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Help, I just took a beating in 'Am I being unreasonable'

(84 Posts)
Bebo1980 Tue 27-Sep-11 22:20:23

I posted the following in 'am i being unreasonable' and after a LOT of abuse a kind person suggested I come here for more balanced advice! please be gentle I'm still recovering!

My dh has a daughter with an ex, they currently have an amicable relationship although it hasn't always been so. We have his daughter frequently, take her on family holidays, she has her own bedroom/clothes at our house etc etc. My dh used to give his ex money informally until several years ago she involved CSA and actually ended up receiving less money than she was originally. Since then my dh has been very conscientious in sending pay checks in voluntarily and making sure he is making the correct payments. What I am trying to say is that he wants to support his daughter and is in no way a 'deadbeat dad'.
When he dropped his daughter off yesterday his ex mentioned that she had started taking her to ballet classes and 'is he going to contribute to half?'. The money is not a massive amount (although I've recently gone back to work full time after having a baby and we are in no way loaded!). The problem is the principle. Is CSA meant to just cover basic living amounts or does it include extras?is she going to continue to ask for more contributions? In my view she took him to csa to ensure she received an adequate amount of money a month and now she wants more.Don't get me wrong I believe that she is entitled to the money she receives but how far should this go and is it worth rocking the boat by saying no?

winnybella Tue 27-Sep-11 22:25:39

Hmm, I would think that he should pay it. CSA is not a lot of money, is it? Perhaps enough to feed and clothe the child, but surely not enough to cover extra-curricular activities? He might want to ask her to discuss things like this before actually signing the child up, but I think that in principle, if he can afford it, it would be very mean of him not to contribute (unless the mother is very unreasonable and asks him for lots of money for luxuries all the time, obv.)

lisalisa Tue 27-Sep-11 22:31:54

I'll be gentle - I always am smile.

I think the reason she applied to CSA was probably to put the " informal " payments on a more regular and formal basis. If payments by your dh were informal ( therefore presumably irregular) it would have been very difficult for her to budget properly or run her house ( try doing that on "informally paid " wages).

I don't therefore think she is being unreasonable to have asked CSA to formalise your arrangements.

As to extras like ballet perhaps she was trying to involve your dh more by asking him to contriubute - perhaps trying to drum up his interest in the activity bieng undertaken by his dd for her ( the dd's benefit).

Even if that is not the case and she simply asked him to contriubute for the money again that is not necessarily blameworth. We all know how expensive it is now to run a house and kids once you've finished paying for clothes, shoes activities etc. She probably would have been grateful for a contribution and asked.

By your dh saying ( I know he hasn't - I'm just being hypothetical here) that he pays a fxied amount and she should manage on that , it suggests to me a lack of caring about his dd. I know that is a wild leap forward but it does smack to me of being selfish and standing on his rights when - as you say - it is only a small amount and something that presumably means a lot to the dd.

Someone once gave me advice on being a mother in law (I am not quite at that stage yet but not too far off). The advice was to "open your wallet and shut your mouth". I've always remembered this advice and it wouldn't go amiss here. Translated it means to pay what you can when you can on top of the CSA espeically for things like ballet that are pleasant extras an show how much daddy cares and don't criiticise mum for asking or not balancing her budget etc ect.

Northernlurker Tue 27-Sep-11 22:34:41

He should pay towards the ballet I think - it is an 'extra' so it comes as an extra payment. BUT - I would pay the ballet school direct with his share. Then you know it's gone on that.

ConstanceNoring Tue 27-Sep-11 22:36:03

Hello Bebo! I pm'd you, probably amongst others!

If you can pick over the bones of that other thread there were quite a few supportive posts too, come and settle in here 'tis nice and comfy..wink

festi Tue 27-Sep-11 22:39:24

I think he should pay, when considering CSA they work out a controbution based on his income that would reasonibly provide a standard of basic care ensuring he also has enough to live. ie food and clothing for the dcs. Anything extra he should IMHO pay if asked. The dd should not suffer in this area because the parents are no longer together.

However on the other hand I receive CSA, I dont ask exp to controbute to swimming, drama, rainbows or tennis lessons. He knows she does them and how much they cost and he has not offered up any controbution. He took her to her swimming lesson one day when monthy fee was due and he even actually took the money from me, tight arse. But I also cant be arsed discussing these things with him as he has no interest and dd will realise that when she grows up. But I think your dhs ex should have discussed this with him prior to making the arrangements, but he is her father and so has a duty to make controbutions to her life and I think half a ballet lesson is resonable enough.

