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Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34885
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 have a 20 year old daughter with Downs Syndrome. She attends

Customer Question

I have a 20 year old daughter with Down's Syndrome. She attends college two days a week doing an independent skills course. Her father refuses to pay maintenance for her saying his legal responsibility has ended. Is this the case? It seems immoral to me that he can just stop paying for her even though she still lives at home and is dependent on me for all her needs?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
Is your daughter receiving all relevant benefits?
when did your ex stop payments?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

She receives DLA, middle rate care and low mobility, ESA and has a personal budget which covers 1 day at her work placement, two days at Evolve which teaches her independent skills and one night per week in a supervised house. I still have to pay for meals and extra curricular activities at the house and these are not covered in her personal budget.

Because she has turned 20, I have lost her child benefit and her child tax credits.

My ex husband stopped paying at the beginning of the month but for the last few months has been changing the amount he pays as it suits him.

At the moment I am receiving £125 per month for the maintenance of our youngest daughter who is 17 and yet he still sends £100 a month to our eldest, who is 22 and working in a well paid job away from home. He has only stopped paying for Helen and it is definitely because she has Down's and he has heard from a friend of a friend of someone he knows that she is entitled to thousands in benefits. As always with him, if he hears something like this he takes it as truth because he has always resented paying maintenance to the girls as he feels it benefits me rather than the children.

When we first split up 16 years ago, he had to pay a reasonable amount of maintenance because I was in receipt of income support, but I would get abusive phone calls from him saying I was ripping him off etc. and so, mostly for a more peaceful life, I told him that we could come to an amicable payment once I stopped receiving income support. I have been working since 2001 and he only payed around £300 per month. We agreed he would raise it every year in line with inflation, but that never happened. He believes he is being very generous and that I use emotional blackmail to get money from him.

I am scared and intimidated by him even after all these years as he was an emotional bully throughout our marriage as well as physically violent from time to time. I would rather not have anything to do with him, but feels he has a responsibility to provide financial support towards his daughter, especially as she will never be able to be totally independent and will always need support.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
How would you feel about taking court action against him?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Not sure. I have no money as I am in a fairly low paid job (I am a teaching assistant). Is the law is on my side? There is no way I am prepared to get myself into debt and to put my girls in the middle of a nasty battle if he has no legal requirement to pay for Helen.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
I understand.
Was he paying via a Court Order or the CSA?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No, as I already explained, it was a voluntary payment.

I just really need to know if his legal responsibility towards her has ended in the eyes of the law?

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Whilst usually your Ex's responsibilities would have ended oh her 20th birthday ( or when she left secondary education) in view of her disbility he may indeed have an ongoing responsibility for her if you can show that the income she has does not cover the expenses incurred.
This can be done either by you making the application in your own name - asking the court to use its discretion to allow you to do so, or by you on behalf of your daughter.
As a half way house you could try and discuss the matter with your ex using family mediation ( )
Do please ask if you need further details