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Maintenance

(88 Posts)
Bythebeach Fri 15-Jan-16 15:24:22

Am currently having to bite my tongue and not erupt so please help me vent on here so that I can be the bigger person and try to keep things as amicable as possible for the sake of my son!

Over the last year, ex has missed five months of payments and has several months missing from the previous year. I have reminded him verbally and he did apologise and say he would 'sort it out' but hasn't and I have finally resorted to email asking for regular payments and back payment for the last five months but have had a less than apologetic reply from his wife asking for me to detail all the missed payments. I have of course done this.

We have always had a private arrangement set up as the CSA recommended amount 10 years ago. He has never volunteered any increase and I have never asked for one to avoid conflict and keep good relations but he reduced amounts appropriately for the births of the children of his current family and I did not quibble this. I am hurt that when I asked for the missing payments in my email, I had a sceptical email back from his wife! I have extended trust to them by not questioning the maintenance amount and not forcing the issue and it feels like the moment I ask him to live up to his legal reponsibility to provide for his son, they are borderline hostile.

I think I feel excessive rage as I have always done my best to promote a good relationship with my ex but in the last two years my poor son has been much less happy visiting his dad. I asked his father repeatedly if it were possible to give my son a weekend or even day just the two of them (as I have seen advised on here) as I feel part of his unhappiness is down to a particularly tricky sibling in his dad's family but this has not happened. I have always reminded and encouraged my son to Skype his dad but after Oct 15 half-term visit, he had been really unhappy and I was excessively busy at work. I asked once or twice if he wanted to Skype but he did not and his dad did not try once nor ask to Skype yet I had a shirty text after the Xmas visit asking for regular Skype sessions which felt as if it implied I had prevented them. For once, I had not actively promoted them but in no way had I stopped them and I feel they have never given me any credit for the way I have tried to promote the father-son relationship but are quick to blame. They also appear to throw their weight about on random issues at random times and I try to listen seriously to their input yet for weeks on end they appear to forget my son and have no involvement at all!

I guess though I am extremely relieved that I am not married to a man who is so irresponsible he does not provide for his first born child and is not even man enough (oh god -anathema to feminists-I apologise for using that phrase) to reply to me directly when asked for maintenance but has to hide behind his wife. I am sorry though, because I so much wanted my son to have a father worthy of respect and it is very hard to respect him!

dietstartsmonday Fri 15-Jan-16 15:29:37

Oh I know how you feel. Had my ex on the phone today going mad cos I involved the cms. Can you not do that get an assessment done and use the direct pay.
My ex is not happy however it's the legal min so tough

Bythebeach Fri 15-Jan-16 15:32:40

I think I probably will go down the CMS route - I just would have rather not. My ex is not a bad man. Just weak, I think. I kind of knew he was hiding pay rises but have not investigated - I didn't want to confront him. I wanted him to be trustworthy!!!

Bythebeach Fri 15-Jan-16 15:41:46

Grrrr. How do I not get all shout & cross? I am not in the wrong am I? I have simply asked for what is due and reminded them that I was kind and do not force the issue last year?

Itisbetternow Fri 15-Jan-16 15:47:49

You are completely in the right. Stay calm and politely text him and say that as the informal arrangement agreed on xx date is not working the only alternative will be to approach the CSA If you do not hear from him by X date. Kind regards OP.

Bythebeach Fri 15-Jan-16 15:51:19

Thank you Itisbetter. I will likely do that. Wife has said they will respond in next couple of days so I will give them that.

Bythebeach Fri 15-Jan-16 16:02:32

All the old slights and hurts come back to me when I feel like this. On my son's birthday, I took him up to where they live and arranged to spend his birthday-day together. I stayed at a nearby B&B and my son asked to stay with me there rather than with his dad the night before his birthday. His dad was keen for him to stay with him, understandably and so I persuaded him to go. My son later phoned asking to be fetched to spend the night with me. He told me A YEAR LATER that the wife/step-mum had put a lot of pressure on him asking him to stay with them whereas I had said your birthday, your choice - just let us know. But actually initially was probably guilty of pressurising him to stay a bit too as I don't want them to think I am keeping him from them.

