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[Solved] Child maintenance - It seems so unfair

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activeparent
(@activeparent)
New Member Registered

Hi there...I've recently found myself in the situation where my partner (we weren't married) and I are separating. We have a 4 year old child and currently we have agreed to split his weekly time between us as follows (3 days with the father and 4 days with the mother). Both the mother and I have our own houses (she chose to move out and buy her own place) and we both work full time. We were only together five years and neither of our careers has been negatively affected by having our child.

While I don't mind contributing towards my son's upbringing, what I am finding difficult to swallow is the following:

1. Despite me having my child for 45% of the time, I will be expected to pay child maintenance of £83 per week (based on the figures provided by the CMS calculator). I have worked out by asking several other parents with children the total cost that his mother will incur in bringing up the child for those 4 days (groceries) plus the costs she will incur as the primary carer (clothing, toys, birthdays, clubs, school trips) works out at approx £70 per week.

My frustration therefore is that despite her working full time and having a smaller mortgage than me, I am fully subsidising cost of her bringing our son up and giving her £10 per week on top, plus obviously covering all my own costs when I have him - nobody gives me a financial help out. I'm not sure how the child maintenance service works out its calculations but surely, it should be that we are both contributing 50% of the cost of bringing him up - not one parent covering the lion's share? After all, we both brought him into the world. How can that be fair?

On top of that, if my salary increases, the amount she will receive from me for those four days care increases, irrespective of the fact that my child does not cost any more to bring up just because I have been awarded a pay rise. Again, how is that fair? On the flip side, if her salary was to increase, this has no effect at all on how much I pay. Again, how is that fair? It seems that in the case where the primary carer gets financial support from someone who earns a decent salary, they are quids in, irrespective of their earning potential. Shouldn't there be a cap put on the daily cost of bringing up a child?

Quote
Topic starter Posted : 28/01/2015 9:15 pm
othen
(@othen)
Reputable Member Registered

Hi Active,
Irritating isn't it.
It is unfair that CSA decides who will be the resident parent on an arbitrary condition (receipt of child benefit, which almost invariably goes to the mother) and then pursues the father (almost invariably) for an unfair contribution regardless of the mother's income or circumstances.
Unfortunately there is little appetite for change in society: CSA/CMS sells itself as getting money from absent fathers to needy children who would otherwise be waifs begging in the streets. The government (all parties) are not interested as it would increase the social protection budget at the bottom end if someone didn't pay, and the media isn't really interested (probably because the womans' rights movements are pretty strong and convince everyone there is still lots of discrimination against women).
My son lives with me very nearly half the time (won through an expensive legal tussle rather than agreement), I had to buy his mother a house and I still have to pay her CM (like you). It is a bit counter productive in many ways because I've chosen to retire because it is no longer worth working (40% tax, 12.5%NIC and 8% of the remainder in CM would give me a marginal tax rate of about 60%).
The good news is my son lives with me alternate weeks, and he is far happier and better adjusted than he would be if left in his mother's care. I can also protect him from the criminal elements in his mother's family.
Just grin and bear it, but carry on being a really good dad.
Best wishes,
AO

ReplyQuote
Posted : 29/01/2015 1:42 am
Child Maintenance Consultant
(@Child Maintenance Consultant)
Noble Member Registered

Hello activeparent

The amount you pay towards the upbringing of your child is your personal contribution and based on your income. It is not based on a figure that your child may need per week or on the difference between the parent’s incomes.

When calculating maintenance payments, any overnight stays that your child has with you should be taken into account.

If you have a family-based arrangement, there are no set rules to follow. The agreement can include anything that you both agree to.

If you want to use the Child Maintenance Service’s rules as part of your arrangement, you can see detailed information about how they calculate maintenance payments here, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/325219/how-we-work-out-child-maintenance.pdf

If you require support to help with your family-based arrangement, you can contact Child Maintenance Options directly, http://www.cmoptions.org

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have a web application, ‘Sorting out separation’. It aims to make it much easier for separating and separated parents (and childless couples) to find the support they need, when and where they need it, and encourages them to collaborate on a range of issues. The link is http://www.dad.info/divorce-and-separation/sorting-out-separation

Regards

William

ReplyQuote
Posted : 29/01/2015 4:18 pm
jastix
(@jastix)
Estimable Member Registered

The below is an absolutely useless contribution in this context!!

Hello activeparent

The amount you pay towards the upbringing of your child is your personal contribution and based on your income. It is not based on a figure that your child may need per week or on the difference between the parent’s incomes.

When calculating maintenance payments, any overnight stays that your child has with you should be taken into account.

If you have a family-based arrangement, there are no set rules to follow. The agreement can include anything that you both agree to.

