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What can I do about child maintenance problem?

(27 Posts)
lostandsoscared Thu 10-Mar-16 19:32:09

I'm not sure if this is the right place to post - apologies if somewhere else would have been more appropriate.

OH left my son and me 3 weeks ago. I have tried extremely hard to keep things as amicable as they can be regarding maintenance and access arrangements, particularly avoiding using the cms.

Here is my problem: DS is currently in part time childcare, term time only. We currently receive childcare vouchers towards the childcare costs through Ex OH work, the rest we top up.

He has agreed to keep paying for the childcare using the vouchers. The money for the vouchers is taken from his account every month for 12 months of the year. As DS is only in childcare for 39 weeks of the year, there are 13 weeks where the vouchers are not used. As I understood it, if the vouchers are not used they accumulate and when childcare is no longer needed, the account is essentially in credit. I have called the voucher company themselves who confirmed this.

This means that during all school holidays, my child will not be receiving any maintenance. Ex does not seem to understand this.

The childcare vouchers do amount to slightly more than he would be obliged to pay through maintenance (15%) and I have told him I understand this, but this still leaves me in a situation where I am not receiving any money for 13 weeks of the year. As far as I can calculate, through the vouchers not being used completely, he will be paying less than is required over the year.

He is able to claim back the vouchers (which will be taxed) through his salary when child care is no longer required. (18 months time)

What do I do? I hope I have explained this properly.

Fuzz01 Thu 10-Mar-16 19:35:01

I got told childcare is copleyely seperate to maintence from a solictor.

ToTheLeft Thu 10-Mar-16 19:35:08

Are you entitled to tax credits op? Check on entitled to website if you're unsure. If you can claim tax credits for childcare then you can do away with the vouchers and claim proper maintenance from your ex.

lilydaisyrose Thu 10-Mar-16 19:36:41

Why do you only need term time childcare? Who works term time only?

RudeElf Thu 10-Mar-16 19:38:44

Well you arent getting the childcare paid but you also arent paying childcare costs during that time so you arent worse off!

lostandsoscared Thu 10-Mar-16 19:41:23

My lawyer has told me the same, it's just that we agreed for him to pay the maintenance by continuing to pay the childcare with the vouchers. I can't see him opting out of this as obviously it's tax relief.

ToTheLeft I am in the process of applying for tax credit, but as I have to enter how much I am personally paying for childcare (the top up amount) I'm not sure how to go about this for the actual application. Sorry if I'm being dim, I have been left utterly broken by these last few weeks.

lostandsoscared Thu 10-Mar-16 19:45:35

I'm a teacher. Not sure why my working hours are relevant?

The point is that because the vouchers are not being fully used, the total amount received over the year falls short of what 15% of his salary would be (minus 2/7 due to access)

lilydaisyrose Thu 10-Mar-16 20:23:05

To be fair we didn't know if you or he was the term time worker i.e. if he was going to be having the kids full time during summer hols etc.

ToTheLeft Thu 10-Mar-16 20:24:06

I think most childcare providers insist on you paying for a place during school holidays even if is not used. Tax credits seem to be ok with this too.

It seems unfair to me that his 15% contribution doesn't even cover childcare. I personally think that childcare should be split between you both and he should pay 15% of his actual salary to cover the financial needs of his child. I understand that this is difficult to enforce though.

If I were you, I would look at the entitled to website and put both scenarios in - one where you accept the childcare vouchers, one where you don't and see if you'd be better off? I think you would be if you got tax credits to cover the childcare (they only pay 70%) and then claim 15% of his salary.

ToTheLeft Thu 10-Mar-16 20:27:02

Oh, and you're not being dim at all. It's a minefield navigating the benefits system and having to do that whilst going through a separation (been there, done that). I'm glad to see you're sorting it. It does take a while for the claim to be processed (8 weeks in my case).

lostandsoscared Thu 10-Mar-16 20:39:26

Thank you for your advice, I'll try the entitled to site.

We use a child minder who we pay term time only (at a higher daily rate)

I would much prefer to do what you suggested and split childcare and have him pay 15%, unfortunately I doubt he will agree to this as he would lose the tax relief and end up "paying more than he should"

Class act.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Thu 10-Mar-16 20:42:28

If you are "topping up" can you use the holiday amounts to top up during term time?

petalsandstars Thu 10-Mar-16 21:09:20

Two issues here. The childcare vouchers don't cover the whole amount so you have to top up the payments with actual money. This doesn't make sense with him accumulating vouchers in his voucher account. He can contact the voucher company and tell them to pay X amount to the childcare provider so there is no need for them to accumulate and him claim the money back (the maintenance) later. If he is paying too much per month into the voucher account then he can contact his payroll dept to reduce the amount of money taken per month then no need to claim anything back and give you the money

My workplace scheme you can do all of this quite easily.

