Who pays Child Maintenance and who is it for?

(27 Posts)
ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 14-Oct-13 12:32:20

Things have got rather chaotic in the last few weeks between DP and DSD mum regarding money- the written agreement they had regarding financial support for DSD while she is at College broke down within days and DSD has been struggling to feed herself/wash her clothes while she's away due to lack of money.

In the course of discussion, it became apparent that DSC mums resents the fact that DP doesn't give her enough to live on. DP asked her to explain and it seems that DSC mum expects DP and myself to fund the lifestyle she wants to have, in addition to supporting the DCs. She was very clear "what about MY things?" "Why won't you give me more money?"

I admit I'm a bit gobsmacked. It certainly explains the resentment and anger she feels towards DP and myself as she feels I have cheated her out of her money - but I'm not sure if there is anything DP and I can do to allieviate that. It was a clean break divorce and she applied for maintenance via the CSA the day DP moved out rather than discuss finances in mediation - but she's been harbouring resentment for 5 years because she isn't receiving spousal maintenance.
(As an aside, she's always been the higher earner, so I'm not sure she'd even be awarded maintenance in court, would she?)

TensionSquealsGhoulsHeels Mon 14-Oct-13 23:56:40

It will be messy but then it always was going to be. There isn't a thing you can do to change the fact your DSD is at a point in her life where she has to make selfish decisions that affect others, when she has the right to make those decisions. This was always going to happen, it's just happening sooner than your DP's ex had thought/hoped/expected.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 14-Oct-13 23:50:18

ihear Yes, DP has spoken to DSD, yes, she does want to change to our address - it was while she was telling her mum that (she asked DP to be there because she was scared of Mums reaction) that all DSD mums resentment about spousal maintenance came out!

DSD has already started to make changes to records at College and they'll be in touch soon to assess the bursary - but her Mum still refuses to discuss it; keeps repeating to DD and DP, "I don't agree, so it's not happening".

Why, oh why won't she just talk about it? This is going to be really messy.

ihearsounds Mon 14-Oct-13 23:17:49

The mums sounds very controlling tbh.

Has dad spoke to his dd about all of this, including where she actually wants to live weekends and in the holidays. Until he has had that discussion with her, there is not point thinking about claiming for cb and tc to help pay her fees.

At 16 she is capable of deciding which parent she wants to live with, and the option of your home should be seriously put to her.

Stop discussions with the ex, because from what you have posted she isn't reliable and she is only thinking about how this effects her. But it doesn't matter whether it's now, or in 2 years time, she will loose all financial help. She has had a few years to think about the long term realities of her lifestyle choice.

Advice the dd to either change pin number etc for the account, or open another one that she cannot get access to. Maybe open it in your address. It's not right that mum has access to the account and the money, it's not hers. Helping herself to money that isn't hers is theft.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 14-Oct-13 23:16:10

ellie Mum opens her mail; PIN, passwords, statements - she's got them all; DSD did change her PIN once - her Mum blocked her phone and took her laptop away until she told her what it was. We've had Social Services involved in the past for physical abuse, too sad

mineof No college fees, the course is fully funded. An accommodation Bursary is awarded to the RP - the value is based on RP income. It's not unusual for a bursary to be reassessed and switched from one household to another during the course, apparently!.

elliebellys Mon 14-Oct-13 22:42:24

China why on earth has anyone bar dsd got access to her accont.she is old enough to not need anyone else on it.

mineofuselessinformation Mon 14-Oct-13 20:22:09

So who pays the college fees? This has a bearing as your dp would be able to apply for a variation (reduction) if maintenance were paid via the CSA and he is paying the fees.
Dsd is still classed as under her mother's care (even when she's at college) if she is still the resident parent.
If dh becomes the resident parent, her mother would be required to pay child maintenance to him, but the mother could also apply for a variation if she pays the fees.
I hope that makes sense!

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 14-Oct-13 20:11:17

ellie - definitely!

DSD earned £700 over the summer - a significant proportion of which her Mum took to cover the cost of various "start up" items for College that DSD hadn't asked her to buy and which we had already offered to provide. Mum helps herself to the money, has access to DSD bank account etc.

DSD has the option of a weekend job - which DP would expect her to take if he was responsible for her finances. Mum won't allow allow DSD to work weekends. Its a bit tricky cos some weekends are committed at College, but she can undoubtedly find something to top up her income.

