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Can't afford to pay child maintenance...

Discussion in 'Parenting' started by fredhaise, Apr 2, 2018.

  1. fredhaise

    fredhaise New commenter

    I'm at my wits end so thought I'd seek advice on here, a forum most closely linked to my employment (support role in education).

    Divorced now ten years with teenage aged children. When this occurred I was a teacher, but now I am in a much less well paid support role. The divorce decreed I should pay approx. 15% earnings to my former wife in child maintenance. This I have done, until recently, although the amount has varied, due to my change in role and it was intermittent during a period of supply work, around 2013-15.

    Over the last couple of years, I have basically been outlaying more than I earn and relying on savings then overdrafts then c.cards etc. to get by including paying for my parental responsibilities. I now find that my abilty to obtain further loans/credit has been exhausted. Last month although very frugal myself, I found I was basically breaking even, without sending any money to pay for my kids. My ex hasn't pressured me for money (yet), at the very outset she did threaten to involve the CSA, but that was never followed through, so my payments have always been paid and accepted informally & without going through that system.

    I now want to know where I stand and what could happen next. Should I try to continue to pay something, or could I actually be better off asking her to go through with a CSA application and have them intervene?

    P.S. I do see my children 2 weekends a month which is great. I mention this because I know that having them stay with me so many nights in a year impacts on how these sums are calculated, but I'm not sure how long that can continue. The next possible saving I could make would be to take my car off the road, I do live walking distance from work, but I'm reluctant to go down that path, as to see my kids a car journey is needed. I have considered the Citizens Advice Bureaux, but I thought I would ask for advice on here, first. The marriage breakup was initiated by her, but I don't know if that is relevant in relation to financial payments now. Furthermore, my ex-wife is in a new relationship and therefore is a two-income household again, whilst I'm not. This doesn't bother me on an emotional level and again I assume it has no bearing on the financial issues, or does it?

    In a nutshell, when I divorced, 15% of my teacher pay left me plenty for my own rent/food/bills etc. with some disposable income left-over too. 15% of my current wage though is a big chunk, too big, as it turns out. These are the things I need advice on, many thanks, in advance, if anyone can help.

    Finally, is this the correct place for this type of 'problem' I did consider posting in 'Personal'?
  2. SammyBear2016

    SammyBear2016 Occasional commenter

    The Government website has a calculator for this which can be found here. I would suggest that as your first step and see what figure it states you should be paying. If that is manageable then speak to your ex to see if she is happy for the amount you pay to drop to this. If she is unhappy with the figure i would be inclined to let it go through the CSA. If you still feel that the figure is more than you are able to afford i would suggest speaking to citizens advice.
  3. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    The child support agency reviews the level of payments annually, and asks you to inform them if your income changes substantially. So if you'd gone through the CSA in the first place, the payments might well have been reduced some time ago.

    seems to have lots of useful information, including a calculator to estimate what they would fix as the level, and it says you might use this as a basis for agreeing payments outwith the CSA system.
    I would explore that, see what the CSA would come up with, and perhaps then go back to your wife and suggest that you agree something between you.
  4. fredhaise

    fredhaise New commenter

    Thanks for that frustrum and sammybear, I have had a go with that online calculator. There was good news and (very) bad news.

    When I first read your reply I thought, gosh, I have been over-paying for years, but no. (The good news!).

    In fact, I am probably paying half what the CSA would require and there seem to be admin costs on top too, but I didn't want to look at the website anymore, it is all too depressing.

    Any other ideas?
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
  5. SammyBear2016

    SammyBear2016 Occasional commenter

    The admin fee is minimal but using the calculator can start that important discussion with your ex. My only other advice i'm afraid would be to speak to citizens advice and see what they advise you. I don't know how it works if the costs are simply too much for you to afford. Some solicitors will also offer a short free initial consultation so that may be another option.
  6. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    That's a pity. It means that, apart from looking at where you can pare your living expenses, your best bet is just to appeal to your ex. If you got rid of the car, might she be prepared to help with transport for the kids' visits? Does she know you're in debt?
    CAB probably well worth a try, too. They do a lot of helping people for whom finance is a bit of a mess, and may well have helpful suggestions.
    I'm guessing you're living in a place big enough for the weekend visits? Any chance of finding a midweek lodger? I think there are a fair number of people who lodge in London Monday-Thursday, but possibly not so much elsewhere.
  7. fredhaise

    fredhaise New commenter

    Thanks for the suggestion frustrum, unfortunately I live in a very small flat, so a lodger is not really an option I could explore. I am going to keep the car as long as possible, but I do not want to divulge my indebtedness (its a pride thing). I will try to get to a CAB this holiday.
  8. frangipani123

    frangipani123 Lead commenter

    It's a difficult situation, as I'm sure you want to contribute to the costs involved of bringing up children but your finances are very tight.

    Can you look at increasing your income by taking on a second job or even finding a different full-time role? it's very miserable to have to scrimp and save.

    The CAB may be able to help. Also, you say the children are teenagers so it will only be a few more years until they reach 18 and maintenance payments will stop.
  9. fredhaise

    fredhaise New commenter

    That is interesting, I thought I was obligated to pay maintenance until they finished their education and they are bright enough for University. Thanks for that information.

