Shall I push ahead with CSA action or now accept the situation?

(19 Posts)
mumandboys123 Mon 31-Dec-12 13:03:47

I am posting in 'step-parenting' as a lone parent because I believe that I will get a more balanced view here.

Ex has not paid any child maintenance in the last 4 years. It has got to the point with the CSA that they are going to enforce an Order for Sale on his property. This means that the courts will Order it be given to the CSA for sale to pay his child maintenance debt and the court costs he has incurred by not turning up in court to deal with the issue. My understanding is that I can stop this action at this point by saying I don't want it to go ahead.

I manage financially but it is a struggle. We have three primary aged children and my childcare bill is approx £750 a month without any other costs. I get some tax credit but it doesn't cover this cost. I am mortgage free following the divorce but I am struggling to save anything significant and certainly can't save to my pension which, at plus 40 years old, is beginning to worry me. I have re-trained so don't earn a lot at the moment but intend to put my head down and work myself silly to move up the scale. However, I am earning now what I earned after 20 years in my previous profession so I had little to lose!

Ex is self employed, hence he hasn't paid maintenance. I have no idea how he is doing financially at the moment but I suspect not good. I have little sympathy - he did his best to take the roof from over my head in the early days of our separation, ruined our credit ratings, took many exotic holidays with the (first, second and third) girlfriend, had me fending off bailiffs on the doorstep on more than one occassion. I suspect he hasn't paid any tax on his businesses in years (and not because he hasn't made a profit!). I don't think money was a problem in the early days but I suspect it is now.

According to the CSA, he has made no contact with them AT ALL since the end of 2009. He didn't turn up in court for the Order of Sale hearing so had a costs award made against him (for at least £15k). Head is well and truly in the sand.

I am now torn. He SHOULD be paying maintenance for his children and he shouldn't be allowed to get away with it. To be clear, he makes no contribution - I provide clothes, do all haircuts, buy school uniforms, pay for school dinners, pay for childcare etc. etc. etc. In other words, he isn't making an 'in-kind' contribution. I have done everything I can to discuss with him - he has refused any mediation and won't discuss either face to face or via e-mail, text, on the phone. He has never said what you often hear in these situations along the lines of 'you won't get a penny out of me' or' you get all the tax credit so why should I pay'. I have suggested he pays for the children's activities directly and buys school uniform (far less than maintenance would be) but he hasn't taken me up on this. He simply ignores it all.

The children enjoy a good relationship with their dad. He has a new girlfriend of approx 6 months who he seems settled and happy with, although they are not yet living together. Our children like her (more than can be said for the last few!). Contact is now reasonably reliable after a difficult time where he disappeared altogether and a period of 'shared care' which was anything but. I do not know where he will go or what will happen if I push for his house to be sold. We both moved post-separation to a cheaper part of the country (hence we are both mortgage free) so he is away from his family to fall back on. Presumably he'll go to the girlfriend but as she's a non-working single parent and seems a normal, decent kind of person, her first question to him will be why are you here (I would put my life on it at she doesn't know he hasn't paid any maintenance) and then if she doesn't tell him to take a hike, what do you earn so she can get her tax credits etc. adjusted. He won't be able to tell her what he earns 'cos he hasn't done a tax return in years. So....I anticipate that his relationship may end as a result of this. But that's judging her by my standards and I don't know her. He bought a very cheap house in a not great area and put half of it into one of his now ex girlfriend's names some 2 years ago - he stands to walk away with nothing at all.

He is a little unpredictable, very controlling and has been physically abusive to me post-separation. I am registered with the police for domestic abuse purposes but I don't, as a general rule, fear him (hope that makes sense). I am uncomfortable with the notion of being the person who pushes for him to lose his home and the potential reprecussions in the longer term - as it stands, it is clear to even young children who cares for them and who has all the fun (but they love him anyway which is how it should be) but I worry about how this action could be used against me as the children grow.

