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Misuse of Maintenance Payments

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 11 Aug 2018 |
 
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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Kurt - Your Question:
I pay more than what I should be paying according to csa but my soon to be x wife is insisting on more. She has just returned from a holiday in Spain with kids and now is demanding more money. What are my rights? I obviously would never see my kids without cloths food etc but she is left with a nice house and recently bought a bmw in light of all this.

Our Response:
You do not have to pay any more than CMS have assessed you should pay. However, if you have a family-based child maintenance arrangement then this should be decided between you.
SeparatedDads - 13-Aug-18 @ 1:43 PM
I pay more than what i should be paying according to csa but my soon to be x wife is insisting on more. She has just returned from a holiday in Spain with kids and now is demanding more money. What are my rights? I obviously would never see my kids without cloths food etc but she is left with a nice house and recently bought a bmw in light of all this...
Kurt - 10-Aug-18 @ 11:33 PM
Yanto2- Your Question:
My ex partner has a documented history of child neglect against my daughter,where do I stand legally in regards to paying my ex maintenance??

Our Response:
Your are still required to may maintenance to the primary carer of your child to help towards the day-to-day care of your daughter.
SeparatedDads - 19-Jul-18 @ 11:37 AM
My ex partner has a documented history of child neglect against my daughter,where do I stand legally in regards to paying my ex maintenance??
Yanto2 - 17-Jul-18 @ 9:37 PM
Hi my partner has been trying to see his kids now for two years, he asks his ex wife to see the kids but she responds with abuse or telling him his kids don't want to see him, she has even gone as far to get them to write letters saying they don't want to see him, but hasn't given a reason why he can't see them. She still let's his ex girlfriend see his kids and uses this to get a reaction from him. He was going to go to court but she manipulated him into backing down after saying it would upset his kids. We recently found out and have on video her giving his children alcohol there are 11 and 12. And she is now telling him she is spending his child support payments on shoes for herself, we also have evidence of this. He pays £430 a month and never sees his children even tho he would like to. We tried mediation and she didn't show up. He is scared if we go to court it wont go in his favor and he will lose Kids forever even tho he doesn't get to see them now he lives in hope one day he will. What is the best thing he can do? He is in arrears with CSA but hasn't missed a payment now for two years. The last time he saw his children there was no problem and they were happy to see him, it is since the breakdown of his last relationship and him starting a new one his ex wife has stopped him seeing his kids We now have a child together the children's half brother and would like them to be part of his life. My partner needs advice
Jen - 11-Jul-18 @ 11:43 PM
Tmj - Your Question:
I received a large bonus last year which was unexpected but much needed. My weekly payment has gone up by a third. I can't afford it but that's the way it goes. However my ex refuses to send my son to me with any clothes. I pick him up from school and he comes with the uniform on his back. If he comes on a non school day he comes in crocs and sweat pants.no coat, trainers, underwear or pyjamas. She's even sent him out to me without a coat in a thunder storm. I've asked many times for her to send a change of clothes but she refuses. Now I'm paying more to her a month than the average mortgage, I can't afford to continue buying clothes on top and she is still refusing to send anything. Is there anything I can do?

