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Maintenance and Uni...

(26 Posts)
careerwoman Mon 22-Aug-11 09:50:18

Hi, just wanted to check off a few facts and get some opinions...

We are very lucky - my DSS got into Uni last week. My husband has an agreed order to pay for his children until they finish uni, something with which I agree holeheartedly.

The problem has come with the inevitable finance discussions with the ex. We offered to pay his accommodation bill for the year, and then deduct that from the monthly money we give to her for child maintenance. She refused, on the grounds that she has already agreed a budget with DSS. When we discussed this with DSS, we got very little information, but it did seem there is an expectation that he will fund his living expenses through loans.

Clearly we need to find out the facts, but it appears she is holding back money that we give her for his upbringing. At the 25% level (there is a younger DSS still at home) we pay £300 a month for him. If split 50/50 between the two it would be £600 a month - more than enough to ensure he doesn't have to take out a maintenance loan to live on.

Surely, now he is no longer living at home we should be able to pay him direct - somthing she is resisting. I appreciate she will need to fund him in the holidays, but what guarantee is there that he will go there and not here? Or stay at Uni?

I gues I have two issues:
1. How can we ensure that all/most the money we give to the ex for the day to day upbringing for DSS goes to him?
2. Is there any reason why she should be in total control of his budgets and allowances at uni?

Ideally, we'd like to get a solution to this without going throught the courts. Any advice greatfully received!

emjanedel Mon 22-Aug-11 19:41:03

Hi huney
I have had a look on the CSA website and it says that children do not get maintainence at degree level. So realistivcally your not obligied to give him anything. Admirable that you are though. Is your agreement a court order that says you will pay through uni or not.

If not i would work out how much you should be paying for one child and pay that to the one at home and give the other the money himself. He is a big boy now and mum will have to let go. Hope this helps.



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Smum99 Mon 22-Aug-11 23:46:56

Typically there are 3 costs, accommodation circa £4-5k, living costs and fees. I think most students get a loan for fees and then use loans/working for accommodation and living expenses.
If you can help your DSS with accommodation that would be really positive and I would suggest you do. Is there a specific reason why the mum needs the money - was the separation recent, does she a court order that stipulates she remains in family home (with mortgage) until both DCs at Uni?

Talk to your DSS, he may not fully understand the implications, maintenance loans can't fund all the costs so parents top up or working is needed. I would really suggest you go through a budget with him. He's a young adult and needs to understand the decisions but he might need step by step help to do it. I build a spreadsheet for my DS when he went to Uni and talked him through each bill and where the money could come from. If after discussions with you and his mum he agrees to her receiving the money then go for it (although I would be very reluctant and maybe only do it for 1 year. Put the ex on notice it will change!)

careerwoman Tue 23-Aug-11 16:09:24

emjanedel - The agreement DP has with his ex is a court order. This does state that he must pay her for the upkeep of DSSs until they complete first degree. However, I believe we can get that changed to go directly to DSS.

MJHasleft the building - as I understand it the CSA will not get involved anymore as he is now an adult and our contributions are voluntary. We would really like to get this solved without CSA or courts, and I do think we are being reasonable, given the money provided should be maintenance for DSSs only, and not for the 'new family' to live on...

Smum99 - You are right about costs, and I really want to help out, even though DSS is not mine, as I was a student once. The seperation is not recent, I met DP after this and ex is also settled with new P and child. It was also a clean break, so the money really should be just for the DSSs. Clearly, I cannot speculate whether the ex does need the money for other things.... But the point is, it should be for DSS and we should be able to help out and minimise the amount of debt he accumilates, but on our own terms and not under the control of the ex!

To be honest, if she won't let us pay directly / pay for accommodation / give transparency of what she is paying from the maintenance, it is DSS who will miss out, as we won't give extras, just in case its all going into the ex's pocket!

silverfrog Tue 23-Aug-11 16:17:35

been through this too.

dh's ex wanted:

dh to pay fees (as per court agreement, and fair enough)
dh to pay maintenance to her still
she would pay "some living costs" for dc at uni, and dh could "top that up so that they do not have to get loans" - effectively meaning dh would be paying the money to ex, she hands over some of it but pockets the rest, and then dh pays maintenance to the dc.

hmm hmm - no actual figures were given, but from what the dc told dh, she was aiming to give them about £100/month, out of over £450/month per child.

what dh did instead was:

pay all tuition fees, as agreed. and pay maintenance direct to the children, starting from the June they left school, so they had 3/4 months to build up before they went to uni (along with any funds from holiday work this meant they shoudl have started with at least £2,500 just from that summer). this did still leave them with a shortfall, as ex decided she could not afford to contribute anyhting under those terms, but one that oculd be made up via vacation work. obviously up to them if they took out loans, but dh advised against it strongly.

careerwoman Tue 23-Aug-11 17:41:09

Silverfrog - that sounds like where we want to get to. However, the ex is refusing point blank and thinks she is protected because the court order states the monies should be paid to her. Did you achieve that through legal agreement, or did the ex just roll over? I think her argument is that she still has to provide a roof over DSS head when he is at home from Uni...

silverfrog Wed 24-Aug-11 07:52:58

Dh just started doing it, tbh (having given advance notice that he would be)

By a combination of factors, both children were off to uni in the sAme year, and crucially the younger was already over 18.

We figured that if she tried to take it to court she would be laughed out if the place as the dc were adults, there is nothing in law which says a parent must pay fir uni anyway (and dh was not saying he would not pay, just wanting the children to manage their own finances as adults, rather than be treated lime children still), and our argument was that if she truly could not afford to keep them in the vacations they were more than welcome to come and stay with us. We did wonder whether she would charge them rent, but again that was up to her, and would at least leave the children with an informed decision to make, as adults. (she didn't, as far as I am aware).

