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New pensions provision and maintenance

31 replies

CardyMow · 16/03/2012 12:34

I have discovered that as of next month, when the new pension rules come into action, I will lose 7.5% of my maintenance for my youngest two dc.

Because my Ex-P will now be FORCED to pay £90 a month into a pension scheme, and maintenance is calculated after pension contributions.

Currently, I get £238pcm maintenance for the two dc. This will drop to £220pcm. Which may not SOUND a lot - but the maintenance makes up roughly 1/3 of my total household income, so losing 7.5% of it is going to hit me HARD.

I am already struggling to absorb the loss of £700 that happened when my Ex-P walked out, I can't cover all my ESSENTIAL costs - so losing an extra £18 a month is going to mean that there will be one day a week that I LITERALLY can't get the dc to school, as it is too far to walk (physically, due to disability) for my DS2 (who is one of the dc this maintenance is paid for).

WTF am I going to do, and did the Government not SEE how this was going to affect Lone Parents whose Ex Partners are on a very low income already? Did they just not care?

OP posts:
CogitoErgoSometimes · 16/03/2012 13:05

Your ex-P could keep his contributions to you at the same level if he wished. Why should it be you that absorbs the difference and not him?

CardyMow · 16/03/2012 13:27

Because the CSA calculate maintenance AFTER pension contributions. And as the amount the CSA say he has to pay has changed, so what he ACTUALLY pays me will be changing. He doesn't see the CSA calculation as a minimum that he has to pay to support his dc - he sees it as THE amount that he has to pay.

Anything over and above that is given with strings - i.e. I have to practically kiss his feet and make him feel like a great father for giving me ANYTHING over and above the maintenance that the CSA says he has to pay. And because I'm not willing to prostrate myself at his feet, and provide him with a 'best father' medal for giving me a whole £5 over what he SHOULD be giving me (in his opinion), he isn't going to do it.

He thinks that a good father pays the maintenance the CSA tells them to, a GREAT father gives an extra £5 a month and has their ego massaged for doing so. Whereas I see it as the CSA assessment is the barest minimum that the father should pay, and it just makes him a father if he does so.

Apparently, when he DID help me out once, with £5 extra because DS2 needed new school shoes unexpectedly (i.e. not fully budgetted for yet), he told me that he "wasn't going to do it again, because I wasn't grateful enough". I.e. I had complained about him being late that day to pick his son up for access...I should have shut up because he was such a great father to give me a whole £5 over and above what he should be paying me.

And a LOT of absent fathers are the same as my Ex-P, so I KNOW I won't be alone in this being an issue.

OP posts:
CardyMow · 16/03/2012 13:29

It bugs me even more - because I can't pay into a pension, because I can't currently AFFORD to work, until 1yo DS3 is 3yo, as I can't afford the childcare (long story, but IMO THAT cost should be shared between both the resident parent and the NRP too - me putting DS3 in nursery enables HIM to work too, but I'll bet there's hardly ANY NRP's that see it that way...not their responsibility or problem, is it, how the RP afords childcare...)

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CardyMow · 16/03/2012 13:31

Why IS the whole cost of childcare for a working Lone Parent borne by the Lone Parent, anyway? Surely that should be 50% paid by the NRP too? Why isn't that included in maintenance calculations?

OP posts:
QED · 16/03/2012 13:38

Is everyone who works going to have to pay into a pension? Am not (luckily) affected by XH and maintenance as he pays into a pension anyway but I work for three different employers - will I have to pay into a pension? Or one for each? Have you got a link so I can see in more detail?

CardyMow · 16/03/2012 13:47

Haven't hunted for a link, but I KNOW that Ex-P's scheme is mandatory, I have had to explain the paperwork to HIM. Which, when I know that maintenance is calculated AFTER pension contributions, led me to phone up someone fairly high up in the CSA who deals with my case the CSA and query how it would be affecting my maintenance payments, to get told that they would calculate it AFTER the pension contributions, and by doing a small bit of maths, I managed to work out that I will be losing 7.5%, or £18 a month, of my maintenance.

He works for the NHS, I don't know if this affects ALL workers, or just NHS ones.