I was asked not to phone him when he was little as it upset him, which I respected. My son now tells me he finds it difficult to ask to phone me when there. The last Xmas visit he cried and cried the night before he went and I explained to my ex but he never looks like he takes it seriously. He just wants to pretend play happy families with his wife and other kids without any real depth of understanding of our son. Luckily, my son reported Xmas visit was not too bad although he'd still rather not go. He misses home. Loves his dad a lot. Not so keen on wife and dislikes one sibling intensely.

Bythebeach Fri 15-Jan-16 16:15:57

I think I need to change the title to 'Ex-induced rage management". Yoga, anyone?

Bythebeach Fri 15-Jan-16 17:55:31

Bumping for the evening crowd. Help me hang on to my temper!!!!

Itisbetternow Fri 15-Jan-16 19:18:32

You can't control you ex so don't waste anymore time thinking about it. He is weak. But save your energy for much nicer things. Don't get me wrong I can understand how you feel! I find running has saved me rather than yoga!!!

Bythebeach Fri 15-Jan-16 19:43:08

Thank you. You're so right. Just ranting on here so I don't do it anywhere more damaging. Perhaps I should take up running.

BooChickpea Wed 20-Jan-16 15:16:27

Your ex sounds like a pillock (being polite there)! Contact the CMS by close of business on the date you agreed with the wife if there's no money forthcoming.

What age is your son? It's maybe cold comfort but if he's getting a bit older he'll realise soon enough what his father is like, it's tough on him but why should you continue to be reasonable when it doesn't sound like your ex is?

And...breathe......smile

charlybear7 Wed 20-Jan-16 15:27:47

I agree with running! It's helping me and giving me a brighter outlook!x

starry0ne Wed 20-Jan-16 15:42:45

I think you actually should get angry but in a positive way....Get the CMS involved... get your ds 's needs met how old is he now?

Bythebeach Thu 21-Jan-16 21:40:24

He's 11.

Had further email from wife apologising for lack of payments and 'hoping to get something in place by February'. Not too bad! But the email went to allege their difficult financial circumstances stemmed from the year he split up with me.

She then took issue with being referred to as son's 'other family' in my original email stating they were his family just like me but 'very sadly they did not have the privilege of living with him'. This completely made me see red. Even when we lived in reasonably close proximity, father never stepped up as a parent. Had regular contact twice weekly-never helped in between. Never stepped up and cared for son when I asked when I had job interviews/important engagements and was never involved in finding other care for him. On one occasion, I said to him I felt I could not cope caring for our toddler son and could he do it (depression triggered by unplanned pregnancy and break up) and I recall as clear as day he said 'we'll see''. I got on with it of course. He didn't potty train him, didn't take his son to vaccination etc. Never attended parent's evenings. THEY then decided to move hundreds of miles away. Privilege my fucking arse!!!! He never attempted to be an actual parent for our son and nothing like primary carer.

She then issued an edict that all communication henceforth must be by email. We had, up to the point I sent my email, been able to chat amicably on the phone regarding my son. I am afraid I sent an email back listing the hurts mentioned up thread and confronting them with all the ways I feel they have let my son down over the years. I have been holding back for a long time so that my son could benefit from parents who could talk amicably in the same room/have a reasonable phone conversation (although over the years this has decreased and as stated up thread his dad extremely rarely calls nowadays and communication is usually initiated by me. But I had felt able, until now, to pick up the phone and discuss non-financial concerns until now.) I think I've blown it with amicable relations and I feel awful for my boy.

What a mess.

And why are some non-resident parents so entitled regarding their status in a child's life whilst bearing NONE of the responsibility for that child.

