Overnights and maintainance

(61 Posts)
Starla268 Sat 17-Sep-16 18:08:59

Honestly not sure how to think about this issue so would appreciate any thoughts and guidance from others in similar situations (long time lurker but not posted before)

Been with DH for 6ish years, married for 2, new baby on the way in a couple of months. DSD is about to turn 10, I've known her since she was 4/5, we have a wonderful relationship and I love the bones of her. Things are pretty harmonious between us and her mum (DSD was the result of a one night stand so there was never any real romantic relationship there) and we manage childcare between us but DSD spends the majority of her time at her mums.

Since our baby news I'm being asked/expected to take on more of the childcare for DSD (I've had a lot of leave to use up so have done most of summer hols for example and am down to do holidays for the year I'm off work) which I'm more than happy to do - I love spending time with her and think it will be lovely for her to spend time with her new sibling.

On top of this DH and ex are now discussing a new arrangement whereby we would have DSD mon/tue/fri/sat/sun one week and mon/tue/fri the alternate week as well as me doing the majority of the holidays (DH works so most of the childcare will be down to me while she is with us). On top of this I'm the only car driver amongst us and DSD lives around a half hour drive from our place which is also where her school is so I'll be doing that run every school day that she is with us plus for all drop offs/pick ups from her mums.

Having worked out the numbers this looks to me like DSD will now be with us over half of the nights in the next year and so I'm wondering what should happen to maintainance payments in this case? I really don't want to upset the applecart but am already slightly anxious about how I'm going to manage for cash on my year off work without all the extra petrol/food/washing/treats etc that having DSD with us will entail.

Haven't discussed with DH yet but wanted to get some thoughts from you guys?

Greenbigtree Sat 17-Sep-16 18:17:17

Hmm this is tricky. I'm not really sure what to suggest. I'd suggest some kind of contribution but perhaps not termed maintenance?

I also wouldn't do anything I wasn't comfortable with. If my oh and his ex expected me to take on more of the childcare because I'm on maternity I would decline.

Somerville Sat 17-Sep-16 18:19:09

Yes, overnights are how maintenance payments are usually worked out. So at the point that yours change the maintenance needs recalculating and changing.

(I think if the current level is based on a court order then it might need to go back to court to be rubber stamped?)

Of course, some parents make private arrangements instead and keep on with these even when overnight change.

This is really something for your DH and DSD's mother to discuss, though. I'd recommend you stay out of it as far as possible - though since you're going to be providing so much care you might need to be involved.

Finally - are you really happy with what you're taking on in terms of childcare?? And if you are, you should at least have an agreed review period so that you have the opportunity to say if it isn't working for you. She is your DH's child and therefore responsibility - not yours.

NNChangeAgain Sat 17-Sep-16 18:23:37

am already slightly anxious about how I'm going to manage for cash on my year off work

I may be wrong, but this sounds as if you don't have shared finances with your DH?

If you are picking up the tab for his DD when she is in your care, then that's what you need to address. Even if you are willingly giving up your time to care for her, you shouldn't be out of pocket.

Starla268 Sat 17-Sep-16 18:33:57

I might not have been completely clear - I'm not suggesting that I should receive anything in maintenance, just questioning if we should keep paying the same amount to DSD's mum in light of the new arrangements.

Mine and DH's finances have historically been separate to a point, we both earn our own wages and after household costs - including maintenance - (which are split equal to our incomes) are paid for we have our own money to do what we like with. So yes when DSD is on a day out or trip away with me I pay for her, if she's with her Dad he'll pay, it all just kind of works itself out. Obviously things will be quite different when I'm not earning as my ability to contribute will go down and while I have a little pot of savings to last me the year my weekly allowance will be much, much lower than I'm used to and as a consequence so will DH's.

I'm not unhappy about DSD being with us more, she loves being here and we love having her, it's really just questioning what is fair in terms of finances - obviously wanting to be mindful of not upsetting her mum

Starla268 Sat 17-Sep-16 18:36:28

Sommerville, it's not court ordered, all just worked out informally.

