Court Order - change of circumstances
Backstory (sorry in advance)
Divorced 5 years ago (after 6 years apart) and at the time I had one child living primarily with me and 2 with their mother. Mother was working and developing a career but early days (maybe 30-40k)...while I was on 80k.
Court order set maintenance at £620 a month for me.
Within a year the next child had left her and moved in with me. Her income had continued to rise. We agreed to half the payment to £310...no formal allowance was made for the 2 children in my care although £310 would have been light if she was the only child.
And so it continued for 2 years until 2 years ago at start of pandemic when I was made redundant.
Paid in leiu of notice plus redundancy meant my income in 2020 was £27k taxable plus about 25k redundancy. Little chance of employment at the time and 16 months later I started drawing my pension...income in 21/22 tax year = £26k taxable. Her income (as much as I can make out) was rising through 60k.
Unexpectedly restarted employment in last few weeks and immediately my ex is on to me with restarting payment of £310pm...stating she had 'let me off' with the last couple of years.
She is now temporarily unemployed after making herself redundant but is earning some freelance income...no idea how much but I doubt she will stay unemployed for very long.
My income is now £50k, although its a limited company so I have some control over how much I earn. I know its not relevant but most of my income is paying a very large mortgage as she took the house...I also need to contribute 4k to my eldest university maintenance. Basically I'm not exactly rich and am trying to deal with expenses held back over the last couple of years.
I made no demands of her over the last 2 years despite her income being 60k plus. She had a family emergency in January and I looked after both kids full time for 6 weeks with no support offered, so I really feel it is a bit rich her asking me to restart payments when:
- We have one child under 18 each.. my son who lives with me turns 18 next year.
- I am earning (on paper) around 60% of earnings on which order was made
- Her earnings were much higher than mine last year and once she is reemployed likely to be higher this year also
It is very frustrating that she considers maintenance to be a one way street and has said as much in the past...I am the only one that should pay apparently. I actually would be quite happy to just call it quits but it looks like I may have to deal with it.
So any advice:
- Could she demand the court order payments be backdated over the last 2 years? I never applied to get it reassessed.
- Do I get Court order reassessed now or is it simpler to go through CM - as I understand it I would have to claim from her and then she from me.
- Any other advice - pay up? Take professional advice?
Frustrated doesn't cover it.
so the court order is a maintenance order? does it have an expiry date, such as you must pay x amount until child leaves full-time education? it is my understanding that generally the maintenance orders are valid for 12 months. often it has been the case that after the 12 months pass, either parent goes to Child Maintenance service (CMS) if they can't settle a dispute about maintenance. I think if if you or her tried to apply to amend the order, they might say the CMS is more suited. maybe good idea to seek legal advice about it.
you can use this gov CMS calculator as a guide as what they would expect you to pay, if you or ex takes CMS route: https://www.gov.uk/calculate-child-maintenance
if CMS route is taken, then in theory they would not expect you to pay your ex any money for a child that lives with you full-time. but would expect you to pay her for child that lives with her majority of time, and spends time with you.
The court order includes a maintenance element yes. It is valid until both children are 17 but as you say in reality it is only valid 12 months and I was told as much by the solicitor when it was drawn up.
I know what I would pay through CMS - about £300 for the child with her - but the important thing is not that I would not pay for the child with me - but that she would. So effectively x goes one way and y goes the other so I would actually probably receive a net amount as her income is likely to be higher than mine. Do you know how CMS monitor income? - she tends to be economical with the truth and will probably base her income on her currently not working - do they use PY earnings and then correct at the end of the current year.
Incidentally - I have absolutely no desire to take money off her - we're both big enough and ugly enough to support our kids without recourse to the other. I have had nothing from her for the cumulative 9 years two of our kids have lived with me and just want to stop giving her money that just inflates her lifestyle
CMS make parent pay maintenance based on gross taxable income. if your ex has a permanent job, PAYE, then it's very straight forward for them. They check HMRC records for income based on most recent tax year, or the last tax year they can see income information for a parent. If she has a business like Limited Company, then generally they only see the salary portion of the business that the owner receives, whatever is declared to HMRC. if she is self-employed, then CMS will wait for her to do a self-assessment tax return, and base maintenance off that. sometimes they ask parent to get accountant to do a forecast of projected earnings, for next 12 months.