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Ex is struggling - what can we do?

(38 Posts)
Seahorse22 Thu 08-May-14 10:43:09

Have NCd for this, just in case�.
DH�s ex is RP of their DD, aged 10.5. Their relationship is civil but not warm.

Ex was made redundant about eight months ago and as far as we know, she has been job hunting constantly. She has chosen not to claim benefits or take an interim/alternative/part time job. Her last job paid around �60K. She gets �1500 each month from DH for maintenance, which is a private arrangement. It's based on CSA calculations but with an extra �500 or so a month on top which DH has voluntarily and happily contributed for around the last eight years.

About six months ago we started paying for all DSD�s extra curricular activities and additional expenses (which were previously shared) and were happy to do that for DSD�s sake. It then became clear that ex had no savings or money put aside and she has been unable to pay her mortgage. She has also started asking DH to pay for even more things, sometimes very small items such as socks.

We are obviously concerned that things are so tight and have been happy to help out more. DSD will always have a home with us so there is no question of her not having a roof over her head. It�s understandable that his ex would use some of the maintenance to live on right now but we are worried that DSD�s needs are not being prioritised and we�re not sure how far this goes (or how much worse it might get). In other words, if she cannot buy socks then how bad is it? I want to support DH�s sensitive handling of this but he's not sure how to approach this without intruding. We were hoping that ex would take on some sort of work but so far there is no sign of that. Also, we don't have unlimited funds.

I guess my question is how much can DH/we be sure that his DD is not going without basics and do we keep stepping in and topping up on demand?

I�d be grateful for any thoughts or views. I know that mums on the other side of this sort of relationship also frequent this board so would be really interested in their perspective, too.

needaholidaynow Thu 08-May-14 11:10:04

Exactly, you and your DH don't have unlimited funds.

This is why she should claim benefits instead of asking you for more money/ to pay for more things. Benefits are a safety net but you and your DH are not a safety net. That's what the welfare system is there for. If she is too proud then perhaps it is time for her to swallow that pride and get the help that she is entitled to.

I think you've done more than enough to help her to be honest.

ItIsAnIdeasGame Thu 08-May-14 11:19:17

What does your husband say? She is the mother of his child. I think you have been very fair and reasonable. All 3 of you have a symbiotic relationship now. Is there anyway you can practically help in her job search?

There needs to be a goal to work towards. She is probably feeling really shitty and low right now, so you need to handle it delicately. Why not a , for 6 months he will give her an extra 500/ 400/ 300 to help out, but after that it will go down to 1500 and clear guidelines with the money as you are getting your own financial plan together.

Is there anyone neutral who can help her focus her job search? Has she tried overseas?

croquet Thu 08-May-14 11:20:13

I agree with the above. We (including you) all pay our taxes to help out people exactly in her situation. She should use it. You're already paying her a lot of maintenance. It will get to a point where it's more worthwhile for everyone for you to take on FT care of the DD and let mum fend for herself.

starlight1234 Thu 08-May-14 11:27:39

I have to say I don't think throwing your money at the problem is the solution...You already pay £1500 and pay for extra stuff on top ... To put it in perspective .

Maybe her Dad needs to have a conversation about she needs to be supporting her DD. Maybe she does need to claim benefit.

As for her going without I would chat to DSD very casually you will soon find out .

ItIsAnIdeasGame Thu 08-May-14 11:43:40

She may well have to sell her house though, DD's home, for the want of a few hundred quid. Everyone will have a difference perspective on what the maintenance amount is. I'm presuming everyone is on high salaries in this scenario.

It's difficult to advise without knowing all the detail, namely how does you DH feel. Where you the OW, is that why their relationship broke down? etc We all always present our side of the case the most compassionately and without knowing her financial situation, or yours, it's tricky.

Seahorse22 Thu 08-May-14 11:59:23

Thanks for all your comments.

We would love to have DSD more or FT but it is very unlikely. Ex is very difficult about access for no apparent reason (now more than ever, because she feels DSD is all she has) and constantly changes or interrupts our time with DSD, which makes us sad and frustrated. But that's another story.

DH is a softy who (rightly) puts his DD first always and so never feels he has any choice on financial matters. For instance, when ex recently asked him to buy some new school clothes, he knew that if he didn't then ex could/would not and DD would be wearing worn out/small clothes to school, which he didn't want. So he's torn between looking after DD and wanting to find out more/resolve the situation. He's not happy about all the unknown elements or the current indefinite nature of this but is unsure of how to suggest/encourage her to apply for benefits or take on work. I've seen many discussions on MN which suggest that someone paying maintenance has no right to enquire how it is spent.

