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Housing question
#1
Hi

Just found this website today and am glad I did!

I separated from my ex (not married, but my name is on the birth certificate for both kids) last year (Autumn 2015).

We were both living in a housing association flat (2010- present) and were lucky enough to be offered a place to put a yurt in 2014.  We did this as the flat is tiny and we were not getting on well and thought it might help to save the relationship having two properties to live in.  However, we all moved into the yurt and the relationship did not improve and ended up with the agreement that I would move back to the flat permanently to see if we could live separately and make things work.  It didn't work and our relationship failed.

I am currently living in the flat on my own but have my two boys every Wednesday night plus either Friday to Sunday or Sunday to Monday on alternate weeks, with extra days/nights as and when I can.

All benefits are registered at the flat, housing benefit, child benefit, working tax credits and child tax credits, but all go directly to her account (minus housing benefit).

The flat is in my name on an assured tenancy.

The situation I am needing help with is this:

The flat is due to be demolished with an interim property being given to me (us) whilst they build new properties on the current site of the flat.  I have contacted the housing association and confirmed that we can have a new build property once they are built.

As things are not harmonious with the ex, I am worried that she will separate with me fully, claiming all due benefits at the yurt address, leaving me as a single male in a two bedroom interim property.  Obviously I would like to continue to have a two bedroom property for when I have the kids, which is 1/3rd of the time (with extra time with the kids given to me when she goes off to work for 7-10 days at a time with her business or when she has plans/dates/holidays with her current boyfriend).  Am I entitled to keep a housing association property as I look after the kids for a fair amount of the time?

As I understand it I have no rights to be housed in a two bedroom property even though I care for the kids for a minimum 1/3rd of the time.  Is this correct?

I have asked her if we could share the kids 50/50, by having the custody of one child each.  Is this possible, or can there only be one main carer?  

I am worried that I will be asked to leave the property as it will be under occupied if I am here on my own and she is primary carer.  If this is the case & I have to move to a one bed flat which wouldn't be great or a bedsit which would be a nightmare for me to care for the kids when I have them.

Any light on this matter would be much appreciated as I'm getting quite stressed and anxious with what the future holds.
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#2
Hi Redsdreads, and welcome.

As your ex gets the child benefit, she gets the tax credits and as a non resident parent you are liable to pay her 20% of your net income. This is set down in statute and can be reduced depending on the number of times annually that you have your children overnight.
In an ideal world, morally, you'd like to think she'd hand over something whilst the kids are with you but there's nothing in law that says she has to. I certainly wouldn't say you were out of order but it's something you'd negotiate between yourselves.
I know it's not an ideal solution, but what would happen if you said you couldn't afford to look after them whilst she was on holiday and she'd have to arrange something else ?

There is no reason why you couldn't get custody of one child and make the relevant claims for CB etc. But putting the kids first, would that be in their best interests?

Knowledge of housing isn't really my forte, but I do know if you claim housing benefit and have more bedrooms than your local authority deem necessary then you'll get caught up in the "bedroom tax" issue. You'd be better discussing your case with a housing charity. As you don't currently get CB then the law doesn't make allowances regarding your kids coming to stay. I'm caught up in a similar issue regarding my daughter being with me. As she's not here permanently, and I don't receive CB or tax credits, she has no entitlement to a bedroom under the housing rules.

If you are working and don't claim housing benefit then you can have as many bedrooms as you like, unless your local authority have a policy of ensuring the number of bedrooms relates to the number of people in the household. Yet again, direct discussion with them would yield accurate information rather than relying on forums for answers. Sad to say if your ex in effect, abandons your housing association home then you become a single person and your requirements are likewise different. Bearing in mind if you aren't truthful with them you put yourself at risk of eviction as in their eyes it would be fraudulent.

Sorry I'm not much help, but maybe someone else can post something which would help?
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#3
Norfolk n Good

Thanks for your reply and clearing up those matters for me.

I was hoping that if we were each to have custody of one child then I would be able to keep the flat on and she would also be able to go on the housing list with the other child, or vice versa.
I am happy to give the flat up and put it in her name, move out and let her and the kid(s) move in to provide a stable home for them.
I hope that this is possible as then we'd be able to care for our two kids together at both properties. ie the kids could be with her for a week/fortnight and then with me for a week/fortnight. The plan is not to separate the kids, but to care for both of them together between us.

We are trying to work out what we can achieve with the kids best interest at heart.

I'll try to find a housing charity I could contact to clarify this.

Thanks again for your response.
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#4
There is no reason why your ideas wouldn't work, but it will need the full support of your ex to achieve it. Do you think your children would cope well living a week with dad and a week with mum? How would this impact on their education?

There are many questions you need to ask yourself before you can put your ideas into actions, but it could be done.

Although I can see how the housing issue is interlinked with your children, you need to treat them as two different issues. Your entitlement to a home is the same as anybody elses, but "needing the extra bedroom for when the children come to stay" doesn't work in terms of housing need if they are registered as living somewhere else.

