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Supporting stepchildren through uni

(47 Posts)
LittleLionMansMummy Tue 14-Jul-15 08:49:08

Dsd2 is 15 and currently undecided about higher education, although seems very keen on child development so thinks she may like to go into nursing - specifically paediatrics.

Dh stops paying maintenance for dsd1 in August and her mum has said she won't be seeking further financial help for her as she's been nc for 4 years with no intention of being part of our lives. However she's said she will expect dh to provide financial support for dsd2 if she decides to go into higher education. Dh would like arrangements to be made directly with dsd2 at that time as she's effectively an adult. Although we hate the idea of young people starting their lives with debts, we couldn't afford to shoulder a tuition fees loan on her behalf (which we suspect her mum may expect) for god knows how many years and think that when they reach adulthood they should take some financial reaponsibility themselves. However, we think it would be fair to help with maintenance costs - accommodation, food etc. We'd never see her struggle, but think our arrangements should be with her. There is no animosity with her mum, I think dh just wants to put a bit of distance between them as dsd becomes an adult.

What have others done? Have you continued to pay the same amount of maintenance? Who is it paid to? How much can/ do you help? Is it accepted that the child pays the tuition fee while parents help with the costs of living?

When I went to uni, i worked during my hols and got a small top up loan for the rest. Of course I didn't have tuition fees to worry about, but i don't recall getting financial support from my parents (because they couldn't afford it!) I recognise times have changed and if she chooses paediatric nursing then it's not like she'll be earning a fortune to aid loan repayment. I think it would be a great career choice for her and would like to offer as much support as we can without making ourselves struggle financially (we have a 4yo ds too). When dh finishes paying maintenance for dsd1 in August his payments for dsd2 will be £220. He's said that the money he saves (around £50) will be paid to dsd2 as an allowance.

LittleLionMansMummy Tue 14-Jul-15 08:53:01

Should clarify that the £50 allowance for dsd2 will only be between now and 18 - we'd look to give her more at that point if she goes to uni.

DoreenLethal Tue 14-Jul-15 08:57:19

My OH stopped paying his ex when his daughter started college, it went to her instead. Once she goes to uni his autumn, he will help her directly with her accommodation costs.

We think it is fair, we need want [and encouraged] her to go to uni to learn to live away from home and we want her to get a decent job [having pulled my hair out tutoring her aged 8 to catch up as she was behind in a few areas]...however she is not NC, and it is hard to support someone who won't speak to you.

LittleLionMansMummy Tue 14-Jul-15 09:01:08

Thanks Doreen. We won't be supporting dsd1, though we do continue to keep the door open to her. Our focus will be supporting dsd2 through uni.

Penfold007 Tue 14-Jul-15 09:07:06

Dsd will be an adult not in full time education if she goes to uni. Dhs obligation to pay maintenance ends, any arrangements to continue to support his daughter should go direct to her.

PosterEh Tue 14-Jul-15 09:13:13

If she chooses nursing I think it will be hard for her to work alongside studying. She may also need to run a car to get to placement. My parents separated whilst I was at Uni and my DF supporting me directly (or not) didn't work out very well for our relationship at the time. Is your DH on good enough terms with her dm to provide a pacakage of support between them and then each pay her direct?

yellowdaisies Tue 14-Jul-15 09:34:02

My DSD has just turned 18 and DH has this month stopped the maintenance that went to her DM for her and instead pays money direct to DSD, which is the new system for when she goes to Uni. She's already applied for the full loan amount, but the living expenses loan/grant will only just cover her rent - so the first priority is to top up her living expense money. We are giving her £300 a month, which we think should be enough. Her DM is giving her nothing, and is also moaning about having to feed her in the holidays, but DH is saying she can stay at either house in the holidays (and in reality is likely to stay roughly 50-50) and is clear that post-18 he intends to support his DC directly not via their DM (have had problems for years of the maintenance not appearing to actually be spent on the DC so this is quite welcome - to DSD most of all)

LittleLionMansMummy Tue 14-Jul-15 10:02:14

Poster - that's a difficult question! The fact that dh wishes to distance himself from unnecessary interactions with her is probably indicative of a relationship that has definitely had its ups and downs. Essentially they are just very different people with very different approaches to life - nobody's fault, just the way it is. She is very rigid and entrenched in her views and he's the opposite. They are much more capable of a sensible and friendly conversation than they were when dsds were little but there are flashpoints. That said, I could envisage that they would each want to sit down together and reach an agreement for dsd's sake so providing she doesn't make unreasonable demands (which she has on occasion been known to do) then I think it's possible. My personal view is that following their initial discussion they should involve dsd. The flashpoint will be if his ex states she doesn't believe dsd should work to supplement her spending and prefers her to focus on her studies and therefore asks for more financial support than dh believes is necessary...

