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Holidays and Maintenance / new baby and money

(28 Posts)
SeaSaltMill Thu 06-Nov-14 15:24:58

2 questions really but related. This is a bit of a brain dump too.

A few years ago DH and I took his 2 children to a family wedding abroad. Both children were in the wedding party. It was DH's family member and the wedding was in a far away tropical kind of place. They were 7 and 11 at the time.

It cost us £5k (AI) to go as a family of 4. We/DH paid for the DSC's wedding outfits and bought them clothes to wear on holiday (everything, their mum didn't buy them any summer clothes that year because we'd got them all). We gave them spending money while we were away and paid for extras like meals out and food that was additional to the all inc deal.

It was a 2 week holiday and DH spoke to his ex and said he was planning to pay her half the usual maintenance that month because they would be with us on holiday for just over 2 weeks of the month and we had bought all their clothes etc. (It's a private arrangement, not through CSA - she wouldn't get nearly as much as she does from CSA)

She threw a fit about this and demanded the full amount. Told him he was a terrible dad and he got a voicemail from her (she didn't realise she hadn't hung up) and heard her telling someone that 'that no good cunt hasn't even paid me this month AND he's expecting me to just roll over and take it', which was a total lie. From what I recall he stood firm and in the end she took the half. I think when she realised just how many clothes we had bought for them she worked out she was quids in!

I'm not sure why I'm asking this now, just waned to know if we did the right thing really...I've seen some posts about 'treats' or 'pocket money' coming from the maintenance money, but we've never done that. Anything to pay when they're with us comes from our 'family' money / DH pays for. ON TOP of the maintenance.

Have we been doing this wrong the whole time?!

I'm 6 months pregnant with our first child together at the moment and I'm starting to worry about us not having enough money to support our child as well as support his 2 and pay for all the extras. They are now 11 and 14, so the things they want are getting more expensive. Every pair of new trainers is upwards of £70 and DH doesn't want to change how he treats them. I don't want him too either but I worry we're really going to struggle to maintain this level of financial outlay AND bring up our baby. Christmas and birthday's they get SO much. He spends hundreds and so does their mum. Would it be wrong of me to suggest he cuts it down?

How do others deal with this when another child is thrown into the mix? I hadn't really thought about it before, but as someone pointed out on another thread, when it comes to birthday's Christmas etc the DSC will get double (from mum and from dad) whereas my DS will only have one. I hadn't really considered it before and its now making me worry my DS will miss out / think he's getting less.

Thanks for reading if you got this far!

NiceAndAccurate Thu 06-Nov-14 15:41:51

I'm not sure how it works with a new baby in the mix, but unilaterally deciding not to pay half the normal maintenance one month because you've taken the kids on holiday is a bit off. Her rent/mortgage, council tax, heating and energy bills don't simply half because the children aren't home for a couple of weeks. I think that part was very unfair.

I know she will have saved some money by not having to buy some summer clothes, but is that enough to have not made her stretch that month? Did he discuss that part with her before cutting her monthly budget? She doesn't care about all the extras you paid for; the meals out, etc. That's part of the holiday costs. The money given as maintenance is to help provide food, shelter and clothing for the children. Extras are just that, extra. She does it her way in her house, you and your DP do it your way in yours. The amount of maintenance shouldn't change.

The amount spent on them at Christmas is crazy. If you can't afford it, they don't get it. It's pretty simple. Expensive trainers are fine if they can be afforded, if not the kids have to stump up half the cost? Teach them the value of stuff, it'll be better in the long run.

Your DS will have parents who live together. He's won't be missing out because he doesn't get double presents, he's unlikely to even notice since SC are a fair bit older.

hokeycokeyyy Thu 06-Nov-14 16:05:37

I'm not sure about the maintenance and holiday situation. If it was through the CSA then they would still make him pay the whole amount as the number of nights you have them in a year should be taken in to account.

Regarding a new baby and the amount you have to spend on DSC - you can't spend money you don't have. If they lived with you full time or if they were your own children you would expect them to adjust to not having as much when a new baby is comes. Just because they don't live there full time should it be any different?

Your DS won't notice for years that he's getting less that his older brothers, young kids are happy with a bloody box. Also young kid's toys are quite big and cheaper so it seems like they've got more. By the time your DS would notice that his brothers are getting more then they'll probably be young adults and hopefully not getting as much any way.

I'm a big believer in not spoiling kids, I think there's nothing wrong with sitting down with your DH and setting a budget for each kid for christmas/birthdays.
Surely £70 trainers are a birthday/christmas present, not just a treat?

SeaSaltMill Thu 06-Nov-14 16:05:41

Ok NiceAndAccurate your tone is a little harsh there, but I take that on board and actually agree with you on most points.

