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Child maintenance reduction - what can I do?

(28 Posts)
OutThereAgain Sun 18-Nov-12 23:13:10

ExH has said he will be reducing child maintenance by one third next year. He claims this is on the basis of his earnings, though has not offered any evidence to support this. Also the figure he bases his income on is basic salary only but he works in a job where at least 50% of compensation is made up of bonus. Bonus is discretionary but he has always had one. The consent order in which maintenance was set (more than a year ago) set the maintenance by reference to his basic plus bonus in that year.

I would not object to a reduction in the maintenance if his total earnings actually supported it, but it is clear that that's not the case. Lifestyle points to far higher earnings. I've never asked for an upward review so I'm shocked that he thinks he can just tell me he's cutting it by a third next month.

What can I do, in legal terms?

RedHelenB Mon 19-Nov-12 07:52:05

After a year either one of you can go to the CSA.

OutThereAgain Mon 19-Nov-12 08:03:16

I don't think CSA would work because his earnings are over the CSA cap. It's not the first time he's decided to not pay what he should in maintenance but in the past he has changed his mind - probably because he was afraid he might end up paying more rather than less if it got to court. I really can't afford to pay a solicitor I don't know what to do.

Collaborate Mon 19-Nov-12 09:24:56

I really think you ought to examine this from a different perspective, and ask yourself whether you can afford not to take legal advice. How much more were you getting above the CSA maximum (remember to take off a % for any shared care)?

OutThereAgain Mon 19-Nov-12 09:57:24

I don't think we were getting over the CSA maximum. The maintenance was assessed on earnings of £2k gross per week which I think is the cap? Actually in that year he had earned more with his bonus but we agreed that as a fair reflection of what he could expect to earn for the foreseeable future and neither of us have ever tried to review it so I assume he has always earned at least the same or more. His lifestyle suggests he's earned more.

prh47bridge Mon 19-Nov-12 11:22:29

Under the new gross income scheme the cap is now £3000 per week.

Happylander Mon 19-Nov-12 11:32:49

CSA are going to work things out by gross income too so I would mention that to him as he will more likely end up paying you more. Just put CSA forms in when you know he has had a bonus ;O)

Collaborate Mon 19-Nov-12 13:36:22

£2000 net a week is the cap. I actually don't think they've brought in the gorss income calculation yet.


Happylander - under the gross income calculation the % will reduce - the change will be of neutral effect.

elastamum Mon 19-Nov-12 13:44:29

I have had experience of this myself. A consent order for child support is a legally binding document and cannot be varied just because he feels like it. Suggest you consult a solicitor and get them to write to him to point this out.

If he wants to vary it he has to re apply to court to show his income has decreased or either of you can re apply through the CSA to get a new judgement that will over ride it.

If he doesnt do either you can get the solicitor to write to him saying if he doesnt pay you will recover the moeny plus your legal expenses through the court.

Collaborate Mon 19-Nov-12 15:11:54

That's completely wrong. RedHelenB has got it right.

STIDW Mon 19-Nov-12 17:05:11

When was the order dated?

OutThereAgain Mon 19-Nov-12 17:07:51

So,*Collaborate*, if he wants to reduce the child maintenance payment, does he HAVE to get a CSA assessment first? How long does it take to get a CSA assessment? And what happens if he just reduces it without getting a CSA assessment? What info will the CSA look for from him to verify what he says his income is?

OutThereAgain Mon 19-Nov-12 17:32:05

Order was 2009 STIDW

citronella Mon 19-Nov-12 17:33:55

At least you get child maintenance.

Sorry not helpful.

STIDW Mon 19-Nov-12 18:22:26

With orders dated after March 2003 CM can only usually only be included in a consent order by agreement. With a few exceptions the courts have no powers to impose a court ruling for CM or a variation. Perhaps elastamum had an order predating 2003.

12 months after the date of the order either parent may apply to the CSA, the CSA then notifies the court and the consent order ceases to have any effect with regard to CM. Whilst the order is still in effect any arrears can be enforced like any other debt.

So the options would be wait until he is in arrears and then apply to court to enforce the order, make an application to the CSA yourself or try to negotiate a family based arrangement to change the amount paid to reflect the current circumstances.

The CSA would verify his income from pay slips. Self employed earnings are usually taken from the HMRC self assessment tax return

STIDW Mon 19-Nov-12 18:27:19

PS It takes two months for the CSA to notify the court, for the consent order to end and the CSA to take over.

OutThereAgain Mon 19-Nov-12 21:32:57

Thanks so much STIDW, that is really useful. So for self-employed people, what happens if they have really obviously declared income below the level that would be needed to support their lifestyle?

RedHelenB Tue 20-Nov-12 07:36:28

Don't get me wrong but how on earth can you not afford a soilcitor if he is giving you so much maintenance?

RedHelenB Tue 20-Nov-12 07:38:24

Just contact csa - hopefully a call from them might make him revert to the original amount.

OutThereAgain Tue 20-Nov-12 08:38:08

RedHelenB although he is well paid, I am not. Childcare, mortgage and bills take up £2k a month and what's left after that (not much!) goes on food and the kids.

I called a couple of solicitors and just getting some initial advice would cost me £300+. God knows what actually going to court would cost. I don't have a few hundred pounds spare!

olgaga Tue 20-Nov-12 09:13:34

You'd be better off calling or emailing them than asking for advice here.

Yes it will be changing to a gross income calculation (minus occupational/private pension contributions) which means they can check information provided with HMRC, but as I understand it the technical aspects are causing delays. However, the percentages have been tweaked (ie reduced) accordingly. Why not email or phone them? I did recently on behalf of a friend and they got back to me by the end of the day:

startlife Tue 20-Nov-12 11:39:40

Is your ex self employed? In my experience if he is PAYE then the CSA can handle the case in a very straightforward manner. The benefit is that the finances re taken out of your hands and you don't have to have the debate with an ex.
Another thought is would your ex take on responsibility for some of the dc's costs directly? i.e activities, school uniforms?

How old are your dc's?

RedHelenB Tue 20-Nov-12 16:35:52

A letter from a soliciotrmay be all it takes. If not you will either have to accept that you will get what he is prepared to pay OR the most you can get by going via the CSA. If he is self employed thought, things do get tricky

OwlLady Tue 20-Nov-12 16:38:05

I would avoid using the CSA at all costs if I were you. Isd there no other way this can be sorted out?

Collaborate Tue 20-Nov-12 17:08:16

I've seen conflicting posts - either the NRP's income is above the cap, or below it. If it is above the cap then OP can ask the court for top up maintenance. If it is below the cap then she can't. The cap is currently £2000 a week net of tax and NI. It will change soon to £3000 a week gross. Little difference between the 2.

I wouldn't avoid the CSA. They should be everyone's first port of call unless the NRP produces pay slips/income documentation generally sufficient to enable the PWC to work out that the CSA would make them pay. That's the point behind the system - make it easy enough so that everyone knows what they should be paying, but provide an efficient service for those who refuse to pay, or where the parents can't agree on what the CSA would do.

If either parent is unhappy with the court order and would wish it to be replaced by a CSA assessment all they have to do after a year is ask the CSA to do an assessment.

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