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AIBU to think that separated parents should support their children equally

(269 Posts)
Thinkofthekids Sat 06-Jun-20 10:35:10

I've been reading a couple of threads recently where separated parents raising their children are getting very little support from the other parent, either childcare or financial support.

"He has the children 4 nights a month, rearranges whenever it suits him and pays me £30 a week" seems to be a common complaint.

One of my close friends is in this position, only her ex has never had their child overnight and won't have him alone (without my friend being there) as it's too much hassle for him. She works 3 days a week and relies on government help to pay for childcare. She gets £30 a month from him, which he pays irregularly. Another friend is wfh nights doing data entry. She looks after her child all day, starts work after he goes to bed and finishes around 3am. Sometimes she does shift work during the day, while trying to care for him at the same time.

AIBU to be absolutely furious on the children's behalf? The NRPs go on about how the RP (usually but not always a woman) 'needs to get of her arse and get a job' and 'shouldn't expect a free lunch', and it makes me so cross. She's often working at least 1.5 jobs anyway (looking after the kids and then trying to fit paid work around them), while they are doing sweet FA for their children.

My DH and I have all these plans for our kids, lots of stuff we want them to experience and get a chance to do in life. Don't all parents have these plans, even if their relationship doesn't work out and they split up? Don't the children still deserve a decent life, not the bare minimum? Why is it acceptable to leave your kids in difficult circumstances and your ex unable to get a decent well-paid job due to childcare commitments and then claim to be a good dad because you pay £30 a week and have the kids a few nights a month (cancelling whenever it suits you)?

AIBU to say that a decent parent is responsible for 50% of their children's day-to-day care and 50% of their expenses? And if they are not providing regular, committed childcare, they should pay closer to 100% of the children's expenses? Otherwise, they are not a decent parent. Being a parent brings many joys but it is also a huge commitment and burden. The burden of parenting should be shared equally by both parents, and we need a system which achieves this.

OP’s posts: |
3NMe Sat 06-Jun-20 10:44:01

It really depends on the whole situation though doesn't it. There could be abuse, there could be one party not initially wanting to separate, there could be addictions, financial troubles, a whole array of reasons why separated parents don't do an equal 50/50 split.

I'm a sahm and my ex works ft and long hours. He would really struggle looking after the dc 3-4 days/nights a week, particularly when they're at school. He pays maintenance (though I'm sure I'm due more) but the only thing I really care about is that the dc are as happy as possible and we make things as easy as possible for them as the dc didn't decide on our situation.

SunbathingDragon Sat 06-Jun-20 10:49:21

The burden of parenting should be shared equally by both parents, and we need a system which achieves this.

Often in relationships that haven’t broken down, the parenting is not shared equally eg you might find one parent contributes 100% financially and the other does 100% of helping with homework etc.

Howaboutanewname Sat 06-Jun-20 10:52:10

It requires the non- support of children to become as socially unacceptable as drink driving or smoking over a baby.

As it stands, as a society we treat money and care of children as private matters. We buy into greedy, lazy ex stereotypes and pretend it has nothing to do with us. We don’t challenge people who openly denigrate the ex and make it clear ‘she got the house’ so don’t see why they should pay the bitch another penny. And these men (usually men) are everywhere - brothers, friends, family members, colleagues.

On top of this, we blame women for pairing up with ‘unsuitable’ men. Like we should have known 10 years later he would dun off with his secretary and clear the bank accounts on the way out. We separate ourselves from single mums by securing our superiority as having married later, or k own him better, or having had a better job and earn more money, or didn’t get married so quickly or we’re better educated. We look for any excuse to lay the blame fairly in the single mum’s lap whilst we stand in the pub with the ex and never challenge the ‘greedy ex’ stereotype. To just rub it in some more we talk about (the non-existent) single mum benefits and make down our nose comments about the poor, poor children being in childcare all day whilst you work, and if we’re feeling particularly vulnerable, we make some comment about how wonderful the ex is, picking up the children once a week saving them from the childcare. Hurrah!

