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CSA payments when a full time student?

(72 Posts)
cherryonthetop2013 Mon 22-Apr-13 18:38:21

I've also posted in the student bit but it doesn't seem very busy over there so wondered if anybody in step parents would be able to answer my question.

I'm in the process of applying for a uni place and now DP has caught the bug and wants to do it also.
I'm just number crunching to see whether we would be able to afford for us both to be studying full time and I think we might JUST be able to manage, but I can't find any info online about whether the CSA would consider student loans and grants to be income and how much we'd have to pay for his 2 children to his previous marriage.

Before anybody has a go at me or DP, this is purely a case of whether we would be able to make ends meet if chooses to do this. But if he does then he'll be earning double what he currently does once qualified which is then going to benefit all the children.

BackAwayFatty Fri 17-May-13 09:54:35

A student pays £0 unless a variation is in place. A variation is used if the student earns over £100 per week (not including loans/bursaries). This would mean the maintenance would increase to £5 per week.

From experience (ex was student) I found it very frustrating that Ex could wash his hands of his responsibilities because he chose to study (OP I am not saying you are like this, he would do anything not to pay including repeating the same level of course 3 times). I do see the greater picture but it was very difficult.

If possible I would factor in some sort of maintenance when calculating if you can afford to both be students.

ArbitraryUsername Fri 17-May-13 10:09:45

I actually think it's ridiculous that students are exempt from maintenance. I was a single parent as a student and still responsible for paying for DS1. Why should the non-resident parent be exempt from making a contribution because they're a student? It's utterly ridiculous.

breaktheroutine Fri 17-May-13 10:20:57

Arbitrary, as a single parent did you not receive child benefit and tax credits toward the costs?

ArbitraryUsername Fri 17-May-13 10:24:17

I got child benefit (which was at that time a universal benefit) but no tax credits because it was a long time ago. That doesn't make it OK for a non-resident parent to not pay for their own child. Why should people who choose to study not be responsible for making at least a token contribution in the same way that disabled people on benefits are?

mumandboys123 Fri 17-May-13 11:34:42

breaktheroutine - so because child benefit and/or tax credits are paid to the PWC, that absolves the NRP of any financial responsibility towards their children?

breaktheroutine Fri 17-May-13 11:59:15

Did I say that? I actually only asked a question?
My understand was that a single pwc will receive money from the state to provide the basic needs of a child. Whereas a non working nrp will receive no recognition of money required from the state towards providing for a child. And where the nrp has contact with the child, the associated costs come out that bare mininum for the one adult.

mumandboys123 Fri 17-May-13 12:20:04

Not all single PWC receive 'money from the state' and even when they do, it doesn't necessarily even nearly cover essential costs. NRP are eligible for working tax credits if they are on a low wage. They also receive a reduction in maintenance (if paid through the CSA at least) for every night they have the child stay over. If an NRP isn't working, he/she will only have to pay £5 a week toward their children from their benefits. So yes, there is recognition that they too need to provide for their child.

Unfortunately, the view that 'single mums get everything handed to them on a plate' isn't the reality for most of us. And just because we work and earn decent money doesn't absolve the other parent of their responsibilities towards the child, just as being in receipt of any form of state support for children doesn't mean that basic needs are covered. If I don't support my children, they would be removed from me yet it's perfectly acceptable for an NRP to take care of themselves first and foremost.

breaktheroutine Fri 17-May-13 12:33:53

"Not all single PWC receive 'money from the state' " - Yes, which is the reason I asked the question hmm. You know, the question you pounced on

"NRP are eligible for working tax credits if they are on a low wage" - this calculation ignores dependent children who do not live in the nrp household, despite expenditure incurred on maintenance and requirements of the child during contact

"They also receive a reduction in maintenance (if paid through the CSA at least) for every night they have the child stay over" - Yes, I'm sure the 1/7 deduction from £5 will pay for a good few meals on a contact weekend, plus housing and electrics/water gas

brdgrl Fri 17-May-13 13:01:42

If your DP and his ex had stayed together, and either of them had decided to begin a university course, the kids would have been affected. It is no different now - your DP can still make choices which affect his children's standard of living.

Of course he should make sure that the kids will have their needs met, and on top of that, it would be advisable for him to make sure that their current activities are not too much changed. Keeping in mind that family incomes do change, and that is true in every kind of family.

