No Child Support - But They Can Afford Expensive Gifts?


Christmas time for children can be all about gifts. Some parents find it easy to curry favour with their children by buying them expensive presents, whilst ignoring their financial obligations for the other 11 months of the year.

It doesn't look good when a parent can afford expensive gifts but not the eseentials
This can be frustrating if you're the resident parent, causing feelings of resentment but there is something you can do about it.

Have You Contacted The Child Maintenance Service?

If your ex is not paying regular child support to you through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) (formerly, the Child Support Agency), then you should consider making an application for maintenance as soon as possible.

Yes, expensive Christmas presents may be enjoyed by the children, but everyday essentials like school uniforms, clothes, food and shelter should be top priority for both parents.

Many believe that when you make an application for child maintenance it is calculated retrospectively, but this isn't true. If, for example, you have a 10 year old and the other parent has never contributed to their upbringing financially, you won't receive 10 years back pay. Your claim will be dated from the time you make the application. This may seem unfair but getting some money is better than continuing to raise your child emotionally, physically and financially by yourself. This can be a point of contention but remember the money is for the benefit of your child and not a chance to lead a vendetta against the other parent.

If you have already had an assessment for child maintenance and you believe it was too low, then you should request that the CMS review it. It's true that many parents will save to buy their children what they want for Christmas but, excessive and expensive gifts may cause suspicions that the other parent's pockets are deeper than the assessment determined.

Already Been Assessed?

In some instances, you may already have applied and been assessed. This assessment would have been based on the other parent's income and how much they can afford to pay. You can usually ask them to review it and increase the amount they have to pay, on the basis that their lifestyle is not consistent with the income disclosed to the assessment agency.

It's important to point out that your ex may not be living the lifestyle you think. The rise of payday lenders and 'credit building' cards allow people on very low incomes to borrow money, often when they can't afford to pay it back.

If, in fact, the other parent is racking up credit card debts, then that won't be very helpful to you trying to gain more child maintenance. If you can discuss it, then you should perhaps talk about their use of credit cards and their attitudes towards money. This may have been the reason you split and they may be open to discussing this with you and how they can make a change. A wider implication about not addressing this issue now is that the same outlook about money may be passed onto your children, not something either of you would want.

Not Everything Ends In Court

Understandably, talking about child maintenance is a difficult conversation to have. It's also probably not a conversation you want to have on Christmas morning when they come to pick up or drop off the children, but the discussion, when you do have it, does not have to end up in court.

Family Law mediation not only works for divorce, but also for parents who wish to renegotiate their child maintenance arrangements outside of the courtroom. Not only is it cheaper, it can help to quell a lot of the animosity that surrounds these types of discussions.

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