As I say I'm not unhappy about the arrangement (although it was not quite how I envisaged my maternity leave!) just wanted some advice on how others might have managed similar situations

Thundercake Sat 17-Sep-16 18:37:19

This is a bit off your point but if I read you right that'll be two hours a day in the car if it's 30 mins each way to school and you're doing both drop offs and pick ups. I'd find that really hard with a new baby, what if baby is asleep or needs a feed just as you need to leave? It's incredibly stressful driving with a screaming baby.

TheGruffaloMother Sat 17-Sep-16 18:48:33

Hmm. When you and DH had this discussion (the change in how many nights she's with you) with DSD's DM, did the subject of maintenance not come up? I'd have thought it would be part and parcel if you and your DH currently have her less than 50% of the time. Did she say anything about the financials or has this somehow managed to be worked out in complete isolation?

In essence, I think if yours and DH's household finances will be stretched then it would be a good idea to get any maintenance you'd be due, but you'd probably want to weigh up how much you'd get with how much friction it might cause. It's also worth asking about who would be receiving child benefit and tax credits for DSD.

Starla268 Sat 17-Sep-16 18:59:26

Thunder, yes that's about right for the days I'd be doing the school run (it wouldn't be all the days she is with us as grandparents tend to do Monday morning drop offs now and would keep doing so, so it would one school run Mon, two on Tue and one on Wed and one every other Fri (again GP's do one of these) - I appreciate what you are saying about the baby and I have made it clear to DH that I won't want to be doing it straight after the baby is born so between him, my mum and his parents they should be able to do the first month or so. I guess other people cope with the school run with a new baby? Or am I being hopelessly naive here?!

I wasn't involved in the convo about the new arrangements directly but no, I don't think money and maintenance was discussed. DH has spoken to me about the changes and I've agreed in principle but then have sat and thought about the implications which is what has led to this post!

I wouldn't dream of asking DSD's mum to give us anything money wise with this new arrangement, she's done the bulk of the childcare all of DSD's life and I'm sure while we've always tried to help out on top of the regular payments, that she has spent much more on DSD over the years than we have. My only question is if we still pay her as much a month (or indeed anything) if we are looking at such a big switch in childcare.

I will bring it up with DH and see what he thinks. I think he may be loathe to cause any arguments but I do feel that we should at least have a conversation with her about altering the payments....

DiscoMike Sat 17-Sep-16 19:03:15

Might also be the time to start thinking about secondary schools - as in ones nearer you or her mother's house.

NNChangeAgain Sat 17-Sep-16 19:08:47

So yes when DSD is on a day out or trip away with me I pay for her

my weekly allowance will be much, much lower than I'm used to

I thought so.

If you continue to pay for daily treats and incidentals for your DSD out of your reduced "allowance" then not only will you have less for yourself (and you'll need those little luxuries in the early days), but you'll also have less to spend on your baby - and believe me, those cute booties, or mittens, will be irresistible.

I think you need to have that honest conversation with your DH so he understands that his DDs extra expenses are his responsibility, out of his allowance, not yours.

TheGruffaloMother Sat 17-Sep-16 19:09:15

Sorry, I've a little more to add after reading your updates.

It's wonderful that you have such a good relationship with your DSD. But this new arrangement, in which it appears you'd be doing more care than either of her parents, seems to be being arranged without your involvement. I wouldn't normally say a step parent should be part of such discussions but when they're discussing becoming heavily reliant on you, I do think an exception should be made. Especially if you and your DH intend to continue with separate finances as you could well be allowing yourself to be put at a big financial disadvantage while your DH pays maintenance to a parent who's doing less than half the parenting. Add to that that you'll be becoming more heavily involved at a point where you have a baby to look after (who shouldn't really be in a car seat for the periods you'd need for the school run) and your life could well be about to become extremely stressful.

TheGruffaloMother Sat 17-Sep-16 19:13:47

I guess other people cope with the school run with a new baby? Or am I being hopelessly naive here?!

I'm sure many do smile but most people's school run isn't a half hour drive each way. Is that without accounting for school run traffic too?

