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Misuse of Maintenance Payments

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 1 Sep 2017 |
 
Child Support Maintenance Dad Misuse Csa

It is not uncommon for separated dads to be concerned at what their ex is doing with the money that is supposed to benefit their child or children. Of course, as responsible and caring dads you want to make sure that the money you pay towards your child's everyday needs is actually being spent on your child. It can be very frustrating and cause considerable anger if you perceive your ex to be splashing out on luxuries, such as holidays and home improvements, with money that you consider to be for your child.

For the Benefit of the Family

Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done about this. The Child Support Agency (CSA) has no control over what happens to the money once payments have been made to the resident parent. It is generally accepted that Child Support Payments can be made to benefit the household, such as on heating bills or other family needs, but often separated dads can suspect that the money is benefiting one person alone: your ex.

Of course, the vast majority of mothers think the world of their children and wouldn't put their own needs before that of their dependants. Your ex may say that she has sources of income that you don't know about, or may say that she is trying to do things that benefit the whole family. Arguably, home improvements or a holiday for all the family may, albeit only on a partial basis, benefit the child – but expensive handbags and shoes won't!

Proving Misuse

On a practical level, it would be very hard to prove that your maintenance payments are being misused. Your ex, as the resident parent, is the decision maker as to household financial expenditure and it is her sole responsibility to ensure that the money is spent appropriately. When confronted, she may simply say that she is using other money to pay for things for herself and using your money for your child's benefit. If there has been a period of time when child support has not been paid, she may 'justify' her expenditure on having to meet the sole financial responsibility during that period.

When You Can Intervene

It is a wholly different scenario if your child's needs are not being met and you are worried about their welfare. For example, it is totally unacceptable for your child to be neglected, abused or poorly treated. If you are seriously worried about the way in which your child is being treated, you need to seek legal advice without delay. Any decision to do so should not be taken lightly and is bound to be met with considerable hostility by your ex. In extreme cases, you could apply for a residence order but bear in mind that the court would always look at the welfare and best interests of the child first.

CSA Reassessment

Of course, there are other options. You could Enter Into Mediation with your ex to try to air your concerns and to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. If you are paying money through the CSA, you could also ask for a reassessment if the money you are paying is causing Financial Difficulties in comparison to your ex's life of luxury.

When making agreements about maintenance payments (and this is where mediation can help), you could offer to be responsible specifics, such as school dinner money, school trips, nursery/holiday club fees, sports clubs, subscriptions etc. This might help you in knowing just where your money is going.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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[Add a Comment]
@Sam The person who your partner's child is currently living with should register that he/she is caring for the child. That person will be able to claim child maintenance from both your partner and the child's mother if this is the case.
OllieM - 4-Sep-17 @ 10:03 AM
My partner is paying cms for his child but she does not live with her mother anymore & cms won't listen to him & his ex is breaking the law, what can he do as his daughter is not getting a penny of this money?
Sam - 1-Sep-17 @ 9:13 AM
Jessie - Your Question:
My partner and I have his son after school on Tuesday Thursday and Friday then Saturday overnight to Sunday. we feed him 5 days a week and pick him up from schoolBecause his mother isn't there until 8-9pm most days. We help him with his homework, (he doesn't have a computer or printer at home which is essential for homework nowadays) we also pay for his once a week guitar lesson and drive him there and back. We also have him in school holidays overnight for each day of the holiday, Easter, Christmas and a week in the summer. Do we still have to pay so much??

Our Response:
Your partner can see how much he should be paying through CMS via the link here.
SeparatedDads - 22-Aug-17 @ 2:24 PM
My partner and I have his son after school on Tuesday Thursday and Friday then Saturday overnight to Sunday. we feed him 5 days a week and pick him up from school Because his mother isn't there until 8-9pm most days. We help him with his homework, (he doesn't have a computer or printer at home which is essential for homework nowadays) we also pay for his once a week guitar lesson and drive him there and back. We also have him in school holidays overnight for each day of the holiday, Easter, Christmas and a week in the summer. Do we still have to pay so much??
Jessie - 18-Aug-17 @ 4:31 PM
Sharban17- Your Question:
My husband pays maintenance, which has been worked out by the CMS. He has two girls, which we have every other weekend and for tea every Thursday. In the school holidays, my husbands ex partner, takes the girls to their grandmas (my husbands mothers), this is not something my husband has agreed to, but his ex works full time, so of course, she needs child care (free) and she asked that his mum helps out. This happens twice a week, in the school holidays. My mother in law feeds them and takes them out, using her own money. This is annoying in itself, because my husbands ex is very financially well off, which I think, she should at least offer to give my mother in law money to spend on them. (But that's another story)! In the 6 weeks holiday, we have the girls for a week. We can never afford to take them away, due to the fact my husband pays so much in maintenance payments and my wage isn't great either. What I would like to know, is; does my husband still have to pay maintenance, even if they are with us for that week? we have an extra food bill and the costs of taking them out on day trips. Is there no payment holiday for him, during that period? Is my mother in law, able to claim for money spent on her grand kids? I thought that the law had changed, whereby, grandparents could receive money for providing childcare. How does the law stand on those circumstances?

