Been lurking and following some stories on here and thought it time to add my bit
Its taken me nearly two and half years to get my current CMO problem sorted and while i have a decision 9 months old in my favor it hasn't been applied to return me my over payment
My ex decided she would be better off without me and she wasn't kidding, new cars, my cheap mortgage, holidays, great lifestyle on 4 days a week etc etc...at the end of the day i'm just an ex...and the kids are cash machines in this day and age
I've been a good dad and seen my kids, attended all the events i'm 'allowed' to, paid for years, limited access, all the games she wanted to play to upset our relationship etc etc, its all so normal tbh
Anyways i changed jobs and got reassessed incorrectly FOR THE TIME PERIOD INVOLVED, my salary had doubled and CMO went for it and tripled my payments, i'd been ill and had to work part time for a long while and had recovered somewhat more, so after a year and a half of empty promises i had an appeal hearing early last year, found in my favor, took 5 months to apply to my account, that was 3 months ago...and its £1.7k i'm owed
Didn't help i came out of work last November and paid before the CMO told me not to pay...they're no use at all so that's £2k i'm now owed
I'm lucky in that i'm in my last year of payments, am unemployed, not claiming benefits at all, have no intention of returning to work currently and if so will carefully choose my next job as that 25% rule is a killer, you cant drop a day at work and no one wants to know the reason why, its like your a criminal
So that's my story now here are some learning's hard won along the way, things i have/wish i had done:
Always be a good dad and provide for the kids NOT her or her succession of new partners, agree an element of pocket money from your payment to teach the kids that you ARE PROVIDING and you trust them with money
Move next door to the kids, as practicable as possible, have shared custody regardless. this will be a difficult one but well worth it, be in school range, be near family whatever, it's worth its weight in gold as the kids NOT staying with you is gold to her, 7 day split and you be the ONE IN CHARGE MAKING THE CLAIM
Have a table where you will sit and eat with your kids, its important, no phones rule applies, have a regular eat schedule and ask what they want once a week. Make sure grandparents and other family are there too, its important
Have Christmas and Birthday access on alternate years - no exceptions
Set up a separate bank account and move money into it monthly to pay maintenance, its simpler when you have to disclose the payments they forgot or lost plus we all get shifty FOR NO REASON when it comes to being asked to provide these
If you have a joint mortgage, don't move out EVER, get everything you can delivered to the house, get a legal letter stating your relationship challenge and how you cohabit, worth the £160 to a solicitor. You will never move on financially attached to someone else who is BENEFITTING from you, they wont kill the golden goose.
Challenge CMO decisions through their process after one phone call ONLY. I've genuinely no idea what goes on there but they can't all be incompetent or not know what to do, its not possible. They're whole premise is that of non-paying dads so anything else confounds them, nice people for the most part but can't/won't help
Get to the APPEAL stage ASAP, that's some doing i will admit, stop being fobbed off.
When you get the assessment READ it very carefully, its based on your salary as others say already, if way out of whack contact your ex, offer her a reasonable amount IF she stops CMO action and honour it. If she says get fkd then QUIT YOUR JOB, problem solved...after you have moved in next door and are settled ie once the assessment comes through the door, but YOU WILL HAVE some saved towards it so pay as much as you can off for peace of mind
Accept their workplace culture as biased against the NRP, doesn't matter the reason, that's why nothing gets done and you have to fight all the way
You will always be in arrears according to your ex.
When she meets someone new things will change, always insist she is at the door with the kids, they need to see you both playing nicely and sorting out differences BE RESILIANT
When you meet someone new things will be more AWFUL for you
When an agreement is broken you CAN TAKE her to court, but they have no power AND its after the fact, break a CMO agreement and see what happens then...
Never not have your kids on the agreed days/weekends/weeks/take them to school/events etc, others need to see your commitment too, then she'll be labelled 'that drunk...'
