Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Legislation ...

I wrote the post below a couple of weeks ago, published it and then put it back into draft.

Why did I put it back into draft?

Well, I have a horror of sounding bitter or grasping.  I don't believe I am either of those things but sometimes you are so close to something it can squew your judgement - I can't guarantee that hasn't happened to me.

So why publish now?

For a couple of reasons.  Things have changed (not with anything below, that remains the same.) and things have happened.

The major event in my life recently is that my beautiful daughter Miss Mac turned 18.

I'm so proud of her and I love her so much.

She didn't even get a card from her father let alone a present.  The only acknowledgement of her Birthday was a public message on Facebook sent late in the day when clearly Facebook had prompted him that it was his daughters Birthday.

I shouldn't be surprised really.  She got nothing last year either and no Christmas present or card.

She has seen him just once in over a year despite that fact that he visits friends locally on a regular basis and despite the fact that she took time off work to go and visit him (funded by me) and he cancelled at the last minute because he was 'busy'.

She saw him for a couple of hours a couple of months ago when he had already been in the same county for the weekend with friends.  He had only come down to introduce the latest in a very long line of girlfriends to his friends.  He brought her with him when he saw Miss Mac.  He had no interest in spending time with just her.

Like I said, other things have happened too.  I may talk about them at some point.  Believe it or not, they consist of even worse behaviour on his part.

I don't generally talk about him here but there is no one left to protect and there is no reason to stay quiet.

Staying quiet is how people like him continue to try to destroy people and that's not happening to me or my girl any more ...

'The act of making or enacting laws'.

Occasionally I write a serious post.

Today is one of those days.

I mentioned before that I am in the process of obtaining a long over due divorce.  I've also said that I probably won't blog about it very much.

The reason I won't blog about it very much is that it's a very emotive subject.  It's also very subjective.

Many of you will have had your own experience of divorce.  If you were lucky it will have been amicable, straight forward and ultimately fair.

I strongly suspect that mine will not be the first two so the best I can hope for is that it will be the last.

But that's really the subjective part isn't it?

Here in the UK you are now strongly advised (and in some cases compelled) to attend mediation before you can progress a divorce.

I see the sense in this.

Since Legal Aid is no longer available for divorce in this country (other than in exceptional circumstances) it can be a lengthy and expensive process with the main beneficiaries being the lawyers.

Mediation gives each party a stronger voice.  It hopefully allows you (alongside legal advice) to reach and agreement with which everyone is, if not exactly happy, then satisfied and, if the process works then the final cost is much less than it otherwise would have been.

It makes sense doesn't it?

So I have started this process.

The first stage is independent meetings with a mediator to discuss the process and, if applicable, to assess if either party is entitled to Legal Aid.

I had my meeting in February.  Ex Lax initially objected to a) having to travel here to have his meeting and b) to having to pay for his meeting.

It was agreed that he could have a telephone meeting and, having been informed that a judge would almost certainly insist that he had the meeting he agreed to pay.

The second meeting is where you are expected to give a full financial disclosure.  This involves quite a lot of work.  There are potentially 14 different documents you need to provide (although not all are applicable to all people) and many of them require a 3rd party to provide information on your behalf.  It's a bit of a slog to be honest.

I treated it as a job.  I listed all the things I needed to do and get.  I bought folders to house paperwork.  I sifted through all the paperwork I had here at home and I collated everything.

By the time of the next meeting I had all but one of the required pieces of paperwork ready.  The only thing missing was my state pension valuation which I applied for in February but which can take (and has taken) up to 12 weeks to arrive.

Ex Lax, as expected had very little but just sufficient for the meeting to go ahead.

The meeting falls into two parts.  The first being the financial disclosure where each document is given in the listed order by each party so that at the end you have two columns that should mirror each other and a full financial picture of each party.

Our meeting was a little more complex due to Ex Lax insisting he wouldn't be in the same room as me.  We therefore had to have what they called a 'shuttle' meeting where the mediator literally had to shuttle between two rooms taking his flip chart with him and go through everything twice.

This incidentally increased the cost of the meeting by roughly 30% for each of us as two meeting rooms had to be booked and the meeting time extended by an hour to allow the mediator to go between the two rooms.

I have to admit that I felt this substantial increase in cost to me was a little unfair given that I wasn't the one insisting on being in a different room but I sucked it up because it's the end result that matters isn't it?

The second part of the meeting is where you say what it is that you want from the divorce.  That could involve (but didn't in our case) any child care arrangements you want to make.  It's also your opportunity to discuss what you want from the divorce financially.

This was always where Ex Lax and I were going to have very different views so it was no surprise when, having talked to him first, the mediator told me what Ex Lax wanted.