YoungMotherTubby Tue 27-Sep-11 22:42:07

I believe that the CSA money should be all that ex partner should expect and shouldn't be asking directly for more. However if her income was reduced after going to CSA and you can afford to contribute half so that she can go to the ballet - then I would.
Think you would need to just ensure that this isn't the start of continually asking for extra (which on reading back sounds really mean - but she probably went to CSA in first place as maybe thought entitled to more??)

My DH also has an 'informal' arrangement with his xp - which absolutely does not mean the payments are irregular - it means that the arrangement is between them and not dictated by a 3rd party. But we reckon she would get less via CSA

Bebo1980 Tue 27-Sep-11 22:54:04

Hey guys thanks for the much more reasonable opinions. On reflection I think I was a bit annoyed. I am working full time after having my baby and paying a fortune in childcare while the ex gets to work part time while child is at school and takes delight in telling dh how she gets 80% childcare paid by government. To be honest her nails and hair look prettier than mine and after working overtime this weekend I think it hit a nerve!
But totally agree (after 2 glasses of wine!) that dh's little girl shouldn't suffer for the complexities of adults!Ballet it is!

festi Tue 27-Sep-11 22:54:56

I think also it is important to consider now he has 2 children they should recieve as far as is possible to work out equal financial controbutions, so if you would expect your new child to have ballet or similar lessons at such an age aswell as only 10% of his income, which would be impossible to work out in reality but attempt to make equal financial controbutions.

I certanly spend out more than 10% of my income to clothe, feed and provide for my dd.

festi Tue 27-Sep-11 23:00:36

unfortunatly for you, she gets some child care paid ( was only 75% when I was working) as she only has one income and has less options availible to your self with child care, ie work out shifts etc to work when dh is at home, it could also be argued that your dh is responsible to either provide or make financil controbutions to child care so maybe not that unfair to you, but that is a whole other social and political bigger argument that should not cloud this.

I dont mean to offend but I would after this re evaluate your attitude and try to sound less bitter, It could affect your relationship with the dc.

Latemates Tue 27-Sep-11 23:01:47

I guess it depends on individual cases but I would disagree and say don't pay as it hasn't been discussed and reading between the lines. If she was greedy trying to get more through the CSA but ended up with less that really is her own fault and she should have looked into things more. My husband only pays what the csa say because if he dealt with his ex on money matters she would be asking for extras every day of the week and the children do not miss anything due to finance anyway. On top of this he needs to provide everything for children too. Clothes, toys, bedding, shoes, food, own bedrooms for when they are with us. He also pays and takes them to their own activities here. there is no way she would every agree to pay towards them.

Maybe he can pay towards an activity/sfor when child is with you. That way it can be something they can do and enjoy together and mum can do the ballet. That way child get to experience to activities and broader her horizons rather than just the one experience.

Bebo1980 Tue 27-Sep-11 23:13:40

Festi it actually is a little offensive. We have my stepdaughter for most of the time her mother is at work and then at weekends so she can enjoy a social life as she should. If for whatever reason there is a problem his parents care for her or I do. If I sounded bitter I'm sorry I'm only human!
Thanks Latemates we were just discussing paying for swimming lessons.

LunarRose Tue 27-Sep-11 23:18:32

Sorry you took a beating - normally on the side of the RP, but even I could see you're not being unreasonable.

My ex tries to get out of paying maintenance, let alone offers to pay for anything else.

can I have your DH as an ex instead grin

ChippingIn Tue 27-Sep-11 23:24:01

I agree with Latemates.

and anything someone wants a contribution towards should be discussed before not after the event.

Maybe, if you can afford it, pay it this time and tell her that if there is anything else she ever wants a contribution towards then it needs to be discussed beforehand.

I do think it's fair that NRP parents contribute towards 'extras' when they can - such as school trips, hobbies and later on 'prom' nights etc but it does depend on the financial situation of both parents and being reasonable.

allnewtaketwo Wed 28-Sep-11 08:08:33

"Hmm, I would think that he should pay it. CSA is not a lot of money, is it?"

winnybella that's a bit like saying a piece of string isn't very long. It depends entirely on how much he earns. If he doesn't earn much it won't be much but if he earns a decent amount it could actually be quite a lot (and for all we know, more than enough to cover luxuries as well as necessities)

"If payments by your dh were informal ( therefore presumably irregular) it would have been very difficult for her to budget properly or run her house"

lisalisa it's a bit of a leap of judgement that informal (ie. not through csa) payments are presumably irregular. Also a bit of a 'coincidence' that the csa action followed the court action hmm

NotaDisneyMum Wed 28-Sep-11 08:19:04

The CSA is actually quite clear about this if you ask them.

The parent receiving the CSA payment is considered to be financially responsible for the DCs and so is expected to budget for them based on the Child Support payment they receive and their own contribution to the DCs upbringing.

IMO, the OP DH exW wants the best of both worlds, a regular payment and contributions to expenses as they arise; which isn't the way the system is designed to work.