ItIsAnIdeasGame, I agree that she will be feeling low so am keen for DH to resolve this carefully - nobody wants to kick her while she is down. And, no, I wasn't the OW - I came along many years after they split. Apart from contributing financially, I don't get involved in his dealings with his ex. In term of overall finances, we are both making sacrifices to cover the extra costs and there is pretty much nothing more we can do financially.

alita7 Thu 08-May-14 12:54:17

The threads on mums net (which I disagree with anyway) which suggest nrps haven't got the right to know how maintenance money is being spent is more about the base csa amount. I'm assuming if your csa amount is £1000 and you add £500 you've got enough to afford this, But if I received that much a month It would pay my rent and feed the family (3 of us) for the month. maybe she's got a big mortgage but even so!
You should explain that you already pay £500 extra and you're running out of funds to pay more, you understand she is struggling but really needs to claim job seekers and housing benefit if she hasn't found a job in say a month. There are also those debt paying schemes you can sign up to Instead of going bankrupt which pay a little bit at a time to each debt and you pay a manageable amount each month.
Other than that offer to have dd for a bit while she sorts herself out, she won't want that because she's loose the maintenance so hopefully that will kick start her...

she needs to swallow her pride and go on benefits.

ItIsAnIdeasGame Thu 08-May-14 13:23:16

But he cannot let his daughter go without, or I couldn't as a parent, I don't care who paid what when. My child would have socks, as I would put her first. If she needed, not wanted, a new uniform that is part of being a parent.

1.5k is obviously not enough to pay their bills and mortgage for the month.

She needs some help in getting a job, any job. That would be my focus as it is a win/win.

Or she needs to think about downsizing. Is that a real option?

ItIsAnIdeasGame Thu 08-May-14 13:25:00

This situation was similar to my life as a child and my dad's choices, and that of his wife, has affected my relationship with them forever. Something else to consider.

croquet Thu 08-May-14 13:27:52

What were those choices? Not to help you out?

If she was earning 60K before then she is obviously a very successful professional. I would expect she could and will get another job before long. Why not suggest she takes on a lodger to pick up the slack in the short term? If rent and outgoings are much more than 1500 per month for two people (one a child) then she does need to think about downsizing.

Unless you are uncommonly wealthy! In which case just help her out.

If 1.5k is not enough to pay their bills, then she does need to apply for benefits, take ANY job she can for now. It's not up to the OPDH to bail her out even more, and perhaps leave themselves short.

Can she take in a lodger to help pay towards mortgage?

Seahorse22 Thu 08-May-14 13:55:17

It's hard to see how someone on that salary and getting the topped-up payments for so long could not set some rainy day money aside (esp with a child and mortgage) but apparently as soon as her small redundancy payment was spent, she had nothing.

We are not sure what her mortgage payments are but always assumed that DH's �1500 more than covered the costs of DSD living there etc and that there would be some over for treats/emergencies/to save. That was the idea behind it - graciously given as a decent cushion for DSD. But of course you cannot dictate how people spend money they are given.

Her flat is definitely too small for a lodger but it is in a good area and has a lot of equity in it (as she was given a very generous lump sum at split). So she could sell it and then rent somewhere locally or sell it and buy in a cheaper area. DH is concerned that she may decide to move to another part of the country with DSD.

It now makes sense for the two of them to sit down and have a discussion and her realistic options in the coming weeks (and months) if the job she is looking for does not materialise.

We hoped that she would realise herself by this stage that getting a job (any job) and/or benefits would be necessary but he may have to now point this out.

The good thing in all this is that DSD seems happy and unaffected and we want it to stay that way.

ItIsAnIdeasGame Thu 08-May-14 14:12:42

I always find it funny when second wives mention how 'generous' a lump sum is.

So, a small flat, that's not great as the lodger was a great idea! She needs a job and she needs it quickly. Let's say she got a 200k (off 60k salary) mortgage, that would be around £900 per month. Did she have any redundancy insurance? Can her parents or siblings help out? I'd help out my brother in such a situation.

You are right, DH needs to sit down and talk to her.

Seahorse22 Thu 08-May-14 14:24:03

I'm not going into details about the sum but I wouldn't have married my DH if he was a mean, penny-pinching snake who did not behave in a decent way to his DD and her mother.

purpleroses Thu 08-May-14 14:39:35

She doesn't have savings tucked away somewhere that she's reluctant to touch does she? If so that could prevent her claiming benefits. If not then it's just pride, ignorance or laziness that's preventing her and she doesn't have any right to expect your DH to be supporting her whilst she's out of work. The maintenance is supposed to be contributing to the costs of raising their DD, not fully supporting his ex-wife whilst she's out of work.

I agree with the poster that says your DH doesn't have any rights to know what the CSA level of support is being spent on, but if his ex is pleading poverty and asking for more than that then anything additional can be conditional on her explaining what the situation is, why she needs it and how long she'll need it for.

starlight1234 Thu 08-May-14 15:00:27

Can I say it is lovely to see a thread of a step parent and NRP wanting to support your child.