Yes he did discuss it with her beforehand, and she doesn't pay a mortgage or as many bills as many people, I probably should have added that at the time. She is in council housing (claiming she's single but her boyfriend lives there too - but that's another story!). Perhaps it was a bit off, but I only asked because I saw another poster who said pocket money and activities etc should come from the maintenance money paid to the resident parent - which in effect it did. The amount that was spent on them while away on meals, spending money to buy presents etc was probably more than the half the maintenance payment - and other people seem to think its standard to take those from maintenance? Usually in the summer, then again before school starts, she will go and buy them a whole new wardrobe and ask for half of it from Dh, which didn't happen that year because we went and bought everything. Would it have been better then to suggest she gave us half towards it? This is a genuine question. I've gone along with whatever happens so far because it's not my money unless its things we're doing / buying / eating when they're with us EOW and they're his kids, his choice, but now we are having a child together I don't know how it can be sustained.

The amount spent on them at Christmas IS crazy, but that's what he has always spent and he felt he could hardly just stop when they split up. So it's carried on. When they were together they spend hundreds and separately they spend hundreds. The DSC have no idea of the value of money - I cant get my head around it but up til now, he can afford it and he is allowed to do what he wants with his money - however my point is I don't want our child missing out on things because he feels he has to keep up his spending habits on the DSC - does that make sense? I don't think our DS will miss out emotionally etc, and financially I think he will probably value things more because that's how I want him brought up. I just don't want to be struggling along trying to buy him clothes / feed us because DH has spent all his money on the DSC that month.

The DSC are very material which is how their mum and her family are. If DH doesn't buy them the latest trainers (he does say no to them sometimes!) their mum has a pop about that. Saying he cant care about them because they will be walking around in 'trampy' trainers.

They're brilliant kids, we are a very happy if slightly dysfunctional family unit (DSS is actually DH's DSS) I just wonder how other people do things in this situation.

SeaSaltMill Thu 06-Nov-14 16:08:17

Hokeycokeyyy on the trainers front I say that to DH ALL the time. I think if the kids need new trainers, surely he and their mum would split them? But they seem to ALWAYS have new stuff. It's very different to how I was brought up with trainers from the catalogue once a year.

It's not just new trainers though - even if this post seems to be all about nikes!

mynewpassion Thu 06-Nov-14 16:31:09

If DH views his DSS as his, then you should do the same. Don't look for problems where there isn't any.

You say "his money", if that's what is allocated for his disposal use, then he can spend it however he wants. If he wants to pay for extracurricular activities out of his money, then let him.

There are many NRP, on this board, who go halves on extracurricular activities, school uniforms, and school trips. There are some who take the view that what they pay in pay in maintenance is it and nothing more. It depends on the NRP and the family budget.

mymummademelistentoshitmusic Thu 06-Nov-14 16:35:20

Your dp was a complete twat. Whatever he spent on the holiday and wedding clothes doesn't put a roof over their head and pay the bills. Its financially abusive and controlling. What a completely shit thing to do. Why on earth are you having a child with someone like that.

needaholidaynow Thu 06-Nov-14 16:42:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fedupbutfine Thu 06-Nov-14 17:00:02

It is not acceptable to reduce maintenance as a result of a holiday, not matter what it cost. The CSA would have insisted on full payment at whatever the rate is. Why on earth you think the ex should have to 'pay' to take her children to visit her ex's family and be part of that family event is beyond me. It's not her problem.

As to whether maintenance should be reduced depends on how much he pays vs. what the CSA would make him pay. Your bottom line is the CSA figure as he can be legally compelled to pay that amount.

Your DSC have different parents to your own DS. That means that they will, ultimately, be better off/worse off/ or about the same, depending on the circumstances of their parents. You can't do anything about that and I personally think too many step parents spend far too long stressing over it and trying to even up the score financially by making reductions in maintenance - which has a knock on effect (rarely good). I also wouldn't personally be moaning about my child potentially getting less than their half-siblings when they have both their parents living together under the same roof. You can't put a price on that.

lunar1 Thu 06-Nov-14 17:23:06

I don't think you can reduce maintenance because if a holiday, how do you know she could pay all her bills that month?

If you don't want to have meals out then don't have them, you can't reduce Maintenance because you took them on holiday and pairs extra for meals.

The children are materialistic because of both of their parents not just their mum, they both share that responsibility.

I would be very careful how you make changes now, you want the children to see your baby as a sibling, not their step mums kid who came along and stopped their dad treating them the way they always have been.