OP posts:
CogitoErgoSometimes · 16/03/2012 13:50

Isn't what you're describing more of a personal matter of finance and organisation between two former partners rather than something a government should be getting in between on. The CSA system is pretty imperfect but at least you're getting £200+ out of it which, if I remember rightly, is disregarded when it comes to working out things like tax credits. Besides which, nothing is permanent. Anything could happen that reduces someone's disposable income - not just additional pension contribs.

@QED... being in a pension isn't mandatory, just advisable. The OP's ex is probably a public sector employee being asked to make higher contributions towards their average salary scheme.

WasabiTillyMinto · 16/03/2012 15:32

HuntyCat - i agree with you that childcare costs not being split is unfair.

CardyMow · 17/03/2012 00:24

It's gone on my massive list of things I would do to make the CSA work if I ran the CSA. TBH, it has only just occured to me that if I want to go back to work, I will bear whatever childcare costs aren't covered by maintenance. And with 2 dc's with SN's, that's a whole HEAP of money, more than I can possibly earn.

Why on EARTH aren't childcare costs split between BOTH parents, rather than just the Resident Parent? If the Resident Parent decided to leave the dc on the NRP's doorstep one morning, then the NRP would have no choice but to pay for childcare if they were out at work. Therefore the Resident Parent enables the NRP to go out to work, so the NRP should bear 50% of the costs associated with that.

Now THAT would get a heap more Lone Parents back into work! I have even pondered how that would work with the Tax Credit system: if the cost of childcare for those dc is £200 a week, then Resident parent is liable for £100, Tax Credits pays £70 if their income is low enough, Resident Parent pays £30. Non resident parent is ALSO liable for £100, they can claim £70 TC help if their income is low enough, and then Non Resident Parent pays £30. If neither are eligible for TC's, then they are each liable to pay £100.

Viola - instantly you will get many more Lone Parents back into work, because the childcare would be much more affordable for them!!

OP posts:
CardyMow · 17/03/2012 00:32

Oh - and the reason he is being asked to pay into a public sector pension suddenly is because he works in a hospital kitchen, for 5 years he was employed by a private sub-contractor, but they lost the tender, so he has very recently been TUPE'd over to the NHS - so before now he had NO private pension, as is the case for most private sector workers trying to bring up a family in the SE on less than £17k.

So this IS a new thing, and it IS mandatory for him now - I have been privy to all the paperwork, as he has dyslexia and no other support. And while I may CURRENTLY not have maintenance taken into account, the Welfare Reform Bill has a clause in it that allows the Government to START taking it into account at ANY point after April 2013.

And given the comments I have seen from cabinet members about wanting this to go back to the way it was when Conservatives last held office (i.e. maintenance being taken out of benefits penny for penny, leaving some LP's short as the money wasn't being RECEIVED by them from their Ex partners - which was WHY the situation was changed, after MUCH lobbying, which I was involved in. Some LP's had their Income Support or JSA reduced to nothing, just NI contributions, yet they were being left with NO money because their Ex's weren't paying a penny. No enforcement in the world is going to matter when you haven't got money to feed your dc that week and are having to rely on food banks), I don't dare to even hope that I will continue to keep the maintenance over and above Universal Credit when it is implemented.

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HappyMummyOfOne · 17/03/2012 16:59

You make out lone parents get it from all angles but so can couples. Your maintainance is not included in household income for benefits purpose yet for those with their DP's living with them it is yet I dont imagine you'd be campaining for that to change.

You get a good sum of money for two children - £220 pm, £120 CB plus tax credits plus I woulld imagine FSM, free trips, free presciptions etc so more than enough to cover their costs. Plus all the other household income - some couples wont earn more than you net in benefits.

Tax credits pay upto £300 a week in childcare costs so would you agree to that being withdrawn if both parties had to pay? Somehow I doubt it.

CardyMow · 19/03/2012 12:55

Erm - actually they only pay 70% of that - so if your childcare is £300/week, they will pay £210 of it.

And YES, I was talking about the Lone Parent being eligible for Tax Credits to cover 70% of HALF of the total cost of childcare - NOT 70% of the FULL childcare costs - why would they need to claim help with the cost of childcare that THEY dont have to pay for?