There is massive, massive change that needs to take place. It is all backed up by legal means - the failure of both CSA/CMS to secure maintenance for the majority of PWC is beyond £billions and would be largely fixed with some high profile, publicised cases to act as deterrents. But it affects mainly women, and few men, so is left in all it’s glorious inefficiency as a shrine to ‘but we are doing something’.

Thinkofthekids Sat 06-Jun-20 10:59:47

you might find one parent contributes 100% financially and the other does 100% of helping with homework etc.

Totally agree! I think this is one of the reasons why relationships often break down...Because one parent doesn't properly value the non-financial contributions of the other parent.

Sad thing is that it's these non-financial contributions which will go on to ensure the RP is unable to get a decent job/progress in their career. Because they can't afford full-time nursery on their own or find a well-paid job that fits school hours.

This 'opportunity cost' needs to be properly recognised in maintenance payments. Because it's essentially a 'free' benefit provided by the RP to the NRP.

OP’s posts: |
HugeAckmansWife Sat 06-Jun-20 11:02:54

Great Post howaboutanewname I agree that 50/50 care would be ideal but also that it genuinely isn't always practical. However the financial side is appalling. There are billions in unpaid maintenance outstanding and its just being written off. Even those who are paying it are, in most cases absolutely not contributing an equitable amount. When the loss of opportunity to earn more, work longer hours or more senior roles is taken into account, the NRP is far far better off.

Thinkofthekids Sat 06-Jun-20 11:10:13

But it affects mainly women, and few men, so is left in all it’s glorious inefficiency as a shrine to ‘but we are doing something’.

Yes, I've often wondered if this is the same reason that maternity services are often so poor...Because it's a hysterical 'wimmin's issue' and 'childbirth is meant to hurt, isn't it?'...Meanwhile, women with serious concerns are routinely ignored and babies come to harm. But it's ok because women just need to 'get a grip' and 'stop being so precious' hmm.

OP’s posts: |
Waxonwaxoff0 Sat 06-Jun-20 11:21:18

I don't necessarily think that 50/50 care is the best thing, especially when the child is young. I'm divorced - we separated when DS was 10 months and we both agreed that it was in DS's best interests to have one main home "base" rather than half the week at one home and half the week at the other. Plus my ex is a train driver and works shifts including nights, so it just made more sense and was more practical for me to be the RP.

I work PT school hours so I do the bulk of the parenting but DS's dad earns a good wage and he does pay a generous amount of maintenance and buys DS whatever he needs. He works long hours but he has DS whenever he has a day off. I suppose that's not so different from a lot of married couples.

Unfortunately I think I'm in the minority. None of my other single parent friends receive much help or support from their exes. I think some men - and it is usually men, let's be honest - should be ashamed of themselves.

HugeAckmansWife Sat 06-Jun-20 11:24:03

Oh dont worry. Someone will be along in a minute to say how their husbands ex is a greedy nightmare, or that women do it too. Not sure why that's relevant but people always feel the need to come in and say it as though that somehow disproves the OPs point that a huge number of male NRPs don't pull their weight

dicksplash Sat 06-Jun-20 11:40:27

Its an interesting topic and these situations I can't see changing the way family dynamics are right now.

Its very much geared up in the NRP favour. Maintenance is based on their earnings not the cost of a child, their earnings go down then the resident parent gets less. Now when its no fault of nrp its more understandable but on here there are ifyen stories about how a nrp has decided to drop hours/responsibilities or even total job and the rp has to suck it up.

I would like to see minimum cost of raising children calculated and nrp have to pay minimum of 50% of that cost no matter what they earn. Just like the rp has to. They can't stop feeding their children, buying clothes etc but have to cut their cloth or earn more money. Nrp should have to do the same.

HugeAckmansWife Sat 06-Jun-20 12:14:58

And if they can't afford whatever that figure is, the gov pays it to the RP and it becomes a debt that can be repaid through HMRC.