When I was receiving CSA payments, I bought/paid for everything my DD needed at both my house and her Dads, where she spent 50% of her time. Sometimes she had to go without; just as she would if we'd still been a nuclear family.

flixy102 Wed 28-Sep-11 08:31:43

DH and his ex have a similiar arrangement, in that he pays through the CSA on the condition that she does not ask for any money for extras, in other words the CSA money covers all that he contributes for his daughter.
That sounds quite harsh when it's written down like that but the CSA takes quite a large chunk of his salary and he's been told by his ex that 'she doesn't need his money'. They used to fight a lot over money but now they really have no need to communicate so it's worked out well for everyone!
Obviously he still gives pocket money and Christmas/birthdays/Easter presents/rewards for good school reports etc so I'm not saying that he doesn't give extra bit I agree with your argument 100%.

chelen Wed 28-Sep-11 09:21:42

Here we receive regular informal maintenance. We have never asked for extra as mum has already made the agreed contribution. If we ever did think SS ought to do something beyond our budget we would absolutely speak to mum before signing up or demanding a contribution. But we are not the type to worry about saying sorry that's too expensive, our kids have had to learn about lack of money recently (as have I!)

Hope the thread wasn't too awful on AIBU, it can be quite brutal!

pootlebug Wed 28-Sep-11 10:38:27

"CSA is not a lot of money, is it?" - well that depends on the income of the NRP, Winnibella. I keep seeing reference as to the fact that CSA payments won't pay for anything above the most basic food and clothing....but if the NRP is a higher earner that's just not true.

If a NRP earns 100,000 per year net (and I admit this is rare) and there are no additional children living with NRP, the CSA payment would be £1,250 per that honestly not enough to pay for more than just food and clothes?

Obviously if NRP is on income support and pays the minimum £5 per week then it won't cover even the basic costs of food and clothing.

So everything inbetween needs to be weighed up on a case-by-case basis.

incognitofornow Wed 28-Sep-11 10:53:50

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incognitofornow Wed 28-Sep-11 10:54:30

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theredhen Wed 28-Sep-11 11:17:06

Completely agree with incognito.

In a "normal" family, you would discuss finances before deciding on an activity for the kids. In a seperated family the RP seems to think they have a right to empty out the NRP wallet with the only consideration in being giving the kids of the seperated family what they want.

Some RP get CSA amounts which not only affords the kids the basics but also luxuries with money left over. They will also get all the other benefits that NRP won't get. Yes, some RP only get a small amount of CSA but then the chances are this is because the NRP can't afford any more. Percentages are not, in my opinion a good way of working things out as a parent on a low to average wage can be crippled by CSA payments if they have a large mortgage and expensive commute to work and any more is just not possible unless they give up eating themselves!

I survived perfectly well with NO maintenance for seven years or handouts from family. I supported us on my part time wages and government top ups. DS joined clubs and we had days out and weekends away. We certainly didn't live in the lap of luxury but I never felt he missed out on much at all.

I think the OP partners should pay if he WANTS to pay. He is under no obligation to do so. Personally I would not want him to pay for this simply because he has been demanded to do so. I would pay for something else so that the mother learns that she cannot just demand money and get it, as this will just be the start.

catsmother Wed 28-Sep-11 12:11:15

Notwithstanding the various opinions and suggestions put forward in regard to this particular situation, please don't make the mistake of thinking "only 15%" (or whatever, depending on no. of kids) is automatically "affordable by NRPs. Obviously "affordable" - or for that matter "enough" - is a subjective term, but bear in mind that individual families can live in an infinite variety of circumstances and the CSA's "one size fits all" formula, which is very black and white, does NOT take into account the grey areas in which most of us live.

Many NRPs (usually men) find themselves having to start again from scratch post-divorce .... e.g. high loan to value mortgages over a shorter term as they're older. This happens when the ex has recieved the bulk of the former marital assets, and if, that means, as in my DP's case (and other men I know) that the ex wife herself ends up with little or even no mortgage, she - and the children - will effectively benefit from NOT paying several 100 pounds each month in housing costs. Many NRPs, through absolutely no fault of their own also have to pay 100s of pounds every month if they want to see their children at all, because the ex has moved away - then subsequently refuses to help facilitate contact by meeting half way, sharing fuel costs etc. Some NRPs are also servicing marital debt which was made their sole responsibility as part of the divorce process.

So ..... the neat CSA percentage formula does NOT always "ensure" that NRPs have "enough" to live on ..... because it doesn't recognise the redistribution of assets and so on, nor what most responsible NRPs would argue is the essential expense of travelling to maintain a relationship with their kids.

