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Who pays for/undertakes childcare in the daytime? Is it related to the nights each parent has the children, or to who's the resident parent?

(15 Posts)
NotBloodyBaconAgain Thu 15-Sep-11 00:04:31

My partner has his children six nights a fortnight - almost half the time. His ex won't cooperate with him having them any more than this, although he would like shared care, believing this would be good for his children and is what they want.

For a long time, he arranged and paid for childcare for the children, so that she had nearly three child-free days and two child-free nights during every week - not including her alternate weekends "off". This was initially arranged before they separated, so she could work. However, shortly after they separated, she left her job and hasn't looked for work since. He has now decided to stop the childcare arrangements due to prohibitive costs, and because the children's mother is available to look after them, choosing not to work in these three "free" days, and is after all the resident parent (by her choice, not his).

I can see the logic to him doing this, and can understand his frustration at his ex-partner having several days to herself in the middle of every week, while he works bloody hard, full-time, to support her and their children, and has the children almost as much as she does. But I suppose I just wonder if it's right for him to cut the childcare and say right, you're available, so you're having the children.

He pays the right amount of maintenance, according to CSA calculations and advice, for the number of nights he has the children, which is what the CSA bases its calculations on - but days are a grey area. His wife would like more maintenance if she is to have the children for parts of the days - "his" days - on which he had previously organised childcare. That is, she would like payment if her two to three days off are broken up by having to care for her children for a few hours, even though doing so wouldn't interfere with her holding down a job, because she has chosen not to work.

Basically, he is effectively saying to her, "You're the children's mother, you're the resident parent, and you're available - so you have them in the day when I'm at work and you're choosing not to work." Is it right - reasonable - for him to do this? And if it's necessary to organise childcare for children of separated parents, who foots the bill? Should the cost be shared, or does it depend whose time with the children the childcare falls in?

I want it to be fair I suppose - on him, and the kids, and his ex; I don't want to be backing him up on something which is ultimately wrong.

niceguy2 Thu 15-Sep-11 10:29:06

What your partner is doing sounds perfectly fair and it does sound like his ex is taking the piss.

The general rule of thumb is anything which costs during his time is his problem, her time is her problem. So if she wants childcare during her days, it's her expense.

Financially he is obliged to pay whatever the CSA formula says he should.

Obviously though if both parents agree to vary the above then it's fine and noone else should be sticking their oar in. But if no agreement can be made then the above principles are the norm.

So it sounds to me like he needs to stand firm. As long as he continues to pay the correct amount and there are no changes to the contact then she doesn't have a leg to stand on.

One thing to consider though is what her reaction will be. Sometimes ex's will try to punish the other person by withholding contact. How old are the kids? To be fair in this case I'm not sure she would if she values her free time so much. But obviously you & your DP know her better and are in a better position to guess what she will do.

What I'd suggest is saying something along the lines of "Look, I cant afford to keep paying anymore. So whilst you are not working, you will have to look after them. If you want to pay yourself that's fine. If/when you get a job, we can have another talk. Ie. Be firm but leave the door open for a 'talk' later so she sees a little hope.

MrGin Thu 15-Sep-11 10:44:56

I'm not sure I understand about the division. Does your DP have the children all day and night for his 6 days / nights ? Or just the nights ?

The cold answer would be what happens when either parent has the children is their responsibility.

I get the impression from your post that the mother is looking after the kids on your DP's 'days' , thus providing free childcare so that he can work. Is that correct ?

cestlavielife Thu 15-Sep-11 10:50:10

his days; his childcare arangements - if she not interested then use regular childcare.

sounds like relying on her for childcare on his days isnt going to work - how old are the children?

niceguy2 Thu 15-Sep-11 11:03:35

Ah ok...i wonder if I have read it wrongly. The way I read it was that during her days, he was paying for childcare.

Basically whose day is it supposed to be on the days your partner is paying for childcare?

So for example, if Wednesday is supposed to be his day and he has them overnight. If he is paying for childcare then that's his problem. If ex is not working then that's a bonus for her but your partner should indeed still pay for childcare.

But the way I read it, I thought that it was for example of say Mon-Wed is her days/nights but he's been paying for childcare. In which case that's her issue, not your partner's.

I guess more information is needed as to what the contact arrangements are and which days specifically he is paying for childcare for.

Bugsy2 Thu 15-Sep-11 11:04:17

Surely the money he pays via the CSA is to help support the children when they are not living with him - end of story.
If the children are resident with him for some of the time & he is out to work, then he makes childcare arrangements & pays for them himself.
Likewise, if the children are resident with the mother & she is out to work, then she makes childcare arrangements & pays for them herself.
I get maintenance from ex-H for children - but I don't get extra on top of that for childcare!

