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TOPIC: Looking for CMS advice/ experience

Looking for CMS advice/ experience 4 weeks 1 day ago #108339

Hello all,

Looking for some info/ experience of anyone who may have had a similar situation as cannot find answers anywhere and it's almost impossible to speak to someone at the CMS at the moment.

A brief history: I am the wife of a separated dad. He has, to date always had a family based arrangement with his ex, has always paid his maintenance and always had his kids to stay overnight with us every other weekend for 2 nights, plus extra in holidays etc.

The arrangement has always been friendly until recently. We found out in January that I was pregnant (hooray!)
Then the dreaded Covid came along. To cut a very long story short, we went for a period without having the overnight stays, during which his ex demanded more money (despite him paying over for years anyway) and we said we couldn't afford to. Enter CMS...

The CMS have made his calculation based on us having no shared care of the children, not based the 4/5 year long arrangement we have had in place, even though we are now having the kids to stay again since some restrictions were eased. Ex wife won't tell them the truth and at the moment we are stuck in a 'his word vs hers' situation, the CMS seem to take her word as gospel here. So, we are fighting that trying to prove have them over night, but its very hard when there has always been a friendly agreement and no court order. No one wants to go through court but how can we stop her lying to them? If anyone has any experience/ wisdom of similar it would be good to hear if you managed to overcome it?

Onto the next huge problem/question...
When our baby comes along in a couple of months, we are going to be taking a period of shared parental leave whereby my husbands income will drop to stat parental pay of only £650 per month, for approx 4 months, then he will be returning to work on reduced hours. Can we report the income for the parental leave to CMS even if it is temporary?
His current calculation is based on his last P60 which included bonuses and overtime, he actually earns far less than that in reality. So he currently pays just shy of £500 a month to his ex. Can they really expect him to pay this much if only earning £650? He may as well have 0 income for that period to put into our household with a new baby. I just don't know how we will manage.

Have any dads here taken shared parental leave with a new baby and successfully adjusted CMS payments to match their temporary reduction in income?

Sorry for the long post, i'm just very scared that we are going to be absolutely ruined for the next couple of years.
There are many sub-plots to this post that I am willing to go into, but perhaps not appropriate for the first post.

Any help or knowledge will be much appreciated.

Cheers all.

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Looking for CMS advice/ experience 4 weeks 1 day ago #108340

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Hi and welcome on here.

There are some dads on here who have similar issues, so hopefully you'll get more detailed advice. To the best of my knowledge, when there is a dispute between the parents on who has the children, the CMS take a default position of assuming 1 night per week, so a 1/7th reduction in the maintenance payable. I think they won't generally accept any other proof except a court order (I think that is more recent - they didn't even accept that in the days of CSA), so you may need to get contact enshrined in a court order, but it's a question of whether it's worth doing so.

With respect to the parental leave, absolutely your husband must the CMS the moment his income drops to zero - I'm not sure of the calculation concerning parental leave, but I assume it will be based on his income at the time. Of course, he also needs to let them know he has another dependant - that will also drop his maintenance payments. He also must tell them when it goes back up again. I think there's a portal for CMS, which I gather is pretty good, so worth getting the hang of that.

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Last Edit: by actd.

Looking for CMS advice/ experience 4 weeks 1 day ago #108343

Thanks for the welcome and for replying so quickly! I hope that there is a wealth of knowledge to tap into in these forums... i'm sure this won't be the only post I make :D

The court order thing is really tricky and the cost/ time it would take to put in place would probably not make it worthwhile. We know that his ex wants to avoid this too so we are REALLY hoping she will just tell them sooner rather than later. We do have a mediation outcome letter which details the long-standing care agreement, but this is not the same as a court order. We also have pages and pages of emails, texts, Whatsapp messages discussing plans and logistics over the years.

One would assume that they would reassess his income based on the parental leave, but I have read that there's a chance they will see this as a 'temporary change' and therefore won't adjust his calculation. It will be approx 80% reduction of income since from his initial calculation, I would like to think there is enough fairness in the system that they would look at that.

Even for them to make the change for a new dependent, the CMS need proof that we are claiming child benefit which can take up to 12 weeks to set up from the birth... what a nightmare!

It just really scares me that we will be stuck paying this overly inflated amount until his annual review 12 months from now. At which point, it will level out somewhat, but still based on more than his ongoing earnings. It's a frighteningly flawed system but I guess they have to find a 'one size fits all' legislation somehow.