But it would lower the Tax Credits bill - if they are currently paying £210 a week, for someone whose childcare costs £300, then they would only need to pay 70% of £150 instead...saves the Governement money.

And I can reassure you that in the current tax year, with my Ex-P living here, I had £700 a month MORE in my pocket than I do now he has left.

Because his £528 wages a week and £4.28 a week WTC have been replaced by just £67.50 a week Income Support. And that is AFTER taking out the tiny bit of rent we had to pay when he was living here.

I was £700 a month BETTER OFF when he was living here and working, than I am as a Lone Parent who is out of work. And we still got free prescriptions, because we were on Tax Credits, we got an exemption certificate. Just as I do now. OK, I get FSM's now, that I didn't then - but the £700 figure that I am stating I am worse off per month ALLOWS for the FSM's!!

And I can tell you that when my Ex-P lived here, it cost him a damn sight more than £238pcm to feed and clothe his dc, and pay the bills - so how come it doesn't, all of a sudden, just because he walked out??

And yes, I may get what seems like a lot of money - but it is STILL £700 LESS THAN IT WAS BEFORE. And I still have the SAME costs...

The only difference is one less mouth to feed - but now DS3 is eating, which he wasn't when Ex-P left, so the food bills are approaching what they were when he was here anyway.

I'm NOT against couples, and I DO know that some couples have it hard too - but it seems odd that people think I am so well off being a lOne Parent, when I am coping with the loss of £700 a month!!.

OP posts:
MyNameIsntFUCKINGWarren · 19/03/2012 13:03

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HappyMummyOfOne · 19/03/2012 16:30

Seems very unfair to expect your ex's to pay 50% of the childcare costs in full but not pay 50% yourself as you expect other tax payers to pick up the cost. Irrelevant really as you dont work so dont have any childcare costs.

I suspect you now get the full allowance of HB and CTB now plus more tax credits then when you lived with your ex so you may lose his wage but I doubt its anywhere near £700 a month given you dont work and have a few children.

I do hope they take into account maintainance when they work out UC, why should income from another adult be excluded when it doesnt work that way in couples. There shouldnt be different rules otherwise we are sending the message that it pays to split after having children.

CardyMow · 19/03/2012 17:09

The reason I am currently out of work is due to the fact that 1) I have uncontrolled epilepsy, and 2) Two of my 4 dc have SN's, and my 14yo cannot be left at home alone, and I am unable to find ANY childcare for her...If you can find childcare, accessible by BUS (as I cannot drive due to my epilepsy), that takes teenagers with Autism, that the costs are low enough to come in at the same cost as after school club for a primary school child, in my town in the South East of England, I would be much obliged, because I'd go back to work tomorrow if I could find that mythical Childcare Placement for a teenager with SN's...oh, and an employer willing to take someone with uncontrolled epilepsy on as an employee.

And FYI, HappyMummyOfOne - if my Ex-P had to get help with the childcare costs, under 'my' system, HE would be able to claim 70% of HIS half of them from Tax Credits, if his wage was low enough.

So that's hardly an unfair proposal, is it? Tax Credits would then (possibly) be paying out exactly the same amount of childcare element, but half would be paid to the mother to pay to the childcare provider, and half would be paid to the father to pay to the childcare provider.

Yes, in some cases, the Non-resident parent WOULDN'T be eligible to claim help with their childcare costs, based on their income, but in those cases, it WOULD save the State money.

Why SHOULDN'T the costs involved in childcare be split between both parents?

And the reason that Maintenance is no longer taken into account with benefits (for the hundredth time) is because the computer systems can't cope. Lets look at what USED to happen, when maintenance was deducted from benefits - Take Resident parent 'A'. Her NRP pays £90 a week maintence. He pays on time, every time. She claims Income support, but only receives passported benefits, like FSM's and free prescriptions. Take Resident parent 'B'. Her NRP has an ASSESSMENT to pay £90 a week maintenance, but refuses to pay. She ALSO only gets the passported benefits, like FSM's and free prescriptions. Yet SHE HAS NO MONEY TO FEED HER CHILDREN WITH.

It will actually cost the government MORE money to update their computer system to one that works in 'real time' that can adjust payments on a weekly or fortnightly basis, than it costs them to disregard ALL maintenance payments.

