Posted April 16th, 2013
In divorce, there are few issues that stir up as much controversy as child maintenance.
Most non-resident parents (NRP) pay maintenance on a sliding scale depending on how many children they have with the resident parent. A child is classed as either:
- Under 16
- Under 20 and in full-time education (but not higher than A-level or equivalent)
The parent who doesn’t have day-to-day care of the child pays child maintenance to the parent or guardian who does.
If you are on benefits as the NRP you will pay maintenance at the ‘flat-rate’. This is £5 no matter how many children you have whether you have 1 child or 5. This also applies if the NRP has a weekly income of less than £100.
If the NRP has a weekly income of more than £100 but less than £200, they pay the flat rate plus a percentage of their net weekly income. This is termed ‘reduced rate’.
‘Basic rate’ applies to NRPs who have a net income of more than £200 or more per week. The percentage depends on:
- The number of children needing child maintenance
- The number of other children the NRP or their partner get Child Benefit for
If the NRP pays child maintenance at basic rate then currently that is 15% for the first child. On a net income of £200 per week, that would be £30. For each further child an extra 5% is added. For 3 children a NRP with a net income of £200 pw that would amount to the first child at 15% and child 2 and 3 at a further 5% each. This would mean 25% of the NRPs net income would be paid in child maintenance. This would amount to £50 pw.
The child support agency (CSA) isn’t perfect by any means. On the whole though, the amount payable seems fair. Regardless of the circumstances, your flesh and blood shouldn’t be penalised for any mishaps leading to separation.
There are perhaps situations arise where one may make a fairly strong argument against paying (or at least a reduction in pay). Consider the following:
A father that is very close to and hands on with his children is forced out of the marital home due to infidelity by his wife. The father pays child maintenance but is also having to find a place to live, furnish it etc. and make sure his new abode is suitable for his children to stay with him in. He doesn’t earn a great deal but he still pays maintenance. Marry that with the fact that his ex-wife works and has a new partner living in his children’s home that also brings in a salary. Our illustrative father may feel a bit aggrieved as he struggles to maintain his own home for his and his children’s sake – a home in which there is only his salary yet his ex-partners household income (including her new partner) easily dwarfs his.
However, strong an argument that maybe it’s easily quashed with the simple question of “but whose children are they?” Not only that, but regardless of who and who isn’t to blame, it’s not unlikely that his ex is paying astronomical child care fees so that she can work. Is the situation ideal? Probably not but it is fair that the NRP still pays his share.
Sledgehammer pieces of legislation that rarely accounts for merit are bound to marginalise a significant amount of hard working people. I feel that the current rates of maintenance are fair. So why is the government reducing the amounts?
Well the change is due in part to reflect the fact that a growing number of NRPs are setting up homestead with new families. That’s my take on it anyway; whether they are starting a new family, or moving in with somebody else the change is to reflect the fact that they may have a duty of care to ‘relevant other children’. Seems fair, yet things can get tangled up in even fairly common situations.
Our illustrative dad is paying around £350 per month for his two young children. They have moved to a new area with mum. If our illustrative dad – let’s call him Pete – were to live with ‘other relevant children’ then his maintenance to his own children will reduce. Fair? Well, no. Even though he may be living with new children that no doubt he has grown very fond of, they are not his kids. The idea suggests that the reduction is due to the support he has to offer the ‘other relevant children’.
Let’s come at this from another angle. Let’s say Pete’s ex-wife – we’ll call her Louise – has finally settled on one new partner. This new partner – we’ll call him Brian – has his own children under 16, but has moved in with Pete’s ex-wife and children. Brian’s maintenance to his own children will reduce as he offers support to ‘other relevant children’ he is now living with – namely, Pete’s children. But what of Pete’s maintenance? Remember that Pete obviously is obliged and indeed wants to support his children; but on his own is building a new home and life for himself and the sake of his children. Not only that, but Brian has a reduction in his NRP maintenance in order to reflect the fact that he is living with a new family……….sounds like Pete is being treated a bit unfairly. Or more to the point, Brian should be supporting his kids and his kids alone despite who he lives with. Now obviously, should Brian and Louise have children of their own then the picture is slightly different.
You could say “well as long as the children involved aren’t losing out then what does it matter?” True; Pete’s kids are actually better off, but what about Brian’s poor kids? Assuming that Brian’s ex isn’t cohabiting then it’s his children that miss out.