Bythebeach Thu 21-Jan-16 21:53:54

I think the wife is the hostile one really. My ex would not be so hostile I think. He has many flaws clearly but my son loves him. His dad is warm and funny to be with and when he is with my son I believe he is a decent father. But he takes minimal interest when my son is away from him. I have sent photos/info about school/sport events (decreasing over the years as decreasing interest from them) but there is little spontaneous contact from him and I do worry my son feels forgotten about for weeks in between. There is a strong feeling of them wanting to only acknowledge my son as part of their family but not as a whole person with a life outside of his visits to them. I expect this is a common problem though.

AlwaysOutnumberdNeverOutgunned Thu 21-Jan-16 23:57:36

Sounds like this 'decent father' has been disposing of the money that should have gone to you as maintenance and has been busted on it by his wife - you are just caught up in the middle. He is lying to both of you, don't make any excuses for him. I hope you can all sort out some kind of communication, she cannot expect you to send your child there and not be allowed to phone - that's bonkers! Poor kid, lucky he has stability with you.

Emeralda Fri 22-Jan-16 09:14:13

Oh dear OP, this is not how you wanted it to turn out! I hope you have a cushion to punch or somewhere to scream.

At 11, do you think DS is old enough for you to give him a basic mobile phone to take to his Dad's for you to phone him on? You could agree a time with him thar you are going to call. This might reassure him. The conversation when you call might be long or short, but that's decided between you and DS, not anyone else. I would expect sone kickback from ex but it sounds like you have done a great deal to work with him over the years.

I too would go to the CMS. The maintenance issue is getting too tangled with other issues, and you have an opportunity for that to be sorted out by a third party in order to get DS needs met. I would be tempted to go to the CMS whatever happens with the February payment as it's clearly not working and there's no indication of long-term improvement.

New wife should not be involved in any discussions with you about contact arrangements or maintenance. It's not her place.

Good luck - hope you've got a nice weekend planned.

LineyReborn Fri 22-Jan-16 09:21:28

I'd go to the CMS and I'd go today. They are stalling you.

I went to what was then then the CSA, and they diffused a lot of my anger by dealing with my ExH directly on my behalf. They took the full force of his antipathy, and I was kept right out of it, except for being given phone updates from pleasant CSA staff, and then finally being sent regular monthly child support, backdated to the day I contacted the CSA.

starry0ne Fri 22-Jan-16 09:48:58

I agree the stalling.. I think if you do get anything feb then it will be a token amount..
For £20 get it registered at CMS

I too remember sending pics and not even getting a response ... not even a thank you.. mine dwindled too..

3phase Fri 22-Jan-16 09:52:49

OP go to the CMS.

I'm a SM and I would never dream of emailing DSD's Mum about maintenance or speaking to her the way this woman has spoken to you. Don't stand for any more of it.

I'd send a short to your ex (not his wife) telling him you've contacted the CMS. Put in writing that your son would like to spend some time with him alone and asking for a couple of days or weekends a year is not asking a lot. Also if he moved away, it's not your job to deliver your son for contact. Let your ex do the work. Actually, if he has to come and collect your DS, it might give them a few hours on their own?!

Bless you flowers

3phase Fri 22-Jan-16 09:57:17

*email to your ex....

Bythebeach Fri 22-Jan-16 16:49:47

Thanks all. As per all of your advice, I've put in a CMS claim today. I hope that it works and means I never need to discuss finances with the ex (or his wife as is now the case).

I am hopeful we can resurrect some kind of amicable relationship but we'll see.

Bythebeach Fri 22-Jan-16 16:51:13

And 3phase it is good to hear from a reasonable SM and know I am not unreasonable in finding it galling that son's SM replied and replied so rudely!

Emeralda Fri 22-Jan-16 17:17:50

Great, OP! You're right, the best possible outcome here is not about the money, but the fact that you don't have to speak to them about money again. Expect some fallout, they won't be happy, but the fact that they're keen on email communication makes it easier to ignore.

I'm a step-mum too and I like to consider myself reasonable. I agree with everything 3phase says. You are absolutely not unreasonable. I am also have a lovely step-mother and would have been appalled if she'd ever communicated with my DM like this.

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