EX Lax was probably slightly surprised and was certainly not very happy with my counter offer.

Ex Lax has a serious case of entitlement.  I'm not entirely sure what he bases this on.  Certainly not any input financially, emotionally or morally by him.

However, no matter, it was disappointing but expected.

My offer is based on facts.  It's based on documentation. It's also based on what I believe to be morally right and fair.

I appreciate that the last part may not be legally binding.

At the moment it's not prudent to share any more detail than that.  I may when this is all over, I have nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of, I want nothing more than to move on and live my life.

This wasn't actually supposed to be a post about my divorce at all.

I was planning on telling you about something that I feel is very wrong with our legal system.  You may or may not agree with me and that's ok but my conviction will not waver.

Ex Lax has always tried to avoid financial responsibility for his children.

He paid no maintenance for the first year we were apart using bullying tactics and emotional blackmail to stop me from claiming it.

When my financial situation became so desperate that I was forced to make a claim things got very ugly in ways that I don't even want to think about let alone talk about but. when I've said previously that SD probably saved my life, it wasn't an exaggeration, I genuinely think there is a chance I may not have been here today had he not come back into my life.

Enough of the drama queen!

Today I received a letter from the Child Maintenance Department.  They have taken over from the CSA (Child Support Agency) and slowly all cases are being transferred to them.

It's been an arduous process with many mistakes being made and, as the paying parent now has to be given the option of making voluntary payments (previously Ex Lax's payment were taken directly from his pay) it has meant a series of late payments, under payments, objections and even misleading information from Ex Lax.

It's been another struggle!

When I received the first schedule of payments in February I noticed that on page 4 it  said that a reduction had been made because Ex Lax had a child living with him who he received Child Benefit.  They call this 'other children a paying parent supports'.

If a paying parent supports another child a 15% reduction is made to their assessable income before any payable child maintenance is calculated.


I informed the Child Maintenance team that this was the case and they told me  that they had received their information directly from the Child Benefit Office which Ex Lax was apparently claiming but that they would follow it up.

Finally, at the beginning of April I had a letter from them stating that they now had evidence that Ex Lax had a total of 0 children that he supported and the adjustment was made to the maintenance due as well as it being backdated to December when my case had transferred.

Cool ...  Or so I thought!

The letter I received yesterday stated that my child maintenance payments had been changed as they had been given evidence that Ex Lax had a total of 1 other child that he supported and my maintenance payments would be reduced accordingly.

I was confused ...

I phoned them - THEY were confused - had Ex Lax actually fathered ANOTHER child that I knew nothing about???

It seems not.

The child in question is the child of his latest girlfriend. 

Apparently Ex Lax is now 'supporting' the child of his girlfriend of a few months and is therefore entitled to a reduction in the amount of maintenance he pays for his own child.

There are several things that strike me as wrong about this.

None of them are about the actual money.  As SD says, the money is not the issue, we managed, we WILL manage, we are good at managing.  Yes, we are on a low income compared to many but if you read my blog you know that we do without very little.  We work hard, we play hard and we get out and about far more than most.  I do not in any way feel cheated because we don't have a lot of spare cash.

But I DO feel that Miss Mac is being cheated in this instance.

Every penny of maintenance I get for her is invested in her in some way and now some of it is being diverted.

I really can't understand the reasoning behind this.

Ex Lax's girlfriend has a job and a house.  He has moved into her house.  This means they now have a joint income meaning they are both presumably better off.

I don't have a problem with that, it is none of my business.

His girlfriend has a child.

I don't have a problem with that, it is none of my business.

Her child has a father who presumably pays maintenance for her child.

I don't have a problem with that, it is none of my business.

Some of Miss Mac's maintenance will now (in theory but almost certainly not in practise) be diverted to that child.

I DO have a problem with that, she IS my business!

The child father won't receive a reduction in his maintenance payments because Ex Lax is (in theory but almost certainly not in practise) helping to support his child.

So effectively, in situations like this, not only is the father of a child helping to support his child but a totally unrelated child is expected to give up some of the money that should come to them in order to support this child.

I DO have a problem with that!

Once again, it REALLY isn't the money, of COURSE the money matter but we WILL manage.

It's the principle.

Why is Miss Mac being made to pay for the child of her fathers girlfriend?

How can that EVER be right?

(By the way, this isn't something that happens automatically.  This is something Ex Lax applied for.  He had a choice.  He chose to do this.)

My heart breaks that in all of this he has not once thought of his daughter.  Not the financial impact so much but the fact that once again he has shown how very little care he has for his own child.
My beautiful, bright, clever and loving girl ...

How could someone not want to do the very best for their child?

It beggars belief ...

Like I said earlier, you may or may not agree with me.  You may feel this system is perfectly fair.  You may be on the other side of this argument and have a very different view.