Yellow - that's interesting. In fairness to dsd's mum she has no intention of making dh pay everything while giving nothing herself. We're also mindful that she hasn't pushed the issue as far as nc dsd1 is concerned. But likewise she is likely to use that fact to get more out of dh for dsd2 iyswim?

OllyBJolly Tue 14-Jul-15 10:10:13

DD's dad paid for accommodation - a huge increase on monthly maintenance. I paid her an allowance.

She did a similar course. She did work as a carer while at Uni but placements meant that it was sometimes difficult and she definitely needed her car - one placement would have been impossible on public transport. (one of her classmates spent 4 hours a day on buses to get to hers).

slkk Tue 14-Jul-15 10:16:24

Why don't you save the extra £50 each month for dsd2 when she starts her nursing course. This will build up into a nice amount to support her at a time that she needs it more than now.

Georgina1975 Tue 14-Jul-15 10:17:30

We gave each DSC the same amount that had gone to Mum in child maintenance all through University. Around £250 PCM per DSC paid direct to them. We also gave lump sums of around £500 at the beginning of the Summer vacation and Christmas. I think Mum gave around £150 PCM. Each DSC got loans and worked whenever possible.

yellowdaisies Tue 14-Jul-15 10:32:07

At the end of the day it's up to both of them how much they want to give DSD for Uni. If they can both contribute something, then along with the loans she should be OK. The loans are about to go up I think.

There shouldn't be much room for conflict as it's entirely up to each parent how much they want to give her. If your DH is able to go on paying what he's previously been paying her DM that sounds quite reasonable.

ImperialBlether Tue 14-Jul-15 10:35:48

If I were him I'd continue paying the same amount but pay her instead of her mum.

LittleLionMansMummy Tue 14-Jul-15 10:40:55

She'll get £1,500 from dh's parents as they've put money aside since she was born, which may help buy a car/ contribute towards accommodation costs. Although really, as soon as she turns 18 she can decide how to spend it and she may decide she doesn't want it for accommodation or a car! We'll mention that to her mum though as it might help for any lump sum payments needed. I've offered to pay half for driving lessons when she turns 17 as she's already keen to get driving!

GRW Tue 14-Jul-15 18:17:50

If she does do a nursing degree tuition fees are paid for by the NHS.

Anon4Now2015 Tue 14-Jul-15 21:27:47

If she does do a nursing degree tuition fees are paid for by the NHS.

As GRW said her fees should be paid on a nursing course and she should get a grant and may get a bursary as well. Depending on the uni there may also be additional funds she can apply for based on her individual circumstances, so please make sure she looks at this when considering unis.

However bear in mind that this financial help is offered to students on courses like nursing because it is recognised that such courses really suffer if the student also has to get paid work. Timings of placements and the workload expected are often unmanageable alongside paid employment. So if your DP's ex is suggesting that your DSD shouldn't get a job she has a valid point and one supported by the people who design the courses.

LittleLionMansMummy Wed 15-Jul-15 12:12:50

That's useful to know about nursing degrees thanks.

Knowing the work required if she goes down that route we'll lower our expectations for her to supplement her spending. When i said this was a potential flashpoint it's more because her mum doesn't really encourage much of a work ethic in either of them which jars with our own approach. But i can see there's a genuine reason why an additional job is not appropriate if studying for a nursing degree. Of course, if she's getting quite a lot paid for already via the NHS then that takes a bit of financial pressure off anyway.

JakieOH Wed 15-Jul-15 12:41:41

It's easy to get a job as a student nurse as a HCA on a nurse bank/agency. Work can fit around placements shifts and there is no pressure to work (if placement shifts are away etc). If I was her DPs and she does choose to do nursing I would encourage that. Not only will it help her learn how to manage her money But it will help with her course because she will be learning. Of course the extra money from dad will make it easier and more fun grin also very important!

Nursing students get a brilliant bursary and all fees paid. Definitely give it directly though if she isn't living at home it really isn't the mothers concern?