Thinkofthekids Sat 06-Jun-20 12:23:32

I would like to see minimum cost of raising children calculated and nrp have to pay minimum of 50% of that cost no matter what they earn.

Complete agree. Maintenance should be based on the children's living costs and should not depend on income. It should start at 100% of living costs for NRPs who have no contact since the other parent is doing 100% of the actual care and parenting.

And to hell with all this, 'oh the NRP needs to have a good standard of living, holidays etc'. Like the RP, if they want a higher standard of living, they need to earn more.

The children should come first.

OP’s posts: |
AnnaNimmity Sat 06-Jun-20 12:33:49

yes of course you're right OP. But how to achieve this?

it runs so deep in this country - the assumption always that it's down to the mother.

My ex has seen his children once during lockdown. For 2 hours. He's a cunt. So what do we do about it? He knows (because I've told him) that this isn't fair on the children. He puts his new life and his new partner first. So?!

dontdisturbmenow Sat 06-Jun-20 12:42:19

There are so many scenarios, there's isn't just one right outcome.

You have nrp who genuinely struggle financially just like there mums who are unable to work.

You have work shy nrp very much as you have work shy rp.

You have women who trick the men into having a child, refuse an abortion despite him insisting he doesn't to be father and then insist that is an ass for wanting nothing to with the child and pay as little as possible. Some rp only want the money but will do everything to ensure contact doesn't take place.

You have bastards of fathers who decide to go and have fun elsewhere and who suddenly forget his much wanted and supposedly loved children because he's turned the page and only the new family matters.

They are nrp who consider they shouldn't have topsy because the rp earns a good wage whilst they don't.

And more scenarios like these.

Thinkofthekids Sat 06-Jun-20 12:47:46

There are so many scenarios, there's isn't just one right outcome.

But in all cases, there is a child who needs supporting. That doesn't change. The child's needs don't change simply because the NRP is financially struggling or would have preferred that the child had been aborted. The child's needs stay the same and are 50/50 the responsibility of both parents, regardless of their circumstances.

OP’s posts: |
TheFormidableMrsC Sat 06-Jun-20 13:11:30

My ex husband is an utter prick who got bored of parenting very quickly, doesn't want any responsibility and has an OW who has banned our little boy from their home. They have arranged their finances to ensure I get the bare minimum and do fuck all. He's only interested in himself.

HugeAckmansWife Sat 06-Jun-20 13:21:21

No one is 'tricked' into having a child. If you definitely know you don't want one you wear a condom. They very very rarely fail. It doesn't matter if they were told she was on the pill or whatever. You take your own responsibility, especially as men don't have that '2nd chance' if you like of choosing an abortion. They could also of course, abstain. But if they do neither of these things then they should be made to be responsible for the result and if they won't physically parent they need to adequately financially parent.

Thinkofthekids Sat 06-Jun-20 13:37:58

But how to achieve this?

I can think of a few ideas...

Child maintenance calculated on the actual cost of raising a child, not NRP's income. No reductions for future children since that has no bearing on the cost of THESE children.
Child maintenance to include a fair share of childcare costs to enable RP to work or compensate for opportunity costs of being the RP.
RP can sue in court for arrears rather than relying on CMS. Assets/property can be seized by bailiffs and the non-paying parent billed for the costs of enforcement.
Deliberate non-payment of child maintenance (i.e. where it is clear the NRP can afford it) a criminal offence.
Non-payers not allowed to travel/leave the country so no holidays.

OP’s posts: |
FudgeBrownie2019 Sat 06-Jun-20 13:52:28

I agree completely - both parents should take on all of the responsibility and the work.

The only part I don't think is so black and white is money. Ex doesn't earn as much as I do. He never has, he probably never will. DH also earns a high salary. So Ex and I have a different arrangement re maintenance; what he would have paid me as maintenance he puts into a savings account for DS1 to have when he's an adult. There was a period 9 or so years ago when Ex didn't pay for a period because he and his DW were saving for a mortgage; it made no difference to my life or to DS1, and Ex and his DW were able to save for a gorgeous house where DS1 goes to stay - it worked in his favour in a roundabout way.