But it is impossible to give a definitive answer on this, because it depends on what the kids' living standards are, frankly.

Parents - together or separate - must often make choices which affect the kids in ways that are both positive and negative at the same time. When a family relocates for a better paying job...when a parent changes career path altogether for health reasons....when a parent decides to stay home to be with kids instead of using childcare...and yes, when a parent enters retraining or education with an eye on a better is a shame that a father thinking about increasing his earning potential and employment possibilities, not to mention his personal potential, is being lambasted for looking at his options.

My DH and I were, until recently, both full-time postgraduate students. We worked part-time, and we have three children living with us. I paid for my studies through loans, and my DH received funding through a competitive grant (awarded to him based on the quality of his research). I have since finished my PhD and now have a job in my field which is an 'early career' position - so not enormously well-paid, but which is more highly paid than the work I could get previously, and which should be a pathway to increasingly well-paid work.

My DH is finishing his own PhD: his funding ran out last year, so we have been struggling a bit more, but we have been able to support the kids. Our income over the last three years (how long we've been living together), then, has been a mix of things - part-time wages, now my full-time wages, small savings from our previous jobs, and a pension received for the DSC's support. As far as benefits, we only receive child tax credits and child benefit. I have heard some criticism here of fathers who choose to pursue an education when they have dependent children, and all I can say is that my DH has never failed his children by doing this. Quite the opposite - They've all benefited from the increased time with their dad. He's been able to work flexible hours, and has been there for his kids day in and day out. When both students, we were able to arrange child care and domestic responsibilities between us. Should he now quit his PhD and get a 'real job'? Could he have worked instead, and brought in more income? Possibly (although to be very clear - the funding for his degree was based on his work - that WAS his job for three years, and it paid as well as any other he could get!) - but that would not have been a wise long-term decision, and it wouldn't have resulted in a better life for the kids. Another games system? Maybe - but they don't need that.

My DSD is about to start uni, and the grants/sensitive loans available are very, very good. You and your DP should have a look. There are online calculators which will help you figure out what your situation might be. Then he will be able to make an informed decision about what the choice will mean for his whole family, now and in the future.

catsmother Fri 17-May-13 14:00:37

Excellent post Brdgrl - these things are never black and white and, as you say, there are so many individual factors to consider in each family.

mumandboys123 Fri 17-May-13 15:04:29

breakintheroutine - if the £5 rate is payable and a child stays overnight with the parent, then nothing is payable in maintenance. It may well be hard for a non-working NRP to have a quality relationship with their child from a financial perspective, but it is equally difficult to be a PWC with a low income attempting to bring up their children and all that entails.

mumandboys123 Fri 17-May-13 15:08:32

brdgrl - all well and good and I don't disagree. However, the OP has made it clear that she considers £40k earnt by the mother is more than enough to support the children and that as a result, her partner should not concern himself with his children's financial needs. There is a huge difference in attitude and in recognising on-going responsibility.

ArbitraryUsername Fri 17-May-13 15:16:59

I don't think the OP's partner is being lambasted for wanting to get an education. The problem is that they're looking to minimise their contribution to his two children from a previous relationship. In this case it means that he could potentially contribute nothing, which is really not on. Yes, work out what he could actually afford and reduce the current payments accordingly, but not look at the CSA website and rub his hands with glee as he's doesn't have to pay for the next 3 years.

£5 a week is a tokenistic contribution and the CSA expects people to take it out of the bare minimum for an adult in all kinds of situations. A single person on JSA is unlikely to have any spare cash, but they're still expected to contribute money towards the children they helped make. Why should students not have to? Sure they should be earning more once they finish (not always guaranteed) but the children still have to be paid for while they're studying. The state doesn't increase the amount of tax credits or benefits a lone parent gets to compensate for a lack of maintenance from the non-resident parent.

Back in the days when I was a student the state would take maintenance contributions out of any benefits you were awarded (except child benefit). Essentially any maintenance you got went to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. They still took the money off the non-resident parent, even if they were a student or unemployed or whatever.

