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to want to pay less maintainance but I'm worried about the knock on effect

(86 Posts)
cantthinkofadadsname Wed 08-May-13 11:37:21

Been separated for several years. At the time of separation, my ex and I agreed a figure for maintainance. I knew what it cost to run the house and look after DS so I was probably unrealistic as to what I could afford at the time.

I've always struggled to pay it - last year it was almost 40% of pre-tax income. I've been struggling with debt but supporting DS has always been my priority. Work has been difficult - I work as an agency worker and have found it very hard to get a full time job.

Ex has moved to a new house - which is great as DS has got so much out of the new location. Ex also works part time - so she can do childcare and also achieve a work life balance being a single parent. This has cost her financially and I'm more than aware of that. But she relies on my maintainance to pay the mortgage and bills.

I hate that I can't support her and DS. I just can't afford it. I've got debts and a mortage to pay as well as food to pay for. DS stays twice a week. The CSA calculator suggests paying a lot less per month but that's crap.

She can't get more hours at work. But I am wracked with guilt about the knock on effect. She's made sacrifices to bring up DS. And I've let them both down. There are times when I think it would be better to end it as the life insurance would be great for both of them but it's only the thought of DS that stops it.

I've tried to tell her what I'm earning at the moment but she doesn't seem to realise. She's struggling at the moment as well and hates me for everything that happened.

ginnybag Wed 08-May-13 11:45:12

Could you up the amount of time you have your son? Preferably on days when he's currently in paid child care?

That would be a win-win for all of you. You and he would see each other more and she would have less bills, so would need less money.

Congrats on trying to do the right thing. You sound like a great dad, who is really trying.

Also, are you managing your debts properly? I.e. a debt management plan? You may be able to reduce the payments because you shouldn't be paying more than you can afford.

cantthinkofadadsname Wed 08-May-13 11:52:38

DS is at school. Ex moved to be nearer to the school and his classmates but the mortgage is expensive. Even if I had DS more, her bills and mortgage would be crippling.

But she moved for DS. She works part time for DS. She's made financial sacrifices and kind of needs the money I give her. But it's been too much for me and has ended with me being in debt as I just can't get that job that I know would help us all.

I'm also worried that if I got on some kind of debt plan (my credit cards are scary) that I just would not have access to money for day to day stuff. I'm kind of putting off and hoping I will get that job.

I just feel so guilty. Several years ago, things were going fine. Then my job I was in went and the truth of our relationship was exposed and how we really felt. I hate everything that's happened and the way I've fucked up two lives. My ex could have done so much better with her life and DS deserves so much more.

Bogeyface Wed 08-May-13 11:59:27

I can see that you feel responsible but your ex has fucked up too. She took on a large mortgage relying on your maintenance to pay it, knowing that if you are not working then you wouldnt be paying it, or not so much. She needs to accept that if you dont have it then she cant have it.

I am a single parent and because I am struggling I am getting more hours. Its not ideal but its what I have to do just as I would in a relationship. If you were together and struggling for money would she get a different job/more hours etc or expect you to find the money?

I wonder if she is playing on your guilt at your marriage failing to make you pay far more than you can afford.

Who left who? Was there another person involved?

EasilyBored Wed 08-May-13 12:06:41

I feel for your situation; your ex should not have taken on a mortgage based on over the top maintenance payments, even if the location is better. Is she aware of how much the CSA would expect you to pay? I think you're going to have to try and explain the situation you are in clearly and firmly - you can not continue to pay the amount you have been, as your income hasn't matched it. And you can not continue to get into debt because you feel guilty. It will not help your son in the long run if his dad is a wreck and stressed and guilty.

cantthinkofadadsname Wed 08-May-13 12:06:56

No one else involved. It was mutual but I was the one who brought it up. Deep down we both knew we weren't compatible. It sounds a cliche but the love wasn't there. I used to tread on eggshells in the house, thought about everything I said in case "it was wrong" and my opinions or ideas on anything never seemed to count.

I could go on a lot more about our relationship - I think it's probably why I'm finding it difficult telling her about the reality of the situation. She'll probably just have a go at me about work. I hate the fact that she's struggling as this has a knock on effect on DS. I just hate confrontation.

Bogeyface Wed 08-May-13 12:11:01

You may hate that she is struggling but it is still unreasonable of her to expect you to support her life choices at the expense of your own health and well being. You are not together anymore and she needs to accept that and take some responsibility.

If you go through the CSA calculator, print it off and show it too her and then make an offer of reduced payments, but still more than the CSA would award her, then she may realise. Otherwise, you may just have to go through the CSA.

Bogeyface Wed 08-May-13 12:12:18

I should add the child maintenance is awarded at the levels it is because it assumes that the resident parent is also contributing financially to the childs costs. At no point is the non resident parent expected to pay for everything for the child.

Fleecyslippers Wed 08-May-13 12:20:40

Is getting a lodger an.option to help towards your own mortgage payments ?

Tryharder Wed 08-May-13 12:43:46

Can't she work FT? Take in a lodger?

I hate all this 'working part time for the sake of of the DCs' like its not a choice.

