Money troubles - please help.

(71 Posts)
Lala1980 Mon 21-Apr-14 17:58:15

Hi - I was wondering if anyone has been in a similar situation before, and could give me/us some advice. DP has 4 children that stay with us EOW and some school holidays. DP pays his maintenance as per the CSA, but on our shoestring budget, cannot afford anymore, although he would love to be able to. I can only go by what the children say, and what we can see, but their mother does not seem to steward this money well in terms of things she has for herself (which I can go into further if you wish), but key things the kids are lacking. For example, DSD told me she was worried about the weather being wet this week, as she has to go to school in her daps. I said, what about your school shoes? She says they broke, and mummy can't afford to buy her any more. It breaks my heart, as we can't afford to buy her any, as DP has no money spare after he pays his maintenance, and puts by the money we need to feed them when they stay with us. What can we do? I suggested he buys some and docks it from his maintenance payment, but he says that is illegal. I know how to live on an extremely tight budget, and know that their mother does have enough money to look after the children sufficiently if she budgeted properly, and prioritized. I can't tell her how to spend her money, and that it not my place, but when I see the children suffering as a result, and we are unable to help, I don't know what to do. Can anyone offer us any advice? I know when they divorced DP proposed paying his maintenance by paying for clothes, shoes, school trips, food vouchers etc and putting any leftover in a savings account for the kids, but this was declined in desire for cash. Is there anything we can do?

prawnypoos Wed 23-Apr-14 13:21:35

There are plenty of parents out there ( me included) who get to the end of the m

fedupbutfine Wed 23-Apr-14 13:28:53

I think from the sky tv, the nice cars, nights out and new clothes for herself we can deduct that she is prioritising these things over her children as OP said DSD hasn't got appropriate footwear for school.

I take stuff like this with a pinch of salt. How can you know, as the partner of an ex, what goes on in her home? My ex's partner says an awful lot of stuff about me which simply isn't true - I dress well (charity shops, sales) so I have 'designer clothes'. I go out with my boyfriend to expensive places ('cos he earns well and he pays) when I don't have the children so I am 'an alcoholic' and 'irresponsible' and 'enjoying the highlife'. The children say they've watched X programme so there is a deduction that I have the most expensive Sky package ever when actually, they watched it on a DVD I got at a car boot...you get the picture. It is dangerous to make assumptions about people who's lives you are removed from.

PeterParkerSays Wed 23-Apr-14 13:30:19

For those who don't know, daps are school plimsols, it's just the Welsh word for them. Think something like this, so not waterproof.

Malificentmaud Wed 23-Apr-14 13:37:22

Oh god my dd has heaps of those horrible things. And they will wear them without socks! yuk.

nomoretether Wed 23-Apr-14 15:13:31

The max CSA is no longer 25% of net pay. It changed in December. There's now a few different levels and it's based on gross pay.

prawnypoos Wed 23-Apr-14 15:26:03

My DPs ex has just bought herself a nearly new 63 plate ford fiesta yet she is sending DSD in clothes that aren't appropriate for the season and clothes that don't even fasten because they are far too small. She sent DSD in a cardigan last week and when we took it off saw that the t shirt she had on underneath it had a massive hole in it! She sends her in clothes that don't fit so that we have to buy new ones for her despite that fact that we have her 4 or 5 nights out of 7, so the majority of the time. Her nights out are very well documented on Facebook, as is the recent photoshoot she had done. She doesn't work although she is more than able to (DSD is at playgroup 3 times a week and we have her the two whole days she isn't at PG an all weekend) she claims benefits and sits on he fat arse doing jack shit. Women like this DO exist, sadly.

fedupbutfine Wed 23-Apr-14 15:44:00

The max CSA is no longer 25% of net pay. It changed in December. There's now a few different levels and it's based on gross pay.

for new cases...I presume this is an 'old' case, but of course I would be wrong. However, 40% or even 30% of gross pay is not how it works, is it?! The percentages are lower now - I believe 12%, 16% and 19% - but I know for some people it works out more each month.

Malificentmaud Wed 23-Apr-14 16:34:29

We did a useful thing which was used the child maintenance options website to work out Dd's and dsds actual costs to each of us.

You apply the costs for food/ childcare/ entertainment etc. depending on how many days the kids are with you and the ex. Then split the difference so the one with less costs evens the two amounts up by paying maintenance to that value.

Turned out my ex's 180 a month to me was pretty much on the nose in order to even up our costs. That was with one child.

The amount my DH pays his ex was about six times what it would take to even up the costs which was a tad annoying I have to say!

OP, could you and your DH sit down with this form and work out the costs? I'm not sure but you might be surprised by how quickly it goes.

Of course it won't help the fact that what his ex does receive doesn't seem to go on the kids, but it might make you feel more at ease with the costs etc?

swissfamily Wed 23-Apr-14 17:17:45

Where is that form Malificent? Sounds good.

swissfamily Wed 23-Apr-14 17:20:15

I feel your pain, we have a similar problem, not so much money but low level neglect(which has improved since his mum married, because her husband does a lot) and stuff going missing. Hard as it sounds, you have to detach, because it will chew you up otherwise.