So I would absolutely support anyone who wanted to go to university, but I wouldn't support them abandoning all financial responsibility for their children while they study. Yes the family circumstances will change and the amount of maintenance paid should reduce accordingly, but just because the CSA allows you to get away with paying nothing doesn't make that the right thing to do. And it really doesn't matter how much you perceive the other parent as 'not needing it'.

brdgrl Fri 17-May-13 15:41:32

Yes, work out what he could actually afford and reduce the current payments accordingly, but not look at the CSA website and rub his hands with glee as he's doesn't have to pay for the next 3 years.
Well, we are in absolute agreement there. But I don't think that is what the OP intended, and I think actually there are a number of responses here which seem to suggest that ANY reduction in payments would be wrong, regardless of reason, or that the OP's parter is selfish even to consider going back to school.

And it really doesn't matter how much you perceive the other parent as 'not needing it'.
I think it has everything to do with what the children need. Both parents should contribute. But if one family thinks that the children "need" pony lessons, and the other family thinks that is a ridiculous expense, I'm not sure the second family does have an ethical obligation to make sacrifices to buy the kids those pony lessons. If the DP thinks his kids will benefit more through his education than they will be harmed, then it's a reasonable decision.

Is that the case here, or is the DP only concerned with his own benefit? I don't think we can say. I was pretty clear I think in saying that I didn't think I could speak to the OP's particular case, but wanted to make a general statement about the ability of students to provide for a family, as well as about the ethics of a parent deciding to prioritize education and long-term gain over immediate cashflow.

I didn't care for or agree in the slightest with the OP's statement that the mum should care for the kids on 40K or send them to live with her - but I think she was feeling very frustrated and trying to rile people up by that point, and she succeeded. Not excusing her for that statement, but I think her original post was asking a reasonable question and I wanted to respond to that. If her partner is just looking for a way out of paying for his kids, he's a shit, obviously. But I think too many people jumped to that assumption about the motives here.

brdgrl Fri 17-May-13 15:43:00

To be very very very very clear - I absolutely don't support the DP paying £5 or nothing. What I think is that he may well be able to do both - support his kids at a reasonable rate, and go to uni.

ArbitraryUsername Fri 17-May-13 15:56:24

I agree with you. On all counts (including the pony lessons bit).

breaktheroutine Fri 17-May-13 16:15:09

"The state doesn't increase the amount of tax credits or benefits a lone parent gets to compensate for a lack of maintenance from the non-resident parent"

Just to correct, that's actually wrong. The state assumes NO maintenance is being received when paying tax credits

Theydeserve Fri 17-May-13 16:41:43

I just love the - she earns enough anyway argument.

Just like my Ex and his new partner - I earn enough so he just does not pay if they are short ( sic had an expensive holiday). I am their unofficial overdraft - must be lovely to have one of those.

It does not work like that - he is responsible for paying for his DCs, irrelevant what she earns - they may not starve/go with out but that is not the point.

I currently put the monies I receive in accounts for the DCs - they can then see who paid for what when they are old enough!

breaktheroutine Fri 17-May-13 16:44:41

So you put the maintenance in a bank account so you can later claim victory for having paid for everything hmm

parttimer79 Fri 17-May-13 16:51:15

they deserve I sympathise with your situation and agree that both parents should strive to meet their responsibilities to the children they both created but

I currently put the monies I receive in accounts for the DCs - they can then see who paid for what when they are old enough!

really shocked me, why would you be vindictive enough to put your children in that position?

needaholidaynow Fri 17-May-13 18:47:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArbitraryUsername Fri 17-May-13 19:21:08

The state not taking maintenance into account in calculating tax credits is completely different from not altering the amount paid to compensate because you don't get maintenance. They used to reduce what you got by the maintenance you received, but now they just disregard it entirely. What they do not do is say, 'oh, your ex won't pay. Here have an extra £X'.

breaktheroutine Fri 17-May-13 19:41:00

The effect is exactly the same. Someone could claim max tax credits even if they received hundreds of pounds a month in maintenance. So the household income for tax credit purposes can be massively understated in a PWC household

mumandboys123 Fri 17-May-13 20:14:23

yes, it can be understated. But it also used to be possible that a bloody mined NRP could stop start and stop start payments causing constant re-assessment of tax credits - usually meaning they were stopped altogether (often for weeks at a time) whilst a new amount was calculated...only for that to change again a few weeks later. The difficulties this could cause in the PWC's household is well documented anecdotally and in a worse case scenario can result in the PWC not being able to pay for childcare resulting in the loss of paid work.

breaktheroutine Fri 17-May-13 20:22:52

Mumandboys this isn't a thread about the rights or wrongs if maintenance disregard

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