DP just wants the chance to discuss it with his ex and DSD sensibly to come to some arrangement that suits everyone; but DSD's Mum yelled at her (in front of DP) for running to her Dad about money when all this kicked off; she told DSD that it was none of DP's business.

elliebellys Mon 14-Oct-13 19:41:05

China,in all fairness dsd should get a job to help out financially,not just relying on cb or tax credits. Which ever parent claims it.i just think all this is just goin to cause more arguments in the long run.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 14-Oct-13 19:28:44

College/uni is (sadly) an expensive option sometimes, and not every household, whether intact or separated, can foot that bill.

In this case petal, DP can afford it - if he is resident parent.

That of course would mean that DSD Mum would no longer receive CB/Tax Credits - but wouldn't have the costs associated with being resident parent......DP would meet those.

Petal02 Mon 14-Oct-13 19:21:50

In a together family, if a child wants to do something that costs, then both parents decide if this can be afforded. But when parents are separated, it seems that decisions about money can be made by one parent, which then impact on the other parent without their consent/input. And it doesn't matter how sensible/worthy the plans, it doesn't always mean that one parent can necessarily afford it. College/uni is (sadly) an expensive option sometimes, and not every household, whether intact or separated, can foot that bill.

China - you ask why DSS is upset about his mother's comments: he feels bad that his younger half siblings are going short, but is smart enough to know the "new" children are not his Dad's responsibility. Although the ex has just bought another pedigree dog (and this hasn't gone unnoticed by DSS). The ex has known that maintenance would stop eventually, it's not fair to upset DSS over it.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 14-Oct-13 19:19:15

Not talking about it, refusing to contribute and possibly forcing DSD to give up if she can't support herself and your DP can't either, isn't going to make the problem go away and it's going to be a worse outcome whichever way it pans out.

I fear the only way DSD Mum will accept that is when it happens. Experience over the years has convinced me that DSD Mum subscribes to the secret door three principle - give a choice between two options, neither of which she agrees with - she burys her head in the sand hoping that the third option that she approves of will appear. Usually, circumstances overtake her and she's left without any options. It's happened so often before.

DP will do whatever it takes to keep DSD at College all the while that is what she wants, and she is incredibly happy there, doing well and very motivated to stay - so if that means applying for Child Benefit or Tax Credits for DSD in order for us to afford to pay what is needed, then he will.

TensionSquealsGhoulsHeels Mon 14-Oct-13 19:06:03

I think the key here is the last part of your last post china. The money isn't secure, for DSD's mum or DSD both short and long term and the worry and strain that'll cause DSD's mum isn't going away if she leaves college. She might not have expected things to get difficult so soon, but she's being pretty naive if that is the case.

I think your DP needs to sit down with DSD and work out the minimum needed to keep her there, see how big the gap is and what can be done about it. If DSD can get a part time job then that might help narrow that gap and then you see what else is possible. The ex needs to face up to the real possibility that the income she currently gets will end if DSD drops out as you say, and if she stays with no help from DSD mum then the only other option would be the switch of benefits if she's permanently residing with your DP out with college, if your DP's income doesn't stretch far enough to support the gap after the part time job kicks in. Not talking about it, refusing to contribute and possibly forcing DSD to give up if she can't support herself and your DP can't either, isn't going to make the problem go away and it's going to be a worse outcome whichever way it pans out.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 14-Oct-13 18:17:34

purple I agree that if it was DSD and DP that agreed all this between them, without consulting DSD Mum, then she could quite legitimately be aggrieved. But DP and she sat down (reluctantly on her part but she refused to discuss alternatives either) and agreed a financial plan for the next two years to support DSD (Which included withdrawing some money from DSD savings account on which they are both signatories).
All the different pots of money were considered - DSD Mum wanted DP to continue to pay CM, but even after that, DP and I were able to commit more money to support DSD than Mum could - but within days, it was clear that Mum wasn't going to stick to the agreement and now she claims it didn't happen in the first place, even though it is all in writing. DP is reluctant to agree to the transfer of any of DSD savings to DSD Mum - he has no confidence that any of it will make it's way to DSD.

If DSD drops out of College because she can't afford to live, her Mum will lost the CM, CB and tax credits anyway, and DSD may well be living back at home. Its highly unlikely that she'll get a job locally, certainly not straight away, so how are they going to manage? It's not DSD going to College per-se that has created this situation, but DSD turning 16 and her Mum relying on the money she attracts to cover household bills.

purpleroses Mon 14-Oct-13 17:55:03

Morally, I can well see why your DP would prefer to pay the money direct to DSD.

But legally, if he's paying via the CSA, then he should be paying it to her mum still, who can then decide how much to give to her. As she's still under 18 and in full time education it's her mum's choice what she spends it on. If she doesn't support her DD being at college, and wants to make things difficult for her to stay there (or put pressure on your DP to fork out additional support) then I think she's legally entitled to do that.