I can completely understand why he doesn't want her without school socks ....Maybe you do need to be tougher...I am not sure how much extra she is asking for £5 can buy a pack of school socks ..but if she is asking for new shoes £3o/40 suggest a £30 advance on next months money...

Otherwise she has no reason to change...You are not her cash cow.

starlight1234 Thu 08-May-14 15:06:41

there is also little point giving her £500 on top of CSA for luxury items twhen they are clearly paying the basics. cut the money. I would be telling her to claim benefits or you will cut money to buy the luury items intended and take DSD out get her the new coat, trainers, some of her favourite food to take home, make sure she is getting what she needs.

not something I ever thought I would write here by the way

alita7 Thu 08-May-14 19:16:00

The thing is you are paying her more than lots of people earn in a month... im assuming her only income at the moment if she's not claiming benefits is your maintenance and cb... she's got enough to live on unless she has a huge mortgage, but I doubt it's THAT big if it's a small flat, so I would guess she has debts.
I obviously think you should be doing what you can to to make sure your daughter doesn't loose out BUT it sounds like she is using you as an income atm and that's not on at all, he should be paying for his daughter to live, not for her. If you have plenty of money, it's reasonable to expect him to pay a quarter of her rent, a quarter of her food and bills and for half of dds needs/ activities, this is based on her paying half and him paying half of what it takes to bring up their child.
In times of need asking for more is Ok but not if she isn't doing what she can to help the situation as well which would be claiming benefits!
he needs to tell her that he will pay for his daughter but she needs to make the effort too.

If you have a lot of money then paying more than someone with a lower income is of course appropriate BUT in my opinion you should only have to pay a certain amount to the mum whose whole life you shouldn't be funding just because you had a child together - £1500 for 1 child could leave a mother quite happily not working in some parts of the country or working part time in others, while you and dh could be working all kinds of hours, and should be able to spend any extra money on your child as you see fit, so paying for clubs, treats, days out, education, holidays...

brdgrl Thu 08-May-14 21:23:27

Where you the OW, is that why their relationship broke down?
Totally and completely baffled as to how this has the slightest relevance in any way. Does a child need more money if a parent was unfaithful?

OP, I am not in a position that involves maintenance at all, so have no particular bias here (in other words, I'm not saying this because my DH pays maintenance and I begrudge it!) - but are you and your DH out of your minds?

Time to put an end to the extra funds!

alita7 Thu 08-May-14 22:41:54

Totally agree with Brd, the mum should have no more than the child needs (including her contribution as not being with your child's father should not exempt you from having to contribute financially to your child). If you have plenty of hard earned money then I do think you should spend a good percentage on your child (op made no mention of any other children but they shouldn't loose out for dps other kids to have luxaries) but if you have extra above what the child needs I really think you should spend it on the child yourself.

littleballerina Thu 08-May-14 22:45:24

she's got no reason to find a job if you two are funding her. yes he should pay towards his child but she's taking the piss.

angel1976 Thu 08-May-14 23:07:30

My ex and I are getting divorced. I am in the marital home and we are in London, we have a big mortgage (taken out only less than 3 years ago). My ex pays me £1,200 a month in maintenance (for two DCs - 6 and 4), I pay for EVERYTHING out of that - all the kids' stuff, their extra-curricular activities like swimming lessons, childcare, all house-related expenses. The £1,200 does not cover even the mortgage and house-related expenses but I went to back to work full-time 6 months after our split so I could pay my own way. I also took on a lodger to help with the expenses. I now have a partner who moved in with me so I no longer need a lodger.

£1,500 sounds excessive, even by London standards and for one DC. It's admirable you both are trying to do the right thing. If I lost my job, I would do anything I can before I ask my ex for handouts. Your DH needs to sit down with his ex and work out her essential expenses and work out how much she really needs to 'survive'. And a serious talk about her job opportunities especially if she is depending on you guys for handouts.

I could be in danger of losing my current job, I have already worked out what I will do if that happens, none of which involves asking my ex for extra money. I will only do so IF I had a serious illness and CANNOT work.

My current partner's ex was jobless for a year. My partner encouraged her to take any job but she did not as she was dealing with their split and the sale of their ex-marital home. Luckily she had family help as well as the funds from the sale of their ex-marital home so she never took more than what she needed from my partner (she wanted him to pay for their DD's childcare and he did so willingly). And eventually she got a job as a freelancer that was very well paid. So good luck to her for holding out if that was what she wanted to do but she did not depend on anyone else to support her lifestyle... Good luck, sounds like a difficult situation all round.

purplebearbiscuit Fri 09-May-14 09:26:40

What does it have to do with anything if OP was the other woman? Bonkers!

needaholidaynow Fri 09-May-14 10:48:10

Standard question to ask a stepmum on MN didn't you know?

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