This all really only applies though if you have to go down the dreaded CSA route. My advice; get it sorted through mediation. Just because the law says this is what you could do, it doesn’t mean you have to. I have no doubt believing that neither Pete nor Brian would dream of skimping on paying for their own kids. However, given the current changes in legislation I’ve no doubt that many will
Posted March 4th, 2013
Not a good idea. Of course it may seem unfair to have to declare assets that were acquired before you got married; or assets that were solely paid for by you during the marriage, but the fact is if you aren’t up front about your finances during divorce then you are risking a spell in prison.
According to a survey by Co-operative Legal Services, 25% of those who go through divorce will hide aspects of their finances from their soon to be ex-partner. And here’s the really surprising thing about this survey – the survey was conducted online and involved around 800 divorcees and it found that women are more likely to conceal money and possessions during a divorce.
From a little research on the good ol’ worldly wide web, it looks like most divorces are initiated by women. Stats abound from anything between 55% and 91%. So what are we to glean from this? It does make for depressing reading. You could take the view that women view marriage purely as a move to make financial gain. Whereas I’ve no doubt that it’s true for some, it surely can’t be true for anything more than a minority. That would be highly cynical.
I think it points more to the fact that many people marry the wrong person and do it too quickly; and as it is often the mother whom the children will live with, you may imagine that she may feel justified in hiding financial assets from an estranged spouse. After all, she’s only doing it for the kids. Morally justifiable it may be, but it is illegal and you are putting yourself in contempt of court if you do this. The whole point of settlements is to make sure that both sides have the chance to put their lives back on track. The best way to ensure that there is a fair outcome is to be completely open and honest. If you’re made an offer you aren’t happy with then you don’t have to accept it. On the other hand if you’re made an offer that you don’t know if you should accept or you want help with negotiating then get in touch.
I am a Resolution Accredited IFA and as such I am in a position to help you get a fair settlement without risking prison!
Posted August 23rd, 2012
Of course, should you wish to discuss any case with a Resolution Accredited IFA I would be happy to help and where necessary I will also assist with the instruction of other professionals such as an actuary where required.
The Divorce IFA, your new Divorce Lifeline.
Posted August 15th, 2012
I am pleased to confirm that I have been re-accredited for a further five years, having recently completed the process via Resolution.
In order to qualify for re-accreditation I had to show that:
- I am a paid up affiliate member of Resolution.
- I am currently regulated by the FSA to provide Independent Financial Advice
- There are no matters affecting my competence or fitness to be held out as an accredited specialist of which Resolution should be aware.
- I have never been convicted of an offence in any court of the UK or elsewhere (other than a motoring offence not resulting in
- I continue to undertake a minimum of 36 cases per annum, or 150 hours family law case work each year and provide evidence of this for the preceding 12 months.
- Confirm that Resolution may approach a designated person for a reference in relation to the standard of my expertise.
I also had to provide the following documentary evidence:
- A schedule of case work for the 12 month period prior to my re-accreditation, demonstrating the 36 cases or 150 hours per annum
minimum casework required, and the name of the solicitor or mediator with whom I worked, or from whom the case was referred.
- A written reference from a referring family lawyer confirming the work carried out during the preceding 12 months, and that
the work was satisfactory.
- Details of my Continuing Professional Development (CPD) record for the preceding 5 years showing at least 8 hours of CPD in family law and practice topics for each year.
- The fee required by Resolution.
As you can see there is quite a lot involved in getting Reaccredited and we are serious about helping our clients get the best settlements possible. Don’t you owe to yourself to make sure the IFA you work with is this qualified.
If you want to talk please call 0800 092 1229 or email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted April 19th, 2012
Few women can forget the moment they were asked THE question. It just came out of nowhere and perhaps wasn’t really what you were expecting. You’ll remember what you were wearing, what he was wearing, the music, the food (if he was nice enough to take you to a restaurant to ask). It’s just one of those moments that stay with you forever. He looks into your eyes and with heartfelt emotion proclaims “I want a divorce!” and the rug is pulled swiftly out from under your feet.
Or it may be that you want a divorce and of course, often it is a mutual decision. The question becomes how to do it?
The fact is, it doesn’t have to get nasty. It doesn’t have to be a mess. The courts don’t want that, your children (if you have any) don’t need that and frankly, neither do you. Wouldn’t it be nice to imagine that at the other end of the divorce road (a detour that many of us never expected) that something of a relationship can be salvaged?
