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Benefits System and Shared Parenting

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 24 Oct 2016 |
 
Parliament Mp Parenting Child Early Day

Separated Dads' letter to the government has so far (4 weeks in) only received an acknowledgement from no.10, but an MP has raised a new early day motion which is partly relevant here.The early day motion (34) was raised in parliament by Adrian Sanders, Liberal Democrat MP on 25th May 2010. Here are the details:

Benefits System and Shared Parenting

"That this House notes that child benefit can only be paid to one parent; further notes that this unnecessarily discriminates against the other parent where parents are separated and maintain shared custody of children; further notes that this can further discriminate against one parent by preventing access to suitable housing and additional income to allow them to provide for children; further notes that this can lead to restricted access for one parent to see their children; and calls on the Government to take action to address these problems."

This motion has only 18 signatures at the moment:

  • Liberal Democrats: Lorely Burt , Mike Crockart, Andrew George, Mike Hancock, John Hemming, Simon Hughes, John Leech, Bob Russell, Adrian Sanders, Mark Williams
  • Democratic Unionist Party: Ian Paisley Jnr, Jim Shannon
  • Green Party: Caroline Lucas
  • Labour Party: Martin Caton, Fabian Hamilton, David Heyes, Grahame M Morris
  • Plaid Cymru: Hywel Williams

So if you want to write to your MP about this issue, now is the time...

What is an Early Day Motion?

Early day motions (EDMs) are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. Very few EDMs are actually debated in parliament however, but are used for reasons such as publicising the views of individual MPs, creating awareness of campaigns and demonstrating the extent of parliamentary support for a cause.

MPs can add their signatures to an EDM to show support. They can also submit amendments to an existing EDM. Although majority of EDMs are never debated, the group of EDMs known as 'prayers' may be debated. Prayers are motions to overturn Statutory Instruments (laws made by Ministers under powers deriving from Acts of Parliament).

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My daughter lives 7 nights with me and then 7 nights with her mum, therefore everything is 50/50. Her mum claims child benefit, but she does not claim child tax credits. Does this mean that I can claim the child tax credits instead ?
Si - 24-Oct-16 @ 9:40 PM
Andy - Your Question:
After years of problems with my ex wife, my youngest daughter(13) has now come to live with me for one week then with her mother the next, repeating, as she wanted more time with me. My ex has agreed to this (there are no court orders in place) and has allowed me to claim the Child Tax Credits for my daughter. She has kept the child benefit for her. My problem is my local council. I'm on JSA and claiming Housing Benefit at the moment and as my ex wife has the Child Benefit the council are charging me for my daughters bedroom. Is there any way out of this as I cannot afford £30 a week from my JSA and will lose my home and access to my daughter.

Our Response:
I'm afraid not because of the bedroom tax it means you cannot get help for children who live with you part-time and you don't claim child benefit for them. It is a very tricky process which is deeply unfair and biased against non-resident parents who may need the extra space for when their children come to stay - and yet the government still have not addressed the issue or made a move to scrap it.
SeparatedDads - 14-Oct-16 @ 11:14 AM
After years of problems with my ex wife, my youngest daughter(13) has now come to live with me for one week then with her mother the next, repeating, as she wanted more time with me. My ex has agreed to this (there are no court orders in place) and has allowed me to claim the Child Tax Credits for my daughter. She has kept the child benefit for her. My problem is my local council. I'm on JSA and claiming Housing Benefit at the moment and as my ex wife has the Child Benefit the council are charging me for my daughters bedroom. Is there any way out of this as I cannot afford £30 a week from my JSA and will lose my home and access to my daughter.
Andy - 13-Oct-16 @ 4:01 PM
Meat - Your Question:
Hey :) I have a court order for my daughter and myself to see one another every weekend {Saturday until Sunday}. I have been living with my mother since the mother of my child and myself separated. My daughter has always slept in my bedroom every time I have access, but now she's getting a little bit older and would obviously like her own space kind of thing. At the moment I'm back on JSA, been back on JSA for about 6-7 months so I'm not trying to use The Housing Association because i've always been in and out of work. But now as I'm worried that contact may possibly be effected because of this situation. So my question is "what kind of a chance do I have regarding having a house/place off The Housing Association considering that this is a situation where contact between myself and my child may collapse. Thanks in advance.