At what point can you just go 'actually we pay in full, on time, all the time, never missed a beat, we would like to change to family based arrangement again' ..... I suppose the ex has to agree to that as well ;;)

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Looking for CMS advice/ experience 4 weeks 1 day ago #108345


yes as actd, mentioned, where there is no court order, if one or both parents dispute the overnight shared care, CMS will assume 1 overnight stay per week. if your partner had court order already, CMS would not reduce the overnight stays during the covid period, as it's just temporary.

if he loses his job or income drops by 25% or increases by 25% he should tell CMS, and they will recalculate his payments.

also, once your baby is born, if he contacts CMS to tell them that he has another child living with him, they will slightly reduce his payments too.

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Looking for CMS advice/ experience 4 weeks 1 day ago #108359

congratulations on the both of you on the impending birth of your little one, I hope it all goes ok and this doesn't get in the way too much.

With regard to the parenting leave, yes they should reduce the payment as it is more than a 25% drop in earnings. However he must tell them as soon as this starts, ideally the first day, as this is when they will base their new calculation from. If you leave it to month 2 for example, then they will not backdate it.

I expect they will want proof of the lower earnings, and I believe this is 2 months payslips. So there may be one month where he has to pay his original amount, while he is on paternity. But that will count in his favour, as it essence he will have overpaid, and this extra will be credited to his account, making future payments less.

As it is such a drop, there is a chance that you could do 2 mandatory considerations. For this example we will say that his paternity leave starts on the 1st Sept and he is paid on the 25th of the Month and pays maintenance on the 28th of the Month. We will also assume that his gross monthly earnings are £2k, pays £320 maintenance and the amount of paternity pay will be £500 (this is just to make things easy).

- 25th August, gets paid normal Salary £2k
- 28th August Pays normal Maintanence £320
- 1st Sept Paternity leave starts, informs CMS on this day. CMS will most likely ask for 2 payslips to prove new income

- 25th Sept, gets paid paternity pay of £500
- 25th Sept, sends CMS payslips from last 2 months (August and Sept pay), for mandatory reconsideration.
- 28th Sept Pays maintenance £320 (will have to pay this amount as mandatory reconsideration not completed yet)

- 25th Oct, gets paid paternity pay of £500
- 25th Oct Sends CMS payslips from last 2 months (Sept and October) for mandatory reconsideration.
- 28th Oct pays maintenance amount of mandatory reconsideration from Sept. Like to be less.

- 25th Nov gets paid £500 paternity pay
- 28th Oct pays maintenance of mandatory reconsideration from October, will be based on full paternity pay calculation.

Its likely to work something like that, but just keep the CMS informed at every stage, and make sure you are clear on what you need to do. Many people make mistakes which they will not backdate.

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Looking for CMS advice/ experience 4 weeks 1 day ago #108361

Hi yoda,

Thanks so much for this in depth info! It’s this sort of thing that I was looking to find out. I didn’t realise that you can update them and ask for recalculations regularly! That’s really helpful to know. And you’re example makes perfect sense. I thought it was strange that they ask for 2 months wage slips as proof, but ask you to report changes within 7 days. But this example clarifies how that works so I’m very very appreciative. SO glad I posted here you’re all really helpful!
Thanks so much

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Looking for CMS advice/ experience 4 weeks 1 day ago #108365

Just make sure you keep the CMS updated every step of the way, letters and messages in the portal if need be.

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Looking for CMS advice/ experience 3 weeks 3 days ago #108435

Hi, I'm looking for help with regards to the recent contact I've had from the CMS. I am the father to a 14 yr old boy, he is the subject to a 50/50 custody agreement set by the Court in my home town. During the time of the lockdown for the covid pandemic, he spent the weeks with his mother and the weekends with me, as I was being called out for work purposes. I was informed by his mother that as she worked for the NHS she could get him in to school, and if he was with me, he couldnt. I sent his mother a message saying that I wasnt happy about this arrangement but in the interest and welfare, well being etc. of my son I would go along with this on the proviso that once things start to ease he comes back to me for the agreed 1 week on and 1 week off.
Fast wind to 24 June and I get a letter through the post stating that the CMS were calculating how much maintenance I owed from 27 June 2020. I tried to call them but the automated line informed me that no one was answering calls, and to use their website. I tried to use their website only to be asked for a 7 digit PIN number I didnt have, I then wrote a 3 page letter detailing how the child is subject to the court ordered custody agreement and posted it off the same day, using the recorded post I know that the letter arrived on 25 June, along with the court order and screenshots from SMS conversations detailing all of the above.
I got further letters on Thursday and Friday of last week asking me to provide my bank detyails to my ex wife so that I can set up payment details, and Friday's letter stated that I had 7 days to comply with all previous requests for information (that I hadn't had).
I spoke to them eventually over the telephone on Friday and asked for their reasoning as to why I should be paying maintenance for my child when it the 50/50 agreement was only interupted by the pandemic, and was informed that "maybe it shouldnt be the case and they would look into it,"
Today (21/07) I get a SMS message from them demanding a payment of £166.99 on 01/08.

