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  • Kids/Maintenance/Separation Agreements
  • Futureboy77
    Full Member

    Was wondering if any of the STW people have experience of anything similar to my current predicament.

    This is not a new separation. We divorced seven years ago and maintenance and child arrangements are documented in a separation agreement (in Scotland if that makes a difference).

    As far as the kids go, I’ve never missed a maintenance payment in that period and the kids always stayed with me on the arranged days.

    When covid kicked in, the ex and i both started working from home (we stay 15 miles away from each other). She asked that I stop the kids midweek visit as it was pointless getting the kids up and making an unnecessary journey. The previous weekend arrangements meant I dropped the kids off on a Monday morning. Again, it was requested that I drop off on a Sunday to save unecessary travel. This all seemed reasonable at the time although done at her request.

    She has now made contact with a demand to increase the monthly maintenance payment, due to my reduced days and if I refuse, she will involve the CSA (or whatever it’s called now).

    My response was that we should go back to the original arrangements contained within the separation agreement which worked for years. This has been met with a firm refusal.

    Now am I royally screwed here? I can’t see how it is right that she requested the changes, thus reducing my access and I’ve stated that I want to return to the previous arrangement which worked for the eight years previous? I just thought I was being flexible during Covid!

    Full Member

    Tell her she can involve who she likes because you have a mutually agreed written contract, and you’ll be quite happy to tell them that she’s already broken it in not allowing agreed access to your kids.

    (I’ve no idea what I’m talking about here, but it seems mad to me that she’d be able to dictate her own terms unilaterally.)

    Full Member

    Whatever voluntary changes you made during the Covid pandemic, the bottom line is the legal agreement that has always been in force?

    Having dealt with other contract issues in a previous job, they could agree what they wanted but any dispute reverted to the last written legal agreement.

    I am neither a lawyer nor Scottish.

    Free Member

    Were the changes to the arrangement agreed in writing? If so, were they described as temporary or permanent?

    Not something I’d be taking advice on from randoms on’t web, btw. Idiots most of us.

    Free Member

    as above you have a written agreement which she has now breached – she cannot withhold access to the children.

    she is however entitled to involve csa if she wants (although it would be assessed on the access in your agreement, not the temporary covid stuff), this may lead to an increase or decrease in what you normally pay.

    If I was in your shoes II’d inform her by letter/email that you wish to see your children as arranged in your separation agreement. If she refuses it’s solicitors letter time…

    Full Member

    Cheers for the replies folks. I was starting to doubt my thinking on this.

    If I was in your shoes II’d inform her by letter/email that you wish to see your children as arranged in your separation agreement. If she refuses it’s solicitors letter time

    I’ve responded twice by email stating that I wish to return to the arrangements detailed within the separation agreement. Yup, I’m thinking next step is a solicitors letter.

    Full Member

    I’d personally be a bit leery of the “I’ll see you in court!” line. You’re going to have to interact with this person for many years* one way or another.

    On the face of it it sounds as though she’s saying she wants you to see the kids less, and pay extra maintenance because you’re seeing them less. Or did I misunderstand?

    I know you said you suggested returning to the previous arrangement, but is there any milage in trying to meet to talk it over face to face? Maybe you can present your case and get her side of things in some neutral environment.

    I can imagine solicitors letters, etc, are going to be a bad do all round, so it seems worthwhile to try to find a compromise amicably. IMO anyway.

    * E.g. my poor parents, divorced for decades and yet stuck at the same table at my wedding, a choice I kind of wish I’d made differently in retrospect!

    Full Member

    On the face of it it sounds as though she’s saying she wants you to see the kids less, and pay extra maintenance because you’re seeing them less. Or did I misunderstand?

    No, you understand perfectly.

    but is there any milage in trying to meet to talk it over face to face?

    In any other circumstance, I would agree with you. However I’m not dealing with the world’s most rational person. That’s not said to bad mouth her. Just a cold, hard fact.

    Free Member

    So glad I have 50/50 custody of the kids and therefore avoid all this! if you’re not going to have the kids more then it’s reasonable for her to ask for more maintenance. But if the reason you’re not able to have the kids more is because she’s denying you access then perhaps you need to counter the claim with one of your own?

    Free Member

    Not sure if it still exists but there used to be guidance in what was the CSA website on what to pay based on how many nights a year they stayed.We used this to draw up a mutual agreement.
    From memory if CSA has to collect there is an admin fee so much better to agree it yourselves otherwise she will be losing out on what she gets.

    The CMS will only collect if there’s a valid reason to (DV/Child Protection, you get the drift). Even if they’re involved they will draw up what you have to pay and pass you (but you already have them) the bank details of the person you’re paying.

    IF you’re happy to direct pay, then the other party has to have a very compelling reason to collect.

    I wouldn’t worry about fees as you’ve already had an arrangement in place, they will simply formalise that part.

    From memory if CSA has to collect there is an admin fee so much better to agree it yourselves otherwise she will be losing out on what she gets.

    Full Member

    Been there, had that done to me.

    Contact a solicitor asap.

    Polite solicitors letter asking that the original settlement agreement regarding the access to children is adhered to with an offer to arrange a mediation session through a recognized channel (ie up here in the Highlands it’s Family Mediation Highland) to discuss within a neutral environment, with trained and experienced personnel.

