I'm a Dad who has the majority of the responsibility with two kids 17 & 13.
I've been separated for three years and divorced for one.
I've always been the main carer as the ex had a job in the city, left the house by 6am and didn't return until 7pm.
I run a small business from home so it always made sense.
When we divorced we agreed the the kids would see their Mum every other weekend. She almost immediately moved in with the guy she had the affair with who has taken early retirement and owns his home outright. (this will become important later)
I always made it very clear that the kids could see their Mum more if they wanted to.
We agreed CM payments using the HMRC calculator with her salary north of £70K and this has run with occasional grumbles about the amount from the ex. that was until the 1st of May this year when she texted me to explain that the CM amount would be dropping as of that day by £400/month (she was paying £730/m).
The reason she has given for this drop is that she has decided to divert fully half of her salary into her pension and because that means her PAYE wage has dropped by more than 25% she was justified in making the immediate change. The part about her boyfriend's house being bought and paid for now becomes important because she is able to reduce her salary by such a huge amount because she has very few outgoing, rent/mortgage etc.
Its not actually pertinent to the facts but I should add that as a Ltd company Director with a furlough of £600/m due to Corona Virus and increased costs for food etc this couldn't have come at a worse time but there you go.
I have tried to contact the CSA to find out if she can do this but they aren't taking calls from new enquirers it would appear so i'm here hoping that someone might be able to at least put me straight on whether she can do this to us and if a claim to the CSA, once they are back up and running, is likely to get me anywhere.
You can probably imagine the heightened stress levels at present hence to desire to know where I stand if possible.
I would accept what shes offering for now until you can put a CSM claim in . She could decide to just pay nothing and then you would get nothing until CSM receive a claim from yourself applying for child maintenance. it isn't backdated either. have you thought about just saying you accept 500 pounds for now. CSM would go on what earnings HMRC would of been informed about probably although not entirely sure 2018-2019 tax year
We weren’t on good terms but liveable. Obviously that has changed quite dramatically now. I would try to negotiate something sensible but Within a couple of days of the first text I got an email complaining about how the NEW CM payment was too high and unfair!!
According to my accountant there was a small amendment to give Directors something although nothing like what employed or self employed people are getting.
I agree with the advice. If it is not formal through CMS now then I believe there is little you can do but to accept what is on offer and then raise a case with the CMS to have her formally assessed.
I believe initial award would be based on the figures with HMRC from last year, so would likely assess higher and then she will have to inform them of the new pension contributions. This gives you/CMS a chance to assess if they would be considered too high. It also is a chance for you to find out if she has actually been earning more than she has told you!
Bill is correct that 12% is considered the norm, however depending on your age(how close to retirement) and when the pension scheme began, it can be significantly increased. My first thoughts are that this is excessive and would be challenged and reassessed.
Going through CMS directly is always a lottery and becomes a risk you get less, but based on your explained circumstances it would be better for you in my opinion.
I didn’t insist on the CSA route initially because I thought what we were getting was fine and I didn’t want to risk it going down but now with the level it has now dropped to I feel I have nothing to lose.
i think she will be worse off through CMS, as every year they will review her income, so the more she earns, the more she will need to pay. paying half of salary into pension is dodgy. its up to you. its clear she is taking the mick as you have a private arrangement.
My only thoughts on this are that I'm not sure you'll get away with diversion of income argument purely because she isn't reducing the amount of maintenance paid via CMS - you had a private arrangement until now, so when the CMS case opens, it's on the basis that she is already paying 50% of income into pension. Having said that, you have absolutely nothing to lose by trying, so I'd still go for it, the worst that may happen is you get what you are getting at the moment. The actually wording of the message she sent to you could be crucial in any decision that is made.
I had this 15 years ago with my ex - I had custody, and opened a case with CSA (as it was at the time) and my ex tried to put 100% of her income into pension (yes, all of it!!) - I went to a tribunal (which she failed to turn up to because she'd be out getting pissed the night before) and they ruled in my favour and disregarded the whole of her pension payments on the basis that she had started them a week after she'd been contact by CSA.
She got a fair chunk out of the divorce and was renting at the time, so was living off her capital as far as I know. Once CSA ruled against her, she bought a small house but her drinking wrecked her life and she couldn't hold her job (she was a very good commercial lawyer), I took my daughters back, her house was repossessed and ended up living with her mother, where she still lives today. My daughters had very little to do with her and eventually cut all contact with her, and I think my son has only very occasional contact, so from trying to pull one over on me, she lost absolutely everything.
I raised a case with the CSA and called them yesterday because my ex was contacted just before the end of the month and has chosen not to pay any CM for June whilst she awaits their decision.
After informing that I had had nothing for June I asked about the case and how it was progressing and after some digging about the guy I spoke to informed me that it would appear from her pay slips that she is diverting 76% of her wages into her pension! He was frankly amazed and told me that he had seen it where the individual had been self employed but never with someone on PAYE.
He is referring the case to the fraud dept apparently as a matter of urgency so that’s at least interesting.
If I’m honest I still don’t hold out much hope of this being resolved fairly as I can’t really see how they can compel her to not pay into her pension unless they insist on a figure that would mean that she would have to change her arrangements to be able to afford it.
76% is apparently around £4600 per month by the way!!