Can anyone please suggest anything for me as it appears that a decision has been made without even considering my appeal and the fact that the only reason that the 50/50 agreement as interrupted is because of the global pandemic

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Looking for CMS advice/ experience 3 weeks 3 days ago #108439


so up until recently, you were not paying any maintenance? if your court order gives you 50/50 equal day to day care of your child, then you should not be paying maintenance. even if you were paying maintenance to CMS during this covid crisis, they stated that they would not be making any changes to peoples payments, as the situation is temporary where kids are being kept away from one parent.

if you have your login details, you should send them messages and a copy of your court order using their self-service portal. also make follow up phone calls.

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Looking for CMS advice/ experience 6 days 16 hours ago #108883

Afternoon all,

Sorry to bump up an old thread, wasn't sure if it was worth starting a new thread or not.
The advice you all offered regards to our parental leave etc was great, but now we have another issue...

Our CMS case began on the 1st July according to the letter my husband received, which, coincidentally was the first weekend we made a return to having his kids to stay overnights during the covid crisis. Looks bad on paper but genuinely we received the letter the same day we were going to pick them up!

Anyway, the calculation is based on us having 0 overnights as this is what his ex told CMS. She is saying that "last year we only had them 38 nights" and this is the info she has given the CMS when opening the case. She is refusing to tell them that we are having them 1 night a week (52 nights a year) and have been since July 1st and they seem to be accepting that as gospel. Am I correct in assuming that she should be informing them of the change now and not waiting til 'next years calculation'?

As I understand it, changes to number of overnight stays is a change that she is legally required to tell CMS?

Either way, it means that we might have to seek some sort of proof going forward.

This has to be either a court order or a solicitors letter. Any of you helpful lot have experience of getting a signed solicitors letter retroactively? Or a court order?

It feels like the only option now as she won't tell them the truth if she doesn't think she has to.

Thanks all, any experience, thoughts, feelings and opinions are much appreciated.


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Looking for CMS advice/ experience 6 days 16 hours ago #108884


CMS like court orders. as soon as I got mine, I sent it to them so they can work out my payments according to overnight stays.

I don't think a letter from a solicitor would be enough. there is option of a consent order. that means both parents have to agree on it. then it gets sent to court for approval. if his ex is not interested, then only real option would be to spend about £300 on a court application.

but i read in CMS booklet, that if number of nights is disputed by parents, then CMS assume 1 overnight stay per week. so maybe your partner can contact CMS about that.

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Looking for CMS advice/ experience 6 days 15 hours ago #108885

Cheers Bill,

We asked the CMS what proof they require and they said court order or solicitors letter.

We spoke to them about the disagreement, and this is what they said (it kind of confuses things more if you ask me):

We told them we were having them 1 night a week (52 per year), they went to the ex who said that she agreed we have had them 38 night over the last 12 months... therefore, they accept what both parties categorically agree on which is 38 nights, where as what is actually happening is we are having them 52 nights and will do for the forseeable, as we have done for over 4 years before the global pandemic.

The CMS aren't acknowledging that the break was due to covid (that or she hasn't told them that was the case), which, ironically, they would do if we already had a court order in place.

We were thinking of having a solicitor draft a letter to send to her solicitor rather than go through the court. She has already told us she doesn't want it to go through court because of cost etc. Plus the arrangement has always been friendly an flexible, but with a court order, she would'nt be able to ask for favours and changes like she done previously.

I digress... we are at a bit of a loss as to how to proceed and if it is worth doing so. Maybe we should just wait it out til next July? When she can just lie again if she really wants to?

UGH!!! it's so frustrating!! You try to do the right thing and have a friendly agreement, but it bites you on the arse when all you are doing is being honest.


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