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Bm needing some advice over money issues? What is normal to help with?

(17 Posts)
HalloweenDuck Sun 09-Oct-11 15:00:14

Hi. I am asking on step parenting as i actually wish to get the opinions of the non resident parent and step family.

I will briefly explain our family lay out so hopefully you can give honest opinions of what i am thinking.

I have a dd, she is in primary school.
She lives with me full time and my dh and 2 other children.
Her dad lives a fare distance away with his wife and their son.
She goes there 3/4 weekly for the weekend and nearly half of the holidays.
Her dad pays £30ish a month through the CSA.
Money is quite tight for both families. (treats are planned/ saved for etc)
We share the travelling.
Dd does dance lessons (discounted) and swimming (my dm pays)
We choose for her to do these so happily cover costs etc.

However is it normal to ask for extra to cover the more routine costs?
E.g We worked out it cost £100 to kit her out for school this term.
Lots of extras conected to school e.g musical theatre club/ recorder/ class trips etc.
Her new glasses i paid £30 on top of the voucher.

Is everything like this just down to me and dh to pay for or is it the norm to ask for help with additional things connected to school?
Where do you think we should draw the line?
I do not want them to think i am taking the p***.

Also how do you go about it? Ask for money up front or i pay and send reciept?

If anyone can take the time to explain what they do and how it works i would be very gratefull.

fourkids Sun 09-Oct-11 15:56:48

Hi, although it didn't exactly start out as a thread about the question you are ansking, there are a lot of relevent answers on this thread.

My take on this is generally that maintenance is meant to cover this stuff and that as a RP, I would never ask for more from the NRP...however £30 pcm isn't going to go very far, is it?! I should say that I do see this from both POV because we pay maintenence for DSCs as well as receiving it for DCs

Would your ex even be prepared to contribute to these expenses?

fourkids Sun 09-Oct-11 16:05:48

Oh, I just noticed this part of the question "Also how do you go about it? Ask for money up front or i pay and send reciept?"

I would say, that while which extras should be paid for is debatable (until the cows come home!) and subjective, I would say that the RP should ABSOLUTELY ALWAYS gain agreement from the NRP before spending his (or her) money. If they don't, I see absolutely no reason why the NRP should cough up.

Whether you would ask for the money prior to spending it is probably a matter for you and your ex to decide. If you actually can't afford the things, he would need to pay up front, I guess? Personally I'd always provide (if I were to ask for/accept extra money, which I don't) receipts/evidence of the cost because it simply lessens the possibility of misunderstandings and/or mistrust. And for that reason, I also expect to be provided with them when paying extra on top of maintenance.

Petal02 Sun 09-Oct-11 17:05:41

The thread that Fourkids directed you to, will give you a cross section of opinions. I agree that you should never commit your ex to expenditure without discussing it first. One thing that struck me from your post, is that money is tight in both households, and perhaps sadly there's just not enough cash for many extras? If your ex only pays £30 per month, then he's clearly not earning much. Maybe his wife is wealthy, but then it's not her responsibilty.

I question the wisdom of making maintenance payments, and then getting a further bill for extras, because based on the figures you presented, you'd be asking for at least a 50% increase in maintenance payments.

I don't think there's a magic solution in families where there just isn't enough money to go round. Can I just check that the maintenance you receive is in line with the usual guidelines, and that your ex isn't just paying a pittance when he earns good money?

HalloweenDuck Sun 09-Oct-11 17:22:20

Thank you fourkids, certainly has given me lots to read and think about.

petal02 it is a sort of a fair amount. bit more complicated, but he is not rich and paying pittance if you see what i mean.
Both families are not scrapping for pennies, but every pound is carefully planned etc.

I am of the opinion that the dance/ swimming etc is my choice so we pay.

It is more the school uniform/ glasses/ new shoes/ school trips that is making me think.

I have not raised this issue with him, i just wanted to see what the "norm" is so to speak.

Smum99 Sun 09-Oct-11 20:25:47

Firstly you seem to have a great attitude to this - you recognise that finances are tough which is a good first step. Do you get on well with the ex?

I would say that it's fair to share the costs of raising your child (including school dinners, trips, uniforms etc) and then determine what's a fair contribution once you have deducted child benefit (which I assume you receive). If you each pay 30 per month and include child benefit what more would be needed? a proposal where you suggest you each split that amount would be fair...i.e another 10 per month (or whatever amount).

Reality however is that your ex is on a very low salary (is he on disability or benefits?) and as a result it will be a struggle for each of you.

tough one but your approach is positive

incognitofornow Sun 09-Oct-11 21:00:33

Message withdrawn

oioverhere Sun 09-Oct-11 21:05:27

HalloweenDuck let us know how you get on

Purpleroses Sun 09-Oct-11 22:19:35

I'd always assumed that school uniform, dinners, trips, etc is precisely what the child support is intended to cover and wouldn't personally ask for any more for my two DCs. Just my personal take really I guess.