Starla268 Sat 17-Sep-16 19:42:12

Discomike, yes that is something we've already thought about and it's very likely that when we get to that point DSD will look at schools nearer us as we have better ones nearby and her catchment school at her mums is failing quite badly - but we are two years away from that at the moment!

As for the other comments (and thank you to all of you for replying) - finance wise DH totally gets that I won't be able to pay for as many 'treats' and is willing to pick up the slack/change our spending habits - I guess for me it's just the feeling that if we didn't have the monthly cost of the maintenance it would make everything a bit less pressured for us - as I said I'm definitely going to talk to him about this.

Gruffallo, you've got me a bit worried now that I'm taking on too much confused I hadn't really considered that it would be super difficult to juggle everything - I'm used to driving over an hour each way to work every day so the school run feels short in comparison - the half hour does account for traffic (I occasionally do school runs now) - you say that baby shouldn't be in a car for that long? I wasn't aware of that - is that just newborns or up to a certain age? God, I feel like I'm failing as a mother already! Really hadn't considered that any of this would be a problem...

NNChangeAgain Sat 17-Sep-16 19:47:33

I'm sure many do

Most, if not all, have been doing it from day 1 of reception with their own DC, though.

The closest analogy I can think of is a family who relocate 1/2 an hour away from their DCs school a few weeks prior to having a new baby, and at the same time, swap which parent does the school run. I can imagine it would be chaos for a while, even with their own DC!

BarbLives Sat 17-Sep-16 19:52:01

A newborn can be in a carseat for a couple of hours at a time, don't worry.

If you're having your DSD over half the nights then you shouldn't be paying maintenance. I assume her mum will still get the CB and TCs.

You also need to sort out some joint finances so everything for both kids comes from the same pot and you and your DH are left with equal spending money.

AyeAmarok Sat 17-Sep-16 19:59:41

Does DSD's mum usually have to pay for childcare, which she won't have to now that you are doing it more? If so, I definitely think maintenance payments should be reduced.

Is this arrangement of having DSD half the time only going to be temporary for the year you're on mat leave? If so, perfectly reasonable to say it's an adjustment for this year only while you help out with more childcare.

I also agree that you are maybe taking on a bit too much though, especially with having to do the drive with a newborn (it's just while they're tiny and their neck muscles are strong enough to support their heads, so when they're in their car seats their airways can be a bit restricted because they're all squished in the way they sit).

AyeAmarok Sat 17-Sep-16 20:00:50

Aren't strong enough.

TheGruffaloMother Sat 17-Sep-16 20:04:02

I think the time restrictions for car seats are relevant until they're in a proper sit up one...it's to do with the shape of their airway I think. There are new kinds that have the baby lying flat but they're on the pricy side. I can't remember if the max is 45 minutes or an hour for the standard kind. I went over it occasionally (I think most do at times) but I'd probably not be comfortable with 2 hours a day several times a week. It's definitely worth thinking about logistically.

You are not failing. But it sounds like you're about to be taking an awful lot on and I think you should really be part of that discussion because if the new arrangement will be permanent there's more to think about than which home DSD sleeps in. As mentioned, you might want to invest in a better car seat, rethink who gets child benefit for DSD and any tax credits due and redesign how you and DH manage household finances. But thinking more long-term, if you're planning on going back to work, how does the school & nursery run look in relation to the commute? Does DSD have many activities outside of school that you'd be the default transport for if she's with you and DH at the time?

I don't think it's a bad idea. I actually think the three of you sound like wonderful parents. But you sound like you're going to be relied on a lot while also having little say in the arrangement.

summercoldssuck Sat 17-Sep-16 20:05:21

Starla I was you when on my maternity too. Not how I had envisaged and at the start I felt quite resentful so prepare yourself for the hormones to kick in! It dos work out absolutely fine! My dsd and Dss have a truly wonderful bond with their sister as a result.

As for maintenance 50/50 as it would be means no maintenance is payable under new cms calculator however your DH needs an honest conversation with dad's mum over how it would effect her budget. But you are not unreasonable to consider it

QuiteLikely5 Sat 17-Sep-16 20:11:08

Tbh the cm doesn't go down that much when the nights increase.