I accept that.  This is close to me and affect someone I love will all my heart.  I may not be objective.

My feeling is that Ex Lax AND his girlfriend should be deeply, DEEPLY ashamed of themselves.


SARN said...

I am so sorry to hear you have had to have this battle Sarah. I hope it ends soon so that you and yours can move on. ExLax is a piece of work and that's putting it mildly! He certainly SHOULD be ashamed of his behaviour - but by the sounds of things he has no heart and no sense of moral duty, so I somehow doubt he gives it a second thought (annoying though that is).

It's a good job I believe in Karma . . . what goes around comes around. You reap what you sow etc . . . . let's hope some day, he gets his payback. Maybe he'll come back as a dung beetle . . . oh WAIT . . . he already has! LOL!

Sending big hugs to you xxx

joeh said...

That is a very disturbing loop hole!
As one who has gone through two divorces, I feel your pain. My one ex's lawyers kept wanting to take my mothers assets into consideration (I received her statements for various reasons) and the ex knew damn well these were not my assets but would not stop her lawyers from using them. I finally stopped explaining and advised them to contact the legal guardian, my brother who was a Federal Judge, and then get back to me. Anyway this and a thousand other annoying things not to mention giving up funds with a lot of zero's behind them to a woman who never worked and was leaving for her ex-fiance of 20 some years before (he knocked up a nurse) and makes over 1/2 a mil/year (reported, much more under the table) as an oral surgeon, and having my son taken away to another state 7 hours away kind of pissed me off; however looking back it was the best thing ever.

You have to let shit go and move on.

Good luck.

Brighton Pensioner said...

Proper head-banging, isn't it? Lucky you are able to bounce back. Don't forget - 'nil carborundum illegitimi'.

Sarah said...

Lol Sarn, that's an insult to dung beetles, at least they work for their shit ;-) xx

I happily let him go Joe, I just wish he'd stay gone! Some people really do think the world owes them don't they? How they ever look in the mirror I really don't know.

Head banging is EXACTLY what it is BP. I can bounce back from this financially with no great effort. Miss Mac has turned 18 so the maintenance will stop shortly anyway. What I can't bounce back from is the callous way he treats his daughter, he is actually trying to making money from her! There is far worse going on at the moment, like I said, I hesitated to blog about it but now I'm feeling differently. Exposing someone on a blog with only a few readers and one that mentions no one by name probably doesn't have any impact in the long run but writing things out may stop me from turning them in on myself which is something that has harmed me a great deal in the past. There are things that have happened over the years and are happening now that some people may feel uncomfortable reading. things that until now I have been uncomfortable writing about but it feels like the time is right so I probably will.

Mommy Stockley said...

Rahhh. I feel your pain :( not that I have ever experienced anything like this first hand but I have close friends who have. Oh Sarah. Love to you all ❤️ I hope that it all comes out in the wash. We out so much faith in the system that it is shocking when it doesn't work properly.

Val said...

I totally agree with you.

Hick went through this with the mother of his older boys. She claimed that he did not pay support, and asked for back payments. We had all of the canceled checks, but still had to pay a lawyer to straighten it out. In addition, she kept the boys from visiting him for two years. He'd go to pick them up, and she'd send out their older half-brother to say that they weren't coming. She also accused Hick of abusing the boys, by calling the DFS anonymous hotline, and then didn't even show up to the hearing. The DFS threw out the case.

At least Hick's boys turned out okay. I'm sure Miss Mac will as well.

Sarah said...

Thank you Mommy Stockley. I struggled to believe what I was told, even the person who told me who works for the department said they thought it was wrong but for now it is what it is. It's very wrong on many levels and hopefully at some point it will change so others don't have the same problem. I hope you stop by and read this, I have lost the link to your blog which is why I haven't visited. If you send it to me again as a comment then I'll save it and delete the comment x

Some people are just so terrible Val, I cannot understand how they can be so terrible ... Miss Mac is bright, beautiful, funny and clever but this HAS to leave a mark doesn't it? However many times I tell her it is not a reflection on her, that she is worth everything, that he should go down on his knees every night and thank god for her she has to wonder how he can do this to her. I don't know how or why he has done and continues to do the things he does to me but he takes pleasure in it, he wants to destroy. Some people have very serious problems but I don't feel sorry for them, they are poison. I will make sure Miss Mac is ok, this is just the tip of the iceberg I have a big fight on my hands in the next few months and this is one I will not let him win.

Di said...

Oh Sarah

I trawled back after reading your latest post. You're going through the mill - and I do agree it's an insult to dung beetles.

This is closer to my heart than you realise - hang in there kiddo!!


Di xx

Sarah said...

Thank you so much Di xxx