Presumably the total costs of DSD have gone up quite a lot with her being a weekly boarder now? I'd assume she must have significant additional costs associated with the boarding, but her mum probably only has slightly reduced home costs as a result of not having to feed her so much. All the other costs (keeping a room for her at home, food at the weekends, clothes, holidays, etc) are likely to be much the same. If DSD's mum wasn't in favour of her going away to college, then it's probably down to your DP, or DSD herself, to fund the additional costs that it brings.

So could be that her mum isn't actually meaning that your DP should have been supporting her (which plainly he isn't, as you say she's the higher earner so presumably can support herself) but that he should be paying the child support to her, as the resident parent, rather than direct to DSD.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 14-Oct-13 17:54:52

petal that's awful - your poor DSS! Do you mind if I ask, is he upset because he thinks his Dad is being unfair now, or upset with Mum because in the past she has used money from his Dad to provide for him to support his half-siblings?

Petal02 Mon 14-Oct-13 17:07:06

DH's ex is struggling now that we no longer pay maintenance. DSS is at Uni, so whilst we're paying his accommodation costs, we no longer need pay anything to the ex. Apparently she phones DSS, and tells him that her two 'new' children (by her present husband) are going without now that "your father" has stopped paying. DSS gets quite upset about this, which is really unfair. It's never been DH's responsibilty to subsidise her 'other' children, but if she can stir the pot .......

Stepmooster Mon 14-Oct-13 16:31:59

Hello China, the mum wasn't going to receive child maintenance, child benefit etc forever. What did she expect was going to happen once her children left home? Having read some of your earlier threads I suspect your DSD's mum is a bit how my mother was. We children were there to provide for her, either by making sure she received money from my father and in benefits and then when I was an adult I was supposed to live with her and 'support' her. A bit like a surrogate spouse. It's not like she even tried to deny it either, all very controlling (you will live with me, you will not move away to study or get married), and tbh all a bit from the planet cuckoo.

I may be cycnical but I believe that because your DSD defied her mother's plan for her life, her mum is punishing her by playing the skint card and hoping she will come 'home'. Simply put she wants to remain in control of DSD and this is a way of trying to make sure DSD does not succeed and become independent from her.

The woman is not rational, and I don't think you will ever be able to reason with her, please don't think your DP should pay her spousal maintenance if she is capable of earning more than him. It doesnt sound like she was the SAHM quietly supporting her husband so he could further his career and provide for them all.

Could your DSD switch her main residence to yours, and then you receive the CB/TC? And perhaps dare I mention it CM from the ex?

If what you say is true then there is no way the courts will make your DP pay his ex spousal maintenance.

needaholidaynow Mon 14-Oct-13 16:29:14

Your DP is under no obligation to make sure his ex wife is ok. And she definitely shouldn't be asking you! Any money you two have is absolutely none of her business and neither of you have to consider her for anything. If she can't feed herself then she'll have to budget better.

Ain't your problem.

TensionSquealsGhoulsHeels Mon 14-Oct-13 16:17:59

There is no easy answer is there. The thing is, the CB/CM/TCs won't last forever, and the huge fall out financially and emotionally will come when they stop officially. The fall out will happen, only later, if things continue as they are. And meantime, DSD loses the opportunity her college will give her for the future. This might not be a useful suggestion so feel free to ignore, but your DP could apply for the switch, manage your DSD's support better (if she genuinely isn't poor at budgeting) and then re-direct some of the surplus to the ex. Or he could suggest this, and see if the reality hits so that the ex realises what is at stake. She is going to have to make adjustments in 2 years or whatever, and in all honesty her DD could make a decision at anytime that means it stops before that. This isn't guaranteed income in the real sense, and if the ex here thinks it is, then I can see just why things have the potential to escalate. It is hard adjusting, these last 5 mths have been a huge burden on me so I do understand the difficulty. But I can't see that the ex is the priority, or that her financial predicament is your DP's responsibility. We all have options when the shit hits the fan, even if they aren't what we want to do. That's the harsh reality facing the ex, and it's entirely up to her to deal with that alone.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 14-Oct-13 15:49:19

Thanks tension - the reality is that there is very little civil conversation possible between them; DSD mums position is that she didn't want DSD to go to college anyway (despite signing all the forms, and dropping her off the first weekend), and she denies agreeing anything about finances with DP even though there is a string of emails between them with spreadsheets attached. DP is getting very frustrated!

