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Money troubles - please help.

(71 Posts)
Lala1980 Mon 21-Apr-14 17:58:15

Hi - I was wondering if anyone has been in a similar situation before, and could give me/us some advice. DP has 4 children that stay with us EOW and some school holidays. DP pays his maintenance as per the CSA, but on our shoestring budget, cannot afford anymore, although he would love to be able to. I can only go by what the children say, and what we can see, but their mother does not seem to steward this money well in terms of things she has for herself (which I can go into further if you wish), but key things the kids are lacking. For example, DSD told me she was worried about the weather being wet this week, as she has to go to school in her daps. I said, what about your school shoes? She says they broke, and mummy can't afford to buy her any more. It breaks my heart, as we can't afford to buy her any, as DP has no money spare after he pays his maintenance, and puts by the money we need to feed them when they stay with us. What can we do? I suggested he buys some and docks it from his maintenance payment, but he says that is illegal. I know how to live on an extremely tight budget, and know that their mother does have enough money to look after the children sufficiently if she budgeted properly, and prioritized. I can't tell her how to spend her money, and that it not my place, but when I see the children suffering as a result, and we are unable to help, I don't know what to do. Can anyone offer us any advice? I know when they divorced DP proposed paying his maintenance by paying for clothes, shoes, school trips, food vouchers etc and putting any leftover in a savings account for the kids, but this was declined in desire for cash. Is there anything we can do?

nomoretether Mon 21-Apr-14 18:17:59

Nope. The maintenance is exWs to spend the way she chooses. If your DP can't afford anything above CM then there isn't anything you can do at all I'm afraid. Maintenance also needs to cover her rent, heating, electricity, water etc which would all be lower if she didn't have the responsibility of having children 12 nights out of 14.

Not sure what daps are but as long as she has shoes on her feet, that's the main thing. Your DP could mention it to exW in case she hasn't noticed the shoes need replacing but that's about all.

Lala1980 Mon 21-Apr-14 18:29:07

Daps are canvas (non-waterproof) shoes.
Their mother is on benefits - please advise me, as I have always worked to pay my way, so I have no experience of this - is it like on TV and in the media that it is more beneficial financially to be on benefits than to work? Or is the media portrayal only representing a minority of cases?
Their mother seems to be able to afford a number of things that I gave up when times were hard, such as smoking, nights out, new clothes, Sky TV, nicer cars. I guess I just find it unfair on the kids. And why take on a new puppy and get pregnant again, if you can't afford to look after the ones you already have? I am sorry, and expect to be shot down, but it is just my opinion. We would take on the kids in a flash if we could afford the custody battle, and make sacrifices to ensure they were well looked after. We work hard to earn our money, and steward it extremely carefully.

AppleAndBlackberry Mon 21-Apr-14 18:33:43

There's not really anything you can do if you can't afford to get her any yourselves. You can get school shoes in supermarkets for £10-15 though, perhaps you could offer £5 towards them?

Lala1980 Mon 21-Apr-14 18:40:10

That's a good idea AppleAndBlackberry. Do you think in voucher form would be okay though, as I don't trust giving cash that it would be spend where it was intended...

nomoretether Mon 21-Apr-14 18:40:36

Her being on benefits, getting pregnant or having a puppy hasn't got anything to do with it and as frustrating as it is, you need to let it go. You cannot control her finances. She could be up to her eyeballs in debt, you just don't know. There's nothing you can do and you're wasting your energy thinking about it - I mean this in the nicest possible way. I know this isn't what you want to hear but you'd be better off putting your energy into generating a bit of income to cover the missing essentials. You can pick up shoes very cheaply from Primark or Asda. Perhaps offer to go halves with the exW.

fedupbutfine Mon 21-Apr-14 19:54:43

hmm. Are you for real?

Malificentmaud Mon 21-Apr-14 22:35:06

Couldn't you say the same for your dp "why have more children if they can't afford it"?

You do need to let go. If there's a serious welfare issue then report her and have the kids

alita7 Mon 21-Apr-14 22:38:56

I totally feel your pain.

