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JGM
JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 11148
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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I have been divorced from my husband since 2007 and our 2 children

Resolved Question:

I have been divorced from my husband since 2007 and our 2 children live with me. I took them on holiday recently and my ex-husband informed me on our return that both children had run up a large mobile phone bill. My ex-husband is now expecting me to pay part of this and has told me he will be amending next month's maintenance payment to cover part of this bill. I have said this is unfair and unreasonable and he has told me that I can recover these monies from the children's saving's account (which I set up and I contribute into from my own personal monies). I have asked for a copy of this bill but yet he has not responded with this. My ex-husband had provided the children with these mobiles through his company and therefore are nothing to do with myself. I explained this to him also but he was adamant I was liable for part of the bill (£250). As a result he is now sending me abusive texts and I am not sure how to proceed.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Scots Law
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question.
Is the maintenance paid by Minute of Agreement, through the the CSA or just by informal arrangement.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Informal arrangement. Initially via Minute of Agreement but that was in 2007 and, as he is self employed, he has altered payments on numerous occasions since this date. When he was constantly changing/reducing payments I suggested we go through the CSA to make a more formal agreement. My ex said if I proceeded down this route he would declare minimum income (he is registered as a single share holder of his company). This would work out a lot less in maintenance payments so I decided to continue as we are.

Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
The CSA has the power to get his tax returns so what he declares won't necessarily help him. Your only recourse is to go to the CSA. As things stand at present you can't make him not deduct the £250 where there is only an informal arrangement. So there is an element in risk in going to the CSA if he decides to make things difficult but that is your only remedy against him doing what he likes.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
When I thought of going down CSA route I did speak to them and explained situation. I explained he is earning £200k+ but obviously would not be showing this through earnings as he was a sole shareholder. They were very unhelpful and said I was probably best in the position I was and they would not have the time or powers to obtain enough paperwork to prove otherwise.
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
They can access tax records if they really put their mind to it. The problem is that they are lazy and will only do what they want to do. That is why they have such a dreadful reputation with parents on both sides of the divide.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
This doesn't help my situation. This example of my ex using withdrawing finances as a constant 'threat' was why I wanted to have something more solid in place. He got his solicitor involved (Fotheringham who is renowned CSA expert) and that's when I was 'advised' not to pursue CSA or it would be detrimental to maintence and result in massive reduction. I don't seem to be able to resolve this. I can't afford a solicitor as Mr Fotheringh said it would probably end up in Court arguing income etc. I went to Citizens Advice and was allocated a half hour with a local junior solicitor. As soon as I said ex was self employed she basically said there was little I could do due to what you gave said about CSa and their follow up being poor. I never heard anything from her after that meeting.
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
Let's try something else.
What amount does the Minute of Agreement state and is there provision for RPI or similar increases?
Is the Minute of Agreement registered in the Books of Council and Session?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I showed the solicitor Min of Agreement which was drawn up in 2007 and I was told this is only valid for a year. That agreement had in place RPI. It is stamped and, I think registered. I would need to double check. I can't remember how much payments were set for then. Mr Forheringham drew up a new MofA but I wasn't happy with wording. I showed this to solicitor too but she didn't have much to say about it
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
Why was it only valid for a year? What does it say?
I'm not too concerned at the moment about what other solicitors have said to you, as they haven't apparently been of much help to you, but I do need the information asked for to see if I can.
I suggest you copy the Minute of Agreement, redact the personal information and email it to***@******.***. In your covering email ask the moderator to send it to JGM.
I will read it and let you have my opinion.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. I will send this later today
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
Thanks
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
I've looked at your Minute of Agreement. Clause 3 provides for child support at a rate of £750 per month for each child adjusted each year in accordance with the Retail Prices Index and lasting until each child is 18.
The Minute of Agreement is registered and as such is enforceable as if it were a court order. That would appear to be conclusive as to his liability.
The maintenance for yourself detailed in the previous clause is the one that looks like it lasted only for a year,not the Child support clause.
Happy to discuss further.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I simply need to get to a position whereby my ex cannot keep using the maintenance payments as a 'lever' or threat by reducing or withdrawing them at will. He currently has maintenance payments at £950 per month as he decided to change both children's schooling in September '14. I did not agree but he threatened to reduce maintenance to £500 per month if I did not agree. They are now at a local weekly boarding school (they come home to me at weekends and holidays) and as they are not with me full time he reduced maintenance. He also said he could not afford school fees and keep up higher maintenace payments.
As this is a change he has made, plus children are now not with me full time, will this effect the min of agreement or my situation?
I don't want to be greedy and am happy to continue with current maintenance. I just need to know this is stable and cannot be changed. I have a mortgage and running costs to keep the family home for the kids so it's important to know the monthly maintenance payments are not going to change.
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
I think that the point is that if he seeks to short change you by £250 you can just say to him that you will tell the sheriff officers that and ask them to charge him to pay the £250 and arrest his account or whatever it takes. The fact you have a registered minute of agreement allows you to do this. In other words, even if he has varied the agreement, in practice the minute of agreement prevails until such time as he applies to the court to vary it.
In actual fact the variation made by him is irrelevant. He should have been paying £750 plus RPI and has been paying £500. School fees are different as they arise from contract between him and the school. Unless the court says so they have no relevance to the registered minute of agreement.
You are on a much stronger footing than you think and, frankly, have been advised thus far. Your lawyer has not helps you here.
Which will cost him much more than the £250 in dispute.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So basically I can revert to the Minute of agreement next time he tries to threaten reduction in maintenance and if he says he will take it to his solicitor I can be confident to let him do so? I was always worried i was not in a position legally to do this, going on what Mr Fotheringham (ex's solicitor) had said intimated in the past.
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
Yes, that is correct.
And I don't agree with solicitors that intimidate which is what appears to have happened here.
Ask your solicitor to get the sheriff officers to serve a Charge for Payment if he doesn't pay the £250.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you very much for your advice. You've been so helpful. I don't have a solicitor who can deal with this. The solicitor I use has been for house matters. Can you give me some idea how much it would cost o put a Charege for Payment in place if this was the case. Am I able to contact his solicitor directly instead of using one myself to save on costs? Or would you he able to recommend someone?
Thank you
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
If you have an original extract of the Minute of Agreement you don't need a solicitor at all. You can give the extract to sheriff officers and ask them to serve a charge for the arrears. The cost is about £30-40 depending on distance and they add this to the amount of the sum charged.
You wouldn't need to contact his solicitor. The charge is served on your ex personally.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I'm in Scotland and he is in England. Would this cause a problem?
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
Yes, it would, I sofar as you would have to register the Minute of Agreement with the English courts for enforcement in England and the cost wouldn't be worth it for £250.
If he has a bank account with a Scottish bank, the sheriff officers could arrest the account rather than deal with a charge.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Does this mean the MoA will not be valid? I think he has a royal bank of Scotland account which maintenance is paid via and his solicitor is based in Edinburgh...
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
No, the Minute of Agreement is perfectly valid. Just not in England until it's registered in the English courts for enforcement in England.
However, if he has an RBS account, tell the sheriff officers to arrest his bank account. That if anything is a better way of dealing with things.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Would it be worth getting it registered? I am wondering of he was advised to cut links and change his account.
Can you tell me how contact the sheriff officers? Would I just google local officers?
Thank you
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
For £250, no.
I would go down the arrestment route in the first instance.
I don't know what part of Scotland you're in but you can just search online for sheriff officers in your area.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you very much for your advice. Can I request you directly if I need any further advice in the future instead of getting a random solicitor?
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
Yes, just mark your message for JGM only.
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