Overall, other than complain to the children that she was no longer receiving their money, there was little she could do realistically, we thougt. Mainly because dh was not wanting to stop paying at all, just giving the dc an opportunity to a) not have to take out loans and b) learn how to budget effectively.

It worked for dh (although no doubt the decision was criticised many a time by the ex)

madeindevon2 Sat 27-Aug-11 15:10:19

I have been in this situation. Dh has court order saying he will pay x amount per child for as long as dc in full time ed. We have been to solicitor about this. And basically it's set in stone as its signed court order. 2 of the dsc are at uni and money is still paid directly to ex and not enough seems to get to the dc... Ex says he needs it to provide roof over heads for holidays but they hardly go back in holiday. We pay a lot extra to the dc also when they need it (like rent on student houses) unfort it's something we just live with even though it's unfair because we can and we don't want any of the dc to go without.incidentally this also means I will have to return to work 4-6 months after our baby arrives so we can afford everything.
It's not easy!

madeindevon2 Sat 27-Aug-11 15:12:29

Basically I think she is legally correct. She is protected by the court order.

fourkids Sat 27-Aug-11 15:15:36

madeindevon2, I don't doubt you - I just want to understand for my own reasons...this wouldn't apply to you I guess, as your DSCs are already adult, but isn't a court order simply overturned by one party or the other referring the case to the CSA for a new decision?

as far as I can see, once the DCs/DSCs have reached 18 and gone to uni, ie left home, any arrangements made regarding finances should be purely between either parent and the DC.

madeindevon2 Sat 27-Aug-11 16:49:53

The solicitor explained to us that simply isn't the case. My dh signed a court order 12 years ago saying he would provide maintenance until they finished full time education. You cant just refer to CSA because you changed your mind. Irrespective of age of dc.

madeindevon2 Sat 27-Aug-11 16:53:21

We wanted to pay the money directly to dsc...

madeindevon2 Sat 27-Aug-11 16:57:03

Silverfrog you are lucky she seems to have accepted this. She must be a reasonable person :-)

miniwedge Sat 27-Aug-11 16:57:49

I'm not sure you were particularly well advised by that solicitor. You should have been told to apply for a variation to the court order.

fourkids Sat 27-Aug-11 16:59:51

Ah Ok. I thought my solicitor had advised me that although the court order exH and I agreed said just this (that he would pay until they finished full time education), exH could at any time refer it to the CSA and they would deal with it under their rules. I may (hope) have got it wrong.

I have to say though, I understood that to mean he'd still pay maintenance for them until they finished A levels (potentially at 18 1/2 or 19) rather than until they finished a degree. I can't imagine I'd expect him to pay maintenance for my grown up, left home children. More fool me!

miniwedge Sat 27-Aug-11 17:09:26

The c/a won't get involved with maintenance after a levels/ college. Under c/a rules maintenance ceases at either the age of 19 or the end of full time further education but not higher education.

A court order is a bit different, if it states it includes higher ed then maintenance carries on but a variation order can be applied for so that the young adult is paid direct.

With a court order you can apply for a variation at any time. For example if the non resident parent suffered a loss of income.

madeindevon2 Sat 27-Aug-11 18:06:09

Agreed. For a loss of income we could re apply. This hasn't happened. Solicitor advised waste of money for legal fees to get variation. Why you think this bad advise out of interest??


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Smum99 Sat 27-Aug-11 19:52:55

madeindevon, when did you go through this process? CSA can get involved in and do over turn Court Orders (as was the case for us).As MJ states sometimes a court court is in place where the resident parent has agreed a full and final settlement perhaps house equity but then later goes to CSA for maintenance.

At 18 the student is classified as an adult and ideally should be dealing with his/her own finances (with help and advice from parents) What year was the the court order? The CSA assessment figure might be useful to you - work out what is actually required when only one child is at home.

madeindevon2 Sat 27-Aug-11 22:29:34

Court order about 9 years ago. interesting what different advise we have been given!

madeindevon2 Sat 27-Aug-11 22:31:31

Smum. On what grounds was your court order changed?

fourkids Mon 29-Aug-11 11:59:35

Actually, I think (dredged from the back of my mind) that I actually spoke to the CSA myself about this a couple of years ago, when I had some concerns, and that they also advised me that if I wanted it dealt with by them, I could refer it to them for a judgement that would supercede the court order...

silverfrog Mon 29-Aug-11 19:48:30

madeindevon2: not usually reasonable, tbh. but dh went ahead on the basis that:

he was not trying not to pay the maintenance - he was very keen to pay it, and the tuition fees, in order to support his dc at university.

since the dc were both over 18, contact orders no longer technically applied (NOT linking maintenance to contact, but more that they were both adults, and their mum could not technically stop them seeing dh, or intefere with contact the way she could when they were younger. I say technically because, of course, she could have (and may have) tried to influence them anyway.

he felt that even if she took him to court over the breaking of the letter of the court order saying he should pay maintenance to her, he woudl have a good argument in that: he was not breaking the spirit of it (the children were getting exactly the same amount of money, paid on the same date each month); she woudl not be able to apply for more money (ie he pay this money to the children, she claim more for supporting them in the holidays) because a) we have younger children (one of them severely disabled, incurring a lot of costs) at home now, who are of course dependents, b) he left her with a mortgage free house upon divorce - so her claim for needing the money to supprt them would be very weak, and she could always charge them a reasonable rate for food/bills etc.

she didn't argue the case legally (suspect she knew she would be on dodgy ground - why on earth would a court even be bothered with a father paying maintenance to his adult children directly, rather than via their mother's bank account?) but may well have grumbled abotu it to the dc over the last few years...

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