Our Response:
It is up to your husband's mother if she wishes to look after/ take the children out. This is considered a voluntary arrangement and she cannot claim money back from the resident parent. Child maintenance payments are calculated/averaged across the full year and your husband will be required to continue payment.
SeparatedDads - 3-Aug-17 @ 2:01 PM
My husband pays maintenance, which has been worked out by the CMS. He has two girls, which we have every other weekend and for tea every Thursday. In the school holidays, my husbands ex partner, takes the girls to their grandmas (my husbands mothers), this is not something my husband has agreed to, but his ex works full time, so of course, she needs child care (free) and she asked that his mum helps out. This happens twice a week, in the school holidays. My mother in law feeds them and takes them out, using her own money. This is annoying in itself, because my husbands ex is very financially well off, which I think, she should at least offer to give my mother in law money to spend on them. (But that's another story)! In the 6 weeks holiday, we have the girls for a week. We can never afford to take them away, due to the fact my husband pays so much in maintenance payments and my wage isn't great either. What I would like to know, is; does my husband still have to pay maintenance, even if they are with us for that week? we have an extra food bill and the costs of taking them out on day trips. Is there no payment holiday for him, during that period? Is my mother in law, able to claim for money spent on her grand kids? I thought that the law had changed, whereby, grandparents could receive money for providing childcare. How does the law stand on those circumstances?
Sharban17 - 2-Aug-17 @ 5:47 PM
Hi I have a property I was living in with my ex, the property is mortgaged solely by myself. I have recently rented this property & my ex has her sights on the income ! Is this taken into account by CSA and how is it calculated
Wj - 27-May-17 @ 11:39 AM
Nikki - Your Question:
Hello, my partner has twins aged 10 he rarely sees them due to her taking the kids with out his consent across the country. He pays 200 a month and he has two more children with me. The children rarely live with the mother they are mostly at their grandmother's house. The children when they stay with us when they have a school holiday which is not a lot.we have to buy them a new bunch of clothes and shoes the girl has nits and they over all are very shabby and have been wearing the same clothes for the past few years. So we pay for everything and she's spending the maint on her holidays for her and new boyfriend and her glamours life style. Can anything be done please?

Our Response:
I'm afraid your partner's ex does not have to justify what she spends your partner's child maintenance payments on. It all goes towards their children's day-to-day care which at £25 per week for each child will get sucked up very quickly. Utility bills, food, school transport/dinners are just a few of the items a primary carer has to pay for.
SeparatedDads - 23-May-17 @ 12:57 PM
Hello, my partner has twins aged 10 he rarely sees them due to her taking the kids with out his consent across the country. He pays 200 a month and he has two more children with me. The children rarely live with the mother they are mostly at their grandmother's house. The children when they stay with us when they have a school holiday which is not a lot.we have to buy them a new bunch of clothes and shoes the girl has nits and they over all are very shabby and have been wearing the same clothes for the past few years. So we pay for everything and she's spending the maint on her holidays for her and new boyfriend and her glamours life style. Can anything be done please?
Nikki - 22-May-17 @ 6:43 PM
Lister - Your Question:
I have been happily divorced for over 5 years, today I had a heart to heart with my 17 year old daughter.It appears for the past two years my ex has been making my daughter use her own savings to buy her clothes, shoes and other essentials. Her savings are all gone now and her mother has refused to buy her shoes, clothes and even underwear.I share care 50/50 and pay through child maintenance, I did originally have a consent order which after 12 months my ex in her infinite wisdom decide to tell the CMA to apply to the court to dissolve.My question; Is there any redress so that my daughter can receive the essentials she needs?I would quote the CM options site which defines what maintenance is for but I am sure the more enlightened here already know.Thanks