Petal02 Wed 15-Jul-15 15:53:43

When DSS finished sixth form, DH stopped paying maintenance to the ex, but when he started Uni a few months later, we agreed to pay for his accommodation. This works out quite a lot more than the maintenance payments used to be, and we pay it direct to DSS, this has nothing to do with the ex. During the Uni holidays, DSS stays with his Mum, who does make noises about the costs of his upkeep during the holidays, but I think we pay quite enough during term time!

DH also has a daughter, he hadn’t had any contact with her for nearly 4 years when she began Uni (and they’re still not in touch) and although he obviously had to payment maintenance til she was 18, we haven’t paid anything beyond that. DH has no intention of offering financial support to someone who hasn’t spoken to him for years!

LittleLionMansMummy Wed 15-Jul-15 22:01:34

That's the way we see it Petal. Like yours, dsd1 has been nc for 4 years and goes to uni after the summer. We found out dh's dad, her granddad, has cancer recently and seemingly she has no cares at all. I don't know why I'm surprised - she was selfish and self obsessed when we had contact so i don't know why we thought a little thing like cancer might change that. Even so, deeply hurtful. Thankfully dsd2 is like her polar opposite.

Anyway, we're not paying for her, i doubt she would want it, and her mum has had the decency not to pursue that particular avenue. But we want to do right by the youngest who has continued to be fully involved in our lives.

Petal02 Thu 16-Jul-15 09:37:27

We found out, via DSS, that DSD and her Mum had taken legal advice, to see whether DH could be forced to support DSD through Uni. Apparently the solicitor said that DH couldn’t be made to pay, so that was the end of the matter.

But interestingly there have been some robust debates on this board about the above advice. Some posters insist that a NRP can be legally ‘forced’ to give financial support through Uni. But as the ‘child’ is an adult by then, I’ve never understood why some people think that anyone should be legally obliged to give them money, any more than a parent should be legally obliged to buy a first house or a first car for their grown-up children.

I was also intrigued why anyone thought the law would differentiate between a RP and a NRP in terms of a mandate for Uni support. If a resident parent can’t/won’t help with Uni costs, then this tends to be accepted, but it’s a very different ballgame for a NRP !!!!

yellowdaisies Thu 16-Jul-15 09:46:29

I remember that discussion too Petal - I think it might have been more related to high earning NRPs who were paying spousal and child maintenance that was court ordered rather than via the CSA. The agreement made at the time of a divorce can say whatever you agree it to, within reason, so could have said something like "XX will support the DC whilst in full time education", which could then be interpreted as including Uni. I think the advice your DH's ex was given is more likely correct though, for the reasons you state. There's no obligation on any parent to support their child through Uni, and the state system of loans/grants assesses only the income of their "main" home (despite the fact they're no longer living there).

Duckdeamon Thu 16-Jul-15 09:54:44

I think any support should go direct to DsD2 and that he should support his DC through university if at all possible and if the DC work hard: things are much tougher than when we were young, both study costs and getting a job afterwards - there are relatively fewer well paid, graduate jobs and housing etc costs much more relative to wages.

I had several friends at university whose parents had divorced and didn't receive much financial support at all while younger half-siblings did: terrible IMO.

You seem angry with dsd1 and regard DsD2 is a "golden child" by comparison. That's sad. Has your DH really decided to only provide financial support to one of his two daughters, and not even put anything aside incase his relationship with his elder daughter improves in future and she wishes to study or train? Seems harsh if so.

PeruvianFoodLover Thu 16-Jul-15 11:07:14

You seem angry with dsd1 and regard DsD2 is a "golden child" by comparison. That's sad. Has your DH really decided to only provide financial support to one of his two daughters, and not even put anything aside incase his relationship with his elder daughter improves in future and she wishes to study or train? Seems harsh if so.

If I read it correctly, the OPs older DSD is now an adult, and therefore if she makes a decision to train/study in the future as a mature student, she will be making that decision as an independent adult, not a dependent student?

It is an interesting suggestion though - a lot of young people choose to leave education at 16 or 18, only to return to study years later, maybe Once married/having children of their own. Should parents be expected to "support" their adult, mature-student child if they've been living an independent life for some years, in order to match support provided to a sibling who followed a more traditional higher education route?

Duckdeamon Thu 16-Jul-15 11:21:14

both dds will be adults. I wouldn't feel comfortable giving one DC a significant amount of money at any age without considering fairness carefully and probably putting some money aside for the others, which might or might not be used in the future!

My parents did this, my sibling never did decide to study so my dad eventually helped them in other (financial and non financial) ways and also eventually bought himself a new car!

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