Our Response:
Unfortunately, not. Your ex is not responsible for supplying clothes for your child when your child is out of her care. Families deal with such issues usually via negotiation. However, most non-resident parents have a set of everything at their own home.
SeparatedDads - 12-Jun-18 @ 11:32 AM
I received a large bonus last year which was unexpected but much needed. My weekly payment has gone up by a third. I can't afford it but that's the way it goes. However my ex refuses to send my son to me with any clothes. I pick him up from school and he comes with the uniform on his back. If he comes on a non school day he comes in crocs and sweat pants.no coat, trainers, underwear or pyjamas. She's even sent him out to me without a coat in a thunder storm. I've asked many times for her to send achange of clothes but she refuses. Now I'm paying more to her a month than the average mortgage, I can't afford tocontinue buying clothes on top and she is still refusing to send anything. Is there anything I can do?
Tmj - 11-Jun-18 @ 7:37 PM
Hi, my ex has decided to take me to csa even though I have no proplem in providing for my two kids always baught them new shoes haircuts clothes etc even when unemployed I feel that she will definitely not be spending the money on my pair. Also do I need to get in contact with them over holidays and if social is involved in they lives though her fault? ?
Cj - 9-Jun-18 @ 11:46 AM
Xr1200 - Your Question:
Hi all,My ex wife has suffered mental health problems for many years. My son who is now 19 years old failed to return to college in September last year and took a job in September/ October 2018. I was not aware of this and like a jackass kept paying her the CMS assessment until December 2018. My ex wife was sectioned in November 2018 and she currently remains in a mental hospital. On finding out my son is working I informed the CMS in December 2017 they told me there was nothing they could do as she was still receiving child benefit and it was for me to report to their fraud team in the mean time I needed to continue paying her. Child benefit were contacted as well in December 2017. Again the seem to have little interest and I was told to speak to the benefits agency fraud team which I did. It is now 6 months on and the CMS have sent me another assessment for another year of payments. My son will be 20 in November. He also claimed sickness benefit in December 2017. I have had several heated arguments with CMS recently over this matter as it is completely unfair and nobody seems interested. What should I do? My son earns nearly as much as I do!

Our Response:
You can see when you should stop paying child maintenance payments via the link here and here . If your ex is deemed eligible to claim child benefit, then child maintenance will continue (as child maintenance payments stops when eligibility to claim child benefit does). You would have to find out why/on what grounds your ex is still eligible to claim child benefit for your son - you don't say what has been said.As a rule, if a young person leaves college, then child benefit is informed and once child benefit ceases, so does child maintenance automatically.
SeparatedDads - 24-May-18 @ 11:10 AM
@Xr1200.mental heath is a big problem but can be treated.i have known people to fake been ill because they are hiding something or have changed that much from association with shady characters where you would remember them anymore.you can’t reach them once they cross they don’t care for family or old friends they care for only them.
Mother - 23-May-18 @ 12:17 PM
Hi all, My ex wife has suffered mental health problems for many years. My son who is now 19 years old failed to return to college in September last year and took a job in September/ October 2018. I was not aware of this and like a jackass kept paying her the CMS assessment until December 2018. My ex wife was sectioned in November 2018 and she currently remains in a mental hospital. On finding out my son is working I informed the CMS in December 2017 they told me there was nothing they could do as she was still receiving child benefit and it was for me to report to their fraud team in the mean time I needed to continue paying her. Child benefit were contacted as well in December 2017. Again the seem to have little interest and I was told to speak to the benefits agency fraud team which I did. It is now 6 months on and the CMS have sent me another assessment for another year of payments. My son will be 20 in November. He also claimed sickness benefit in December 2017. I have had several heated arguments with CMS recently over this matter as it is completely unfair and nobody seems interested. What should I do? My son earns nearly as much as I do!
Xr1200 - 23-May-18 @ 8:54 AM
Keeney - Your Question:
Hi my son pays over £1k per month for his 3 children. He has contact 2 weekends in 4 and half of all school holidays as agreed by the courts. His ex wife refuses to supply him with shoes, clothes and coats during their visits. Is it right he should buy these it seems a waste as they do not get the wear out of them. He has asked for her from time to time to supply them with appropriate clothing. Can he reduce his maintenance in order to replace worn clothing