Our Response:
If you are on benefits, you have the problem with the bedroom tax which means you would only be offered a one-bedroomed house as you do not have full residency of your daughter.
SeparatedDads - 13-Oct-16 @ 11:48 AM
Hey :) I have a court order for my daughter and myself to see one another every weekend {Saturday until Sunday}. I have been living with my mother since the mother of my child and myself separated. My daughter has always slept in my bedroom every time I have access, but now she's getting a little bit older and would obviously like her own space kind of thing. At the moment i'm back on JSA, been back on JSA for about 6-7 months so i'm not trying to use The Housing Association because i've always been in and out of work. But now as i'm worried that contact may possibly be effected because of this situation. So my question is "what kind of a chance do I have regarding having a house/place off The Housing Association considering that this is a situation where contact between myself and my child may collapse. Thanks in advance.
Meat - 12-Oct-16 @ 2:09 PM
Hi, I'm after some advice really, I split up with my ex about a year ago, we have a 4 year old daughter together, and I have her 3 nights a week, as I work on a 4 on 4 off pattern so the days are different each week by one day. I've always told my ex that I wanted to bring my daughter up equally and 50/50 was what I believe to be best for our child. Things started getting quite messy around six months ago when she met her new boyfriend. The ex started to demand that I should find a new job (Monday - Friday) because it is effecting our daughter emotionally and she needs stability in her life and set days is the answer. I found out her ex has 2 kids and she basically wanted me to match the days that the ex's children weren't with him (this would allow them time on their own together). I asked my ex for 50/50 again but she has said not a chance and if things don't change you will not see our daughter at all. I have just started with mediation with the hope we can resolve it before going to court. She has told me that she wont agree to anything other than set days and she's going to mediation because its the process of going to court. I currently live on my own and rent a small house and my daughter has her own room. for the record I'm not on any medication or done anything wrong or hurtful to my ex and I feel this is the only thing she has to try and stop me seeing my daughter. I don't see why if im off and the ex is working I should miss out on valuable time with my little girl. What are the chances of me getting 50/50 with my ex? If the ex in mediation is being unfair do they take this into consideration and will the evidence be brought to the court? Does my job 4 on 4 off effect my chances of getting 50/50 access? Any help please!
bob - 10-Oct-16 @ 1:49 PM
Hi, I'm after some advice really, I split up with my ex about a year ago, we have a 4 year old daughter together, and I have her 3 nights a week, as I work on a 4 on 4 off pattern so the days are different each week by one day. I've always told my ex that I wanted to bring my daughter up equally and 50/50 was what I believe to be best for our child. Things started getting quite messy around six months ago when she met her new boyfriend. The ex started to demand that I should find a new job (Monday - Friday) because it is effecting our daughter emotionally and she needs stability in her life and set days is the answer. I found out her ex has 2 kids and she basically wanted me to match the days that the ex's children weren't with him (this would allow them time on their own together). I asked my ex for 50/50 again but she has said not a chance and if things don't change you will not see our daughter at all. I have just started with mediation with the hope we can resolve it before going to court. She has told me that she wont agree to anything other than set days and she's going to mediation because its the process of going to court. I currently live on my own and rent a small house and my daughter has her own room. for the record I'm not on any medication or done anything wrong or hurtful to my ex and I feel this is the only thing she has to try and stop me seeing my daughter. I don't see why if im off and the ex is working I should miss out on valuable time with my little girl. What are the chances of me getting 50/50 with my ex? If the ex in mediation is being unfair do they take this into consideration and will the evidence be brought to the court? Does my job 4 on 4 off effect my chances of getting 50/50 access? Any help please!
bob - 10-Oct-16 @ 1:37 PM
Marcus - Your Question:
I have had my children for 3 nights a week over the past 9 years and my wife has now reduced it to the original agreement of 2. My children are 16 and 12, there is no custody order in place although my children reside with my ex due to me working a 4 on 4 off shift pattern. My 4 off is when I have my children. Can she just change this pattern after 9 years of it being in place?