You'll need to co-operate with your ex to get the best outcome for your kids, but if you can both put your personal feelings aside and work together for their benefit of your kids there is no reason why you can't both be happy with the outcome.
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#5
I know a lot about the housing side of your questions and about welfare benfits.

If not living together as a couple (up to 3 nights a week staying over would not be considered as living together), then you need to claim as single people.

Only 1 of you can get Child Benefit, and this will be the parent the children spend 51% or more time with. That person also gets tax credits, entitltment for bedrooms for housing.

You need to update your landlord of the developments with who is living in the proparty currently, as following any moving you have to make new claims for housing benefit. This is going to reduce how much housing benefit you can get. You can find out the full picture on benfits at http://www.entitledto.co.uk

Section 329 of the Housing Act 1985 protects you from landlord action on overcrowding (short term visiting relatives are exempt), so while you will have to downsize, as its visiting family legally you would be ok.

In terms of child support, what what was posted is the normal, the courts will look on how much time they are with you, and if your ex provides anything for this. As an example, in my case I have my children 20 weeks a year, what I provide everything for, and I just buy things for school like uniform, trips and if my ex needs anything else she just asks me to get it.
Posts made by me are my opinion and any factual information should be checked out. If you do not have a Solicitor, often your local CAB can get you some initial advice.
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#6
Thanks for your additional information Mark, it's good to see others posting in their field of knowledge.

The only thing I would say is it's perfectly possible for 2 children with the same parents to live at different addresses (different for administrative purposes) and each parent to claim for the child that lives with them. Prime example being, for example, a 16 year old who originally lived with their mother, and then moves in with their father who lives closer to an establishment of further education, he can then claim CB for that child. Not withstanding that, your comments regarding overcrowding and keeping the local authority informed due to benefit claims I'm in full agreement with. The key is being honest and open, which then gives you less chance of shooting yourself in the foot Smile
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#7
(03-31-2016, 07:24 PM)Norfolk n Good Wrote: Thanks for your additional information Mark, it's good to see others posting in their field of knowledge.

The only thing I would say is it's perfectly possible for 2 children with the same parents to live at different addresses (different for administrative purposes) and each parent to claim for the child that lives with them. Prime example being, for example, a 16 year old who originally lived with their mother, and then moves in with their father who lives closer to an establishment of further education, he can then claim CB for that child. Not withstanding that, your comments regarding overcrowding and keeping the local authority informed due to benefit claims I'm in full agreement with. The key is being honest and open, which then gives you less chance of shooting yourself in the foot Smile

Under Welfare Benefit reforms, that would not work.

You can not claim housing benefit in your own name, or someone else have a claim resulting in your occoupancy being considered as part of it, and also claim exemption at a parents address.  Whoever is getting the child benefit is the only parent even in further education who can be excempt from bedroom tax (or qualify for a bedroom on a private rent housing benefit application), for the student, and only if the state is not paying or helping with rent near where they study.

In a situation where parent A has child benefit, but the student is living with parent B during study time, its up to parent A to use cash provided by the state for the student to support them, what might involve them giving some of it to parent B, to cover their costs, or parent B to then claim the benefits (ending payments to Parent A), as the student is with them for over 51% of the time. Its not up to the state to provide it again. Even if the student lived away for both parents in term time, they could not get any help of the state with rent if either parent is already getting it for them.
Posts made by me are my opinion and any factual information should be checked out. If you do not have a Solicitor, often your local CAB can get you some initial advice.
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#8
I was addressing the issue of child benefit, not the ramifications related to housing benefit. I bow to your greater knowledge on the issue of housing, bedroom tax and benefits, but separated parents can claim CB seperately if the children live in different homes. They can't claim for the same child at the same time. Hope the distinction is now clarified Smile
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#9
(03-31-2016, 10:18 PM)Norfolk n Good Wrote: I was addressing the issue of child benefit, not the ramifications related to housing benefit. I bow to your greater knowledge on the issue of housing, bedroom tax and benefits, but separated parents can claim CB seperately if the children live in different homes. They can't claim for the same child at the same time. Hope the distinction is now clarified Smile

Sorry if there was any missunderstanding about this issue.

While you are right in saying parents can claim seperately, the process take take from 3 weeks with co operation from other parent, to 6 weeks if you have to prove the change of resident parent.

The main issue is the law only requires the parent they are leaving, to report it in 28 days to every goverment agency or local authority paying them any form of welfare benefits.

The new resident parent can put in a claim from day 1, but all the agencys can do is write to the other parent, giving them a 14 day time to get back to them. Claims get back dated to the date you ask, but if the other partner does not respond (and often they do not as payments carry on for that period to them), then after 14 days they will look at any prove you have (for example court order showing change of resident parent).

Where the system fails people is from day 1 if you upgrade housing, you have to make up the short fall for up  to 6 weeks, it will get back dated, but to upgrade as you do not have corrent benefits in place, its hard for you to prove to any potential landlord you can afford the rent.
Posts made by me are my opinion and any factual information should be checked out. If you do not have a Solicitor, often your local CAB can get you some initial advice.
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