You need to talk to her.

cantthinkofadadsname Wed 08-May-13 14:23:36

Ex suggested a lodger in my place. It's a small flat and DS has his own room. I did advertise but no one seems to want to share such a small place with a child in the house. One who makes his presence felt.

Ex can't get anymore hours at work - from what I understand.

I know I need to have that conversation - it's DS that I feel for. I feel so crap about the effect this has had on him and how he's missing out on stuff because of finances.

Bogeyface Wed 08-May-13 15:08:40

Yeah but you know what? ~That would be the same whatever your relationship status, just as it is for me and every one else. There is less money around and it means that a lot of children are having to lose the extras and some are in families in receipt of food parcels just to be fed.

Your son has none of this, but he does have a rather entitled sounding mother who thinks that you owe her a living. You would be doing him a favour by nipping this in the bud as that not a good example for him to learn.

Bogeyface Wed 08-May-13 15:09:41

Oh and she would hardly tell you she can work more hours if she thinks that by laying a guilt trip on you, you will pay for everything.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 08-May-13 15:15:08

You sound like a lovely Dad and co parent. smile

A debt management plan will not leave you with nothing to spend day to day, it will be based on what you can afford. The National debt helpline is great, but their service does require you to be proactive and take control. It's worth finding out what a debt management programme will actually be like before you write it off.

cantthinkofadadsname Wed 08-May-13 15:27:53

We've actually been pretty good at co-parenting and have got on far better than when we were together. We're flexible on arrangements and accommodating to each other's needs. It's just this thing has always been bubbling under and I suppose I've kind of ignored it.

I'm worried about damaging this relationship we have. She can get so angry at times and finds it hard to compromise. I'm getting hassle at the moment about the maintenance even though she knows how hard things are at the moment for me. I know how hard things for her at the moment - she has a funny way of mentioning it in conversation and I do have a massive guilt over how things have worked out for me and her.

She was always very careful with money until we separated and then fucked the whole thing up for her. I do have a massive sense of guilt which is probably why I was prepared to do all I could so DS did not suffer. I don't know how to shake that sense of guilt off and start thinking about me and DS without worrying about her as well.

stopmovingthefurniture Wed 08-May-13 17:35:35

Your DS is very lucky to have such a committed dad! That's what matters, far more than 'stuff', including the location of the house.

Could you move to a smaller place? Or take in a lodger? That way, you could sit down with your ex and explain what you're doing and why. Then, if it doesn't work, she has seen you take the first hit.

In her shoes, I'd be unwilling to move down a house before you.

Viviennemary Wed 08-May-13 17:43:41

You've done your best. It isn't your fault that you ex chose to take on a higher mortgage. I think you should pay what you can afford. And go to the CSA if you think you are paying too much. You are not responsible for somebody else's choice to take on more debt.

makemineamalibuandpineapple Wed 08-May-13 17:51:29

You should go through the CSA yourself and let them decide on the amount. You sound really responsible and that's commendable but you can only pay what you can afford. Perhaps you could take it in turns with your ex to buy school shoes and buy clothes from time to time to help out.

NatashaBee Wed 08-May-13 17:56:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BoneyBackJefferson Wed 08-May-13 18:21:15


"In her shoes, I'd be unwilling to move down a house before you."

But she has effectively already moved up.

I would also be concerned about the threading on egg shells posted above.

LineRunner Wed 08-May-13 18:40:39

There are times when I think it would be better to end it as the life insurance would be great for both of them but it's only the thought of DS that stops it.

The insurance wouldn't pay out thought, would it? So why even say that.

I agree about sitting down and talking very realistically about your incomings and outgoings. If mortgages and other bills are unaffordable, then you need a plan.

I gather you left her? Please try to find a way to deal with the guilt outside of your dealings with ExW and DS. The best thing for your DS is a sustainable, realistic, upbeat plan and a viable future. I also agree this might mean your taking on a lot more child-caring so your ExW can resume her previous career or start a new one - but she will have to have reason to trust you to be reliable on this.

Good luck.

LineRunner Wed 08-May-13 18:41:13


iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Wed 08-May-13 18:59:06

Accruing more debt won't help anyone sad

Have you looked on MoneySavingExpert. The forum is great for help with debt management and help with lowering expenditure.

Are you checked if you are claiming any benefits that you may be eligible to?

Do you have any obvious expenses that can be trimmed. Phone, Internet and satalite TV seem to be MoneySavingExpert favourites. Small changes across the board can add up to a lot.

Are you able to sit down with all the facts and figures (bills etc) with your ex so that she can really understand the situation.

The current situation can't be maintained and you have to do something about it. sad. Good luck.

cantthinkofadadsname Fri 10-May-13 20:22:21

Just been on the phone and discussed this. She made the point - and a valid one - that she's lost a lot of money due to drop in salary when DS was born. Which is true. I don't really know how to answer that.

She also made the point about if this carried one, she might have to put the house on the market. She knows money is tight and seems okay to drop the amount but I still feel so guilty. She knows how to press the buttons.

RandomMess Fri 10-May-13 20:27:47

Sometimes life sucks. She has choices to make, it is her choice not to work full time and use childcare, it was her choice to move to a more expensive property etc. Sadly she may have to sell up but if you don't start managing your money, debt and payments properly then you will end up bankrupt and she won't be getting any maintenance from you...

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