Of course that would be great. There is rightly a growing trend of couples staying civil and even cultivating friendships with their ex partners post divorce, but that does not mean you should go quietly in to the night. Whether a divorce was yours or your (ex) partners idea, you still have the option of doing what is right for you and the rest of your life. Of course, remaining in contact and being civil for your children is a must.
But the days of the ex-wife being left with nothing and having to bitterly fight for every penny is long gone. After all, it was your marriage too. You spent time working, putting in to the house, raising children. You are entitled to a future as well.
If you spent years raising children at the expense of a career then you are quite right to expect that to be recognised. I’d go as far to say, in most cases, revered. Raising children, although immensely rewarding, can and often does go unappreciated. The skills required to rear young ones fit for the wider world, whilst maintaining a home at the same time are often understated and overlooked. Bottom line is, it’s not an easy job. In fact, it’s very difficult and very demanding.
You spent years doing just that, and are entitled to enjoy your reacquired independence now that the youngsters have flown the nest. A divorce need not put an end to the enjoyment, peace and security that life may have once offered you.
There are options to consider as far as pensions and assets are concerned. It was your marriage as well. You invested yourself and your life in to it. Therefore it is quite legitimate for you to expect to be compensated. Of course when you got married these are the sort of dilemmas you may not have imagined you’d face. When most couples marry nobody really likes to think of it in terms of a financial arrangement. It’s love, trust, respect. But if you are at a crossroads in your life when these things have fallen by the way side, and you’re asking yourself what you have to show for the last few decades, then it is a good time to find yourself a reputable Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) with a good knowledge of divorce and your entitlement to assist your legal counsel.
Why not call me in confidence for a chat?
Image credit – Flickr/e_calamar
Posted December 20th, 2011
I am pleased to announce that the Resolution Accredited Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs) have been given a nice gold logo to use to distinguish them from the family lawyers and this is now proudly displayed on our website.
As one of only ten advisers in the North West with this designation I am extremely proud of this qualification.
If you would like advice in respect of pensions and your divorce financial settlement or pension sharing why not call us on 0800 0921229 or email email@example.com.
Posted January 17th, 2011
You can now search the Resolution public website for all the qualified Resolution Accredited Independent Financial Advisers (IFA) to assist you with issues such as:
- Pension Sharing
- Pension Offsetting
- Pension Attachment
- Life Assurance needs
- Financial Planning
The search tool can be found here -
If you would like more information about how we advise our clients on the financial aspects of divorce, please contact us on 0800 092 1229 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted July 12th, 2010
As a Resolution Accredited Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) I am often asked to provide a summary of how we can work with clients through the Collaborative Law process. Below is taken from a flyer which is provided to the lawyers at the Greater Manchester POD.
HOW THE IFA WILL WORK WITH YOU AND YOUR SOLICITOR:
IFAs will be accredited by Resolution to work in the collaborative area, having undertaken training on the technical and cultural aspects involved, and passed an examination on the subject.
The IFA acts as a ‘financial neutral’ – rather than representing one party, their role is to assist all parties in highlighting issues and providing information that enables the collaborative process to move quickly and smoothly.
In addition to their specialist technical knowledge, IFAs can outline options to parties and comment on risk factors (eg in terms of pension options) which solicitors are unable to do as they are not authorised to give financial advice.
IFA’s can attend a first meeting with the Solicitors present, so as to display to the parties how they may add value to the process. At your discretion, IFAs can subsequently meet you without your solicitor being present, so as to control total costs.
EXAMPLES OF WHERE THE IFA IS ABLE TO HELP:
• Tax efficiency and mitigation if assets or investments are being sold as part of the agreement (eg ISAs, Capital Gains Tax issues).
• Pension-sharing issues under occupational final salary schemes, for both the scheme member and the ex-spouse.
• Issues surrounding individual pensions, including retirement options.
• The cost of replacing items under an employee benefits package for the ex-spouse (eg life cover, critical illness cover, private medical insurance).
• Mortgage availability and costings in relation to the marital home.
• Assessment of endowment policies and the options going forward.
• General financial education
• Budgeting exercises and lifetime cashflow projections to determine whether the agreed settlement will be sufficient to support the financial requirements of each party over time.
If you require any further assistance, please contact us on 0800 092 1229 or email email@example.com