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Child Benefit when divorcing (one higher earner)

(19 Posts)
JaggySplinter Fri 21-Aug-20 08:41:20

Posting here before asking my solicitor in case I can work this out without having to pay for advice.

I get Child Benefit for 3 DC. STBXH is self employed and earns more than me, and has to repay child benefit (different amounts each year). I also sometimes earn more than the threshold, but always less than STBXH (I only found this out from the form E but that's another story).

When we divorce, will I be liable to pay back the CB or will he? He will still earn more than me, and has the DC EOW and one evening a week.

If I have to pay it back because he is no longer my "partner" then I'll end up worse off and he will end up better off (I'll be taking on a payment that he used to be responsible for). Would it be reasonable to factor this into my request for more than statutory CMS level child maintenance?

OP’s posts: |
OnceUponALorry Fri 21-Aug-20 08:57:30

Once you split up you claim the CB and if under the threshold no one pays anything back?

Cuddling57 Fri 21-Aug-20 09:18:01

Hopefully someone will be along who knows the answer soon.
I would ring the child benefit helpline and ask them rather than your solicitor. Sometimes with these departments you get someone knowledgable. If you aren't convinced they know what they are talking about ring back later and ask someone diff.

waterSpider Fri 21-Aug-20 09:53:29

There may be an issue in the first year -- because of the way that tax relates to the past year.
But after that, it's always better to get the cash and have to pay it back than not to receive it.
But if you are divorced/separated it will be nothing to do with your ex, only you as the recipient.
Note that the thresholds (£50k to start clawback, and total at £60k) are after pension contributions so upping your pension a little is a reasonable approach if you are flirting with the limits.
No I don't think it would be a reasonable argument for higher child maintenance, particularly if you are often not having to make a tax payment for it -- perhaps he would then say, if it's such a problem let me be the Child Benefit recipient.

JaggySplinter Fri 21-Aug-20 10:17:43

Thanks. I don't think it's correct that it has nothing to do with him after we divorce. See this advice:

Seems that even a new partner for either parent (ie a step parent) could have to pay back if they are a high earner. That seems really strange to me so I'll be calling the child benefit office.

I'd be happy for him to claim the child benefit and then pay it back as needed. But we live in different areas and I'll need it at my address until the DC all start secondary school as proof of their address in school catchment.

I sometimes earn enough to have to pay some back. He's not very honest (to me) about his earnings, but for the last 3 years it looks like the should have paid it all back. I don't know if he did or not. Before that, he was lying about not earning more than me, so I paid it back when I needed to based on my income.

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TheId Fri 21-Aug-20 10:23:10

Why don't you just not claim it in the first place if both of you are over the limit. I haven't received it in many years as I just deregistered. Why would you go to the hassle of claiming and then repaying every year?

JaggySplinter Fri 21-Aug-20 10:31:10

Around here, you need it for secondary school applications. It's borderline insane, but if you can't produce a child benefit letter showing your address, name s d the child's name that matches with your council tax bill (exactly the same name and address) then you can get your school place withdraw.

I won't get sibling preference for younger DC (eldest is going to specialist provision) you get 2 won't go to the same school (it's single sex around here).

I'm essentially trapped claiming it until my youngest is 11. Then I can stop.

I'm also disabled and self employed, so have very variable income. Sometimes I would pay it back, sometimes not. I'll still stop claiming when youngest gets into secondary though.

OP’s posts: |
ElephantStamping Fri 21-Aug-20 12:46:16

If you’re claiming the child benefit, and you’re separated and not living together, then it’s nothing to do with him.
Child benefit is paid to one person - in this case, you. So it’s dependent on your income (or if you get a new partner and they move in, then theirs too). It’s nothing to do with your ex.

ElephantStamping Fri 21-Aug-20 12:48:08

It’s paid back through your tax at the end of the year - so if your annual income might be above £50k (the start of clawback), could you just claim it then save it? That way if you do have to pay some back, you already have it, and if you don’t, then you know it’s yours. And you still get your proof of address.