Before dp got made redundant and opted to go on carers allowance for a bit while we settle dsd 3 properly (she has ld) and because we couldn't afford to live due to csa. They wanted £80 out of £200 a week because he earned £270 one week when he covered for an ill colleague and they said they assess you on your maximum earnings????
I'm a student nurse and have a small bursary.
If she didn't get dla we wouldn't have been able to pay rent let alone buy food. We couldn't claim maintenance from her mum as she doesn't work. They added money on when they realised dsd 3 was with us not her mum?! They don't consider that the non resident parent of one child might have children who live with them to support and pay rent for or If you live in an area where all 2 beds are at least £800.
And his ex has a car, smoked, sky tv ,goes to the pub so often the kids are always texting complaining they are bored stuck in the pub with mum etc so there were we struggling to feed 1 child and they had 8 between them and could still do all of those things.

So it would make my blood boil to be in your position! People saying could you go halves etc - what if they really can't? and if the mum is in debt and still buying all those things then wtf?
I totally get where you are coming from maintenance is meant to cover child care if her child doesn't have appropriate foot wear then she needs to sacrifice something.

alita7 Mon 21-Apr-14 22:40:23

maleficient it doesn't say he has any more kids?

I agree you probably can't do much about it unless you do talk to her. But it doesn't stop you being able to moan about it!

prawnypoos Tue 22-Apr-14 14:29:00

You obviously care a great deal for these kids. It makes me do mad when I hear about mothers (and fathers) who can afford to go out drinking, drive nice cars, have designer clothes, sky tv and obviously prioritise all of these very materialistic things above their own children. To the poster who said she probably has bills, rent and food to pay for then take into consideration what OP said - she would find that much easier if she stopped all of her unnecessary outgoings (it all adds up) women like this make me so mad. I know from my own experience of having to pay bills and rent and DPs ex is sending DSD in clothes that dont fasten because they are too small or too tight or sending her in a t shirt in the middle of winter, even though she gets £180 a month in maintainence and yes, is on benefits too!!

Malificentmaud Tue 22-Apr-14 19:22:11

Alita.. I meant the four he has with his ex. If he can't afford maintenance then I imagine he couldn't afford to support them all so by Op's logic he shouldn't have had four...

It is annoying when you see CM being spent on nought that benefits the children. My DH hands over 400 a month for one teen and we still have to pay for school dinners, trips, pocket money and mobile phone angry

Malificentmaud Tue 22-Apr-14 19:22:58

OP how much does he actually pay?

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Tue 22-Apr-14 19:37:49

Are you sure that DSD doesn't have adequate school shoes? Could it be either a) her "daps" are trendier so she thought she would bring only those & tell you she has no others OR b) mum can afford more school shoes but wanted your DP to buy them instead so sent DSD shoeless to force you into action (i.e. to buy the proper shoes).

I only ask because I've known of a very similar thing happening with my niece (she had Clarks school shoes at home, but took her trendy shoes to Dad's house claiming they were all she had) grin.

alita7 Tue 22-Apr-14 19:39:57

maud that may or may not be the case, I think we could better afford dsd 1 and 2 living with us than the maintenance.
Also maybe he had a better financial situation then, when they broke up he might have lost the house and now be renting, he may have had to move away to afford rent and had to change jobs. unrelated changes may have occurred.

Malificentmaud Tue 22-Apr-14 22:03:41

Circumstances could have changed too..

Not sure why I'm on one, I'm usually 100% for sm gringrin I think OP's post just sounded a bit as though all the blame is on Mum when in reality, dealing with four kids and an ex who is reluctant to pay maintenance in line with CSA (if in fact mum is aware of that) must be tough going. Just to play devils advocate, she may be on benefits as childcare for four is sooo expensive. Would Ops husband be prepared to pay half of the childcare costs if mum went out to work and could no longer provide the care herself?

