Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Bad News For Blossom

I've lost my voice, but I'll never lose my typing ability.

Today's topic for outrage is the Child Support Agency's plan to charge single parents for its services in tracking down parents who refuse to cough up their share. If you read Blossom's Blog, you'll see how easy it is for them - mostly fathers - to make shedloads of cash while evading their responsibilities.

Now the Tory government think that the deprived parent - struggling already - should surrender part of the child support as some form of commission. If this principle is accepted, then nothing we pay for as taxpayers will be sacrosanct. Our NHS doctor will have a tip jar on the desk. The military will demand cash at checkpoints before fighting off invaders. This is INSANE. Our taxes pay for the CSA, and the support payments are calculated to suit the child's needs: they can't just take 10% off for themselves. I'd certainly charge the recalcitrant parent for their meanness and irresponsibility, but not the kid. Jesus.

So the question is: how long before the Tories realise that several of their MPs are errant fathers, and change their minds on this one.


Blossom said...

As you know, Vole, I'm already underwhelmed by the CSA but I'm having quite a lot of contact with them at them moment- at my expense, of course.

Yesterday I received a booklet from them explaining how child maintenance is calculated. it is clearly written in favour of the parent with non-care who should be paying. The way the system works at present is the agency works out a daily amount that should be paid, this is then multiplied by seven to give a weekly amount. If the mother has the children every night of the week, she gets all of the calculated maintenance. If she has them five nights of the week, with the father having them for the other two, the father only pays five sevenths. Okay, fair enough, but of course this assumes that the father will still get what the child needs (up to two sevenths!) on the days he has them. If there is shared child care, where the care is split 50/50, the maintenance is halved, but also has another £7 a week per child taken off. There is no explanation in the booklet why this is so. Now, if maintenance is worked out at £70 a week for a mother with sole care, that same mother would only get £21 if she shared custody. With those figures she ends up with 28% of maintenance for 50% of child care.

My ex has spent the weekend frantically trying to get the boys to commit to a fortnight's holiday in August. Nat is adamant he isn't going and I've checked with a family law solicitor; there is little the ex can do to make him go, irrespective of any court order he's got in place. The ex was unaware that I'd booked a week away (might now just make it a fortnight!) for the end of August. His motivation for getting the boys to agree to his holiday is to 'up the nights' that he has the boys. This is so he can work the system to his advantage and try to pay less maintenance to the CSA. I called the CSA to have a chat about this situation; their optimism is wonderful. Their belief is that the ex and I can sit down and agree a figure of how many nights he has the children, on average, and then we (the ex and I - how cosy) can agree on a figure for maintenance. Kind of makes me wonder what exactly is the point of my involving the CSA if the ex and I can negotiate without them! They do not seem to consider, at all, that this man will do all that he can to pay nothing or, failing that, as little as possible. The truth is, they don't care, it's not their problem. Yet, surely, this was exactly the situation that the CSA was created for?

Whatever the ex pays, it will be expected to cover everything that the children need. If I get £21 in maintenance that has to cover all clothing, food, trips, etc. This shared custody of course does not take into account that, irrespective of which parent has the child on a particular night, it is usually the mother who is expected to take a day off work (or in my case uni) to look after a child if they are ill and can't go to school. That is not shared parenting.

Last weekend I received a text off my ex (with poor spelling and grammar, as usual). He was accusing me of being very foolish for involving the CSA as apparently he would have been prepared to pay me more maintenance without their involvement. At present he pays nothing, so work that one out. But clearly he had no intention of paying any maintenance, anyway. On Sunday he advised our boys that if I succeeded in getting any maintenance from him through the CSA, he would have to move his girlfriend in to his house to help pay the mortgage.The boys have already expressed a dread about this woman and her children moving in, so the message the ex is sending out is, 'When the girlfriend moves in, it will be your mother's fault for being greedy.' He also asked the boys if they would like to give up their bedrooms and have smaller ones, in favour of the girlfriend's children.

The Plashing Vole said...

Utterly disgraceful. What an embarrassment to the human race.

The Red Witch said...

It isn't any different here. The FRO is just as incompetent. I don't deal with them, still married, but I have watched many a friend struggle.

Anonymous said...

As a single mum who's also known by the Blossom monicker, I empathise with your frustration. I called the CSA a few years back having read a 'story' in the Daily Mail that highlighted the proliferation of 'absent fathers driving around in BMWs'.
Where does he work?
No idea, sorry. He's not paying maintenance and he's driving around in a Bee Em with a personalised plate so I'm guessing he's earning.
I'm not Poirot I grant you, but I'd call it an educated guess.
I'm sorry, but if you don't know where he's working we can't help you.

So 14 years on and he's never paid a penny. I've graduated from the dark place (and am actually returning in September) but I wonder, where was the CSA when I couldn't afford to put food on the table? If you know where the absent parent works, the CSA can possibly help and take a cut of the cash that clothes and feeds them. If you don't, they definitely can't.

Everyone's situation is different and in some instances resident parents don't want the absent parents to pay. I have to say however, I'm somewhat confused as to what the role of the CSA is and who it benefits. This idealogical Tory 'it's better to sort it out between yourselves' playground mentality is fine if both parties play ball. If one party is unreasonable however, there's no one to police the legal and moral obligation of absent parents to provide financially for their children. What a shame.