Our Response:
I'm afraid your ex does not have to justify what she spends child maintenance payments on.
SeparatedDads - 22-May-17 @ 12:53 PM
I have been happily divorced for over 5 years, today I had a heart to heart with my 17 year old daughter. It appears for the past two years my ex has been making my daughter use her own savings to buy her clothes, shoes and other essentials. Her savings are all gone now and her mother has refused to buy her shoes, clothes and even underwear. I share care 50/50 and pay through child maintenance, I did originally have a consent order which after 12 months my ex in her infinite wisdom decide to tell the CMA to apply to the court to dissolve. My question; Is there any redress so that my daughter can receive the essentials she needs? I would quote the CM options site which defines what maintenance is for but I am sure the more enlightened here already know. Thanks
Lister - 21-May-17 @ 11:18 PM
Rick - Your Question:
Hi.I was wondering if somebody could advise me.I have a son with my ex wife.I currently pay £ 613.00 per month in child maintenance as calculated by the CMS.She is now refusing to let me see him until we have an agreement for contact in place. The sticking point for her is that she believes that I should be buying him clothes for the time I spend with him.I have tried to reason with her saying that the maintenace is for clothing for him at all times not just when he is with her.Any thoughts, comments or previous experience would be greatly appreciated.Rick

Our Response:
If you cannot reach a resolution between yourselves, then mediation is the next port of call, please see link here. Most non-resident parents have clothing, toys and the necessities at their houses when their children come to stay. It helps stop confusion and arguments about the return of clothing etc. However, there is no right or wrong way, it's about coming to an agreement for what both of you think is in the best interests of your child. I'll put your comment on our Separated Dads Facebook page, to see what our dads say and to see if anyone has any helpful advice. Please see link here for your replies.
SeparatedDads - 19-May-17 @ 12:16 PM
Hi. I was wondering if somebody could advise me. I have a son with my ex wife. I currently pay £ 613.00 per month in child maintenance as calculated by the CMS. She is now refusing to let me see him until we have an agreement for contact in place. The sticking point for her is that she believes that I should be buying him clothes for the time I spend with him. I have tried to reason with her saying that the maintenace is for clothing for him at all times not just when he is with her. Any thoughts, comments or previous experience would be greatly appreciated. Rick
Rick - 18-May-17 @ 8:20 PM
Barry - Your Question:
My ex partner has said that she no longer wants to receive payments for child maintenance. On average I have my two daughters 3 days and nights a week. I'm worried that although she has said this ( and I also have it saved in messages) she may in the future decide otherwise and try to back date payments. Would she be able to request backdated payments based on this?

Our Response:
If you have a family-based arrangement that is not assessed via CMS, then you can negotiate payments between you. If your payments go through CMS then you would be liable for arrears. You might want to speak to CMS directly, or ask your ex to verify that she no longer wants child maintenance through a legal document.
SeparatedDads - 11-May-17 @ 2:50 PM
My ex partner has said that she no longer wants to receive payments for child maintenance. On average I have my two daughters 3 days and nights a week. I'm worried that although she has said this ( and I also have it saved in messages) she may in the future decide otherwise and try to back date payments. Would she be able to request backdated payments based on this?
Barry - 11-May-17 @ 7:28 AM
Nik876 - Your Question:
My parter has a son and his ex keeps getting CMS on to him we provide the child with his school uniform shoes bags books pens pencils every year he stays 2+ night a week with us also we provide him dinner money and school trip money when he is with us and his mum when he is with her yet she still expects maintenances surely she isn't entitled to more money from him is she

Our Response:
All non-resident parents have to provide for day-to-day financial support for their children. As a benchmark, your partner can calculate what he should be paying towards the upkeep of his child via the CMS calculator here.
SeparatedDads - 11-Apr-17 @ 12:15 PM
My parter has a son and his ex keeps getting CMS on to him we provide the child with his school uniform shoes bags books pens pencils every year he stays 2+ night a week with us also we provide him dinner money and school trip money when he is with us and his mum when he is with her yet she still expects maintenances surely she isn't entitled to more money from him is she
Nik876 - 10-Apr-17 @ 12:21 PM
Hi my husband was married before he pays child maintenance according to what he should every month it go stray to her bank. We have him every other weekend for three dayshe is now doin over time to pay for bills bit this overtime won't be forever only while it's there does this mean he will have to pay her more
Hopefull - 6-Apr-17 @ 11:52 AM
jane - Your Question:
My partner split from his ex 4 years ago and has always made paymentsome towards his daughter in line with guidelines of 80 pounds a week. he was seeing his daughter up until Dec 2015 but then ex refused to allow his access he has been to court and they have said it's upto the child as she is now 12. my concern is the mother has brain washed the child and now refuses to even speak to her dad so not only does he pay an extreme amount to but he does not get to spend any time with her. is this in line with cms