I get pissed of with Dh's ex as they only have one, and she's 15 now so no care needed. I feel like four little ones is probably a full time job and as such I wouldn't want to condemn her too quickly

alita7 Wed 23-Apr-14 00:32:48

I see where you're coming from maud - I don't think it's fair if a dad just decides he's not paying when he's got the money, but my experience and that of many people I've spoken to is that csa sometimes think you can pay more than you can (especially if you've got other dependants) so I think they only seem reluctant because they're struggling to live. Does that make sense?

Anyway even if I could afford to live comfortably it would annoy me if I was paying plenty of money to the ex and my kids didn't have enough clothes and shoes while the ex had plenty of luxuries!

Lala1980 Wed 23-Apr-14 08:01:46

FedUpButFine - yes I am for real - I live in the real world where people work for a living, and prioritise their children's needs above their own.
Thank you Alita and Prawny - I do care for the kids and feel incredibly sorry for them. Santas - we know this from the school - DSD didn't come over in daps, but some Ugg-style boots a neighbour had given her, but she isn't allowed those for school, plus I am led to believe they are slouchy and not supportive of the ankle joint.
Maud - DP pays absolutely in line with CSA and has never paid any less, and when he can more. DPs ex is one of these who didn't work even before she had so many children. And once the youngest started school, she still didn't get a job. Just carried on sitting on her arse claiming benefits. That's what annoys me - benefits are for people in real need who physically or mentally CAN'T work. It gives the poor kids a warped sense of real life - the oldest said to me when I asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up, he said "Why would I want to get a job? You and Daddy work hard and don't have any money, mummy doesn't have a job and she has lots of money"...
If the kids lived with us, we would prioritize the available money and put the kids first. You know, I was watching something on TV last night, and Tom Kerridge was on saying "When I was young, my mum was a single mum, and she worked two jobs to support us"... that is the proper old fashioned way - working for a living, regardless of situation. People nowadays seem too happy to sit back and expect to be sorted out by someone else.
I'm sorry I sound idealistic and on my high horse, but it really bugs me, and I came on here to vent, hoping other people might understand my frustration.

Malificentmaud Wed 23-Apr-14 09:09:24

Lala, I agree with your last post 100%.

But I do think that four kids is a game changer and that on deciding to have that many kids both mum and dad are in for a lifetime of strife. It's rarely as easy as just getting a job when the youngest goes to school. Saying that, she seems like the type who has never been up for working even with one or none. Which begs the question as to why your DH had four kids with her... Given that it would be him supporting them forever?

I'm kind of in the same boat. My DH moans about how lazy his ex wife is and how he has to support their dd and her as she won't work... But according to his sisters, she has never worked... And I mean never yet he is surprised that after having his child she wasn't one for doing the whole "single mum works two jobs" etc etc that would come naturally to us on this thread

Malificentmaud Wed 23-Apr-14 09:13:54

Maybe they just didn't see the light until they met us gringrin

fedupbutfine Wed 23-Apr-14 10:04:31

yes I am for real - I live in the real world where people work for a living, and prioritise their children's needs above their own.

sigh. Maybe look at it from another perspective: your partner was happy to have 4 children with a woman who had never worked. Not one child....4. He was therefore happy to endorse her not working by having so many children with her. The relationship broke down and she is now left with the uneviable task of bringing up 4 children on her own. If she has never worked, she is unlikely to get a job earning more than minimum wage. Assuming all 4 children need some kind of childcare (ie are primary age or younger), once benefits have been reduced to take into account income, even with Tax Credits picking up 70% of childcare costs, it is highly unlikely she would be better off. Better off in the sense that on paper, there is more money coming in, yes. But worse off because more will have to go out on essentials. That's the reality of the system for single parents with children who require childcare.

Plenty of hard-working people with plenty of money coming in struggle to purchase school shoes if the need appears at just the wrong part of the month. But only single mums on benefits get judged for it. How could you possibly know that mum isn't prioritising her money 'right'? How could you possibly know she has 'enough money' to look after the children 'properly'? Enough money overall, probably. But right now, when school shoes need buying?

Somewhat amusingly, you decline to answer the question about how much is paid in maintenance, choosing instead to say it's what they CSA says he has to pay. The CSA says my ex has to pay £5 a week but this goes no where near the true cost of supporting 3 children, does it?