    Sadly, they are young teenagers though, so I will have to look at some other options, possibly holiday work. A second job in term time would be difficult. Due to the education cuts, I am basically doing a teaching job on £10/hr and I get home pretty whacked, most evenings.

    Thanks for contributing to my thread. Just talking here helps a bit.
  10. SammyBear2016

    SammyBear2016 Occasional commenter

    Would going back into teaching rather than being in a support role be an option? You could also look at providing private tutoring depending on what your teaching subject was.
  11. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    If you are doing a teaching job for £10/hr, you need to look for post that pays you properly! (Or a support post that doesn't over-exploit you and leave you too exhausted for a bit of tuition.)

    Are there any car club schemes in your area? Some city areas have a scheme where there are a number of cars with dedicated parking spaces, which you can book and use. It may work out cheaper if you're not using a car much.
  12. fredhaise

    fredhaise New commenter

    It's very difficult, I see most teachers now in their twenties/early 30s (unless they have moved up into a managerial role) which I never did. So difficult to obtain a post in my fifties and then do it successfully within the current climate, which I don't need to go into, as it's discussed at length in many other threads. It does irk me when I recall how different the job was when I began, (early 1990s) we did care about the pupils, but also the staff too, especially older ones who often were given some cushy responsibilities as retirement approached e.g. mentoring NQTs. Nothing like that now, only the pupils matter, correction only data relating to the pupils matters and as soon as your performance dips, management start circling like lions around an elderly antelope. Support plans, capability etc. etc.

    Tutoring might be an option, I was interested to read on here recently about online tutoring to Chinese children. I need to look into that more.

    Yes, I have been thinking this for most of this year! After my period of supply work, I was glad to get a fixed f/t job working with small groups, supporting in class and occasionally covering in an emergency, because I have QTS and the school knew that. But due to significant staffing reductions last summer, I now I have a full timetable covering PPAs and although I don't have quite the same pressure to plan lessons and monitor progress, it's still a demanding role. I'd even say that at times, it is as tough as the job I was doing 20 years ago, but for much less pay. That isn't right, normally one earns more as one gets older OR takes a less demanding job, on less money, if that can be done. I'm doing more, for less!!! And if one factors in monetary inflation, I'm doing more for much less. Initially, (at the start of the current academic year) I was just relieved not to be included in the staffing cull that I mentioned, but now I'm beginning to think that I'm being exploited. Sadly, in the past, when I still had some money in the bank, I could consider other options, but I was apprehensive to move away from education. Now I really need to, but I can't. I feel trapped.
  13. ShowerGel

    ShowerGel Lead commenter

    I'm sorry you are in this dilemma but just imagine how much more whacked you would feel arriving home to a house full of teenagers plus all that washing cooking and cleaning they create!
    Please take up some of the suggestions to earn extra money so you can pay for your children and try not to feel so sorry for yourself!
    Find someone inspirational to look up to which may give you incentives and boost your confidence which you'll pass onto those children.
    That your ex has a new bloke is neither here nor there.
    Our job as parent is to set the best possible example to them. It's what you DO that matters.
    Good luck and I would love to hear your progress.
    Has your flat only one room? You say its small but not how many rooms. Letting out a room Monday to Friday can be a massive income and 7,000 pounds a year tax free!
  14. peapicker

    peapicker Star commenter

    Do go and see Citizens Advice. Not only can they assist you with the maintenance issue, but they can also take into account your other outgoings, debts and liabilities and come up with a workable solution with you that takes everything into account. They can also intervene with creditors on your behalf. They have very specific expertise in this kind of situation and whatever advice and support they provide for you is at no cost whatsoever.

    Don't involve the CSA, whatever you do! They are a nightmare!
    fredhaise likes this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    My suggestion would be: sort term - talk to your ex wife. If she's now in a new relationship, she might be sympathetic to your situation. If the moneys not there, you can't pay it. Be clear that you do want to pay support but it's not currently possible. You could offer to make some kind of contribution, or make a payment towards extras like their holidays.

    If she isn't prepared to be sympathetic, then in a way, that might be easier. Because if you can't pay without bankrupting yourself, you won't be able to do it.
    fredhaise likes this.
  16. fredhaise

    fredhaise New commenter

    Yes, I have done this and to be fair my ex-wife has been very understanding. But for my own self-esteem, I do need to generate more income so I can contribute once more to my children's upbringing. Hopefully, this summer, I can meet the Citz Advice people and try to re-boot my situation.

    thank you SEBREGIS and peapicker.
    ShowerGel and (deleted member) like this.
  17. nattig

    nattig New commenter

    I'm not much help but I know my mum stopped receiving payments from her ex husband the day my brother finished school. He is off to university in September, so I wouldn't think you would have to continue to pay.
  18. snowflakesfalling

    snowflakesfalling Occasional commenter

    You have to pay up till they are 19 if still in full time education.
    There's a calculator type thing for working out how much a child needs and then it divides it by how many nights a child spends at each home.
    It might be possible to ask for this to be reviewed by a family court - my ex did this and managed to get his payments down to £2.50 a week - he was out of work but that's another story.
    Maybe a chat to a solicitor who gives a free hour of advice might be an idea?
  19. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    Sorry to be no help but still curious: why does it make no difference if the ex-missis now has another income towards the household pot?
  20. Abitofeverything

    Abitofeverything Occasional commenter

    Have you thought about private tutoring?

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