Our Response:
Your son cannot reduce child maintenance if paid via CMS. If he has a family-based child maintenance arrangement, he can negotiate with his ex. However, if your son is paying via CMS, then his ex is not under any obligation to supply clothing. There are no rules or regulations attached to child maintenance payments.
SeparatedDads - 1-May-18 @ 1:41 PM
Hi all, Quick question asked loads no doubt. I like most have the dd 4 nights a week pay 50% of everything else plus CSA requirements. I was until recently in a job that gave inc bank holidays 33 days a year. I used these to cover half the school holidays plus 1 week paid school club. I have a new job that states I can’t work bank holidays and use them for school cover. Told this to the ex and was given the response of “well you’ll have to find a club” for the days I can no longer cover. My question is does the CSA payment cover all my 50% costs for school holidays or am I required to pay to cover 6.5 weeks of school holidays.
Howard8 - 1-May-18 @ 7:09 AM
Hi my son pays over £1k per month for his 3 children.He has contact 2 weekends in 4 and half of all school holidays as agreed by the courts.His ex wife refuses to supply him with shoes, clothes and coats during their visits.Is it right he should buy these it seems a waste as they do not get the wear out of them.He has asked for her from time to time to supply them with appropriate clothing.Can he reduce his maintenance in order to replace worn clothing
Keeney - 30-Apr-18 @ 7:18 PM
Hildas - Your Question:
Hi I have a 14 year old son and have been paying my ex £60a week for 13 when I had him only 2 afternoons a week , now I have moved a bit further I have him 4 nights a week including all the weekend , every school holiday I have him 90 per cent of time , I have told my ex I can't afford what I was paying because he's here more than there !!!! She still demanded money but I said no , now she's gone to csa and lied saying he's here only 3 days a week ?????? What do I ???????

Our Response:
You can see more regarding this matter by the CMS link here, which will tell you more. You would have to sort this matter out directly with CMS.
SeparatedDads - 20-Apr-18 @ 10:15 AM
Hi I have a 14 year old son and have been paying my ex £60a week for 13 when I had him only 2 afternoons a week , now I have moved a bit further i have him 4 nights a week including all the weekend , every school holiday i have him 90 per cent of time , I have told my ex i can't afford what i was paying because he's here more than there !!!! She still demanded money but I said no , now she's gone to csa and lied saying he's here only 3 days a week ?????? What do i ???????
Hildas - 19-Apr-18 @ 3:54 PM
Kev - Your Question:
Hi I'm asking for advice for my partner he has his kids every week and overnight at least twice dependant on work shifts and he pays his ex wife £30 a week but she is an alcoholic so he has said he just wants proof of where the money is going so he will pay the money to her rent or has and electric or whatever but at least he will know it's not going on drink but she's going mad and saying he can't tell her how to spend her money etc etc and she will go to csa which is fine if she does this can he put a case across for her not to get cash as it's being spent on drink??

Our Response:
The receiving parent does not have to justify what they choose to spend child maintenance on. CMS will not request this either and will pay the money directly to her.
SeparatedDads - 19-Apr-18 @ 3:44 PM
Hsing - Your Question:
For the past 4 years I’ve seen my kids once in the week and alternate weekends, as my income has reduced my ex wants to stop me seeing my child to increase cms payments? Surely this isn’t fair?

Our Response:
This isn't fair and if your ex decides she wishes to do this, then you would have the option to apply to court. If you can prove your ex has stopped access because of this, the court should reinstate access via a court order (which your ex would have to keep to). However, in the meantime if your ex stops access to your children, then you would have to attempt to try to resolve the issue via mediation, please see link here . Also, the links here and here.
SeparatedDads - 19-Apr-18 @ 12:18 PM
For the past 4 years I’ve seen my kids once in the week and alternate weekends, as my income has reduced my ex wants to stop me seeing my child to increase cms payments? Surely this isn’t fair?
Hsing - 18-Apr-18 @ 9:26 PM
Hi I'm asking for advice for my partner he has his kids every week and overnight at least twice dependant on work shifts and he pays his ex wife £30 a week but she is an alcoholic so he has said he just wants proof of where the money is going so he will pay the money to her rent or has and electric or whatever but at least he will know it's not going on drink but she's going mad and saying he can't tell her how to spend her money etc etc and she will go to csa which is fine if she does this can he put a case across for her not to get cash as it's being spent on drink??
Kev - 17-Apr-18 @ 11:15 PM
Travis - Your Question:
Hi. I have my Daughter 3 full days and 3 nights a week. I have to pay my ex a weekly maintenance fee. When I have my daughter I have to feed her. Cloth her, keep a warm house and roof over her head etc, the same as she does. I get no help with anything. Yet I still have to pay maintenance to my ex. In total my ex has only has my daughter four days a month more than me. I was just wondering if anyone could shine some light on this for me as a lot of people believe that I shouldn’t really have to pay anything, or at most, pay a lot less than I already am seeing as it’s pretty much joint custody. I know these situations always play into the hands of the mother. But I’ve literally got my daughter half of the week, yet I still have to pay. Is there anyone I could contact that could help me in giving me some proper advice as I’m struggling to find much online. Thanks