And I am spending MORE on shopping now than I was when my Ex-P lived with us - having a 13mo with Cow's Milk Protein allergy costs quite a lot of money, you know. Yet when Ex-P left, DS3 wasn't even weaned.

And as for the rent - as Ex-P didn't pay the rent for the last month, I am paying back arrears at a rate that is EXACTLY the same as the amount that we were having to pay as a family when he was living here, after our Housing Benefit - so that's a moot point as well.

I AM £700 a month worse off financially since he walked out. There IS no getting around that.

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CardyMow · 19/03/2012 17:27

If the costs of childcare AREN'T split, then the mother is taking a financial penalty to enable her EX-P to continue working in his job. Which is one thing if you are getting the benefit of ALL of the income from that job, as a family - it's entirely another if you are getting a much smaller percentage once you are separated.

And say it was a case where BOTH parents earnt just over the threshold for any help from Tax Credits - why should the Resident parent have to bear 100% of the costs of the childcare that enables BOTH parents to work full-time? Surely it is fair and right that the costs are split 50-50?

And if you can see that it would be fair in THAT case, then why is it NOT fair if one or both parents are eligible to claim Tax Credits? Surely, as it would reduce the reliance on the state in most cases, where at least ONE parent might earn too much to claim the childcare element of Tax credits, it would lower the state's burden, and place more responsibility back into the hands of BOTH parents, rather than just ONE.

I'm all for equality - but it has to be TRULY equal to be equality. Everyone goes on about 50-50 shared care, but when it comes to 50-50 shared COSTS, they don't want to know...

And I get LESS Tax Credits than when my Ex-P was here - I DON'T GET Working Tax Credits ANY MORE. We still got full Child Tax Credits when he WAS here.

I think I KNOW how much better off I was before my Ex-P walked out,I have to balance my bloody budget!

And I also know that even without the added complication of my DD still needing after-school care at 14yo, it would be impossible for me to cover even 30% of the childcare for after-school and holiday care for my two primary age children AND Nursery for my youngest child on NMW earnings.

However, I COULD, if I didn't have to worry about my DD, cover HALF of that. So it IS an issue that stops many low-paid Lone Parents from being able to work. If they only had to cover HALF of the costs of childcare, or even half of the 30% cost left after Tax Credits, it would not take ALL of their wage and more to pay for it.

And why do people rag on at Lone Parents having lots of children, then being unable to afford childcare for them, and therefore being unemployed? Surely they HAD those children while IN a relationship, where issues like childcare/WOHM/SAHM were discussed when you got the positive pregnancy test? Surely the AMOUNT of children in that family was a JOINT decision - and therefore the COSTS should be borne jointly, even if the relationship breaks down?

It's FAIRNESS, see.

If both parents are working FT. earning £12k, then they BOTH get 70% of their share of the childcare paid for by Tax Credits - so if the childcare is £300 a week, they are both liable for £150 a week. Tax Credits would pay £105 for each of them, then they would each be liable to cover £45 a week.

If both parents are working FT, one earning £12k, the other earning £30k, then they are BOTH still liable for £150 a week. One parent would have £105 paid by Tax Credits, and have to pay £45 themselves, the other would have to pay the full £150 themselves - as their earnings are too high to qualify for childcare help from Tax Credits.

That's NOT unfair - it is taking a 50-50 financial responsibility for the childcare, as they would have in a couple, and any help provided is based on household income.

OP posts:
CardyMow · 19/03/2012 17:31

And are you only allowed to opine on issues that DIRECTLY afect you personally, or am I allowed an opinion on an issue that is currently impacting on two of my friends, who are both desperate to get back to work, but are unable to cover 30% of their childcare costs on the wage they would earn - 30% of their childcare costs would be MORE than their days wages!!

Yet they could manage HALF of that. Just because it isn't currently directly affecting me - it doesn't mean that I can't see how it is an issue for plenty of other people!

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HappyMummyOfOne · 19/03/2012 19:13

I never said both parents shouldnt pay childcare but unfair to expect the PWC to also get tax credits when the NRP cant as they dont have residency. If you are for equality then all parents should get 70% of chidlcare paid not just some.

