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What does/should maintenance cover?

(107 Posts)
ClaudoftheRings Mon 14-Sep-15 10:34:03

Apart from food, utilities etc, what is fair maintenance supposed to pay for?

Artandco Mon 14-Sep-15 10:38:17

1/2 rent, 1/2 utilities/ food/ activities/ clothing/ transport for school/ school supplies/ pocket money etc

OllyBJolly Mon 14-Sep-15 10:40:15

What's "fair" maintenance? How much does it cost to raise a child? Difficult to give a definitive answer to that kind of question.

There are the basic hygiene needs -food, home, energy, clothes. There are the ongoing expenses of petrol for ferrying about, club subs, sports kit, toys, Then there are 'extras" - holidays, school trips,

Both parents have a responsibility to cover all of these costs. How they do this will differ. Some will pay minimum maintenance and then cover/split the additional costs. Some pay as much as they can afford (rather than govt minimum) therefore some/all of these costs might be covered. What's important is the child does not suffer because either or both parents change their minds about where they live, or who they live with.

CremeEggThief Mon 14-Sep-15 10:42:13

Whatever the RP chooses to spend it on, as long as it benefits the child.

ClaudoftheRings Mon 14-Sep-15 10:53:20

Good questions, Olly. I was thinking fair in terms of an amount that is above CSA. DP pays ??955 a month. He buys clothes, shoes, coats etc for our house so DSS does not have to pack tons of stuff whenever he is with us. He pays half for school trips and any big one-off costs but is now being asked for more money to cover half the costs of school uniform, shoes, extracurricular activities and school meals.

Petal02 Mon 14-Sep-15 11:02:43

½ rent, ½ utilities/food/activities/clothing/transport for school/school supplies/pocket money

Hang on a minute - I don't think maintenance should cover half the rent and utilities, otherwise a non-resident father is paying 100% of his own housing costs, plus 50% of his ex wife's housing costs? How can that be right?

ClaudoftheRings Mon 14-Sep-15 11:09:44

Petal, doesn't that mean half of those things for the child, not half the total bill? So a quarter of the total bill.

Artandco Mon 14-Sep-15 11:18:08

Petal - well yes, it costs to raise a child. So a child's parents should pay 50/50 to house/ clothe/ feed the child. The non resident parent will then pay more as has to house themselves, but they can choose to become a 50/50 resident parent or full resident parent if they prefer. Usually whoever is resident parent ends up working far less as have childcare to sort out or child to look after so it evens out

Yellowpansies Mon 14-Sep-15 12:40:26

£955 a month shock - that's nearly £12k a year!! How many children is that for? the CSA maximum is around £5k per child I think. To be asked for extras on top of that is truely shocking.

12k a year, tax free, is more than some people earn, and substantially more than the government thinks a single person needs to live off (from benefits). It's a huge amount to cover the living costs of anything less than at least 4 children. And even if the RP isn't working they'll be getting benefits, child benefit, etc on top of that.

To answer the question, the amount that is fair depends very much on how much the NRP earns. If they're a low earner the money won't cover anywhere near to half the child's costs, but if the RP's also a low earner, then benefits will help plug the gap. In the other end of the scale, if the NRP is a very high earner and the RP isn't working at all and provides nearly all the care, (and maybe the agreement was always that she'd be a SAHM), then the child support could be expected to fully cover the costs of feeding and clothing the child, plus activities, etc - which I guess could be around £5k a year, which is presumably why that's the upper cap. Any more than that could be covering the ex's loss of earnings, etc - but that should be paid as spousal maintenance, not child maintenance.

Neverenuff Mon 14-Sep-15 12:45:08

I think maintenance covers what ever dp and ex agree ito cover. My dp has 50/50 care and pays minimum maintenance purely because half the time he has the kids and provides a roof clothes food etc. He contributes extras to school uniforms but that's it. If he sends kids to clubs he pays and vice versa. if she takes them away on holiday she has to fund it. Same as us if we take them away.

His ex works gets all the benefits and his money she seems to be managing alright from what I can see. (Manages to kit kids out with decent clothes and new trainers/ boots/ shoes every other week and go out for dinner 3 or 4 times a week every week.(we can't afford to do that for me and dp once a month let alone with the kids but that's our own fault) )

I wouldn't be too pleased if he was paying for half her rent and bills given his level of contact. But I would fully expect him to contribute more if he had his kids less.

ScheherazadeNights Mon 14-Sep-15 13:02:31

Yellowpansies - 12K a year is not a 'shocking' amount. In the SE, full time care with a childminder for one child is at least 1K a month, so 12K a year. That's before any other costs are taken into consideration. And with the cut-off for tax credits being so low, and getting lower in the next tax year - it's high likely that the parent with care won't have any benefits. People seem to forget the cost of childcare when assessing 'fair' maintenance, and wrongly assume that all lone parents are in receipt of some sort of benefit payments.

ScheherazadeNights Mon 14-Sep-15 13:05:48

And there isn't a CSA 'maximum', only an upper limit for calculations which I believe is earnings up to £5000 a week. If the NRP earns above that amount, you need a court ordered settlement, which is sensible because in those circumstances additional costs such as schooling etc need to be considered.