I know of course that logistically there probably isn't any way the CSA could ever operate differently and come up with a magic solution whereby everybody was treated fairly and individually at the same time. Of course it couldn't, it couldn't possibly be administered. They have enough trouble applying a simple formula as it is. However, CSA aren't as cut and dry as some people seem to think they are and as Incognito pointed out, the NRPs child-related expenditure doesn't end with the CSA (assuming they are trying to maintain a normal relationship with their children). My DP has significant extra expense due to his ex refusing to meet him at any point along the route at all, and has had to pay this for years. We've also had to waste money completely unnecessarily for many years by providing a complete wardrobe here for the children because the ex refused to send them with any clothes .... money which could, arguably, have been used to benefit the children in more useful ways, such as extra activities. I'm afraid that I do regard our particular CSA payment as both unfair and unaffordable because of our particular family circumstances - would never suggest that the CSA formula is unfair across the board. That remark may get me shot down in flames but DP's ex - and as a result, his older kids - have benefitted hugely from the way finances were sorted when they divorced - and also from many years' worth of inflated (by several extra 100s pounds per month over CSA rates) informal payments which set them up very comfortably and provides them with a decent standard of living. In our case, it was DP who eventually approached the CSA because his ex refused to discuss the situation with him and we were sinking deeper and deeper into debt trying to sustain payments completely out of kilter with our income (had been informally agreed prior to DP being made redundant). Certainly, when you add up the CSA payment, the travel costs, the cost of feeding and entertainment - and that doesn't include us having to have an extra room for DP's kids - far far more is allocated to each of DP's older children than we could ever hope to spend on our own daughter .... what we (i.e. two working adults) spend jointly on our DD every month is probably about 40% (roughly) compared to what one parent (DP) spends on each of the other two. See .... it's a complete grey area and whilst I know this kind of thing can swing the other way and of course there are many PWCs left high and dry by irresponsible and uncaring NRPs who've pissed off without a backward glance, I just wanted to show how paying "only 15%" (or 20%, 25% as applicable) doesn't automatically mean the NRP is left rolling in it.

Apologies for going off on a tangent there ..... back to the thread. I'm of the opinion as Redhen says that you shouldn't spend someone else's money for them. The ex should have discussed this before going ahead and whilst it's great - for SD - that you're going to contribute this time you do need to make it clear to her that she may get a very different answer if she does similar next time. Just as PWCs need regular and reliable maintenance payments so they can budget, believe it or not NRPs also need to budget and can't be expected to find additional expenses just like that without any warning. By the way in case anyone thinks by what I've said that I'm hard and unfeeling, I was actually a single parent myself for 9 years before meeting DP so I know that where all parties can be mature and fair about it, it is possible to thrash out a fair and honest maintenance system without involving the CSA. I rarely used to ask my ex for extra money but on the occasions where something unexpected cropped up, or where expenses had increased dramatically for some reason, I'd always speak to him about it before committing money I didn't have.

Petal02 Wed 28-Sep-11 13:01:48

Catsmother, that is an excellent post. You're so right than many men often have to start from scratch post-divorce - often leaving the ex in a house that is paid for, or at least with a small mortgage - the man then has to buy a house big enough to accommodate his children, even if they only visit on alternate weekends, he still needs enough bedrooms for them. I also agree that such men often have to fork out for joint debts accrued during the marriage - and after all that, have to pay a tidy chunk of their income in maintenance, without the 'perks' of child benefit and tax credits. And if the man in question then wants to start a new family with a new partner - what's he supposed to live on? Thin air?????

sleepevader Wed 28-Sep-11 13:15:20

Incognito, redhen and catsmothet have summarised the real truth in a nutshell.

In our circumstances my dp is only a parent when it suits the r.p.
And I am no one- unless it suits.

He's suppose to have been going to a school open day with eldest who is progressing to secondary. She has already been to one already. Planned for weeks. Now she's said no you ain't going- why should you? Yet it's fine for him to drop/pick up from school when she has an emergency (always on her day off/always raining/always still in pjs). He has to chase parent evening/sports day dates from
School etc but the one time he couldn't go he's suddenly the shit father (no free appts-left too late to book by time he found out)

It's the same with money. He was paying so much debt and maintenance he had a tenner left at the end if the month after all commitments made (including maintenance). He would take them swimming once a month. Then she refused to let them bring their swim kit- it took him ages to find the funds to replace it.
Then she wouldn't send spare pants/leggings for the youngest who was still having accidents. Cue money spent out on clothes/pants that were never seen again.

In the end he went bankrupt. Living as a lodger with no disposable income it was the best option. We got together around the time that decision was made. She really had bled him dry- financially and emotionally.

She still flaunts her money and new "wealth" ie new partners income, tax credits etc whilst working very part time.

We struggle by - no lavish outgoings but happy. M

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