She is refusing to discuss it - and says DSD is short of money because she can't budget. DPs had a look at the figures and DSD isn't currently getting enough from Mum to pay for her weekly travel home, let alone the bits and bobs she needs like toiletries, breakfast cereal and the like. A Saturday job may be in order. She had a P/T job over the summer so had a bit stashed; that was used to pay for her set-up costs (duvet cover, mirror, towels etc, which we could have provided if we'd known). Accommodation and some meals are partly covered by bursary - the balance is less than monthly child benefit. Our household would attract a higher level of Bursary; but DSD Mum refused to allow DP to fill in the forms.

DSD has spent the last four weeks trying to keep Everyone happy and manage - but now it's come to a head, she's recognised that either deliberately or through circumstance, her Mum won't be able to afford to keep her at College. DP (and I) can if we receive the CB/tax credits; but the pain it will cause Mum emotionally and financially is immense.

And of course tied up in all of this is the bitterness DSD Mum feels that DP isn't paying her any spousal maintenance - and that's something we had no idea about until recently!

TensionSquealsGhoulsHeels Mon 14-Oct-13 14:40:35

I don't get it. DSD's mum hasn't yet lost income as she's still getting CB/CM/TCs. I'm assuming the choice of boarding at college is one that costs - are the costs high? You say the agreement on financial support for DSD broke down within days, so she isn't giving DSD money, is that right? Or she's not giving her enough money? So is your DP providing that support himself, or was the agreement it would come out of the CB/CM/TCs? Isn't your DSD living with you now anyway?

I get that losing that income would affect anyone badly, or the dent in her income of DSD's choice of college would be a struggle if things are v tight but I don't get why the ex thinks your DP needs to do more for her. That's her responsibility not your DP's. I've lost a good chunk of income as my ex lost his job 5 mths ago. It's bloody hard but I've had no choice but to adjust, tighten things up and stop a lot of stuff that we just can't afford. It sucks but I don't have a choice. The reality is, neither does your DP's ex.

The only thing that might help is DSD getting some kind of part time job to help herself if things are so bad she can't eat or wash her clothes - assuming your DP can't afford to support DSD fully without input from his ex. She's made a choice that has costs implications which she will be aware of. No reason why she can't get some kind of weekend job (if she hasn't already) just to give herself some sort of income that helps alleviate the problem. I'm not suggesting it's solely her responsibility when her mum is getting CB/CM/TCs, but she can take a wee bit of responsibility herself as well. Might give her mum a bit of a lesson on personal responsibility at the same time wink

Switching the CB/CM/TCs would seem the logical thing to do if DSD lives with your DP/you out with college but I can see that might well cause even more problems. But I don't think it should be dismissed because it'll cause more trouble. The prospect of losing that might well be something that your DP's ex needs to be aware of. In a non-threatening way of course. It just might help frame discussions and keep both parties focused on reaching an agreement on how to make sure your DSD gets the support she needs. If the ex genuinely cannot afford to support DSD in this choice, and can even less afford to lose the CB/CM/TCs, then I foresee a lot of difficulty ahead if the switch happens.

UC Mon 14-Oct-13 14:26:03

Ah, I see, she is a weekly boarder. Hmm, more difficult to ensure that if your DP is sending money for CM to DSD's mum, that the money actually reaches DSD...

Could you split the money so that 5/7 goes direct to DSD, and 2/7 to her mum, nominally to pay to support DSD on the days when she is living with her mum? I've only looked at that very simply, it is probably more complex, as I presume she also sometimes stays at yours.

I know you can apply to swap child benefit from one parent to the other, but not sure how you go about it, and whether you need the other parent's consent.

UC Mon 14-Oct-13 14:23:28

If your DP and his ex had a clean break divorce, then she cannot now apply to court for spousal maintenance.

I would have thought that CM should be paid directly to DSD if she is living away from home as a student.

Have a look here - www.findlaw.co.uk/law/family/divorce_and_dissolution/maintenance/500181.html

and www.divorceaid.co.uk/financial/settlement.htm.

Hope those help.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 14-Oct-13 13:36:28

DSD is only 16, so although she is a weekly border at college, she legally lives with one of her parents and they receive CB, tax credits, CM etc.
To begin with, that was DSD mum, but DSD has asked if DP will take on financial responsibility for her because Mum isn't supporting her with what she needs.
I wish we could afford to do both - pay CM and give DSD what she needs, but we can't make our income stretch that far.

EachDay Mon 14-Oct-13 13:21:06

Why does she think she should have had spousal maintenance/ If she's the higher earner isn't it more likely that she would have paid him?! (I've no idea really)

If DSD is away at college can the child maintenance be paid to her directly?

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