If you make reductions to presents do it slowly over a couple of years, then you can split the same money between the three of them. At least you know you have a good dad for your baby, if he still sees his dss as his son he must be a decent man.

wheresthelight Thu 06-Nov-14 19:04:21

your dh was massively in the wrong over the holiday and maintenance.

as for the new child, legally maintenance should be worked out on 85% of his salary. your child accounts for the first 15% and maintenance is based on the rest. you will get a lot of debate on here as to whether thay is morally right but legally it is.

as for "extras" if you are paying baseline maintenance then yes I would say extras when with your dh should come out of his money on top of maintenance. if you are paying significantly over the csa amount then that needs to be discussed with his ex and it at his discretion

we may full maintenance all the time even when they are with for 4 out of 6 weeks of the summer holidays and we also pay for clothes, shoes, coats and toys for our house as well as half of all school related costs

wheresthelight Thu 06-Nov-14 19:07:48

just re read your update - why is your dh paying for a chikd that isn't his???? that is crazy town!!

LeftHandedMouse Fri 07-Nov-14 08:53:30

Don't think you deserve the roasting for cutting the maintenance, as you said you pay over the odds and it sounds like his ex went mad because she wouldn't have spendnig money for herself. And maintenance is not for her, its for the kids and they weren't there.

Maybe halving it was a bit arbitrary but that's done.

As for the spending on treats and Xmas. I'm a big believer in kids understanding where money comes from, and not just from the parents. His sound very over indulged, and it's not hard to explain there's less money to spend this year.

Are they old enough for him to start paying money to them directly for clothes and trainers etc and reducing either the amount that goes direct to the ex or is spent at Xmas?

It sounds like your DP has enough cash for both his ex and himself to continue buying them whatever they want and still splashing out at Christmas.

In the end, I think its up to you to have that conversation with him about joint finances in your household, especially with a baby on the way. How you do that is up to you, and the end result is for you not for anyone else to comment on.

Paying maintenance for his DSS though is errr, 'unusual', but again entirely his choice if he feels he can afford to. I would be singing a different song though if the child's natural parent was also paying!

SeaSaltMill Fri 07-Nov-14 09:21:56

Some of you are coming across so nasty and most of you have totally missed the point of my post.

I'm having a child with him because he is a wonderful father who would give his children the world if he could! He pays pretty much double the CSA amount, pays for all their activities, buys them clothes and treats and we take them on holiday as much as we can. It's not just money either, he gives them time, has 1:1 time with both of them, does all the pick ups and drop off, helps with homework (no one else does) arranges clubs like rugby and dancing, includes them in all family things, regardless of it being 'his' weekend or not. He's done all this while juggling a stressful job and home renovations, grieving the fact we've lost three babies in the past 18 months and making sure our marriage is steady. I think he's a total legend actually, but he's financially abusive and controlling isn't he, so none of that matters.

To the poster who told me to stop looking for problems I'm not? And I struggle to see how it comes across like that? I do see DSS as DH's son. I never said I didn't.

I was only asking how other people do things and asking how it's worked for others who have another child into the mix. And they do see this child as a sibling, they are very excited! I am not one of these women who seem to hate their DSC they're lovely kids and I love them, I cant wait to give them a baby brother.

That particular holiday was a one off. We have taken them away on other occasions and nothing has changed maintenance wise, it was a one off situation (and probably ill advised on his behalf) and because the trip itself had cost so much and so much had been spent we hardly had anything left to pay the bills at home. Regardless it's done now and it was over 4 years ago. There's no need to say my DH is a twat - that's just personal and completely out of order.

To answer the question, Wheresthelight - He pays for him because he sees him as his own, he brought him up from the age of 18 months to 7 and still supports him and provides for him. His real dad doesn't really bother and DH doesn't want to abandon a child who sees him as a father figure. But hey, he's just a twat isn't he. A materialistic twat to boot! Lucky me!

Needaholiday, I don't have any issue with him paying for DSS as far as I'm concerned he is as big a part of our family as DSD and our DS will be. I don't think it will be at the expense of our baby at all, it's exactly the same as if DSS was his bio son. It makes no difference to me, as long as we don't end up struggling if he tries to over compensate now there is a new baby. I was more worried for the DSC feeling hard done by than our baby, but I guess we will make it work as we have done for the past 7 years.

I was asking for advice / opinions on other people and how they would have or have acted / felt in this situation. But all that's happened is people questioning my choice to have a baby with this absolute horror of a man!

I don't think this is the right place for me. Thanks to those who actually offered some advice rather than outright nastiness. Cheerio.

slkk Fri 07-Nov-14 09:24:45

As you want your child to grow up less materialistic you really won't want to spend hundreds on him at Christmas etc. So don't worry about being fair financially, your child will have the chance to grow up with your values and this is more important. Sadly you cannot change the way your dsc are being brought up with regards to money.

needaholidaynow Fri 07-Nov-14 10:11:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EarthDays Fri 07-Nov-14 10:25:10

It seems to DH, that is his child so it's a non issue really.

