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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 35045
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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MY ex has never paid child support - for the whole 12 years

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MY ex has never paid child support - for the whole 12 years we have been apart. We have two daughters together and they are now 14 and 16. The CSA have supposedly been chasing him for all this time but get nowhere. They say the same thing each time I call - 'we can't find him' or 'we are getting an order for the bailiffs' or even 'we have decided not to pursue your case any more'. I have been remarried since 2008 and we have a child together. We are avery low income family and have accrued a lot of debt due to the problem of always having more to pay for than we have coming in and my husband having to pay his own child support which he has religiously done. I am at my whits end about my ex who now owes us (according to the CSA) £12,000 in arrears and should be paying £80/week for the girls. We desperately need that money but have non to take him to court and pay solicitors fees to sort this out. What shall we do? Do we have any chance of finding a solicitor who would do a no-win-no-fee arrangement? Would they be able to help us and then collect the money from my ex? He is legally obliged to pay up, there is no paternity question and no other arguments. He does not see the children and has not done so for 10 years but that was his choice. I am meeting with my ex in two weeks to ask again for his payments, I would love to meet with him knowing I have some sort of legal backing in place or at least an option behind me so if (when) he doesn't pay up, I can say that I will take legal action now, I won't be allowing it to remain in this situation anymore. It is the only way I feel that I would have any power when meeting him.
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
What do you know about your ex's financial position?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Clare, he is a director of a financial advice company in the city. The name of the company is Scales Porter. His part is the 'Porter' bit which was his mother's maiden name. His earnings are not declared publicly, I am not sure how these things work, but the assets of the company can be seen online and I guess he is paid a dividend or some such each month. I know that the CSA have decided that he ought currently to pay £80/week for the children. I do not think he owns a car or a house and there are no other assets that I know of but I don't even know where he lives - presumably London somewhere. He did reveal yesterday by email that he is engaged to be married to his male partner, so maybe they have a place together.

What enforcement action -if any - have the CSA taken?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

As far as I know they have tried to seize goods using the services of a bailiff but this failed as they believed he had moved away from the property by the time the paperwork was in place and the bailiffs appointment arrived. In the past he told me that he had been to court so that a payment schedule could be arranged and I did receive a letter with a payment schedule back in 2007 but no payments were ever made. I am not sure if anything else has been done enforcement-wise as I don't believe he drives a car right now although he does hold a driving licence, I am not sure if they have tried to seize this or even if it would bother him if they did. The CSA talked about their power to threaten him with a a custodial sentence but this has never happened as far as I know. I hope that helps, sorry I don't know all about it, we have had very little contact for years and the CSA are not the easiest people to get information out of.

When did you last hear from them in writing?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Clare, my husband, Jamie, has been handing all dealings with the CSA since 2011. We have documented all telephone conversations. In 09/09/2013 the CSA told Jamie that they had identified that my ex does have a bank account.

The last letter we had from the CSA, so the last contact in writing, was dated 10/09/2013 and it was to inform us that they 'unfortunately couldn't take any further action on our case at this moment'. My husband followed this letter up some months later with a telephone conversation asking for an update on the case, this re-opened our case and since then there have been a few telephone conversations. In one such my husband mentioned that we had made an arrangement to meet with my ex to discuss child support payments. We wanted some advice as to how to make sure the meeting was worthwhile. In this conversation with the CSA we were encouraged to try to come to some sort of arrangement with my ex, eg: he owed us on that date £11,492. 24 and it was suggested that try to we broker a deal asking for £7,000 in cash immediately and then £50/week thereafter.

Sorry, this is more info than you asked for, but hope this all helps you to help us! Melanie

have you checked the Company records to get an idea of his financial position?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi, checking this costs money so we haven't done it since 2012 when the company assets were £33,000. The company is still running and I only hear that it is successful, so maybe there are more assets now. He was not the type of person to have any savings but my idea is that perhaps he would be able to secure a loan against the company assets. Thanks, Melanie

What were the Dividend payments at that time?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

We don't know that information now and have never known what he earns. The CSA may have had that info in order to base the payment amounts on something but they won't tell us when we have asked.

There is no action that you can take directly against your ex.
You need to concentrate your attention on the CSA and force them to do what they are meant to do.
As a starting pint ask for a re-assessment of the maintenance on the basis that he is receiving dividends from his company.
At the same time apply for a full copy of your file with them using the Freedom of information Act - it costs £10
Stop dealing with them on the telephone.
Always, always deal with them by letter - keeping a copy of all letters sent.
If there are phone calls follow them up with a letter confirming what you understand was said
You need to make a formal complaint about the way that the CSA has dealt (or rather not dealt) with the enforcement - again always use the written complaints procedure - and copy your MP
You can get more information on the site
I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Clare, thanks for your reply. I am so disappointed that there is nothing we can really do to make him pay - what is the point of law saying he must pay if that cannot be enforced by a court?

Over the years my husband has written letters of complaint to the CSA, written to our MP and Downing Street directly asking for their support and advice, sent invoices to the CSA for the amount owed - basically anything and everything that we can think of to do to make something happen with our case. The replies we have received are all the same really, they are sorry but there is nothing they can do.

If the courts would not help us, there are two options we have left (that we can think of): do you think it would be worth trying to get some money using a private debt collection agency? or there are these people: - I am not sure on how or what they charge but do you think they may be able to help us? I am just desperate now to get something sorted out with this problem as it is putting enormous strain on our marriage and financially we are in real trouble. We need some money from my ex urgently, I just don't know what we can do to get it. I have agreed to see him and I will act as kindly, nicely and politely as is humanly possible just to get some money as he says he wants us to be friends and then he may 'think about giving me what I want', but there is only so much friendship that can happen, after he has behaved so badly and treated our children so horribly too. Besides, I suspect that as he always did, he has only said this to get me running around trying to make him happy and make him the centre of attention and then he will say 'Oh no, I won't pay you because you forgot to .... (offer me a coffee, ask after my mother etc)' and he will make it all my fault again.

Sorry, you don't need to know all this, I just want you to know that we are so desperate and need to do something about this. Please let me know what you think of the debt collection idea or the link I sent. Thanks!

I am sorry - but there is simply no point is assuming that you will receive any money from your ex.
I am afraid that neither of the solutions you mention will be of any use.
However if you follow the steps I have outlined then eventually there may be a chance of success
Clare and 2 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you