If the courts gave every split couple 50/50 custody then 50/50 costs would be fair as benefits wouldnt just be paid to one parent. As the PWC is likely to be getting CB and CTC then any costs left over should be split equally but many PWC's dont work. Double standards as they expect the other adult to.

Relationships do break down but any adult knows that can happen so if they have x amount of children that they know they cannot support on their own if something happends then thats a choice they make as an adult so can hardly moan.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos · 21/03/2012 10:16

It's crap,but the real problem lies with your ex who isn't living up to his responsibilities.

I don't disagree with people being made to contribute to their pensions. The CSA could be so much better run than it is, it would be laughable how crap the CSA system is if it didn't have such a detrimental effect on women and children. But we wouldn't need the CSA if NRPs took more responsibility for the children they have created. They shouldn't need a government agency to state the obvious to them.

CardyMow · 23/03/2012 14:21

HappyMummyOfOne - that is PRECISELY what I AM saying - that if both parents are earning a low income, then they can BOTH claim childcare help from Tax Credits! It is then done on household income - if both parents earn a low enough amount to qualify for help with childcare from Tax Credits, then they both get 70% of THEIR half of the childcare costs paid. If one parent earns a low enough amount to qualify for help with childcare from Tax Credits, but the other earns too much, then the low earner gets 70% of THEIR half of the childcare costs paid, but the higher earner has to pay ALL of their half. If neither parent is on a low enough income to get 70% of their childcare costs paid for by Tax Credits, then each parent would be liable for THEIR half of the childcare costs in their entirety.

Thus, fair, IMO.

And Outraged - in HIS eyes, he IS living up to his responsibilities, by paying the amount that the CSA says he has to pay. And the fact that that amount will go down when he starts paying pension contributions doesn't mean TO HIM that he is not living up to his responsibilities - he will be reassessed on his new income, after his pension contributions, which will lower the amount the CSA says he needs to pay me. Which in his mind means that as long as he is paying the amount the CSA says that he needs to pay, he is living up to his responsibilities.

The fact that I feel differently will have no bearing on how HE feels about it...IMO, paying just £238/£220 maintenance per calendar month is derisible when he is earning £528 a WEEK, and his current weekly rent is LESS than the weekly top-up that I have to pay to pay off the rent arrears he left me with...In HIS opinion, he will still be paying what the CSA say he has to, so he IS living up to his responsibilities...

And HappyMummy - surely if I am talking about childcare costs being split 50-50, then I AM talking about a PWC that is working?! Why would the PWC have childcare costs if they weren't working?!

And WHO THE HELL has dc expecting that they will have to support them alone, without the financial and emotional input of their other parent?! I have yet to meet ONE person who has had a child that they ensure that they can support totally alone, with no help from the other person who had a part in making that child - surely having a child is NOT something that one person decides to do, it is a JOINT decision, and therefore ANY childcare costs associated with that choice should be met 50-50 between BOTH parents, even if they split up.

I didn't have ANY of my dc expecting that I would have to cover EVERY financial cost 100% for them in the event of a relationship breakdown - I expected to have to cover 50% of the associated financial costs. Fifty percent of the costs of childcare, 50% of the costs of after-school activities, 50% of dental treatments (braces aren't free, or even cheap, for children even when their resident parent is on benefits and the treatment is done on the NHS...), etc.

What I didn't realise when my Ex-P and I made the decision to have the children, was that despite the vast majority of his income being used to cover the costs of raising children when we were together, that when we were apart, an arbitary figure of 20% of HIS income was to be paid as maintenance, regardless of whether that covered even HALF of the costs associated with bringing up HIS dc. And I didn't realise or even think about a) the fact that we would split up at all, and b) that if we DID, and I needed to go back out to work, that the costs of the childcare that enabled both me AND HIM to work would have to be covered solely by me - I WRONGLY assumed that it would be standard that an Ex-P would have to cover 50% of the childcare costs if both partners were working, as the childcare enables BOTH parents to work...

OP posts:
MyNameIsntFUCKINGWarren · 23/03/2012 14:25

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HappyMummyOfOne · 23/03/2012 19:32

But you arent paying 50%, any money is either maintainance or from the state and complaining that its gone down by a few pounds per month is a little unjust given you dont work to support them yet he does.