I'd be surprised if a reduction goes down well with the ex and I'm surprised you are taking so much on. The resentment may just be rearing its head, from what you have written and I don't blame you but I guess you wouldn't have agreed if you didn't feel comfortable with it.

Starla268 Sat 17-Sep-16 21:29:24

I appreciate all the concern about what I'm taking on, I honestly hadn't considered it to be all that much. I think for me I don't see it as 'not my responsibility' to look after DSD, we've been part of each other's lives for so long and to me she is very much part of my family. I've been hyper aware of her not feeling pushed out when baby arrives so I suppose some of my agreeing to take on the extra stuff is not wanting her to think that she couldn't spend more time with us because i was too busy with the baby.

I'm very aware of not wanting to upset her mum too, I don't know the exact ins and outs of her finances but she has her own family now (partner, SS and a DD between them) and they both work and own their home so they are not too badly off on the surface. Yes, she would be paying less for childcare as a result of me stepping in - DSD is with a childminder the afternoons I would be having her - another of the reasons I thought we should maybe discuss it. In terms of the number of overnights, we would be having DSD more than half the time over the year so in this case I don't think it's too unreasonable to at least discuss the amount we give her (it's way over what CSA would be according to the calculator).

Summercolds, I really appreciate your experience and it's good to know that it can work out. The way I figure is that if she was my child and I was having another I'd have to find a way to make it work out!

Wrt ongoing arrangements I'd only be going back part time and my DM is also going part time at work to help look after baby so between the two of us we'd be able to keep up the arrangement as it stands currently. My DM has been consulted and is more than happy with this, she also adores DSD and they enjoy spending time together so that shouldn't be a problem.

Blended families are lovely but goodness me the logistics are a nightmare at times!

NNChangeAgain Sat 17-Sep-16 22:09:55

I think for me I don't see it as 'not my responsibility' to look after DSD, we've been part of each other's lives for so long and to me she is very much part of my family.

starla Given the circumstances, and particularly in light of what you've said about your own mum, perhaps it would be worth considering whether your DH and his ex would agree to your having Parent Responsibility for your DSD?

Starla268 Sat 17-Sep-16 22:18:58

What would having parental responsibility mean/entail? I'm not sure that's a route I'd want to go down. DSD is a part of my family absolutely but I'm not her parent, nor would I want to be, she has two wonderful parents already. I'm an important adult in her life and someone who she looks on as one of her caregivers I guess but I'm not sure I'd want or need formal parental responsibility for her.

Wrt to what others have said about tax credits/child benefit, I really wouldn't want to get into changing any arrangements for that - her mum absolutely should get all of that.

I'm definitely going to talk to DH tomorrow about the maintenance payments and if we can all have a chat about it before we start the new arrangement. If he's happy to broach it with her then I guess we can have that conversation but if DSDs mum feels it would have a big detrimental impact on her budget then I probably wouldn't want to push things...

NNChangeAgain Sat 17-Sep-16 22:32:17

What would having parental responsibility mean/entail? I'm not sure that's a route I'd want to go down. DSD is a part of my family absolutely but I'm not her parent, nor would I want to be, she has two wonderful parents already. I'm an important adult in her life and someone who she looks on as one of her caregivers I guess but I'm not sure I'd want or need formal parental responsibility for her.

Having PR ensures that the role you play in her life is protected. It also means you have a role in decisions made about her. Given the degree of reliance her parents have on you, that does not seem unreasonable.
For instance, your DSD school could only be changed if everyone with PR agreed. Given that you will be responsible for transporting your DSD to school, that seems a reasonable thing for you to be involved in.

Similarly, decisions about medical care (both physical and psychological) are the responsibility of everyone with PR. Given the amount of time you will be spending with your DSD, and the role that other members of your family will have in her life, that is something you may wish to play a role in.

It sounds as if you are willing to concede to your DSD mum if she makes any objection to changing the financial status quo. Right now, you may feel that way, but once your own DC arrives, you may discover you feel very differently, and will find yourself fighting to ensure that your DC is not disadvanataged in order to keep your DH's ex happy.

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