I don't think finances are as cut and dried as they sometimes look - I could easily shout "my Ex doesn't pay maintenance for our child" and technically it would be true. But I don't need him to do that. I need him to provide a fantastic example, be part of a positive team and work with me to raise our son. He does that every day and I won't take money I don't need from him (I am aware that this is not typical and also that so many NRP's are absolute shite, but credit to Ex and I think we always try to be fair with one another).

TrustTheGeneGenie Sat 06-Jun-20 13:55:33

Maintenance should be based on the children's living costs and should not depend on income. It should start at 100% of living costs for NRPs who have no contact since the other parent is doing 100% of the actual care and parenting

There is no way that could ever work.

BrieAndChilli Sat 06-Jun-20 13:57:18

Thinking of friends /my kids friends parents who have divorced the majority of them do have joint 50/50 custody, both parents do school runs, are fully involved practically emotionally and financially.
Now this may come across as being elitist or snobby but the kids school was in a very rich village (we aren’t!! And we live in the next village over) and most of the people are well off, professional careers, married etc. So I wonder if that has an impact on it, you would be very judged if you didn’t step up for the kids. Whereas my sister who lives in a completely different area and more ‘working class’ (I hate that term as most people work even if they earn lots as a Ceo!) less marraiges, more kids with different fathers etc and so dads not stepping up is much more common.
Now there must be some reason as there are most definitely good and bad fathers in both categories! I think maybe more well off have better jobs and so are more able to choose thier own hours/negotiate a better work pattern in order for them to be able to do school runs whereas working class are not able to do that, if you work in a factory you can’t decide to go in or finish ah hour early! If you don’t earn much you can’t afford to give much in child support, and you won’t be able to afford a big house for the kids to have thier own rooms, you might be back with your parents or staying in a house share.

Winnipegdreamer Sat 06-Jun-20 13:58:36

I think a lot of it, and I’m not saying all of it is that some women find men and think their horrible bad habits will disappear overnight if they have a child with them. Then they are disappointed when that doesn’t happen. I could count on both hands the people I know in real life who have got themselves into this situation.

Soontobe60 Sat 06-Jun-20 14:03:52

From what I've seen, friends who have split up, I'd say it's about a 50/50 split of both parents doing their best for their children vs parents not doing so. Of those that don't, it's about an equal split of father not stepping up to his responsibilities in terms of financial support and childcare vs mothers using the children as weapons against their ex in terms of denying him contact, expecting him to pay for everything, criticising her ex to their father.

Soontobe60 Sat 06-Jun-20 14:05:46

TrustTheGeneGenie

*Maintenance should be based on the children's living costs and should not depend on income. It should start at 100% of living costs for NRPs who have no contact since the other parent is doing 100% of the actual care and parenting*

There is no way that could ever work.

So a NRP on minimum wage would have to pay all of their income to support their child? How on earth are they supposed to live themselves?

Soontobe60 Sat 06-Jun-20 14:10:50

Thinkofthekids

*But how to achieve this?*

I can think of a few ideas...

Child maintenance calculated on the actual cost of raising a child, not NRP's income. No reductions for future children since that has no bearing on the cost of THESE children.
Child maintenance to include a fair share of childcare costs to enable RP to work or compensate for opportunity costs of being the RP.
RP can sue in court for arrears rather than relying on CMS. Assets/property can be seized by bailiffs and the non-paying parent billed for the costs of enforcement.
Deliberate non-payment of child maintenance (i.e. where it is clear the NRP can afford it) a criminal offence.
Non-payers not allowed to travel/leave the country so no holidays.

In other words, the NRP pays for everything? Whilst the RP sits back and pays nothing? Hardly fair is it?
How about the law is that parents automatically have 50/50 shared care alternate weeks, and no one pays anyone any money? Any parent who denies the other parent the right to see their child is then fined?

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