    A settlement agreement,although a legal document, is essentially what is say on the tin, an agreement. If the terms agreed upon are not adhered to, and the parties can not agree to revert back to them via mediation, then the only recourse at that point is to instigate court proceedings to obtain a court order regarding access arrangements. This is very expensive when children are involved and can easily run to the 10’s of thousands if the court orders independent reports to be provided prior to making a decision.

    Unfortunately just now your ex holds all the cards being the resident parent, and with no legal repercussions should she escalate and withdraw access. The worst thing that will happen to her is that a court imposes an order to grant you access.

    This is why it is imperative that you nip this in the bud quickly if possible as any length of separation from your children could have a detrimental effect on them and you, especially if she was to be the type of parent who would use the opportunity to ‘turn’ the children against you.

    At this stage you are not ‘threatening’ anything, but it may be enough to make her reconsider her position. Any decent family solicitor will be able to do this correctly, and it is essential that you involve one at this stage as if the worst happens and things deteriorate further you will be correctly advised with appropriate records of communications kept.

    At this point try not to make it about money,even if that is her driver,or emotion. It’s about the children and the long term effects on them that is important.Believe me, it does nobody any good in the short or long term to focus on anything other than that.

    Truly hope you can get this sorted out without escalation,I speak from experience. I couldn’t and never see 3 of my 4 children anymore. Every day a little piece of me dies because of it.

    If it gets escalated swallow your pride if required, compromise on the money if you can,keep a cool head, don’t ever think you are losing by doing this, as long as you keep your access and relationship with your children then you and they are the winners.

    Having said that, the information below may be of help.

    You really do not want to have the CMS involved, and do not engage with them until such time as there is no option otherwise.

    You can work out what the CMS calculated payments would be on the website, my ex made the mistake of going to them assuming she would get more money than was in our settlement agreement, turns out it was less and for a shorter duration.

    Also bear in mind that if she decides to go the pay and collect route via CMS you will pay an extra 20% (she will pay 4% as well) in fees. That’s right, the CMS will collect 24% of the money for themselves!

    Full Member

    Sorry if that ^ seems negative, just my experience.

    Hope for the best, prepare for the worst 🙂

    Free Member

    This has been met with a firm refusal.

    Has a reason been given for this? I’m not seeing much mention in any of this about what’s best for the kids. A midweek visit does sound potentially disruptive to schooling etc. Needs to be consulted on not just dictated though obviously.

    As above if she has them more (for a good reason) then increased maintenance is reasonable, but for me the number 1 factor is deciding what’s best for the kids not for parents to be squabbling about their ‘rights’. Sorry if this sounds harsh but I have some experience of this from the other side.

    Full Member

    In a very similar position.
    First of all check what the kids want. It might be that they want to return home on Sunday as they find it more settled going to school from their home.
    Second, you may find that a new precedent has been set. There’s some other fancy words that describe it, but I think you may find that you’ve agreed by proxy new visitation rights. COVID or not.

    For what it’s worth my ex and I had 50/50 visitation as agreed in writing, but outside of court. She changed it significantly just to get a large child maintenance payment. I had no way to change it. My solicitor wrote the letters you’re being advised to write, but the ex held all the cards. I could have went down a very expensive legal route but was advised that the courts may see the new visitation process and already set and fit the childrens sake they may not be willing to change it. In the end I couldn’t afford to fight it. We go via the CSM or whatever they are called. It’s a horrendous amount of money.

    Definitely get legal advice, budget for about a £10k fight. I’m in England do things may be different.

    Free Member

    First thing to do, work out how much the CSA would take off you based on earnings, costs etc as per their website.
    If it’s less then just tell her how much she’ll be losing.
    If it’s more, then offer ‘half-way’ – but accept you could be paying the full ‘want’.

    As to when you both have the kids, talk to a qualified Solicitor to see what they think your chances are of getting them for longer.

    Free Member


    Full Member

    I HATE it that despite advances in equality in workplace, gender inclusion etc etc, fathers are still seen as a second rate care giver..

    If I could change ONE viewpoint of ‘this world’, it’s that mums are not necessarily the better/main parent, and dads aren’t just for weekends…


    Sorry to hear of your troubles.. If you really Do want the kids back to the old routine, simply let her know on sunday afternoon that you’ll be dropping the kids back on monday am, as per previous arrangements.
    YOU can play rough and tough too….


    Full Member

    ^no, do not do that.
    You do not want an escalation on this.
    The law is different in Scotland, accept the situation just now re access, don’t agree to pay more as of yet.

    Get a solicitor
    Get a solicitor
    Get a solicitor

    Not all solicitors are equal. Just because they claim to be a ‘family’ solicitor does not mean they are good. Ask people for recommendations.

    Non aggression is the key now.

    If you are wanting a recommendation for one (Inverness based) pm me.

    Full Member

    Pre-emptive strike, contact CSA yourself and say she has changed the arrangement agreed and you want to enforce it as she is refusing?

    Free Member

    What do the children want?
    Offer compensation for the two years (or whatever) of additional food, etc, bills that she sustained.
    Worst-case option; solicitor.

    Full Member

    I haven’t read the whole thread, but from your OP my advice from experience is solicitors letter every single time. If you’re dealing with someone that makes demands based on their wants/needs rather than the children’s wants/needs then you use the law every. single. Time.

    (Yes I appreciate there is infinite nuance around the situation but my experience is, to misquote, that positive change only comes from speaking softly and carrying a big solicitors letter)

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