How do I know that my children will be looked after?
14th February 2017
James is seeing someone. I can’t believe it –It’s so soon. He seems to have moved on so quickly and I am feeling really hurt. I feel numb inside and need time to digest this. I also need to ask Marilyn about how this impacts on everything but I’m not sure I can face telling her about it just yet. I definitely don’t want the children to know either.
I spoke to Marilyn at length only yesterday about maintenance. As ever, there’s a lot to process but it’s clear that James is legally obliged to pay for his children and I can probably claim spousal maintenance too. We can agree the amount of child maintenance that he pays between us and it’s only if we can’t agree that we will have to apply to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
Apparently I can start to find out what James is legally required to pay by using the CMS online calculator. It calculates the amount on James’ gross salary (including bonuses but minus pension contributions) and the number of nights that the children spend at his house – there are deductions if they stay more than 52 nights a year. Of course, he may pay more than this amount but that’s down to negotiation. It all feels so complicated and I’ll definitely need Marilyn’s help.
At the moment we haven’t talked about the number of nights the children will be with him but I suppose it will be every other weekend plus some holidays. I can’t bear to think about them not being with me all of the time. It makes me want to scream and shout out loud at the unfairness of all this.
So here’s the maths as it stands, let’s hope James doesn’t have a fit at me for disclosing this. He earns around £280,000 per year including bonus. I don’t know about his pension contribution but on this amount, he would pay the maximum that the CMS can assess, £1,456 per calendar month. Not a lot compared to his monthly income but Marilyn tells me that as James earns more than £156,000, the Court may grant a top up order, in other words, get him to pay more. He’ll have to pay until both children complete their secondary education or we can ask the Court to get him to pay until the end of university. Until the end of secondary school feels fair at the moment but who knows what will happen in the future.
I can ask for spousal maintenance too. It is expected that when two people are living separately, their standard of living has to reduce as it’s more expensive to run two separate households. However, it’s not on that one person’s lifestyle should be reduced considerably whilst the other carries on the same.
Marilyn believes that I should get spousal maintenance as it’s likely that my net income, including child maintenance, will not cover my outgoings whereas James is likely to have a surplus. I’m not doing this to penalise James, but I do want things to be fair. Why should the children suffer because things have changed between James and I? Why shouldn’t I be able to take them on holiday particularly if James can swan off to the Caribbean with his new girlfriend? I’d be happy with Cornwall or anywhere, but I do know that I’m going to need a break.