Is eBay an option for shoes?

Malificentmaud Wed 23-Apr-14 20:50:22

http://m.direct.asda.com/george/school/shoes-trainers/boys-school-twin-strap-shoes/G004069416,default,pd.html

Chumhum Wed 23-Apr-14 21:01:30

I remember my SM being surprised at the 'state' of my clothes and wondering where the money went, it made me feel shit. My DM was absolutely stoney broke and I knew that we didn't have a penny extra. Even if my DM did spend some on herself it would have made me feel crap, so please don't have these sort of conversations with the children.

alita7 Wed 23-Apr-14 21:51:02

fed up, I think it is extremely narrow minded to assume that the mother has to be the one struggling, the system is hugely skewed in the favour of women even if the father has custody.
There are men out there that refuse to pay or barely pay anything etc And leave the mum without enough money and all the responsibility. But this is clearly not the case from the info given by the op so it is irrelevant to the thread.

He pays what he is supposed to pay given his income and I'm not surprised to op Isn't quick to divulge their financial details, she'd have to tell us income and expenses (rent costs vary massively across the country) in order to make the amount he pays meaningful. eg He may pay £20 a week but if he only earns £100 a week then that's would be a lot! Why come on here and say such negative stuff, the op is worried about her dsd and can't afford to help while from the sounds of things (we could be wrong) the mum can.

fedupbutfine Wed 23-Apr-14 22:55:22

a bit rich coming from someone who had the the woman 'sperm stealing' at one point in this thread!

And yes, it is relevant how much is paid in maintenance. Most people would acknowledge that £20 a week won't go far on 4 children, even if that is the legal amount an NRP is asked to pay towards their children. Most people would acknowledge £1,000 a month would be more than enough maintenance to be able to buy decent shoes. Outgoings are irrelevant unless the OP's partner is paying under the CSA 1 system which is unlikely given the information she has provided as they are not used in the maintenance calculations.

And no, the system isn't 'hugely skewed in the favour of women'. I lost more than I could afford to in divorce and I know of plenty of women who have had similar experiences. The system has yet to make my ex pay even the £5 a week he is assessed as being liable for. Our home was repossessed from under me whilst my ex took exotic holidays. I work full-time and manage 3 children on my own whilst my ex fannies about with his 'self employment'. I sure as hell didn't 'win' and there is no skewing that has made my life 'good' or 'easy' or 'better' post divorce.

Custody is a term that hasn't been used in over 20 years now.

Mum is on benefits. A huge fuss has been made by the OP about what a terrible person mum is because of it. Despite attempts, not only by myself, to say that perhaps things are not as they first seem, I am ignored because it doesn't suit popular interpretation of how the ex is behaving. You yourself have made spurious, uniformed comments about child maintenance which I have told you are wrong - no apology, no acknowledgement, no understanding on your part. Just another attempt at making the ex look bad to justify the OP's comments. Support forms don't exist so that people always hear what they want to hear, do they? I might be very wrong. I may also be very right. It should be helpful to hear another opinion and to consider things from a different perspective. Life isn't, usually, black and white.

alita7 Thu 24-Apr-14 00:08:04

I did not say she was a sperm stealer, I said it was unfair to question why the ops partner had 4 kids with the woman as we don't know the circumstances of their conception.

What's happened here is clear, you've had a bad experience with a man, divorce and maintenance and are coming to a thread where the situation is totally different and critising someone based on you experience.
It is totally unfair, the op has voiced concern that the children are suffering because the maintenance money appears to not be being used on the kids which does happen and how much money he gives is irrelevant if this is the case.

In many many cases the woman is favoured, my close friend had to pay hundreds of pounds for a dna test to find out the child wasn't his, after his ex took him to csa after constantly saying he was or wasn't the father, refusing contact and she hadn't put him on the birth certificate yet was able to claim csa from him, why didn't she have to pay to prove it was his child as she was claiming... especially as it came out that it wasn't! similarly in our case they don't care that his other child lives with us - she doesn't matter because she lives with her dad and they put up the csa amount...
But my experiences are equally irrelevant... The op wants support not people telling her dp obviously can't be paying enough if the mum can't afford her handbags, nice cars and sky tv as well as to look after the kids . I don't care if she's on benefits I haven't mentioned that in my posts, she should be making sure her child has appropriate foot wear, or at least asking if the ops dp could get some if she actually couldn't afford it.
How you think £1000 is an appropriate amount I don't know.... He might not even earn £1000 a month. If he earned £3000 then that might be reasonable... But if they're struggling as much as the op says they are probably earning just over the threshold for most benefits.

I just feel very strongly that judging the op is inappropriate and mean when she clearly means well and is in a difficult situation.

alita7 Thu 24-Apr-14 00:11:26

And as for food vouchers, you get these when pregnant if you have a low income and it's not an issue...

obviously most women would just get normal money, but I think if you feel your money is not being spent on the child then you should have the option apply for money to be given in vouchers or in items (and then if those items were not provided the mother could complain and the father would have to provide evidence they bought those things or have to go back to paying in money.)