Our Response:
I'm afraid child maintenance and child access have no bearing on each other, meaning a non-resident parent is legally obliged by law to support their child regardless of whether they have contact with the child or not. Likewise, a non-resident parent who cannot afford to pay child maintenance as the result of unemployment etc, should not be stopped from seeing their child as a result. We cannot comment on the child's response to her father or whether her mother has 'brainwashed' her into a particular way of thinking, but the article: Ex Partners and Parental Alienation Syndrome here.
SeparatedDads - 28-Mar-17 @ 10:17 AM
My partner split from his ex 4 years ago and has always made paymentsome towards his daughter in line with guidelines of 80 pounds a week. he was seeing his daughter up until Dec 2015 but then ex refused to allow his access he has been to court and they have said it's upto the child as she is now 12. my concern is the mother has brain washed the child and now refuses to even speak to her dad so not only does he pay an extreme amount to but he does not get to spend any time with her. is this in line with cms
jane - 27-Mar-17 @ 9:41 AM
Ian - Your Question:
I pay maintenance to my ex wife (as advised by the online CSA calculator) under our own terms for my 2 children. She has decided that the best case for her if to have it paid into her account on a monthly basis via standing order. I live 115 miles away from my children and only have them every other weekend. If I have my children for 15 days over the summer holidays do I only have to pay her half of the maintenance for that month (considering that they will be in my care for the other half)?

Our Response:
Unless you agree otherwise between you, CMS payments are calculated to be averaged over the year.
SeparatedDads - 21-Mar-17 @ 12:56 PM
I pay maintenance to my ex wife (as advised by the online CSA calculator) under our own terms for my 2 children. She has decided that the best case for her if to have it paid into her account on a monthly basis via standing order. I live 115 miles away from my children and only have them every other weekend. If I have my children for 15 days over the summer holidays do I only have to pay her half of the maintenance for that month (considering that they will be in my care for the other half)?
Ian - 20-Mar-17 @ 6:44 PM
Hi, I have always paid CSA in accordance with their calculations, this has since changed to CSM, I phoned the CSA and asked them how to go about payments etc and they stated I should carry on paying the same amount just directly to the ex. I started an account solely for this and have started making payments on amonthly basis but was wondering, my daughter regularly turns up with clothes that are too small and worn, school uniform that is incorrect and again too small and never gets her haircut, obviously as a young girl she loves having long hair but most of the time it is almost impossible to get a brush through due to the split ends etc. My maintanace surely should cover these things? I am not too worried about casual clothing but haircuts and school uniform must come into it? Unfortunately I have tried buying new uniform however on her return to me I just again get worn and unusable clothing. Am I within my rights to deduct the money I need to spend providing my daughter with what she requires from my payments, I would always keep receipts, otherwise it would seem htat I am going to have to continually have my hand in my pocket to avoid embarrassment for our child.
Lee - 3-Mar-17 @ 6:55 PM
Lee - Your Question:
Hi,I have always paid CSA in accordance with their calculations, this has since changed to CSM, I phoned the CSA and asked them how to go about payments etc and they stated I should carry on paying the same amount just directly to the ex. I started an account solely for this and have started making payments on amonthly basis but was wondering, my daughter regularly turns up with clothes that are too small and worn, school uniform that is incorrect and again too small and never gets her haircut, obviously as a young girl she loves having long hair but most of the time it is almost impossible to get a brush through due to the split ends etc. My maintanace surely should cover these things? I am not too worried about casual clothing but haircuts and school uniform must come into it? Unfortunately I have tried buying new uniform however on her return to me I just again get worn and unusable clothing.Am I within my rights to deduct the money I need to spend providing my daughter with what she requires from my payments, I would always keep receipts, otherwise it would seem htat I am going to have to continually have my hand in my pocket to avoid embarrassment for our child.