Your ex is still financially supporting his child and with that plus CB/CTC its more than enough for a child for the month. It would be even more if you were matching your ex(s) contributions youself.

"And WHO THE HELL has dc expecting that they will have to support them alone" I suspect many people limit the number of children should something happen to either parent in the future, its not "expecting" something to happen but being careful and planning should the worse happen.

CardyMow · 25/03/2012 19:43

So when I was working full time, and supporting HIM as a SAHP, a few years ago, does that mean that his contribution meant nothing because it wasn't financial??

Works both ways - I am currently a SAHP with a disability AND two Children with special needs, working towards getting back to work in a couple of years.

And you DON'T have to talk to ME about not getting maintenance for dc - my oldest DS I get nothing for now. Over the 9 years I have been apart from his father, my Ex-H, it has gone down from £5 a week, to £3.50 when he moved in with the OW his current partner, who already HAD a child with someone else, to £1.36 when they had their first child 2.5 years ago, to nothing at all since January, when they had another baby. So I no longer get any maintenance for him.

And I'd like to know where you get this idea that benefits cover everything that a child needs. I get £207 Child Tax credits a week - which works out to just £51.75 per child, and £60.50 child benefit, or £15.13 per child, to pay for - Food (and two are on different, specialised diets, one is coeliac and on a GF diet, one is cows milk protein allergic and therefore on a dairy-free diet), clothes, travel to school, after school activities, school shoes, everyday shoes, Birthday / Christmas presents, Swimming at school (I have to pay £50 per child for my two boys next term, so I have to find £100 out of nowhere), school uniforms, travel to the library once a fortnight, a fair chunk of the household bills that my £67.50 a week doesn't cover, etc etc etc.

YOU try it. THEN tell me it's easy, and that I'm rolling in it!!

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CardyMow · 25/03/2012 19:59

What I'm trying to say is that noone would be EXPECTING their Ex to pay Nursery fees if the Residennt Parent was unemployed.

I am talking about if the Resident Paret is WORKING. And in that case, the childcare costs are enabling BOTH PARENTS TO WORK. So why should't they be equally resposible for those costs?

If both parents were employed, would't that be a GOOD THING?

So why not remove one of the biggest barriers to getting Lone Parents back into work, by splitting the childcare costs FAIRLY.

Whether or not the Lone Parent claims Tax Credits to help with those costs after they have been split is irrelevant - because in my system - if the NRP was ALSO o a low enough wage to claim Tax Credits help, they would be able to, so it is neither parent's business HOW the other person pays THEIR half of those costs.

Does that REALLY seem THAT unfair?

There's all this talk on MN about how a SAHM is still making just as much contribution to the family by looking after the children while her partner is out at work, and about how it shouldn't just be the mother's wage that pays the childcare when they are a couple and the childcare enables BOTH parents to work - so why is it suddenly somehow different if they have split up? Isn't that just a BIT hypocritical?

What I'm saying is, really, that if BOTH wages are taken into account for the cost of childcare when you are in a relationship, then SURELY it should contiue to be BOTH wages taken into account for the cost of childcare AFTER the relationship has ended - the NRP still has a responsibility to look after those children, and IMO that includes taking responsibility for half of the costs involved in the RP going out to work.

It would be SO much easier for Lone Parents like me to go out to work if we were only liable for HALF of the total childcare costs. Because lots of us would ear so little that we can't evenn cover the portion that is left after Tax Credits have helped us - and as they will only pay a MAXIMUM of £210 a week, regardless of the total cost of your childcare, regardless of how may children you are paying childcare for, that CAN end up being quite a fair chunk of our wages - or in my case, MORE than my daily earnings!

Yet I COULD cover half that - hence me thinking that if my Ex-P and Ex-H were MADE to pay THEIR share of it, I would be able to go back to work without having to wait another two years for the bloody Nursery Vouchers. When DS3 was born 14 months ago, I expected to be a SAHM until he was 3yo, supported by my Ex-P, as I had done it the other way round with DS2. Then he fucked off. NOT my fault or choice.

OP posts:
MyNameIsntFUCKINGWarren · 25/03/2012 20:03

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