Petal02 Mon 14-Sep-15 13:10:29

I don't know how you begin to work out a fair way of splitting housing costs though? Surely each parent will need to have a roof over their heads (even if they didn't have child/ren), and each parent needs to have enough bedrooms to accommodate the child/ren, even if it's only on an EOW basis. So you could argue that each parent has a similar housing requirement, and should therefore pick up their own housing costs.

But if you factor (for example) a mum working part time because she has the children the majority of the time, versus Dad working full time, then I can see a case for Dad paying extra towards mum's housing costs. It's a minefield. However for many men, their salaries simply don't stretch to cover the costs of two households.

elastamum Mon 14-Sep-15 13:15:09

The child maintenance is to support raising the child but it is up to the RP how it gets spent. £12k might seem like a lot, but it will be proportional to the earnings of the NRP. If you take into account childcare costs etc if both parents work, it isn't nearly as much as you think. I had to pay for an au pair when my DC were small and then run a second car so they could get to and from school (rural, no buses). Add to that feeding and housing and uniform, trips clubs etc and it really adds up.

So in summary, it is to support the costs of raising the said children and CSA recommended amounts are a minimum - not a maximum required - as most people paying this seem to think.

Artandco Mon 14-Sep-15 13:19:17

£12k a year isn't a shocking amount.

For example here in london the average cost of a full Time nursery place is £19,500. A one bed flat to rent is £15-20k a year depending on actual location and size. That's £35-40k a single parent would need min to just house an under 5 and work still. That's without food, utility costs, clothing, transport etc. £12k is a tiny amount

Petal02 Mon 14-Sep-15 13:31:13

I understand what you're saying ArtandCo and I don't dispute your costings, but the problem arises when the non-resident parent simply doesn't earn enough to pay those amounts.

Yellowpansies Mon 14-Sep-15 13:51:29

I'd assumed that was just to cover basic living costs - if the NRP is contributing to nursary costs or school fees it could easily be £12k or more. But if full time nursary costs are being paid, then presumably both parents are in full time work, so the NRP's contribution ought to be half the nursary costs, not 100% them. Both parents have housing costs unless the child lives only with one of them and stays only ocassionally at the other's house.

The OP doesn't say what it's to cover, nor how many children, so it is a bit hard to know.

The CMS collect payments for people who earn up to £2000 a week (net) - and the maximum they'd pay for one child would be 15% net income, which would be around £300 a week, so that's just a bit higher than what the OP says her DP is paying - though £2000 a week net is a VERY high salary (around £200k before tax).

ClaudoftheRings Mon 14-Sep-15 13:57:07

I did mention earlier it is for one 10-year-old. So no nursery fees.

Yellowpansies Mon 14-Sep-15 14:04:29

You didn't say how many DC nor how old they were.

Is DSS at a private school? Have extensive out of school childcare costs for some reason? Any really unusual costs (travel to school? Special needs?) If none of these do you have any idea why so much money is needed? Is his mum paying very high rent?

ClaudoftheRings Mon 14-Sep-15 14:10:03

Nothing unusual. No big childcare issues or rent problems or anything like that.

DP pays that amount because he wants to do the right thing and pay as much as he can.

But on top of this he is being asked for extra all the time for school uniform, school meals, shoes, trainers, after school clubs.

Yellowpansies Mon 14-Sep-15 14:20:14

Is he earning in the 100-200k bracket? If not, then he is paying a lot more than the CMS amount, and he's paying an amount I would expect to fully cover all the child's expenses - food (around £3k), clothing (£1k), activities (£1k), differece in rent between 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom house (£3k?) - these are more than I would spend in a year, per child, but they still don't come to anywhere near £12 do they?

But if he's well off and genuinely wants to pay that much so that his DSS can enjoy a well off life, and also is happy to be asked for contributions towards extras, then I suppose he's free to do that. Is he able to pay his way for the rest of his life? If he's not happy with it, or can't afford it, then he simply needs to say no, that the money he pays is to cover those things and he is not going to fork out any extra. Or pay whatever she asks, but knock it off next month's maintenance.

ClaudoftheRings Mon 14-Sep-15 14:26:34

Yes, that's the point, I think. How much does a 10-year old cost? by asking for money for things like uniform, shoes etc, it suggests that ??955 a month is not enough.

DP doesn't understand why she is not paying for those things from the maintenance but was not sure if he was BU.

Yellowpansies Mon 14-Sep-15 14:30:57

He could use the CMS online calculator to work out how much they say he should be paying. If it's substantially less than what he's paying that would be useful amunition to have in a discussion where he politely asks her to use the money he gives her for DSS and not keep coming for extras.

Or alternatively he could reduce what he gives her, then keep paying for extras.

SouthAmericanCuisine Mon 14-Sep-15 14:32:48

If childcare costs are split 50:50, then it seems reasonable for the NRP to have the option of making their own arrangements for care of the child when the RP is working - be that care for the child himself, ask his extended family or use a subsidised scheme through his employer, for instance.

It seems very unreasonable for the NRP to expected to pay for half the costs of childcare while the RP is working but have no influence over those costs.

MythicalKings Mon 14-Sep-15 14:35:28

The ex is taking the piss. Your DP pays enough.

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