From what you've written, it sounds as though your biggest issue is over spending on Christmas ect. Can you talk to your husband about your worries over the amount spent on these occasions.

SeaSaltMill Fri 07-Nov-14 10:26:16

Needa - I don't think it's necessarily selfish, surely it depends on the dynamics of that family? He doesn't see him as his step son, he calls him his son. So therefore, so do I. He doesn't NEED to pay for him, but in many ways, to him, he does. Does that make sense? We see him less than we see DSD but that's because he's 14 and his mates are his life. I still call him my DSS because to me, he is.

Both DH and I were brought up by and are very close to, men who are not our biological fathers, perhaps that's why he feels the way he does about DSS.

SeaSaltMill Fri 07-Nov-14 10:28:23

EarthDays - I have done, but its his money and I cant tell him how to spend it. He doesn't expect me to contribute to his children's gifts. I have also said that when it comes to our child I don't want it becoming an issue and they should all get the same. BUT I think he spends too much and as well as wanting them to all be treated the same, I don't want our child becoming spoiled or not knowing the value of things. So its a tricky line to toe.

EarthDays Fri 07-Nov-14 10:36:37

But you are married and a family so surely it's all family money?

At least you have a few years until your baby will be old enough for this to matter, by that time your DSS'S will be getting less for Christmas as they will be older and you can work on making sure your DS isn't as materially spoilt?

I think it's lovely that he treats DSS as he's own, I also grew up very close to a man who wasn't my biological father but treated me the same as my half brother which meant the world to me.

SeaSaltMill Fri 07-Nov-14 11:10:25

We do have family money, but the DSC are part of the family so it's always worked out that he will pay for things for them such as clothes etc but fmaily money pays for food, activities when they're with us etc. It's not been an issue because sadly its taken a long time to finally fall pregnant. However with me going on Maternity Leave etc we still need to have a proper conversation about it and I want to bring up how we treat them equally with material things without compromising our parenting style. His approach to parenting has changed since his DD was born 11 years ago, he's matured and now sees that time is more important that money, however, because he doesn't have a lot of time with them, money becomes an easy substitute - its also something they have become accustomed to. This is what I need to speak to him about I think. They're not horrible spoiled brats they're lovely children then are just used to a certain level of indulgence.

lunar1 Fri 07-Nov-14 11:24:18

You sound like a lovely step mum. I'm just wondering if you have talked about this with you dh, I would be careful how you word it to him.

He has parented in the same way for all the years you have been together. Have you told him when you decided to have a child together that you wanted to do things differently?

He may not want to change the way he has always done things.

SeaSaltMill Fri 07-Nov-14 11:37:15

Yea I know it will be a hard conversation. He knows my feelings on how much they have spent on them so it wont come as a shock. And I think he knows he goes overboard, but they're his kids and he loves them. He wants them to never go without, which is lovely, but I think he realises that it's not sustainable.

He always said that presents would get cheaper as they get older but they've got more expensive and smaller ha!

I would never tell him he needs to change things - he is a very good dad, he has high standards for school work and stuff, I just want to know that none of the children will be treated differently while still maintaining that they know the value of money.

His two have always been told that Daddy has loads of money so they don't think anything of asking for expensive things. I do think as they grow up it's time to teach them a bit more about how much it costs just to live, maybe then they will appreciate how much money is really spent on them, not just by their dad but by their mum too. in actual fact, DSS was having a moan about his mum never being at home and always being at work, and DH told him 'but I bet you aren't moaning when she's buying you a new tracksuit or paying your phone bill - where do you think she gets the money from? She goes to work to buy you nice things' DSD then piped up with 'she gets the money from you dad!' which was ironic...!

fedupbutfine Fri 07-Nov-14 12:56:48

Don't think you deserve the roasting for cutting the maintenance, as you said you pay over the odds and it sounds like his ex went mad because she wouldn't have spendnig money for herself. And maintenance is not for her, its for the kids and they weren't there

If there is an agreement in place to pay maintenance - whether it is less than the legal requirement or 10 times more - it is essential that it is paid on time, every time. Only when there is a change in circumstance or some kind of banking difficulty or unforseen something or other should the payer consider it reasonable to make changes. Maintenance should be a reliable source of income into a household - yes, it is subject to people being made redundant or getting ill etc. but the payer shouldn't consider it optional. It's like your employer saying they'll only pay half your pay this this month because you had two weeks off.

It isn't helpful to second guess why the ex may have been upset in this case. We all have bills to pay. We all know what should be coming in and going out. A cut in maintenance can mean that bills go unpaid.

Maintenance isn't 'for the kids'. It is a contribution towards the 'upkeep' of children when they are mainly living in a different household to the payer. There is no obligation that maintenance is spent directly on children.

needaholidaynow Fri 07-Nov-14 13:57:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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