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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33942
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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I got a divorce in 2009 with a shared residence order

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I got a divorce in 2009 with a shared residence order for the children. When the older was 15 there was a fight and both children (then 12 and 15) decided to only live with me. Police, social services & counsellors were involved. I then asked for maintenance which I get on the basis of the shared residence order. Going to court for custody is not worth it because the father declares a low income. Since children can choose with which parent to live when they turn 16 I wondered what happens to maintenance at that point. Is there a mechanism where the child declares where he wants to live and then that gets stamped by the courts and feeds through to the csa? There must be a lot of parents in that situation of suddenly having a 16year old move in, but them not getting any more money. Going to court is not worth it at that point because by the time you are through all that they have moved out!
The children are now 14 and almost 17, in full time education and living with me. They haven't seen the father for 18 months and we have not been to court since 2009. I offered mediation but the father refused.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
have you notified the CSA that the children now live with you full time?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes, I did when the both moved in 100%. They were then 12 and 15 and the csa said I could only have money based on the paperwork I have, ie an equal residence share. They said in order to get full maintenance I have to go to court and get custody.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
That is nonsense.
Do you receive the Child Benefit for both children?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes, also tax credits. The csa paperwork states clearly that the payment is on the basis that the father has the children at least 52 nights a year, because I was told by the csa that I cannot claim fully without getting custody. I asked my lawyer 2 years ago whether some default kicks in once they have been with me for a year, but she said no, the only option is court

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Right
How much is he currently paying?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

He is selfemployed and declares only 25% of his true income. The paperwork says his weekly income is £172 and he has the kids at least 52 nights/year. He pays £14.41 on direct pay. I presume he told the csa that he sees them less now (but he doesn't see them at all), because it was £9.50 last year. If that's the case then it's outrageous that he can tick a box indicating contact time and I can't. The online calculator says that based on £172/wk and 52+ nights I should get £22. Surely the new tax year can't have brought an increase of 50%. It's all peanuts, but I still wonder.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
is he a sole Trader or a Limited Company?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Sole trader, doesn't claim any benefits.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Do you have any evidence of his real earnings?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

This is a tricky one to answer. Simple answer, no. Complicated answer: He is a freelance musician who runs festivals and orchestras etc. There has always been the danger of VAT because of the high turnover, and VAT registration would slash 75% of his income because he would be no longer competitive. His concert diary is online and 18 months ago I have given the IR the online diary link, plus estimates of payment/income etc for 3 previous tax years (2011-2014), for each concert with name of organiser. All they have to do is contact the organiser and ask how much and how he was paid and then ask for evidence of it being paid in. I also told them how much he is likely to pay the musicians he hired and how much he keeps for himself, all based on experience from when we were married and I was excluded from all financial things because I was unhappy with how he did it all. The IR are spectacularly useless with these things. I would have thought that there would have been at least a slight increase in his declared income on the CSA paperwork in December 2014 after an IR investigation, but not really. He pays in cheques at banks abroad and may pay (or avoid) tax in 2 countries to avoid VAT registration and the CSA (but I don't know whether that works), and given what I know from when we were married it is likely that he has opened bank accounts abroad forging signatures of his elderly father to shift money around and make it look like gifts when the money comes back to the UK. He gets rent from a room, probably £350/month minimum and he has paid off his 85k mortgage in 4 years. But there is nothing I can do about that if the IR doesn't pull their finger out.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Your starting point is to seek a re-assessment by the CSA - and - to appeal it in the basis that his lifestyle does not match his declared income.
You should also point out to the CSA that the Court Order no longer covers your oldest child (it ended on his 16th birthday) and that the child no longer has any contact with his father.
Also inform them that that your youngest child is exercising his right not to attend contact and that the assessment should be made on that basis.
The CSA cannot just rely on the court order in a dispute
I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details
Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33942
Experience: I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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