Request to increase maintenance
Am I being unreasonable? My ex and I divorced last year. We earn similar amounts, he kept the 5 bed marital home and I used my settlement to buy a smaller 3 bed bungalow around the corner. (When we bought the house he put equity from the sale of his flat in to the house). I had to sign a disclaimer to my solicitors that I was going against their advice as the financial settlement was in his favour, and was advised to leave child maintenance out of the consent order, as at £400 per month for 2 children the solicitor felt it would have caused the consent order not to be approved. My legal advice was to immediately claim via CMS as soon as the consent order was approved.
I didn't do that, as I have consistently prioritised keeping an amicable relationship with my ex for the sake of my children's well being and I knew that requesting any additional money would go down like a lead balloon. However, I don't (and never have) felt that £400 covers half the costs for our children.
Their father is a shift worker doing 12 hour shifts so has more days off than a 9-5 worker. He picks our youngest daughter up on the weekdays he is off (about half of them over the month) and then will give them both tea and drop them back to me in time for bed. On his 2 weekends off (out of 4) he has the girls for 50% of the weekend, either friday or saturday night. I have worked this out and it equates to approx 1.5 days per week in term time, counting the tea-time as half a day. He has them more in the holidays, although we haven't got in to a specific routine yet as he was training for the summer holidays and only able to cover a handful of days (I did take them on holiday for 3 weeks as well).
The CMS recommendation for what I think his salary is (he recently started a new job so I don't actually know) is £545 a month, which I think is more reasonable. Especially considering he hasn't paid anything over the £400 other than birthday / christmas presents. I have paid out for a £340 school trip, ballet lessons, gymnastics, new secondary school uniform at £250, a flute, flute lessons, clothes, shoes, haircuts the list is endless.
He is now threatening to change the custody arrangement if I ask for more money, as he can't afford to pay any more. He claims that our income and outgoings are equivalent, but he has a lodger renting his spare room, so I don't see how that is possible. Is my request as unreasonable as he says it is? Am I completely out of order for thinking that he should contribute towards my house bills (mortgage and utitliies) as this is our daughters' primary residence?
My friends all think that it's a reasonable request but I'd really appreciate an impartial view from a dad's perpective!
To be honest, the difference you are talking about is not huge, but if you go through the CMS, this could cause a lot of grief. His threat to change the custody agreement assumes that he will win, and if it is seen that he is doing this purely for financial reasons, the court really won't be impressed with him.
Realistically, because you aren't talking about a lot, I would try to talk this through amiciably with him, and if necessary use a mediation service, this is going to cost you both a lot less in terms of time, money and aggravation that using the courts or CMS.
@actd Thanks for your reply. I agree that the difference is not huge, but actually £1,700 per year does make a huge impact to my finances.
He is adamant that he has no responsibility to contribute to their housing costs - “why should I pay your mortgage?”, and genuinely believes that he is paying in excess of 50% of their costs as a result. But that just doesn’t make sense to me?
I’ve already accepted a financial settlement way lower than my legal entitlement (more than 60/40 in his favour while I have custody of the kids) and now I feel like I’m being cornered to accept less maintenance too. The amicable arrangement is actually a huge financial expense…
@muesli1 sorry, just to clarify, I wasn't saying you just accept what you already have, but if you can both come to an agreement somewhere in the middle, then it will be a lot easier for both of you - there is a lot to be said for remaining amicable if you can for everyone's sake, hopefully you ex will realise this also. On the basis that you both have similar care, food and housing costs are presumably fairly similar for you both, so perhaps agreeing to keep a record of additional costs and then splitting them in some way may be a way forward.
I think its better to avoid CMS as too often it seems to create more hostility between parents e.g the dad already threatening court action to change arrangements because of money. Would he be willing or able to have the kids more, then that way it could reduce the financial burden on you?