Our Response:
You don't say whether there is a court order in place or not. If there is a court order in place, then your ex will be in breach of it if she has changed the days, please see link: Breach of Contact or Residence Order: What to Do, here. If you have a family-based arrangement wherby contact has been agreed between you both, then you would have to seek mediation, and if your ex refuses this, then you would have the option to take the matter to court. In your favour, the fact one of your children is 16 and the other 12 means both children are classed as old enough to have an opinion whether they wish to see you and this would be taken into consideration in court. Therefore, dependent upon the circumstances of why your ex has stopped access, it may actually be worth you seeking some legal advice and seeing whether your solicitor would drop your ex a line highlighting this. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 10-Oct-16 @ 10:26 AM
I have had my children for 3 nights a week over the past 9 years and my wife has now reduced it to the original agreement of 2. My children are 16 and 12, there is no custody order in place although my children reside with my ex due to me working a 4 on 4 off shift pattern. My 4 off is when I have my children. Can she just change this pattern after 9 years of it being in place?
Marcus - 9-Oct-16 @ 4:42 AM
Have been in a relationship with a lady ( partners )for two years , her behaviour changed as soon as she got pregnant ? Two month before her due date she told me she's no longerinterested in the relationship . Now I feel I've been used and dump and all she needed way a child . Myproblem is she've delivered but don't want me to put my name on our daughter birth certificateand even chosen babies name without asking me for my opinion . What do I don't to gain my parental responsible .?
Ben - 7-Oct-16 @ 8:26 PM
I have 2 children with a ex. She gets all benefits. I am on esa & have my children 3 nights a week. I only recive 73 a week on esa. Am I entitled to any benefits as I have my children 3 nights a week. ? Any help
Mr mc - 2-Oct-16 @ 9:38 AM
Dad- Your Question:
Hi I'm after some help around a house situation from a break up with my ex partner, I'll explain In more detail if anyone can help.In short we separated some time ago, I've been to family court to have an access agreement put in place as things have been made a little difficult. Maintenance payments are through the maintenance options and are being paid regular the issue I have is I still pay half the mortgage even though I no longer live there.I don't want to force them out but Im struggling to make maintenance payments, pay half the mortgage and move on with my home and living costs. I've offered her to buy me out but she suggests she can not afford it, she won't let me buy her out as she understands her rent would increase. Can anyone help is there anything I have overlooked or should be considering.

Our Response:
You would benefit from seeking legal advice here in order to explore your options.
SeparatedDads - 27-Sep-16 @ 1:53 PM
Hi I'm after some help around a house situation from a break up with my ex partner, I'll explain In more detail if anyone can help. In short we separated some time ago, I've been to family court to have an access agreement put in place as things have been made a little difficult. Maintenance payments are through the maintenance options and are being paid regular the issue I have is I still pay half the mortgage even though I no longer live there. I don't want to force them out but Im struggling to make maintenance payments, pay half the mortgage and move on with my home and living costs. I've offered her to buy me out but she suggests she can not afford it, she won't let me buy her out as she understands her rent would increase.Can anyone help is there anything I have overlooked or should be considering.
Dad - 26-Sep-16 @ 10:13 PM
Jon - Your Question:
I need some help understanding something. I am 48 and was recently made unemployed for the first time in my working life. I have been forced to claim benefits. I have three children and am divorced and share the custody and costs of the children 50/50. I have never received any child benefit as my ex wife keeps this and I am told I have no entitlement against it. The benefits office have awarded me £73 a week despite the fact that I have three children on a 50/50 basis. The advice they gave me was to talk to my MP. This strikes me as discrimination - not only do I never see the child benefit, I have now been punished again as I am do not receive it. Has anyone else out there had a similar experience? My children would be better provided for if I was hit by a bus and the life insurance kicked in. In my divorce, I limped away with round 25% of the family assets and had to endure the humiliation of my ex-wife and her new man to boot. I feel very betrayed by this country - I am expected to be a contributor on every front but when push comes to shove men like me just don't matter. I would be very interested to hear anyone's comments on this.