Malificentmaud Thu 24-Apr-14 08:00:41

Wouldn't you be embarrassed to hand over food vouchers so everyone knew the father of your child had such little trust in you and your ability to parent? I think a lot of women, myself included, would just say no thanks.

there are flaws in the system but punitive measures like vouchers aren't the answer.

alita7 Thu 24-Apr-14 08:32:36

Maud assuming you spend your money appropriately then it would be fine, I just think they need to find more ways to ensure the money is spent on the kids. obviously it doesn't matter what actual money they spend on them as long as money to that value is used to benefit them. I'm sure most mums do spend the money appropriately BUT I do hear of and see (at work) quite a few single mums that appear to have luxuries while their child is in clothes with holes in. If not vouchers then something needs doing, but unfortunately my view would be that if an investigation(not sure how you'd do it) was to find the money was not going towards rent and kids then I would not be putting the mothers embarrassment first, actually I think vouchers or similar might be a good deterrent.

Malificentmaud Thu 24-Apr-14 08:43:33

Well yes but a lot of NRPs have no idea of the costs I raising children and would love the control of issuing vouchers to their ex like food stamps. My ex would go down that route because he's a twat and there's no way on earth I'm standing in Waitrose with food vouchers shock

Maybe that makes me a snob smile

Anyway, are these kids going without food and clothing? Really? If that is the case then in all seriousness it is a welfare issue and OPs partner needs to apply for residency and make a CAHMS report.

Peacesword Thu 24-Apr-14 09:07:14

Would you make that across the board? Every family whether together or not had to evidence what they spent their money on or would it just be single parents?

Perhaps alongside the scheme NRPs who claim they cant afford maintenance or just won't pay could be investigated too.

4 children must be expensive and a lot of work. We have no idea whether the maintenance is half of those costs or not. If I got any it wouldn't even cover half of dd's housing costs! I agree with everything fedupbutfine has said.

You just have to let it go. Pay what you are meant to and forget it. There is nothing you can do, you'll be wasting energy on something you can't change.

alita7 Thu 24-Apr-14 09:33:43

peace word nrps are investigated, they take info straight from hrmc, the only way you can fiddle it is if you're self employed and if there's any doubt I agree they should also be investigated.

of course 4 kids are expensive, and it sounds like the op has no issues paying just wants the money spent appropriately.
It may be nothing can be done, but that doesn't mean the op can't comw on here and vent about it even if no solution can be found. she's been shot down with nasty comments for no reason.

swissfamily Thu 24-Apr-14 10:00:15

If your DP can't pay anything over his maintenance payments there is nothing you can do. In an ideal world there would be some way to ensure the RP uses maintenance for what it's intended for but this isn't an ideal world.

My DH has frustrations similar to your DP; it's very evident that his maintenance money isn't spent on his DD. Mum has two other children by two men who don't pay any maintenance so there isn't any question that his maintenance payments also help support two kids who have nothing to do with him. Mum is always in debt. He's actually had texts that say things like "I need advance on next month's maintenance otherwise my SKY is going to be cut off".

DH deals with it by paying extra; in addition to maintenance he buys DSD's uniform himself, pays for her school lunches directly, pays for school trips directly and pays for her clubs directly. It's a struggle (sometimes I have to help out with the extras) and I'm in no way suggesting your DP should start doing something similar but it's the only way my DH has found to ensure DSD has what she needs.

NigellasDealer Thu 24-Apr-14 10:17:51

And once the youngest started school, she still didn't get a job. Just carried on sitting on her arse

oh yes because it is so so easy to walk into a job that pays at that point isn't it?

BTW both my children wear "daps" it is all I can afford. And I would not dream of buying 'hardly worn' shoes in a charity shop, that is just minging.

TBH people like you piss me off. She didn't have four immaculate conceptions did she? No, your lovely partner inseminated her; why do that if you cannot afford kids?

BTW how much maintanance does the ex pay?
�5 a week is it?

Impatientismymiddlename Thu 24-Apr-14 10:19:54

I don't know why the OP is getting such a hard time. She has vented her frustrations at not being able to afford to buy the things that her DSD needs and at her frustration that her mother prioritises things like sky over her children's basic needs. Would it better if she didn't care about her DSD and whether she has appropriate shoes?
Daps are not suitable for wearing in the rain. They are not really suitable for anything other then wearing in the summer or doing PE in the school hall.
A single mother on benefits should be able to afford to buy something other than daps unless she lives in an area of very expensive housing (which she might and in which case she will be struggling). Benefits are calculated so that a single mother should be able to meet basic needs of the children and therefore the child maintenance is over and above the basic need level.
I do agree with what somebody said upthread about the possibility that mum is deliberately sending the children with unsuitable footwear to make dad buy new shoes and save herself from needing to do so.
I think that dad needs to go and talk to mum about the unsuitable footwear and any other financial issues concerning the children and see if there if is a genuine cash flow issue. At the end of the day the child is the one going without.

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