintenance/index.htm. If you''d like to speak to the CSA, you can find the right number here: www2.dwp.gov.uk/csa/v2/en/contact/index.asp
If you have an existing CSA arrangement, I am sure they will be happy to look into your case. You can find contact details on any letter the CSA have sent to you. Or, you can find the right number using the above link.
You can also set up maintenance via a Consent Order, which is an official ruling made by a court. To do this you will incur legal costs and court fees, and either party could apply for the CSA to take over the child maintenance after it''s been in force for 12 months. For further details you may wish to contact Citizens Advice Bureau at www.adviceguide.org.uk.
For more information about child maintenance, you can visit our website, or if you''d prefer a confidential chat you could call the Child Maintenance Options team on 0800 988 0988 (free from a landline).