Our Response:
Unless there is agreed shared-care, then if you have your child between 52 and 103 nights per year, then full child maintenance is reduced by 1/7th for each child, if you have your child overnight for 104 and 155 nights: child maintenance is reduced by 2/7th for each child. Between 156 and 174 nights: child maintenance is reduced by 3/7th for each child and if you have your child for 175 nights or more nights: child maintenance is reduced by 50%, plus an extra £7 a week reduction for each child. Please see link here. Talking to your ex directly and/or mediation may be an option for you to consider. Your only other recourse would be to take the matter to court (if your ex refuses mediation) in order to apply for joint residency. You may wish to seek some legal advice about taking the matter further, if you wish to pursue this. The fact that you have your child overnight frequently will help your case. However, if your ex is not working and is considered the primary carer of your child, then the court may leave the payment arrangement as it is. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
SeparatedDads - 9-Apr-18 @ 9:30 AM
Hi. I have my Daughter 3 full days and 3 nights a week. I have to pay my ex a weekly maintenance fee. When I have my daughter I have to feed her. Cloth her, keep a warm house and roof over her head etc, the same as she does. I get no help with anything. Yet I still have to pay maintenance to my ex. In total my ex has only has my daughter four days a month more than me. I was just wondering if anyone could shine some light on this for me as a lot of people believe that I shouldn’t really have to pay anything, or at most, pay a lot less than I already am seeing as it’s pretty much joint custody. I know these situations always play into the hands of the mother. But I’ve literally got my daughter half of the week, yet I still have to pay. Is there anyone I could contact that could help me in giving me some proper advice as I’m struggling to find much online. Thanks
Travis - 8-Apr-18 @ 8:43 AM
Mr M - Your Question:
I have the same issue as josh has posted. I pay full maintenance every single month, despite the fact that my ex only lets me have my daughter at the very most one weekend a month. Despite all that, when my daughter does actually stay, my ex does not send any clothes with her and expects me to have a full wardrobe for my daughter. So I obviously have no choice but to buy more clothes for her. Is she allowed to do this or am I able to take the cost of the clothes off the next months maintenance? And does anyone else know who I can seek advice from with things like this where they don’t treat you like you’re the bad guy?

Our Response:
For @Josh too. Your ex is under no obligation to provide the clothes for your child when your child comes to stay with you. Child maintenance is paid towards the child's day-to-day needs (which can mean towards food, utility bills, school lunches etc). Most non-resident parents supply thier own clothes for their children when they come to stay.
SeparatedDads - 6-Apr-18 @ 12:11 PM
I have the same issue as josh has posted. I pay full maintenance every single month, despite the fact that my ex only lets me have my daughter at the very most one weekend a month. Despite all that, when my daughter does actually stay, my ex does not send any clothes with her and expects me to have a full wardrobe for my daughter. So I obviously have no choice but to buy more clothes for her. Is she allowed to do this or am I able to take the cost of the clothes off the next months maintenance? And does anyone else know who I can seek advice from with things like this where they don’t treat you like you’re the bad guy?
Mr M - 5-Apr-18 @ 8:36 PM
I pay my child maintenance every month but the ex refuses to provide clothes when my daughter stays over and expects me to pay for her own wardrobe at mine......meaning less money to have nice days out when I have her! Anything I can do as the maintenance is for things like clothes etc also cost of living I know!
Josh - 31-Mar-18 @ 10:36 AM
JL - Your Question:
Hi I am paying maintenance for my son each month to the sum of £1095, he is only 4 years old. Yes I think it’s totally diabolical that I should have to pay this for a 4 year old, it does not cost that bring a child up each month, the money I pay is a lot more than some peoples mortgage payments. I know these are the rules so not much I can do about them. What I am worried about though is that I have had a salary increase and my net take home per month is now £30,000. Upon going on to the CS Calculator it still seems to max out at £252pw / £1095pm I have done some investigating and it seems if my ex partner wants more than that amount then she would need to take me to court and apply for a top up, is this true or when I am reassessed will the CMS automatically start taking even more money from me? Will the CMS tell my ex what I am earning and that she can now apply to a Court to get more from me? Does anyone have clarification on this? Many thanks