JaggySplinter Fri 21-Aug-20 16:33:14

Thanks. @ElephantStamping - that's what I thought. But then when researching came across this on a very reputable law firm website:

Claiming child benefit post divorce

In some cases individuals will need to look at their income, their ex’s income and then their new partner’s income as well.

The legislation provides for individuals to claim child benefit for children who do not live with them, in these cases up to 4 people will be assessed to see if the £50,000 threshold is breached.

Consider Benji and Kelly. They are divorced and have one child Roger. Roger lives with Kelly 70% of the time and with Benji 30% of the time.

Benji now lives with his new partner Martha and Kelly lives with her new partner Martin. If Benji claims child benefit, the income of Benji, Martha, Kelly and Martin will be assessed. If Martin earns over £60,000 in the tax year then Martin will be faced with the charge of £1,094 for the child benefit that Benji receives.

This area of the Tax Code is extremely complex and clients should seek advice if they need to rely on child benefit to top up any child maintenance or if they are the higher earner who could face the tax charge.

This seems really confusing to me and not very fair (on Martin in the above example).

I'm the resident parent, so I'd assumed it was just another cost of getting divorced that now I'd be paying back the CB (if I earn enough). I do set aside most of it in case it needs paying back, along with the money I set aside to pay tax.

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ElephantStamping Fri 21-Aug-20 16:50:15

I believe in the case mentioned there, all 4 are assessed because it’s the non-resident parent claiming child benefit. It could be seen by some as a loophole if the resident parent earns above the threshold - the NRP could claim it & avoid the tax. I think there are a couple of other rules about NRP claiming too.

As far as I’ve seen, if the resident parent is the one claiming, it’s solely the incomes of the people in their household that count.

nettytree Fri 21-Aug-20 17:03:43

My husband earns just under 60k. We decided it was just easier not to claim child benefit, than go to the hassle of paying it back every year.

WrongKindOfFace Fri 21-Aug-20 17:05:15

You can just claim it and opt not to receive the money.

Is it definitely needed for school places? Here you just quote your council tax reference to prove you live in catchment.

tootiredtothinkofanewname Fri 21-Aug-20 17:16:29

The threshold is £80k isnt it? So if you are over the threshold is paying it back really a struggle? If you do this every year why don't you put it to the side every 4 weeks so you can pay it back if needed, and if not use it to buy the kids a treat/days out/mini holiday?

Cuddling57 Fri 21-Aug-20 17:27:35

Ah just came back on to say this:
You can just claim it and opt not to receive the money.*

But I see @WrongKindOfFace got there before me!

JaggySplinter Fri 21-Aug-20 18:21:38

It's absolutely essential here for school places. My oldest also gets DLA and that's got his name and address on it, but that wasn't enough and they insisted on my name on a child benefit letter.

Thanks @ElephantStamping for explaining about the NRP bit.

I'll continue to claim (it's over £60k net adjusted income to have to pay it all back). I don't think we be ever gone over that or ever will. It was just STBXH that earns way more than that.

Thanks all.

OP’s posts: |
refusetobeasheep Fri 21-Aug-20 18:55:08

I'm the higher earner and I used to always declare CB (and it would effectively be taken back) but when we split I stopped CB in my name and told ex to claim it. Which he still does. Although bear in mind solicitors don't like this if there is any residency dispute - who gets the CB can be a indicator of who is the main carer. But when you split is irrelevant if your partner is a high earner, you can claim.

PicaK Fri 21-Aug-20 20:02:13

CB showing who is primary carer is an important point. And you can still claim it but opt to not receive the money.

Otter71 Sat 22-Aug-20 23:06:32

My exh earns well over the threshold to pay back all CB. I earn much less so would never pay back. My daughter does 50/50. Both addresses are registered with her school. I claim CB because it has to be in one name even if you aren't taking payment as it is also linked to the child getting their NI number at 16, and he isn't interested because he doesn't get money...

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