You may also want to consider the 'red flags' thrown up involving yourself with a man who rather than pay maintenance, considers 'food vouchers' and 'savings' an acceptable form of child support.

And no, I'm not a single mum on benefits. Just a realist who has lived the system and understands that things are rarely what they seem.

alita7 Wed 23-Apr-14 11:41:30

But we don't know that he wanted to have 4 kids with her - she may have engineered accidents and yes he could have tried to be more careful BUT if a woman wants to get pregnant (without fertility problems) then short of the snip there's not much you can do, I've heard of women fetching sperm out of condoms :O

Why do we need to know how much he pays, if he works you can assume that with 4 kids he probably pays 30 - 40 % of his earnings as the max is 40%.
you only pay around £5 if you're on benefits yourself.

I think the point is being missed - they are paying all the can afford in maintenance and the op thinks that the money is not being used for the kids or even things that benefit them like rent, but for the mums luxuries, sure she can have those if she makes sure the kids are clothed and fed appropriately but surely even if she wasn't getting any maintenance she should be looking after the kids before buying herself extras!
How would it be fair for the father to potentially have to go in arrears in rent or go without food (worst case scenario) in order to buy all the things the kids need, on top of maintenance, while the mum can afford extras.

I am also of the opinion that there should be the option for at least 50% of maintenance to be given in food, kids clothing or rent? vouchers.

fedupbutfine Wed 23-Apr-14 12:55:38

No, he doesn't pay 40% of his wages in child maintenance unless he has arrears. The maximum any NRP pays out in maintenance through the CSA is 25%. You only pay £5 if you're on benefits isn't true - my ex works but is self employed and is more than capable of legally manipulating his book-keeping to keep his maintenance liability to a minimum. Plenty of others work cash in hand and declare a minimum income for a minimum liability.

As for the 'we don't know he wanted 4 kids with her'...yes, women are out there, en masse, 'fetching sperm out of condoms' on at least 4 occassions to trick their poor unsuspecting partners into having more children so they don't have to work. Sigh.

How can it be fair that the PWC potentially has to go into rent arrears or go without food to pay for everything the kids need whilst the NRP doesn't contribute or contributes a bare minimum? You don't think this happens? You don't believe that in this case there is a possibility that mum simply didn't have the money this week but will buy school shoes as soon as she can?

Ah yes, all PWC should accept control over their spending in the form of vouchers. read it all now

prawnypoos Wed 23-Apr-14 13:19:43

Fedupbutfine I think from the sky tv, the nice cars, nights out and new clothes for herself we can deduct that she is prioritising these things over her children as OP said DSD hasn't got appropriate footwear for school. Drop the sky tv per month and she would be able to afford decent footwear for DSD and probably still have change left over!! Also there are some very reasonable, barely worn shoes in charity shops ( I have bough my own DSD some and they were brand new with the tags/stickers still on for 4.50) that maintainence is for the upkeep of her children and every last penny should be spent on them

Malificentmaud Wed 23-Apr-14 13:20:45

I'd be pretty humiliated if I had to go to a shop and hand over vouchers supplied by my ex. How would it be regulated? Would there be certain shops etc that they would be valid in? And what if you bought some perfume for yourself but it was from a supermarket?

I really really do find it very frustrating to hand over CM that you don't feel being spent I the children. My DH and I keep out money completely separate for this exact reason. We split rent and bills and what ever we have left we choose what to do with.. If that means he wants to be a mug and hand over all his cash to his very demanding dd and ex then fine, I don't let myself worry about it anymore.

I spent quite a few years getting annoyed about every posh new outfit/ holiday/ car that Dh's ex bought whilst claiming poverty hmm it really gets you down after a while but you can't change it so changing your attitude is the most positive thing you can do. In OPs case, if try to imagine having no job, no partner, and four kids to look after relying on the shaky hope that your ex will work hard and provide. Sounds a shite existence to me - whether it's her choice to live that way or not.

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