Our Response:
The amount of money the primary carer receives is not based upon the child, but upon the non-resident parent's earnings. CMS will not calculate maintenance on income over £156,000; income above that amount can only be considered by the court in order to provide ‘top-up’ maintenance to the resident parent, please see link here. CMS will inform the resident parent this is the course of action she will need to take, if she wishes to apply for further child maintenance.
SeparatedDads - 25-Jan-18 @ 10:05 AM
Hi I am paying maintenance for my son each month to the sum of £1095, he is only 4 years old. Yes I think it’s totally diabolical that I should have to pay this for a 4 year old, it does not cost that bring a child up each month, the money I pay is a lot more than some peoples mortgage payments. I know these are the rules so not much I can do about them. What I am worried about though is that I have had a salary increase and my net take home per month is now £30,000. Upon going on to the CS Calculator it still seems to max out at £252pw / £1095pm I have done some investigating and it seems if my ex partner wants more than that amount then she would need to take me to court and apply for a top up, is this true or when I am reassessed will the CMS automatically start taking even more money from me? Will the CMS tell my ex what I am earning and that she can now apply to a Court to get more from me? Does anyone have clarification on this? Many thanks
JL - 24-Jan-18 @ 12:04 AM
Jenny - Your Question:
My husband has an agreement to pay maintenance until his children finish their first degree. He has always had issues that the money hasn't been spent on them so now that they are 18 he wants to give it directly to them so that they can afford the things they need for university. Can he do this? His ex has never really provided clothes for them only at Christmas and birthdays. They have been spending their own savings on essentials. He has tried to talk to them about it but they daren't ask their mum so my husband ends up buying essentials for them. He fears they may have problems asking her when they go to university so can he just give the maintenance directly to them?

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether they are living at home or university. If they are living at home, then unless the mother agrees otherwise, the money should still be paid directly to her, if that's what the order stipulates.
SeparatedDads - 23-Jan-18 @ 3:04 PM
My husband has an agreement to pay maintenance until his children finish their first degree. He has always had issues that the money hasn't been spent on them so now that they are 18 he wants to give it directly to them so that they can afford the things they need for university. Can he do this? His ex has never really provided clothes for them only at Christmas and birthdays. They have been spending their own savings on essentials. He has tried to talk to them about it but they daren't ask their mum so my husband ends up buying essentials for them.He fears they may have problems asking her when they go to university so can he just give the maintenance directly to them?
Jenny - 20-Jan-18 @ 8:14 AM
Wordofmouth - Your Question:
I have a 1yr that I pay maintenance for at £400 a month. With the cost of living and travel to work, my 1yr old apparently needs more to live on than a fully grown man. I have asked the ex to be amicable and try to workout a happy medium that I can afford but she will not budge. She has 3 kids with her previous partner and he only pays £400 a month for all 3 of his kids but I pay the same sum for just one child. Im happy to pay for my child but im not happy that the money I pay is clearly going on someone elses kids. And why do ex's benefit even more from the paying parents if they work harder and earn more to make up for the alreasy extortionate £400 a month??

Our Response:
Child maintenance is assessed upon the level of earnings the non-resident parent brings in. For instance, on the basic rate (with no overnight stays at the non-resident parent's house), for one child, the NRP will pay 12% of their gross weekly income, two children, the NRP will pay 16% of their gross weekly income. For three or more children, and individual will pay 19% of your their weekly income.
SeparatedDads - 15-Jan-18 @ 10:47 AM
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