If you're not getting it already, you should check out whether your family should be getting tax credits as you can get something with family incomes right up to around £50,000. It goes to whoever has residence. And if you suspect your ex isn't claiming, I'd suggest it to him too for his new family - if it boosts his income you might get a little more your way.

Otherwise, if you want more for things that really are extras (ie music lessons, etc - not school dinners or uniform) then I'd suggest that your DD asks her Dad directly if he would pay for these, or if she's too young, then ask yourself but be specific as to what the money if for and arrange for him to pay it direct, not via you. That's likely to go down better.

HalloweenDuck Sun 09-Oct-11 22:30:38

Incog do you mind if i ask to explain more?

For example. The school uniform is something that i am thinking should be a joint thing. It is not a choice i make, it is something essential that she needs.

However new ballet shoes shouldn't be counted as not essential. If we can not afford it then she can not do it etc.

I think big school trips you are right we can discuss in advance, decide if we can both afford. But how about the £20 zoo trips. Am i right in asking for help with these? Or is that again a case of if i want her to go the i pay?

How about her glasses? We had to go more expensive as she needed a certain shape as the other pair kept slipping. I happily paid as it was in her best interests (she looked over top rather than through them before)

Im just trying to get a better understanding of how people think about this?

If he was well off and his basic csa was £1000 a month then i don't know how different i would feel about this. On one hand that would be enough to cover all her needs so i would not NEED to ask for more, but should i if he is a parent. I do not think i would. If I was a miilionaire then i definatly would not ask for more than what the csa recomended. (If we did not need it either to care for her, then i would add to her savings account each month for uni/ car etc)

More thought i feel is needed.

HalloweenDuck Sun 09-Oct-11 22:38:16

Purpleroses, do you mind if i ask if you get a decent amount of csa?
£8odd a week does not even cover her school dinners! (she is actually pack lunch as cheaper) But you get the jist. It doesn't even cover her petrol needed to get her to school.

It is hard and i feel something that everyone is never going to agree on as each family is different.

Purpleroses Sun 09-Oct-11 23:43:17

I get £125 a month for two DCs, so a bit more, but not riches really - still not enough to cover costs. It's risen over the years (we split up 8 years back). At first it was zero, then £30 a month for a long while, but then I got a lot of tax credits which really helped.

Of course the £30 a month doesn't pay for a lot and I do sypathise how unfair it is to be supporting a child almost single handedly financially when you're also the one that looks after them, but if that's what the CSA amount is that means (unless he's lied to them) that he probably can't afford a lot more. £30 a week would suggest he's more or less on benefit level income.

You're right every family is different - my DP does pay for extras for his 4 DCs, despite paying a much larger amount as maintanence to start with - but he pays this direct for the activities they do, and they pester him direct for it. You're free to ask for whatever you want but if you've had to through the CSA to get the £30 a month my guess would be that he might not respond well to a request for extras for school dinners, etc. No harm in asking if the relationship's amicable but at the the end of the day he's within his rights to say no and there's not a lot you can do about it. Might be better to keep things amicable and hope that his situation picks up and he can help a bit more in the future. Goodluck!

allnewtaketwo Mon 10-Oct-11 10:42:27

OP can I just ask what sort of tax credits or whatever you get for DD. Presumably as a parent on a low income you are eligible for state help for DD, which your ex isn't. So although he's contributing £30 based on his salary, that doesn't actually represent half of the requirement?

fairystepmother Mon 10-Oct-11 12:38:47

Why don't you just sit down for a coffee with your ex and discuss with him if he's able to assist with some extras?
In theory CSA is there to provide all basics including stuff like uniform. However given how small the contribution is in your case, you could always sound out how your ex feels about going every other year for stuff like glasses etc...
I think in summary you shouldn't expect anything extra, but there is no harm in asking - just be prepared to receive (and accept) a no as the answer.
But the most important rule is that everything should be agreed in ADVANCE of any purchases.

fairystepmother Mon 10-Oct-11 12:39:45

Oh and to add - don't expect an answer right away. No doubt your ex will need to discuss this with his current partner as it will effect his household.

HalloweenDuck Mon 10-Oct-11 14:25:02

Thank you all very much for your input. It does seem that the csa is meant to cover most if not all of things.

Seeing as this is quite a new situation, and we are not at the "sit and have coffee and discuss" stage. I think this year we will let it slide as i have already got all uniform/ paid for glasses etc etc.

I think that we will rethink next year. See how both families finances are and perhaps discuss the option of extra help for essentials (new school uniform/ winter coat etc) in advance.

Many thanks again.

incognitofornow Mon 10-Oct-11 23:31:48

Message withdrawn

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