If I 'let this go', I am accepting that he will never pay maintenance for his children which is, obviously, unfair. By pushing onwards, the future is unknown in terms of what might happen in the short, medium and long terms as a direct result but I get a large lump sum which will greatly help over the coming years. Indeed, it would only be fair that some contribution towards his children's upbringing is made.

Opinions much appreciated.

EleanorGiftbasket Mon 31-Dec-12 13:06:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mumandboys123 Mon 31-Dec-12 13:18:20

LOL! Thanks Eleanor. Sometimes I perhaps need someone else to tell me how it is. Yes, he's an idiot. I am just...uncomfortable with making this last push.

EleanorGiftbasket Mon 31-Dec-12 13:20:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HarkTheHattifattnerSing Mon 31-Dec-12 13:22:48

go through with it. He has chosen not to pay, he knew the consequences, dont feel sorry for him, just let the CSA go ahead.

Think of all the nice things you could have enjoyed if he has paid his way - not least a pension, but also maybe a holiday for you and the kids, less worry about bills etc.

DOnt accept responsibility for his financial situation.

totallyrandom Mon 31-Dec-12 13:24:42

Hi
Can you delay the CSA procedure just for a little bit and send him a without prejudice legal letter along the lines of your post? ie. saying that you don't want to harm him directly as he is the father of your children etc (but check with lawyer that that wouldn't prejudice the forced sale case). You could state that without him turning up in court and agreeing to future maintenance payments and manageable ways of paying off his debt with CSA/maintenance payments he leaves you no choice. I guess what I am trying to say is that if he is the irresponsible type who digs his head in the sand, when push comes to shove right at the end, will he react? Will he understand your point of view if explained to him in the right way? And what is the best way to make him react properly? (friendly letter but protecting yourself legally or can you try and speak to him first - some men get very defensive and react irrationally if approached in the wrong way). If the answer is no and there is really nothing you can do further to make him see sense, then go ahead with CSA procedure as you won't ever get what you deserve otherwise. And don't feel guilty about it if you really have done everything you can

YOU are doing nothing. He owes the money to the children and this is being enforced by the courts. He has had ample opportunity to pay over the years and now that he hasn't this is a natural consequence of HIS actions.

We are always teaching children about consequences, sounds like he needs to learn this lesson.

MrsMcEnroe Mon 31-Dec-12 13:30:08

Given that it sounds as though you have given him ample opportunity to pay maintenance to his children on many occasions before now, which he could have done without making himself homeless, I would say Go For It.

This is entirely his fault.

And yes, he's a dick.

MrsMcEnroe Mon 31-Dec-12 13:31:52

By the way OP, may I compliment you on your post - how kind, un-bitter and well-balanced you sound despite what must be incredibly trying circumstances - I doff my cap to you! smile

mumandboys123 Mon 31-Dec-12 13:39:28

thanks MrsMcEnroe - I was accused of bitterness and sexism not half an hour ago on another thread but I do my best! I married the idiot and had children with him - my choice. I am lucky in that my mum is willing and able to help me out so I know that if my 38 year old boiler blows up, I'm not entirely without help to sort it. I don't use my 'grandma back'up 'cos I know my ex tells the children that mummy has plenty of money and gradma pays for everything so I want my bank statements to reflect that mummy paid for everything. And I do. Just.

mumandboys123 Mon 31-Dec-12 13:50:33

totallyrandom - I believe I have done everything I can to get him to pay. He had solicitor's letters in the early days and I gave him 4 months during which time he kept promising he would sort money with me before I went to the CSA. I have also said, to his face and through the solicitor that I would happily drop the CSA (and arrears) in favour of us coming to our own arrangement. I offered the 'in-kind' approach if he didn't want to pay me cash (you'll have to trust me when I day I don't have a vodka, fag, shoe or handbag habit!) and for the last 2 years I have simply kept my mouth shut as I find it pretty degrading to have to keep asking for money. With one exception (the week before we were due in court on a maintenance pending suit hearing which he managed to avoid on the basis that he was now paying child maintenance), he hasn't paid anything. I might get money now if all this goes ahead but that will be it. I am worried, if I'm honest, about him disappearing for the childrens' sake which would be awful.