If you want to use the Child Maintenance Service’s rules as part of your arrangement, you can see detailed information about how they calculate maintenance payments here, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/325219/how-we-work-out-child-maintenance.pdf

If you require support to help with your family-based arrangement, you can contact Child Maintenance Options directly, http://www.cmoptions.org

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have a web application, ‘Sorting out separation’. It aims to make it much easier for separating and separated parents (and childless couples) to find the support they need, when and where they need it, and encourages them to collaborate on a range of issues. The link is http://www.dad.info/divorce-and-separation/sorting-out-separation

Regards

William

ReplyQuote
Posted : 29/01/2015 4:24 pm
othen
(@othen)
Reputable Member Registered

Hi Jastix,
I'm sure the consultant was trying to be helpful, but I largely agree it was not what Active was looking for in this context.
It is fairly obvious that what Active is being asked to pay in not a convivial family-based arrangement he has struck with his ex-partner, but the CSA/CMS rules that his ex-partner has applied rather against his will. It seems to me that all the time CMS has rules that discriminate strongly against fathers for the reasons I gave in my post above, very few mothers are going to agree to anything less than raiding the father's income (and his estate if they were married).
I don't think there is much that can be done about it, society will get what society wants.
Best wishes,
AO

ReplyQuote
Posted : 30/01/2015 4:21 pm
actd
 actd
(@actd)
Illustrious Member

The problem is that the government has to try to find a solution that fits the majority of cases, and the CMS system does just that. The alternative would be that every case is judged individually on its merits, and there simply isn't the manpower or capability to do that, not to mention the fact that it would be horrendously expensive. Perhaps, in the future, it could be worked out online taking financial details from Inland Revenue and benefits, but even then, there would be winners and losers.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 31/01/2015 11:15 pm
othen
(@othen)
Reputable Member Registered

Hi ACTD,
I agree with half of what you have said. You are right that the state has to find a solution that fits most cases. I think you are wrong in asserting that the CSA/CMS system does that.
There is no excuse for discrimination in our society, but the family court system (via CAFCASS) promotes it in a way that would be illegal elsewhere, and the CSA/CMS method of assessing CM strongly favours women. It uses receipt of child benefit to decide who will be the receiving (and therefore the paying) parent. There is a strong correlation between mothers and receipt of child benefit, so it cannot be argued that this is fair. Once the mother has been identified as the receiving parent (in nearly all cases) the formula then penalises the paying parent (almost always the father) in shared residency cases. I disagree that the only alternative is to assess each case on its merits, a much fairer requirement would be to charge CM according to the proportion of time spent with each parent, not double that amount as Activeparent points out above.
Anyway, nothing much is going to change in my lifetime, so us dads will just have to take it on the chin. Ho hum.
Best wishes,
AO

ReplyQuote
Posted : 01/02/2015 4:36 pm
actd
 actd
(@actd)
Illustrious Member

Perhaps I should have said that the CSA/CMS tries to do that. I agree with you that in principle that it should, in at least part, be based on the amount of time spent with each parent - the problem is that how do you prove that? You're back to your word against your ex. However, I do think the starting point should be any agreement reached in mediation or stated on a court order. Of course, the problem with that, as happens now with the number of overnight stays, is that it encourages the mother to fight for more time (ie less contact with the father) because there is a financial benefit in doing so.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 05/02/2015 1:52 am
othen
(@othen)
Reputable Member Registered

Hi actd,
You are precisely correct of course. The current system has a strong causal connection between residency and money, and that encourages mothers who are leaving their marriages in order to make money to play the mother card with CAFCASS and get more time (than the father) with their children.
An assumption of a 50-50 split (as there is with financial agreements) might sober up many mothers, although this may not work in all cases (such as if the parents live a long distance apart).
Best wishes,
AO

ReplyQuote
Posted : 09/02/2015 12:00 pm
actd
 actd
(@actd)
Illustrious Member

The assumption of a 50/50 split is a good starting point - maybe it should then be down to either party to provide good evidence as to why that should not take place if there is a compelling reason for doing so.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 11/02/2015 11:19 pm
rirvine
(@rirvine)
New Member Registered

I couldn't agree more with you on discrimination. The system offered a reduced rate for overnight stays. What happens to the parents like myself who work constant night shift on a rota that can't be synchronised with the child's schooling or activities. It may also be taking away the child's right to choice. And in some cases used as a tool in parental alienation.
I have wrote to my MP on the subject of discrimination and she has passed it to the secretary of state for welfare.
However as the bill was passed as a UK and not a Scottish decision I don't hold out much hope.
Many thanks
Robert Irvine.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 22/12/2016 8:12 am
JPNuman
(@JPNuman)
New Member Registered

Couldn't agree more as I will keep saying we just keep on getting shafted with whatever child maitenance support comes in the fathers are worse of and in this case 12% of the gross salary is ridiculous and to top it all then you the father is also paying the tax on that amount to.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 12/04/2017 2:20 am
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