HeddaGarbled Thu 10-Mar-16 23:13:17

He's being mean and trying to get away with the minimum he can get away with to support his own child, who he should be falling over backwards to ensure is OK. Fuck being amicable, go through CMS.

ittooshallpass Fri 11-Mar-16 05:52:39

Ehat petal says is tight..You shouldn't have to 'top up' the childcare fees. Just roll over the vouchers paid during holidays to use during term time.
Your ex is being lazy...
There are nurseries and childminders who support term time only support without hiking their prices, maybe you need to change childminder?
(They all get children in holiday time they wouldn't normally get during term time, so it all works out... anyone charging you 'extra' for term time only is ripping you off!)

ittooshallpass Fri 11-Mar-16 05:53:10

Right... not tight, doh!

lostandsoscared Fri 11-Mar-16 12:44:36

After looking at what I would would be entitled to if I took full responsibility for the childcare, I think I would be better off doing things this way and putting a stop to ex paying his maintenance entitlement through childcare vouchers. I would then go through cms to calculate true amount. I can't trust him to be honest with me at the moment. How sad is that after 15 bloody years and a son he apparently adores. My likely housing costs are going to be massive in comparison to his as I need to live in catchment of good local schools. He can live wherever he likes.
Does anyone know if I am entitled to do this? Can I specify that I would like the maintenance paid the 'normal' way or is he within his rights to insist on paying using the vouchers? I'm guessing he will be reluctant to make this change as he would lose tax relief.

TheDetective Fri 11-Mar-16 12:50:54

No, he can't insist.

You can insist on the CMS. He can't refuse.

Suchashock Fri 11-Mar-16 12:55:54

Drop the childcare vouchers as payment. They benefit him far more than you (he pays no tax on them and so they come off his gross rather than net which means he saves tax).
Tell him the vouchers no longer work for you and you want the correct amount paid each month into your account. If he is not reasonable, say you will go through the CSA.
Apply for tax credits where maintenance isn't taken into account and it is likely depending on your salary you will receive financial assistance for childcare.
I suspect being a teacher, you could receive childcare vouchers through work?
He is being a jerk. Stand up for yourself.

petalsandstars Fri 11-Mar-16 13:16:02

If it will benefit you to do it that way - do it. As pp said he cannot refuse to pay cm through cms - if you need to go through direct collect and pay there isn't an opt out he can take.

I would look into claiming childcare vouchers yourself though- see if that could benefit you. If your work don't currently run a scheme you could propose they join up to one.

lostandsoscared Fri 11-Mar-16 13:56:54

Thank you for the brilliant advice,.it's very much appreciated.
I am so fed up of trying to explain this to him and getting nowhere. For my own sanity the cms seems the best option. DS will only be in childcare for next 18 months so the vouchers won't be an option for ex then anyway.

Is there a way I could compare the likely saving I would make using childcare vouchers myself to the tax credit award (taking into account total childcare fees) ?

I am trying to stand up for myself. I really am. Everything is still so raw. Not to drip feed but he left 7 days after I had a miscarriage so I have been desperately trying to secure a future for DS and me while coming to terms with this loss. This might explain why I have not been as assertive as I should be.

whatyouseeiswhatyouget Fri 11-Mar-16 14:41:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Suchashock Fri 11-Mar-16 14:46:20

Op it wasn't a criticism of you saying to stand up for yourself. It must be very tough.
You are now the resident parent and need to protect and care for yourself and son. Your ex should pay maintenance each month in sterling not vouchers. You don't even need to explain it to him. He clearly knows it suits him financially which is why he is reluctant to change things.
Get the cms going ASAP. Tell him that is what you are doing as he has failed to listen to your reasonable request. He does not dictate how it is paid.
I think it's prob best to apply for tax credits first before considering childcare vouchers as I think they take that into account when calculating (you would receive less tax credits I think if claiming vouchers too). Do this ASAP as I think they only backdate a month.
Say to your ex, you need money for the care of your ds, not vouchers as you will be entitled to childcare help now you are a single parent. And so you will no longer have use for the vouchers.
All this is for you and your ds and to rebuild your life.

Dungandbother Fri 11-Mar-16 14:57:08

Agree. You need cash from him. And check what you would revive by claiming tax credits.
You're probably not entitled to working tax credit. But depending on your salary you will be entitled to child tax credit and the childcare element of tax credit. This last element is measured on what your childcare charges, not a set amount. It's more expensive in London for example.

Your childcare needs to be ofsted registered for this to apply. It doesn't work for family members caring.

When claiming this element, it has an impact on childcare vouchers because both are a tax relief. I don't claim vouchers anymore just childcare tax credits. I earn low £20's and my childcare is £117 a week averaged out over the year. I pay more in holidays. I receive £133 a week tax credit.

Total up your annual childcare bill and divide by 52 weeks of year to get your weekly cost. It doesn't matter that you don't pay weekly.

lostandsoscared Fri 11-Mar-16 19:14:47

Ok, I am waiting for tax credits form to arrive and will wait a few days to discuss stopping using the voucher system with ex. (He has DS this weekend on eow arrangement, so don't want to potentially cause unrest or upset while he has time with him)

I have completed the online questionnaire and I do think I will be better off paying for the childcare myself after claiming tax credits. I am also going to use cms for maintenance I think. This way at least I will get a regular payment, with using the vouchers as payment I would go (for example) the whole of that 6 weeks break not receiving anything.

This has all been so confusing I don't even know whether I'm being reasonable or not anymore! I'm worried rocking the boat will push ex to contest recently agreed access arrangements.

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