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Should child maintenance increase with higher wage?

(22 Posts)
Doughnut123 Mon 30-Sep-19 16:27:18

Hello everyone. I have been divorced for 4 years. The child maintenance has remained at the same level that was agreed between the solicitor, my ex husband and myself. It wasn’t agreed that it would be a percentage of his salary, just a set amount. He was on a very high wage at the time and the amount he gave us was enough. However, four years on and he is on a much higher wage, but the child maintenance remains the same.
This doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t take the cost of living into account or the fact that our children are teenagers now and are more expensive than they were. While he is on a very high wage, I have to claim tax credits. I can’t work at the moment, as I'm a carer for one of our children and I get carers allowance. I have had a chat with the Child Maintenance Service, but the problem is that his earnings are above their threshold, so they can’t deal with it. He earns around £600-£700 per day, which is a crazy amount to me ! Any thoughts would be appreciated.Thank you 🙂

OP’s posts: |
luckygreeneyes Mon 30-Sep-19 16:29:10

Is the set amount below the cms minimum? I think it’s 15%

Whether you can renegotiate depends on that and the terms of the previous agreement

Doughnut123 Mon 30-Sep-19 16:56:46

I don’t think it’s below the minimum, but I’ll check. Thank you.

OP’s posts: |
waterSpider Mon 30-Sep-19 19:04:27

The maximum that CMS will work on is £3000 gross per week, so >£600 a day for 5 days would exceed that. In such circumstances you have two choices
- go to court to ask for top-up child maintenance
- try to persuade him to pay more.

Countrylifeornot Mon 30-Sep-19 19:23:34

Have you spoken to him about it? That would be my first port of call.

Doughnut123 Mon 30-Sep-19 22:01:23

Thank you Waterspider and Countrylifeornot. I haven’t spoken to him about it, because I know that he will refuse to pay more.

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AMAM8916 Tue 01-Oct-19 07:23:18

The best way to work out roughly if he is paying the legal minimum is to do this -

Work out his weekly salary, so for arguments sake, say he earns £650 a day, that's £3,250 a week if he works 5 days a week

Deduct 6% which is the average amount he would pay to a private pension, so the figure is now £3,055

It sounds like you have more than one child so the amount is 16% per week for 2 children (19% for 3). Let's just say two as I don't know how many children you have together.

16% of £3,055 is £488.80. Multiply it by 52 then divide it by 12. The amount is £2,118.13 a month. This is a rough guide of what he should pay. If you are getting less than this by quite a bit, contact a solicitor again and get things amended so you are receiving the right amount

Mclibby Tue 01-Oct-19 07:57:38

Sounds like you could be referring to a £600 per day contractor rate. Out of this they will pay pension as mentioned plus other costs related to providing the service such as travel, food, accommodation, running an office, computers, phones, insurance. And then holidays and sick days are not paid. Equivalent permanent salary might be more like £90k.

crimsonlake Tue 01-Oct-19 07:59:07

I think the problem may be if he is a high earner and self employed. I know from bitter experience my ex was similar, however he only actually paid himself the minimum salary but took the rest in dividends. Could this be the case?

AMAM8916 Tue 01-Oct-19 08:21:23

McLibby has a good point there. If he is a contractor, he will have other costs that will come off the top line and they won't take any of those amounts into consideration for working out CM. It would be what he gets after those top line deductions (pension, insurance, costs) but what he gets before tax and NI is taken off.

It's his 'taxbale' income that he would pay CM on

Bartlet Tue 01-Oct-19 08:26:29

If he is a contractor then it is all change from April onwards as the government is changing potential liability for the end user (in these cases normally a big corporate organisation). Many of these companies are now or will start insisting that contractors come on the books and are paid through PAYE. There will be less opportunities to hide earnings through limited companies and avoid tax and child maintenance payments.

Doughnut123 Tue 01-Oct-19 08:58:05

Thank you so, so much for all your input and your calculations Amam8619 Mclibby, Crimsonlake, Bartlet . He is doing an interim job to cover maternity leave. He was self employed previously. I only found out his daily rate after seeing some paperwork he’d left out when I collected the children. We have 3 children, but the eldest is at uni now, so he doesn’t pay for her, but pays her accommodation. So, of course, I pay for her during the holidays-which are long!