HarkTheHattifattnerSing Mon 31-Dec-12 14:02:26

Again, you cannot take on the responsibility for him disappearing from your childrens lives - it will be his decision and his alone. He could cough up, and all this would go away. But he is choosing not to.
If he does leave his home, and reduce contact with your kids, they will be sad, but equally they will survive knowing the truth, and knowing that it was not their fault or yours.

mrsspratt Mon 31-Dec-12 14:09:35

Mumandboys - if he hasn't been in contact with the CSA since 2009 and hasn't attended any court hearings then he has, in effect, made the choice not to try and prevent the sale of his house.

You sound exceptionally reasonable in the circumstances and, as you say, you have done everything you can to get him to pay, but he hasn't so he reaps what he has sown.

Please don't think you are the cause of him losing his home - he is.

totallyrandom Mon 31-Dec-12 17:19:18

Everyone agrees that you are being very reasonable and that it is your ex who has brought this on himself. As a matter of principle, you should go ahead.
So the next question for you is whether it is really worth it.
By that I mean will you definitely get a lump sum which is large enough to make a big difference to your and your childrens' lives?
What is the lowest price his house will get in the current market? You mentioned the court will deduct fees and that his ex girlfriend might get half the proceeds of the sale of the house. Once you have made the deductions and then worked out how much you are really getting in maintenance payments per month until your youngest child is 18 and weighed that up again the risk of the father of your children disappearing out of their lives

totallyrandom Mon 31-Dec-12 17:21:38

sorry posted early by mistake. Meant to say it sounds like you have done the maths in your head and that it is worth it, but am just throwing this up as a quite similar thing happened to a friend of mine and in the end she regretted the decision as she felt the money she got wasn't worth it.

redfairy Mon 31-Dec-12 17:21:47

I agree with everyone else MUM. Press on with the CSA - he has made his choice.

mumandboys123 Mon 31-Dec-12 20:06:35

totallyrandom - when put like that, no, it's probably not worth it. I have at least another 13 years of maintenance to go so on an annual basis, it's not going to be significant. The problem is that if the CSA doesn't do it now, there won't be enough equity against another Charging Order (there are three secured already, there is another year's maintenance they are ignoring at the moment - it will be straight to another Liability Order when this is over and then, I guess, eventually we'll be looking at committal). Of course, it is still a significant sum, regardless.

I am torn which is why I am posting to see if anyone can swing it either way for me. Kind of a damned if I do and damned if I don't. I don't want him to get away with no maintenance for the next 13 years but nor do I want him out of the children's lives and he won't negoiate to something in between!

theredhen Tue 01-Jan-13 20:24:48

As someone who has allowed her ex to not pay a penny for nearly 8 years and done very little about it, I'm probably not entitled to comment but what I will say is that I know I've been wrong. I have been too swayed by the fear of my ex abandoning his son if I dared to push him for money and this is all because I have no immediate extended family and I felt guilty for not being able to provide my ds with grandparents, aunts and uncles etc (even though thats not my fault) and if we had to be a bit poorer then maybe having ex in ds life would have made up for it. Twisted thinking maybe, but it's driven me for years.

You are supporting your children and he should be too. You have tried to be fair and given him many opportunities to help contribute to his children. If you go ahead and he loses his house, then he only has HIMSELF to blame. Your children deserve support and whilst money isn't everything, I think by allowing him to shirk his responsibilities you are teaching your children that they don't deserve the same support from both parents and that him treating you disrespectfully by effectively sticking two fingers up at you, is an acceptable way to behave.

He had a responsibility to pay for his children. Don't give up.

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