Our Response:
I'm afraid this law has yet to be changed, as specified in the article. If you are now unemployed then is stands to reason that you will not be able to afford to provide for your children on the level you previously have, which means your ex will have to take on more of the financial burden. Therefore,regardless of her unwillingness to share any child benefits with you, then now she will effectively have to provide more for your children out of the benefit than she would have had to previously. Much depends upon earnings also, if you were earning more than your ex when you were earning, then it stands to reason that your ex is the person that would receive the benefits in order to make up the shortfall.
SeparatedDads - 12-Sep-16 @ 11:40 AM
I need some help understanding something. I am 48 and was recently made unemployed for the first time in my working life. I have been forced to claim benefits. I have three children and am divorced and share the custody and costs of the children 50/50. I have never received any child benefit as my ex wife keeps this and I am told I have no entitlement against it. The benefits office have awarded me £73 a week despite the fact that I have three children on a 50/50 basis. The advice they gave me was to talk to my MP. This strikes me as discrimination- not only do I never see the child benefit, I have now been punished again as I am do not receive it. Has anyone else out there had a similar experience? My children would be better provided for if I was hit by a bus and the life insurance kicked in. In my divorce, I limped away with round 25% of the family assets and had to endure the humiliation of my ex-wife and her new man to boot. I feel very betrayed by this country - I am expected to be a contributor on every front but when push comes to shove men like me just don't matter. I would be very interested to hear anyone's comments on this.
Jon - 11-Sep-16 @ 10:07 AM
libbsm - Your Question:
Your advice to Twitchy regarding ex partner not telling him about a child she had. Wanting backdated payments.He wasn't married therefore not on birth certificate unless she took someone in pretending to be sad.This means he does not have to pay as there is no proof the child is his without a DNA test first which he would have to pay for.ThereforeMetaphoracally speakingShe can whistle

Our Response:
I'm afraid child maintenence payments are not as straightforward as you think. A 'named' father (regardless of whether he is on the birth certificate) is by law responsible for paying child maintenance until a DNA test proves otherwise.
SeparatedDads - 4-Aug-16 @ 11:21 AM
Your advice to Twitchy regarding ex partner not telling him about a child she had. Wanting backdated payments. He wasn't married therefore not on birth certificate unless she took someone in pretending to be sad. This means he does not have to pay as there is no proof the child is his without a DNA test first which he would have to pay for. Therefore Metaphoracally speaking She can whistle
libbsm - 3-Aug-16 @ 3:22 PM
I have my daughter 3 or sometimes 4 nights a week am I entitled to a council or houseing agency place as I work
geezer - 11-Jul-16 @ 5:47 PM
Clappy - Your Question:
What right has my ex got in removing my two children from their primary school where they are settled.My daughter does her sats next year in her final year and my 8 year old son is very happy.What can I do ?

Our Response:
You do not say what your ex's motivation is; has she chosen a new school for them? Is she planning to home school? Or has she removed your children to move away? You may have to expand on your question a little more in order for me to be able to answer it.
SeparatedDads - 10-Jun-16 @ 10:15 AM
Twitchy - Your Question:
I was in a 7 year relationship with my partner until she ended it abruptly & without reason 3 years ago. She moved to London as I live in Sheffield, I got on with my life without worrying of crossing paths. 3 months ago I got a letter saying I owe child maintenance & need to pay x & y. I disputed this saying I don't have any children. But later found out from a mutual friend after finding out about child maintenance demands that she fell pregnant & didn't want the child which is a girl to have a farther like me & she is now residing with someone else that is from what I'm told a wealthy businessman. I got the mothers number & she refuses to allow me access or anything to the child & has child believes her partner is the farther. So my question is. Why am I being asked for child maintenance, back dated 3 years for a child I wasn't told I had & refused any contact or dealings with when she clearly is not short of money & the child is calling someone else dad?I think it's a disgrace & I would like to know what my rights are because I can't afford this backdated payments nor will I pay for maintenance for a child I had no knowledge of & have since been refused to make contact with or have any contact with in the future.Thanks in advance. D