OP’s posts: |
stucknoue Tue 01-Oct-19 10:29:14

The university student doesn't count and if he's paying accommodation then it's probably a fair split. You can go back to court but they will consider if you can work pt (a disabled child doesn't automatically mean you cannot work) and you have "maximised your income". My friend is advising me (he's a divorce lawyer, handy) though we are not officially using a solicitor - my DD's disability means that the court will consider the fact I work 20 hours a week as my maximum, but would not award spousal if I just sat at home whilst she was studying (she's over 18), flexible, good jobs are scarce but do exist because I have one with amazing employers.

My h is not on quite as much (£90k) but is paying £1500 a month as a guide. I don't get any state support except pip for dd plus disabled students allowance

Hooferdoofer37 Tue 01-Oct-19 12:38:22

Would it be better for you to go back to work (at least part time) and him to care for your DC on the days you're working?

It looks like he will stop paying maintenance when the DC turn 18, so you are going to need to return to work at some point and the longer you're out of paid employment, the harder it is to get back into it.

Him being unable to work 2-3 days a week as he needs to be his child's carer may focus his mind on a) how tough your job is & b) how much lower a caring income is compared to an industry one.

He also may then feel prepared to "pay" you to care for his child so he can work as it's more profitable for him.

AMAM8916 Tue 01-Oct-19 13:45:12

Child maintenance is never based on whether the receiving parent can work or not. It's totally irrelevant to this thread and the OP never asked for advice about getting a job.

I think working out if he is paying the legal minimum of 16% is the best thing to do here

Doughnut123 Tue 01-Oct-19 14:43:43

Hooferdoofer, thank you for your post. He can’t do that and I can’t work very much either, because of health issues.
Amam8916, thank you for your support. I was trying to find out if me earning anything would affect how much maintenance he pays-ie) if I did something as a self employed person at home or a proper, contracted job.

OP’s posts: |
waterSpider Tue 01-Oct-19 15:51:59

Just to note, the CMS formula is based on (for two children).

16% for two qualifying children of the first £800 a week
If your gross weekly income is more than £800, 12% for two qualifying children of the rest of your income over £800.

(so would be less than 16% overall)

LemonTT Tue 01-Oct-19 17:27:33

Clearly that he can potentially earn up to £600 per day is a reason to question if he should be paying more. But the assumptions made on here might, indeed are, very optimistic given the circumstances.

He won’t earn £600 per day 5 days week for 52 weeks per year. If he is lucky he will be working circa 40 weeks per year, allowing for void periods, sickness and holidays. As one pp pointed out then there will be a rash of deductions over and above that for someone on PAYE. Without even trying to diddle the taxman or the OP, he is more realistically on a salary of about c£100-110k and a take home pay of c£6k per month.

crimsonlake Tue 01-Oct-19 21:39:37

My ex did not contribute a penny to my 2 children when they went through uni, obviously they are home a lot during the holidays and I had to support them myself. Obviously now they have a lot of student debt.

Doughnut123 Wed 02-Oct-19 09:22:26

Thank you to everyone who has given their views, it’s much appreciated. I think I need to talk to someone at CMS and also get some legal advice. LemonTT, of course you’re right, he won’t be working every week, but I think he’ll get paid holidays and sickness leave. Just to give you an idea, he was on £120,000 when we divorced 4 years ago, so his wage will be higher and could even be £700 per day or more. Crimsonlake , that’s awful that your ex hasn’t paid anything towards your children’s uni up keep.
Waterspider, thank you for your calculations. 🙂

OP’s posts: |
LongTimeSinceSingle Thu 03-Oct-19 09:01:03

I am in a similar boat. My soon to be ex earns 200K a year gross with an average of 100K bonus ( money and shares). He said he'll pay me that the CPS calculator says online which doesn't seem fair compared to his salary. I've seen his payslips and his net take home is just over 10K a month after things he pays into e.g. pensions etc. We have 2 DC under 13.

Doughnut123 Fri 04-Oct-19 22:07:56

It’s very hard, Longtimesingle.
All I can say is get some good legal advice. Good luck.

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