MrGin Thu 15-Sep-11 11:07:34

I actually give XP extra money for childcare / nursery. Only about £150 on top of CM and it's crippling me financially to be honest so I'll hopefully stop when government help arrives at age 3, but I think it's a personal decision at the end of the day.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 15-Sep-11 11:07:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Smum99 Thu 15-Sep-11 20:05:37

As others say he is responsible for costs whilst having the children..he can't expect his ex wife to be a babysitter when he has arranged for those contact days. In the past dads only had contact for the weekends so childcare wasn't an issue but the courts are moving to shared care - that is positive but it does mean that the NRP will be responsible for more costs, I'm not sure the financial implications have been thought about (as in your case) as the NRP then has to pay for similar costs to the RP but also has to fund CSA. Ideally both parents would contribute to the costs of the child - each has to have a bedroom, toys, heating etc and the neutral costs such as uniforms, dinners, activities, school trips should then be split 50/50.

Upshot I think you are in the transition stage of shared care so not sure your dp can do anything about it.

I would certainly not envy her for not working - her lifestyle will be impacted if not now but in the future. It is completely her choice (even if not desirable) to not work. He can't decide what she should do on 'his' days, that would be highly unreasonable. I think we will see more situations like yours however as whoever receives CB get CSA even if care is mostly shared.

elastamum Thu 15-Sep-11 21:01:23

I think he is being a bit selfish here. Effectively he is saying as she doesnt work she is responsible for all childcare on his days. Really his days should be his problem, not hers. Is he planning to drop the children off at hers on his way to work and pick them up on the way home??

Just because she isnt working doesnt make her his unpaid nanny.

gillybean2 Thu 15-Sep-11 23:09:29

If he chooses to work on the days he has the dc then he needs to find/pay for childcare on those days.
The alternatives are that he changes his hours to be at home to care for his dc himself, or he makes other arrangements for the childcare. It is his contact time, therefore he is responsible for the childcare.
Other arrangements may include asking family/grandparents to help, swapping his hours round, sharing the responsibility with a new partner (you) etc.

If he decides instead he doesn't want the contact those days, he can reduce his contact days with the dc. His ex, being the resident parent, would then have to cover these days instead, but it also means he would see his dc less, likely cause conflict, and he's pay her more maintenance instead.

Being a parent comes with many responsibilities. Jugling work and childcare is one of the tricky parts of being a parent.

I think perhaps he would be better off discussing this with his ex rather than making a unilateral decision about his perception of what she does or should do on her non contact days....
She may be perfectly happy to have the dc on some/all of the days that currently pays for childcare. On the other hand she may not.
But you can bet she won't be happy at being told this is what he has decided and she has to lump it!

How would he feel if she told him that she had reduced her working hours and therefore could have the dc and they didn't need to see him on those days anymore as a result. Or made some other unilteral decision without consulting or asking him first...

MeMySonAndI Thu 15-Sep-11 23:57:03

Fascinating... why on Earth would he think that his ex is to provide childcare on the days he is supposed to take care of his children? When the children are with him, it is his responsibility.

Contact is not just about playing and putting the children to bed, and then hand them back to the mother when they are "inconveniencing" his schedule.

cestlavielife Fri 16-Sep-11 13:36:22

ironic that in some other cases on here the mother has been desperate to be the child carer for when teh ex is working and this has been refused -

but really, yes he could offer - look do you want to have the dc on these days rather than them going to childcare?

but if she says no she is entitled to say no. maybe she needs that break.

MeMySonAndI Sat 17-Sep-11 00:05:32

Just to offer another point of view... My ex was outraged that I refused to provide childcare on demand<<meaning dropping everything at work, and any other commitment on non working days, if DS was ill, during school breaks or if my ex decided it was a good time to book a holiday.

I said no, not because I was a lazy cow not willing to be with my child in my working/spare time. I said no because I wanted to show him what parenthood is about, about being stuck with responsibilities, about needing to put the needs of our child before our own. And above all, to help him understand that a child is not a toy that can be picked up or ignored at leisure.

Paying the "right" amount of maintenance is irrelevant, he is paying to help cover part of his children's expenses, child maintenance is not a childminding salary for the ex. If he thinks so, he may consider looking what is the cost of a nanny and offer that to her ex instead wink

RedHelenB Sat 17-Sep-11 12:13:33

Or he could go part time & look after the kids himself on those days. Obviously less maintenance would be paid then. Best solution is for him to discuss the situation with ex to see what's in the best interests of the children.

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