Our Response:
In this instance you would have to seek legal advice. You usually would not have to pay backdated payments unless your ex had made a previous claim and the claim was ignored and/or the CMS had been trying to chase you and were unable to locate you. If your ex has named you as the father, then you will be required to pay for your child. Your only option would be to attempt to take the matter to court in order to gain access to your child. Unfortunately, access and child maintenance payments do not have any relationship to each other, meaning access is not automatic because a father is deemed financially responsible for their child. However, there is an unusual and additional ethical and moral dilemma here that your legal representative should be able to advise on further.
SeparatedDads - 9-Jun-16 @ 10:48 AM
What right has my ex got in removing my two children from their primary school where they are settled. My daughter does her sats next year in her final year and my 8 year old son is very happy. What can I do ?
Clappy - 9-Jun-16 @ 10:14 AM
I was in a 7 year relationship with my partner until she ended it abruptly & without reason 3 years ago. She moved to London as I live in Sheffield, I got on with my life without worrying of crossing paths. 3 months ago I got a letter saying I owe child maintenance & need to pay x & y. I disputed this saying I don't have any children. But later found out from a mutual friend after finding out about child maintenance demands that she fell pregnant & didn't want the child which is a girl to have a farther like me & she is now residing with someone else that is from what I'm told a wealthy businessman. I got the mothers number & she refuses to allow me access or anything to the child & has child believes her partner is the farther. So my question is. Why am I being asked for child maintenance, back dated 3 years for a child I wasn't told I had & refused any contact or dealings with when she clearly is not short of money & the child is calling someone else dad? I think it's a disgrace & I would like to know what my rights are because I can't afford this backdated payments nor will I pay for maintenance for a child I had no knowledge of & have since been refused to make contact with or have any contact with in the future. Thanks in advance. D
Twitchy - 8-Jun-16 @ 12:34 PM
My son & wife have separated due to her infidelity. He has had to move out and she has taken over the mortgage. They have shared 50/50 custody of 3 children. They have not been entitled to Child Benefit previously as she has a high salary, but his salary is below the entitlement point. Can he now claim Child Benefit even though he has them just half of the time?
upsetgran - 6-Jun-16 @ 10:19 PM
Jps - Your Question:
I need some advise if possible, I need to know if I can live in a one bed flat with my 14year old daughter, the plan is my daughter has the bedroom and I have a sofa bed in the lounge, thank you.

Our Response:
Much depends on whether the flat is a council, housing association or a private let. The first two may object to the arrangement and you would have to check the terms of your lease. The latter will be more flexible regarding your arrangements. However, if you are thinking of taking the matter to court to apply for shared parenting, then it is unlikely a court would agree to this in principle as it will always rule on what is in the bests interests of your child and this may be considered not to be an ideal arrangement.
SeparatedDads - 6-Jun-16 @ 1:55 PM
I need some advise if possible, I need to know if I can live in a one bed flat with my 14year old daughter, the plan is my daughter has the bedroom and I have a sofa bed in the lounge, thank you.
Jps - 5-Jun-16 @ 8:30 PM
llew - Your Question:
Hello.If possible I'd like some updated advice. I've looked on the net and can't really find anything current. As we know, laws change constantly, so current advice would be most appreciated.I split from my partner 3 years ago and we have one child together, a 5 year old daughter. From the offset I've had my daughter anything from 4 to sometimes 5 days a week, but now it's more 3 to 4 days a week. I live in a 1 bedroom flat and space is quite limited as you can imagine. My daughter sleeps on a single bed in my bedroom. I do not work at the moment due to ill health and in receipt of benefits, but always do the best I can, we make the most of any situation and my little girl is well balanced and very happy. I went to court a long while ago and was granted 2 full days a week stay overs with my daughter. But this soon changed (infact the same week) to 3 days, then 4 days etc. I didn't see any point in going back to court as I have her as much as I want now, and also as much as my angel wants to come over, I never refuse her.My questions are more housing and financial if anyone can advise. I want to apply for joint custody, as I more or less (off paper) have that already. 1) Would I be entitled to any Child Tax Credits that my ex is now in receipt of?2) Would I be entitled to any Child Benefit my ex is now in receipt of?3) Would having joint custody help my housing application with my local authority? As here is very cramped, to 1 bedroom. We are currently in a private accommodation.I will be going for joint custody regardless of any of the above, but it would be nice to know where I stand.

