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Mothers Apart From Their Children

MATCHLINE  for Help Support and Advice

0800 689 4104

FREE CONFIDENTIAL SUPPORT FOR MOTHERS APART

Do you feel alone as a mother apart?

Do you feel no-one understands the pain you are experiencing?

Do you need a listening ear to share your feelings?

MATCHLINE is here to offer friendly, non-judgemental support.

All volunteer call handlers are also MATCH members and mothers apart.

The line is open at the following times*

Monday 9am - 1pm 7pm - 9.30pm
Tuesday 9am - 1pm 7pm - 9.30pm
Wednesday 9am - 1pm 7pm - 9.30pm
Thursday 9am - 1pm 7pm - 9.30pm
Friday 9am - 1pm 7pm - 9.30pm

                           

(*Please note - This service is run by a very small team of volunteers and at times the line may not be manned at the stated times. We only have one line, so if the line is busy, please try again later. )

(Please note, we are not a counselling or legal advice service)

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Child Support from Parents Abroad

Is it possible to be paid child maintenance from parents living abroad?

The CSA (Child Support Agency) claims that there are almost 6,500 non-resident parents living abroad, but only about 1,600 of them actually pay any kind of child support through the agency itself. They may well have alternative arrangements in place, of course, but it is hard to know. All we do know is that the CSA is unable to enforce any collections for any maintenance owed when the parent lives in a different country (although more on countries which allow the enforcement later). The money is not written off, however, and is actually kept as an accrued debt on the father or mother’s ‘account’. This means that, if they do ever come back to be resident in this country, they could be slapped with a bill for many thousands of pounds.

Until the year 2000 (when new legislation was introduced), if a parent moved abroad and owed maintenance for their child or children, they could not be chased for it. Some rather irresponsible parents did just that, in order not to have to pay a penny for their children. However, after 2000 when new rules were added to the legislation, it became a little more difficult. These rules were that the CSA would still be able to enforce maintenance if:

  • The parent is abroad but works for a UK company
  • The parent is abroad but is working on a secondment for the NHS or a local authority.

This does not cover the many thousands of parents who move abroad and cease to pay their child maintenance, however. And there is nothing, at the moment, that can be done about it other than threaten to backdate all payments in a demand when (if) they return. It would then most likely be enforced using a Deduction of Earnings Order, meaning that the CSA would automatically take the money from the parent’s earnings on a monthly basis.

As mentioned above, there are some countries (including European countries and Australia) whereby a Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Order can be used. This means that a foreign court can apply for maintenance on behalf of a UK court. This is a long process which must start in the magistrates’ court.


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How Private Are The Family Courts?

 
Once upon a time, the family court was a private affair. It was known as a ‘closed court’ which means that only those people who had something to do with the case were allowed in the courtroom, and that meant that everything said within it could – depending on the people present – remain as private as those involved wanted it to be.

Things changed on 27th April 2009, however. Since then, certain members of the media have been permitted to attend court to cover the cases being dealt with behind what had been closed doors. The judge has overall say over who he or she would like in the room, but in general, unless there is a specific reason for feeling that media presence is unwanted (for example if a child is under a protection order), the media are allowed in.

Of course, for most family law cases there would be no particular interest from the media. This interest becomes more intense, however, if the couple are celebrities, if the divorce is due to some high profile scandal, or if there is some aspect of the story that is deemed ‘newsworthy’ then journalists may well decide it is worth making an appearance. For some, to have their private lives talked about in such a way is the worst way to end an already terrible time in their lives.

Some judges, such as Sir James Munby (the president of the family courts) feel that having a more transparent – and potentially one hundred per cent published – court system is for the best. It is thought that by allowing judgements to be published and letting everyone know how it works, the court system will become ‘demystified’ which would make people more willing to use it if they need to, rather than hide away and pretend that everything is all right because the idea of going to court is a terrifying one. However, by becoming so open this could have the opposite effect, and those who might have decided that going to court was the best option for them could be put off.

Those in business who wouldn’t want their rivals knowing of their financial details, those who don’t want the neighbours (or other family members) knowing all the ins and outs of their ‘private’ lives, or simply people who prefer to keep themselves to themselves would have problems in this open reporting of the facts of each case, with every aspect online and possibly in print.

If this opening up of the system does go ahead as some high profile judges would like, then there are other options open to those wishing to get a divorce. Arbitration and mediation can solve many problems without the recourse of going to court, and they would still allow your privacy to remain intact.

If you are unsure as to what your next step is, then please don’t hesitate to contact us. We have experts in family law on hand to help you.



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Your Children's Inheritance


What happens to the money you want to give your children if you remarry?

It may not be the first thing that comes to mind after a divorce or separation, but the question of what might happen to your children's inheritance really should be addressed. After all, what happens if you or your ex remarries? Who then would inherit - would it be the new spouse? Or what about step children? Protecting your children's inheritance is important, and needs to be discussed.

The best and easiest way to deal with the potential problem is to write a will which details whom you want your estate, your money, and your possessions, to go to after you have died. Remember to keep this updated, especially if you remarry, if any of the original beneficiaries pass away before you (or you fall out with them for example), or if a separation becomes a divorce. Without a will, under the intestacy rules, your ex will be able to inherit some or all of your estate, which could leave your children with a problem (and your new partner in even more trouble).

Another way to plan for your children's future is to make gifts to them during your lifetime. This can be in the form of savings, but beware that these can be taxable just like any savings option can be - it doesn't matter how old the saver is. If the tax is going to be a large issue on a large gift, then it could be worth looking at individual savings accounts (ISAs), as Junior ISAs and some other kinds of investment products are tax free.

Trusts
are another option. These are great for young children, as it means that the money or property is kept safe until they are 18, 21, or whichever age you choose for the trust - and your children - to mature.

Beware of cohabiting. This is no high moral stance, but more of a financial problem that could just be about to rear its ugly head. If you are paying the mortgage on a property, and a new partner moves in with you, it could be that, in the eyes of the law, they end up with an interest in the property after your death - an interest that you were not aware of, and that you would rather went to your children. Equally, if you move into a house on which someone else is paying the mortgage, you could end up with nothing if they die first. This is why speaking to experts, and making straightforward, valid wills is so important.

If wills aren't something you are comfortable discussing, and then why not draw up a prenuptial agreement? Although not legally binding in the UK (although there are moves to make them so), judges will take them into account when awarding assets in a divorce. It means that your money will be kept safe so that your children can have it rather than your ex.

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