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plclegal, Barrister
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 4170
Experience:  Barrister at law
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Since my partner and I split up in November 2016 we have had

Customer Question

Since my partner and I split up in November 2016 we have had an arrangement for the care of our two children whereby I have had them for the whole weekend from Friday every single week. It has been agreed that we share costs like clothing, outings etc. Although I see my ex (or her father) every weekend for this changeover I have suddenly received a letter from the CMS giving bank details for my ex for me to pay money in. The children are aged 4 and 6 and I am named as father on the birth certificate but over the past couple of years things my ex has said has made me question the paternity of the youngest. I have never taken steps like getting a DNA test done as I have formed a bond with the child and would not wish to upset the arrangements whereby the brothers are part of my extended family. What are my options? I need to speak to the CMS today. Thank you.
JA: What steps have you taken? Have you filed any papers in family court?
Customer: No, nothing, we have always had this arrangement in place as agreed between us. The letter from the CMS has come out of the blue. The first letter gives 'contact details' for my ex which I simply did not understand - I see her every week. The second says I must respond by tomorrow.
JA: Family Court normally sits in a local County and Magistrates' Court. Do you know the location of the court? If not, what county do you live in?
Customer: Essex
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Only anything you would suggest as relevant?
Submitted: 10 days ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  plclegal replied 10 days ago.

Hello, my name is Peter and I’ll do my best to assist you today.

Please bear in mind as this is an email service and not live chat I may not respond immediately.

I'm reviewing your question and will revert back to you shortly.

Expert:  plclegal replied 10 days ago.

What is the demand for and is this in line with what you have been paying previously? Did you have an informal agreement that was working well regarding maintenance? If so, you can notify the CMS that you have a family based arrangement and there is no need for the CMS to be involved.

If the demand is for more than you have been paying, and you wish to dispute it, then you can also do this.

If you wish to challenge the paternity of one of the boys, then you would need to make a court application for this.

Is there anything in particular I can clarify?

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
The letter appears to be asking for information in order to 'calculate your child maintenance as quickly as possible' and request that I telephone them. I do not pay any money directly, the arrangement has always been that I have the children every weekend - feed, clothe them, treat them etc. and this plus the petrol is a large outlay for me which my ex is well aware of. I am currently paying off a large credit card debt and everyone is aware that if I have extra expenses it will seriously impact on how often I can have the children. Every weekend has suited my ex because her parents look after the children in the week and she has every weekend free. I would like clarification on whether any of this is relevant to the CMS plus if I feel pushed to challenge the paternity what is the first step? Do I get a DNA test done and then go to the court when I have the result? And if I am not the father does that remove any monetary liability? What if I have already received demands and started paying by then? Also I presume that I would have no contact rights with the youngest child but splitting them for visits would be hard on them and something I would wish to avoid.
Expert:  plclegal replied 9 days ago.



OK. The two issues are separate, of course.

Firstly with the CMS, if you share care of the children (by having them every weekend this is almost completely shared care) and provide over and above this already, then I would suggest that by relaying this information to the CMS they would advise that there is no liability at the current time. I would advise to make it clear that you share their care equally and already have a 'family based' arrangement in place, therefore there is no need for the CMS to be involved at this time.

I'd advise not to go into the credit card debt issue - it isn't relevant to the CMS and actually just clouds the issues.

This would hopefully resolve the CMS point.

As to DNA testing - the only way to get this is by a court order if your ex won't agree. But simply proving that. child is not yours biologically would not be the end of a relationship and contact with them, as contact is always in the children's best interests and could continue as before, it is just the legal obligation to provide financial support for the child that would change.

I hope this makes sense?

Expert:  plclegal replied 8 days ago.

Can I assist you further with your question?

If you have further questions, you can always come back to me.

In the meantime, if you could take a second to provide a 5 star rating (top right of your screen) I'll be credited for my time spent responding to your question.

Kind regards,