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Harris, Family Law Expert
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 2851
Experience:  Family Law - Specialist in Divorce, Financial Relief and Children Matters
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I got divorced in July 2014, with the Consent Order signed

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I got divorced in July 2014, with the Consent Order signed in April 2016. At the time of the Consent Order my ex-husband agreed to pay child maintenance for our two children (now 11 and 14) at the 20% rate required by the Child Support Agency. We had agreed for him to see them alternate weekends, Tuesday nights and around 50% of the school holidays (an arrangement which has been kept to, albeit that our daughter often spends nights at her friend's rather than with him at the weekend - but I request she agrees with with him.)
My ex-husband has suddenly reduced maintenance from £555/month to £430/month which he says he calculated using the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) calculator. At present I am requesting he provides me copies of his P60 and March pay slip as required in the Consent Order. I have not had sight of any documentation regarding his pay since the payslips provided during Mediation (the last being October 2013). So far he is putting me off, saying he can't find them and that March payslip is missing - so I've said I would be happy with February and ideally a recent one to allow me to use the CMS Calculator.
However, unless my ex-husband has had a massive pay cut - he's in the same job with the same employer throughout this time - i don't see how the maintenance has decreased so dramatically (over 20%). When I put the information from his Oct 2013 payslip into the CMS calculator, it suggests that the maintenance would be £134/week which I calculate as around £580/month, so slightly higher than the 20% of net pay that the old CSA calculation used.
The only way I can see that he could have reduced the maintenance so much and be correctly using the CMS calculator, is if he has moved from using the full amount - as per the 20% CSA calculation specified in the Consent Order - to using a the reduced amount for seeing the children 2-3 nights/ week.
So my main question is whether it is acceptable for him to unilaterally decide to move from the form of calculation agreed at Mediation and in the Consent Order (ie. amount with no reduction for seeing the children) to a reduced amount?
On the days he sees the children he only provides food (on weekdays only evening meal - I pay for their lunch the following day and often breakfast as they end up needing to have that at school too). When he had to take our son to an Opticians appointment, he required rapid payment for the £40 the new glasses cost over the NHS voucher amount - interestingly only a couple of days before the reduced maintenance was paid for the first time. Similarly when our daughter (14yo) is out with her friend on weekends when she would be with her father, if there is additional cost - e.g. they went to a concert last weekend, it was me not him that paid for her ticket and provided money for her food.

Hi, thank you for your question. Has the consent order been approved by the court, if so when was it approved?

Are you able to attach a copy of the order as the specific wording regarding the child maintenance is required.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
the Consent Order was approved at Salisbury County Court on 17 July 2014 (my ex-husband signed it on 16 April 2014). I have attached a photo of the page of the Consent Order including the paragraphs on maintenance. I can do similar with the rest if necessary.

Sorry, when was the consent order approved by the court? you stated 2016 in the first post and the further post states 2014?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry the 2016 in the first post was a typo. The consent order was signed by the District Judge on 17 July 2014

Thanks for confirming. As the settlement and order was made by consent, after 12 months either of you would be entitled to formally apply to the child maintenance service for a formal calculation which will supersede the agreement in the order. However, he does not appear to have done this and seems to have changed the amount just by using their calculation which he cannot do. There has to be a formal calculation and decision by the CMS. Until this is done he is bound by the consent order.

Furthermore, the consent order does not specify that the exact CMS calculation criteria should be taken into account - for example the CMS will take into account the amount of nights, on average that the children stay with him and the amount is reduced relative to this. The order does not explicitly provide for this and only states a percentage amount - therefore this may be why the amount has reduced based on the CMS calculator.

I hope this assists you. If you found this information helpful please provide a positive rating using the stars at the top of this page. I will not be credited for your question without a positive rating. Thank you

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