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familylawexpert, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 311
Experience:  Substantial experience (14yrs +) in divorce, financial cases, cohabitation, pre-nuptial agreements and civil partnerships.
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My son is six and I have been separated from his father since

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My son is six and I have been separated from his father since before he was two, we were not married and lived in a flat I owned. We agreed that he would pay £200 a month child support and when our son started school he agreed to up this to £220 to cover his school dinners. About two years ago he stopped paying for four months and was helped out by his parents who paid the money. Other than that it had worked well until about a year ago when he stopped paying regularly and missed 8 payments. I addressed this with him in October and he said he was having money problems but would pay the money back. He hasn't paid any of it back and has just missed his January payment again. He has our son on average one night a week although not always. He looks after him well and we have no issues, getting on well with each other. It's just the money. What are my options? I've avoided the CSA so far as he only formally works two days a week, he is a musician and does a lot of what I suspect is cash in hand work and I suspect they'd tell me he would have to pay a lot less than we agreed.

My name is Mac. I can help you with your question.

First, can I ask whether in your discussions with him he has suggested any other figure that he would actually be able to afford?

In addition, I don't suppose that he has a lot of capital even though he has little visible income?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
No, he says he can't afford the £220 a month so I asked him to go on the CSA website to use the calculator to work out what he can afford so we could sign something he'd agree to but he hasn't bothered. The problem is he's not honest about what he actually earns. He's pretty bad with money generally, he doesn't own any property, his current girlfriend owns the flat they live in and he pays her rent. The only thing he actually owns is all his music equipment, drums, staging stuff etc. I know he has bad credit which can't have improved much since we were together.

I'm not sure that you're going to be very happy with my answer, but the botXXXXX XXXXXne is that you are already doing the right things in relation to seeking a solution. You are remaining amicable (excellent), seeking to negotiate a solution and encourage him to suggest a compromise (good).

I appreciate your concern that an investigation/assessment by the CSA might not get to the bottom of his real income but, if he is paying you nothing, any positive assessment might be better than nothing. My suggestion would be that you put it to him that if he won't make any kind of contribution or sign up to an agreement, he's leaving you little choice (and giving you nothing to lose) than to get the CSA to make an assessment.

Sorry not to have a magic solution that sorts it out for you.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Ok, thank you. I appreciate there is no magic wand in this situation and that the CSA might be the only way to go if he continues to not pay anything. Just one more question, if I were to go through the CSA would they try to recoup what he owes me based on our original agreement or conduct their own assessment and get him to repay what he would have owed paying at their rate? Essentially if I go to the CSA will I be writing off the nearly £2000 he currently owes me?

My understanding is that yes, the CSA assessment would only be forward-looking. If you had had the original agreement set out in a court order that would be different, but I don't understand that to be the case for you here.

If you aren't too totally depressed, I would be grateful if you could rate my answer... hopefully not shooting the messenger. I do wish you the best of luck in dealing with him, it does sound quite frustrating work.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your help, it's good to know exactly where I stand at least and I'll go back to the negotiations! The reality is, I think based on his current formal salary the CSA route may yield little financial benefit compared to the detrimental effect on our relationship and our son. There's many more years of this to come yet...