DO NOT PAY anything until they tell you to do so, while you are awaiting your assessment DO NOT PAY, keep that emotional blackmail in check and the money in that account, it causes you more problems further down the line when any payments are not counted and she sits there sniggering on a Lambrini evening how she did you over and plans how she wants to do it again. CMO wont listen or return anything EVER
Only pay what is DUE, its hard when your kids go from cool to benefit cases in the school playground, all you can do is make it up to them when you see them, trust me this will become an issue 'we don't do anything at dads' will become the next legal challenge catchphrase so make sure you treat them extra special when you can, lots of pics and memories created here
YOU are a good person, she has involved a third party, so do what they say, BOTH of you
If they tell you to pay a certain amount then pay it, ON TIME, no arguments, it only gets worse for you as the 20% is only part of it, suddenly your legal standing as a fit parent is questioned through your commitment to paying maintenance. They have powers like you have never seen before. Ever wonder why there is no TV series or saga about dads paying maintenance...well now you know
EVERYONE you speak to will be no help and unsympathetic, i was a battered husband but that doesn't mean anything, your a liar, a cheat and not fit to be a dad. Get over it and find new people away from your old social circle, my two mates that i thought would stand by me didn't, just adds to the loss tbh
Don't take idle gossip about what she is doing either, be firm and thank them for caring but you don't want to hear it as your trying to move on
Learn to say NO
Anything the kids do at school will be 'for mum, never dad' so that means no school baking or projects for you anymore
GIVE UP WORKING, another hard one, i was a full time management career type, she was a 'homemaker', how the hell did i lose everything??? By having a job you don't get anything, no legal aid, no benefits, no advice, having a job BRINGS about problems here. So my advice is like my first point above, PLAN to leave your job, set up your new life with your kids as the priority and live as close to them as you can so you can walk to them. You can always pick up a part time job/go full time again once there is stability but even then there will be bumps along the way.
Know when your last payment date will be, look forward to it and plan accordingly
If you're like the average dad then you will be an emotional wreck, constantly, wondering whats coming next so get some control over custody
YOU can deal with this, sort the money and BAN any conversation over money if CMO involved or if not once every 90 days you can get together to discuss money but remember it likely never goes down, only up. BUT if your money isn't going up don't give in
Don't be beaten financially every time you go to collect the kids etc, its all too easy for her to fall into 'kids = money' sums and your the money. I did this to my ex 9 years ago and she has hardly spoken to me since, EVERY conversation led to money from her and i'd had enough one day
If wants to see your payslips, you want to see hers AND her bank statements, credit cards etc, soon shuts them up
When she introduced the CMO idea i told my ex if she involves them we will never discuss money again, that hurt me terribly but i endured and came out good the other side thankfully, once she trained herself i meant it
I have OVERPAID three times now, told her not to involve these people as they will screw her up, so when lean times hit I've stood back and been a good dad but not paid her a penny until told to. Knock on effect is she's glad for me to have the kids extra as then she can get even more pissed as i'm feeding them!
So quite the story, anyways here is my view on how to work your way through this minefield:
As i said above have an agreement with your ex, they don't know it yet but it will benefit them too
Don't have a job - its the only way, they cant take what you aren't vulnerable with. OK so its extreme if you've never been unemployed,
Change jobs to work within the 25% rule
Watch the CMO rules, you don't want to earn more than £800 a week, you get made to make an 'extra weekly' payment every month then as you're doing so well
Go work for the government and max your pension contributions to 8% or whatever as CMO can't touch this, return is NHS is a 21% contribution, prison service is 26/27% i think, yes you don't get to see it but best of all its money YOUR ex cant touch, If you've been bad in the past still apply, they have to take on a certain amount of ex offenders in a lot of places, so GET REFORMED
Make sure you have a clean break through your solicitor and GET DIVORCED ASAP
Go self employed and register as a limited company - harder to take money from you BUT play fair and pay for your kids
Likewise if you go unemployed and pick up casual work on the side, play fair and pay something, just remember not to give too many details, she will be asking about and report you regardless, its about legal standing remember
Remember that this will be life changing, you will lose faith in love, the system, why you work, what things cost, your real friends and family, but your kids will fill these voids
Go to college as its all paid for unemployed and up to level 3 which is a good level for entrant to a new career, plan for that day when its all over and you can get back on track with life
Learn to enjoy your new life as a dad
And that's it, i'm sure there's more but these are the highlights
Its not just about CMO being put in check, other problems will come forward as she invents them and if she has legal aid and you haven't...your in for a really bad time
Get smart and get informed and get legal on her where you can, don't just accept things
Apologies, i do know the boot is on the other foot gender wise mums/dads, there are thieves, cheats, liars, violent relation ships etc and if you leave to be with someone else heaven help you, happiness has its own price
The best way I explain it is to take everything and put it down onto a chess board and think many moves ahead and think carefully before each move. Removing emotions provides clarity of thought. The situation is not a game but it is strategic. It is the only way many of us can get through things and gives us some hope.