Our Response:
You are not entitled to deduct the money and you would be liable for arrears of you stopped payment. I'm afraid this is an issue that has to be resolved between you and your ex and it is an issue that affects many parents. Your ex doesn't not have to justify what she spends child maintenance on, but it may be that she specifically sends your daughter in old clothes when she comes to your home (many parents do). You can only really try to discuss this with your ex and/or put your hand further in your pocket to provide other clothes for while she is staying with you and send your daughter back home her old clothes. Unfortunately, there are no rules regulating how a parent should clothe their child.
SeparatedDads - 3-Mar-17 @ 12:33 PM
Hi, I have always paid CSA in accordance with their calculations, this has since changed to CSM, I phoned the CSA and asked them how to go about payments etc and they stated I should carry on paying the same amount just directly to the ex. I started an account solely for this and have started making payments on amonthly basis but was wondering, my daughter regularly turns up with clothes that are too small and worn, school uniform that is incorrect and again too small and never gets her haircut, obviously as a young girl she loves having long hair but most of the time it is almost impossible to get a brush through due to the split ends etc. My maintanace surely should cover these things? I am not too worried about casual clothing but haircuts and school uniform must come into it? Unfortunately I have tried buying new uniform however on her return to me I just again get worn and unusable clothing. Am I within my rights to deduct the money I need to spend providing my daughter with what she requires from my payments, I would always keep receipts, otherwise it would seem htat I am going to have to continually have my hand in my pocket to avoid embarrassment for our child.
Lee - 2-Mar-17 @ 1:11 PM
Freetown3 - Your Question:
My boyfriend was married in his previous relationship and has a son of 2 years old and they are yet to legally divorce/separate.She is a stay at home mum and on benefits whilst my boyfriend and I work 50plus hours a a week For us to live and for him to pay his child maintence. The mother allows him to see his son every other weekend and one day a week. She then changes her mind and says that the child needs to see you more so have him an extra 2 nights a week which we are more than happy to do but then she changes her mind and says no you can't have him now. And now she's demanding more than double his agreed CSA payment and says that we only have him 2 nights a month. We have agreed to have him more but if she doesn't allow it and she says we don't have him enough where do we stand? It's mentally exausting!

Our Response:
In a case such as this, when no resolution can be agreed upon between parents, then the first option your boyfriend has is to suggest mediation, please see link here. If your boyfriend's ex refuses to attend, then court would be his next option, please see link here. Child maintenance payments have no bearing upon whether your boyfriend should or should not be allowed to see his child (i.e it is not permissable for his ex to use the child as a financial bargaining tool). Therefore, in the first instance your boyfriend may wish to seek some legal advice. A solicitor's letter to his ex specifiying he has no obligation to pay above the amount requested by the CMS and his ex should either reinstate access immediately or your boyfriend will apply to take the matter to court, may do the trick.
SeparatedDads - 10-Jan-17 @ 1:54 PM
My boyfriend was married in his previous relationship and has a son of 2 years old and they are yet to legally divorce/separate. She is a stay at home mum and on benefits whilst my boyfriend and I work 50plus hours a a week For us to live and for him to pay his child maintence. The mother allows him to see his son every other weekend and one day a week. She then changes her mind and says that the child needs to see you more so have him an extra 2 nights a week which we are more than happy to do but then she changes her mind and says no you can't have him now. And now she's demanding more than double his agreed CSA payment and says that we only have him 2 nights a month. We have agreed to have him more but if she doesn't allow it and she says we don't have him enough where do we stand? It's mentally exausting!
Freetown3 - 9-Jan-17 @ 8:01 PM
My partner has "half shared care" of his daughters. I've used quotations there because that's what the children's mother classes it as but it's not the reality. This year we have had his 2 children 192 days between January- November. Yet their mother claims child benefit for both children (and would never give this up as she uses it to claim other benefits like tax credits, etc) and my partner also has to pay her maintenance money! Just wondering what steps would have to be taken for him to stop paying maintenance? We don't care about child benefit money, she's welcome to that but he's effectively paying for the children when they are here and there but because they are there less...it's paying their mother not to have the children!
Confuzzled - 10-Dec-16 @ 3:08 PM
Emma - Your Question:
Just a bit of advice , my partner has separated from his wife 2 years now , he pays her car at over £100 per month and gives her £150 in cash for his two children , he keeps them 3 nights per week , he pays half of school uniforms , xmas and what ever else the kids need , dinner money on the days he takes them to school etc , his ex wife is now saying that he hasn't given her any money since they split up but there are witnesses including the children , what can he do about this , when they split she set the days and time he has the kids and she set how much money she wanted and he just agreed , this is causing him stress , as the divorce has just started !!

Our Response:
If your partner is giving his ex money in a family-based arrangement, he should pay via direct debit or bank transfer, not cash. However, only if he pays via the CMS will he be liable for arrears if his ex says he has not paid. He can see how much he should be paying via the CMS calculator here.
SeparatedDads - 18-Nov-16 @ 2:27 PM
Just a bit of advice , my partner has separated from his wife 2 years now , he pays her car at over £100 per month and gives her £150 in cash for his two children , he keeps them 3 nights per week , he pays half of school uniforms , xmas and what ever else the kids need , dinner money on the days he takes them to school etc , his ex wife is now saying that he hasn't given her any money since they split up but there are witnesses including the children , what can he do about this , when they split she set the days and time he has the kids and she set how much money she wanted and he just agreed , this is causing him stress , as the divorce has just started !!
Emma - 18-Nov-16 @ 10:08 AM
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