Our Response:
You are in a tricky situation as while you may be having your daughter over more nights than originally laid out in the order, it still does not mean a court will grant you official shared care. Shared care or joint custody is rarely awarded through the court unless both parents agree. The usual case is that one parent is classed as the primary carer (who receives benefits) and the other the non-resident parent, regardless of how many days access is awarded. The fact you only have a one-bedroomed place would also be considered by the courts and the court is unlikely to grant you more care on this basis. The courts will always decide on what is in the best interests of your child and would be reluctant to change a functioning order, or who is considered to be the resident and non-resident parent unless absolutely necessary.
SeparatedDads - 2-Jun-16 @ 12:58 PM
Hello. If possible I'd like some updated advice. I've looked on the net and can't really find anything current. As we know, laws change constantly, so current advice would be most appreciated. I split from my partner 3 years ago and we have one child together, a 5 year old daughter. From the offset I've had my daughter anything from 4 to sometimes 5 days a week, but now it's more 3 to 4 days a week. I live in a 1 bedroom flat and space is quite limited as you can imagine. My daughter sleeps on a single bed in my bedroom. I do not work at the moment due to ill health and in receipt of benefits, but always do the best I can, we make the most of any situation and my little girl is well balanced and very happy. I went to court a long while ago and was granted 2 full days a week stay overs with my daughter. But this soon changed (infact the same week) to 3 days, then 4 days etc. I didn't see any point in going back to court as I have her as much as I want now, and also as much as my angel wants to come over, I never refuse her. My questions are more housing and financial if anyone can advise. I want to apply for joint custody, as I more or less (off paper) have that already. 1) Would I be entitled to any Child Tax Credits that my ex is now in receipt of? 2) Would I be entitled to any Child Benefit my ex is now in receipt of? 3) Would having joint custody help my housing application with my local authority? As here is very cramped, to 1 bedroom. We are currently in a private accommodation. I will be going for joint custody regardless of any of the above, but it would be nice to know where I stand.
llew - 1-Jun-16 @ 8:49 PM
Sooty - Your Question:
Hi I'm living in a 1 bed flat but I have 2 little girls that stay every other weekend 1 is 2 years and 1 is 7momth am I entitled to get a 2 bed ?

Our Response:
You would have to speak with the council directly regarding this. However, as you are a non-resident parent you may not be eligible for an extra bedroom.
SeparatedDads - 16-May-16 @ 11:02 AM
Hi I'm living in a 1 bed flat but I have 2 little girls that stay every other weekend 1 is 2 years and 1 is 7momth am I entitled to get a 2 bed ?
Sooty - 15-May-16 @ 12:45 PM
Josh - Your Question:
I split with my ex 2 yrs ago and have overnight access to my 2 kids 4 and 3 years old 3 nights a weekI have always paid nursery fees but now she has involved the CSA. Thus I now pay her by direct debit to the amount he CSA specified but on top of this she is demanding I continue to pay for nursery fees also - I have refused as I buy all the kids clothes for my place and classes they attend - football, gymnastics etc plus the usual day to day costs involved with having kidsAt this stage she has cancelled the kids nursery place on a Tuesday thus I have to look after them on a Tuesday now even though I have/should be in work Thus my question is what are my options here, will the Csa allow me to stop paying her direct if substitute this with nursery fees instead (ex wants both) or do I have no options and must find a way to work through the situation?The last thing I want to do or will do is upset the kids and or their routine over money or a mentally unstable ex but at the sametime I feel she is taking the pissAny help/advice would be appreciated Thanks in advance

Our Response:
Maintenance payments are intended to be used in the best interest of the children and to cover the children’s expenses. This may include shelter, food, clothing, childcare costs and any educational needs. Maintenance can also be used to provide essential funds for a number of specific items like school fees, nursery care or any medical expenses that the child requires. While it means you are under no obligation to pay towards nursery fees, it really is up to you to decide whether you wish to pay any more.
SeparatedDads - 4-May-16 @ 2:09 PM
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