Mums forced in to debt after arguments over child support

Closeup of crying woman with tears
Closeup of crying woman with tears

…with more than a third of mums in debt because their ex-partner hasn’t paid child maintenance, study shows.

New research has revealed that when parents split up, mums often find themselves struggling to cover their basic living costs, with 39 per cent taking out loans or relying on their overdrafts to make ends meet.

A staggering quarter of mums said they don’t receive any regular financial help from their child’s father, leaving them to cover the cost of raising their child by themselves.

Half of mums said that their ex’s contribution isn’t enough to pay the bills, leaving them short of on average £3,264 a year and 88% say that their precarious financial situation means they worry about being made homeless as they struggle to cover the rent or monthly mortgage payments.

The research painted a worrying picture with 11 per cent saying that when their ex has refused to help them financially they have been forced to rely on food banks to feed their children. Over a third also admitted to relying on handouts from their own parents to get by from month to month.

Nearly half of mums reported that their ex currently owed them money with 37 per cent owed more than £1,000 while two thirds expressed frustration that their ex had power and control over them because they relied on them financially.

The majority of couples said they had an informal arrangement with their ex while just 24 per cent used the governments Child Maintenance Service. The results also showed that mums fared better if they had been married to their ex with those receiving an average of £676 extra a year compared to those that never married their children’s father.

Hannah Cornish, a family law solicitor from Slater and Gordon, said: “I can’t say I’m surprised by this data. We hear from families all the time that are struggling to agree on how the finances will be managed after they split up. It’s very difficult to get to a situation where everyone involved feels like they are being treated fairly and have enough money to get by.

“The reason that mum’s tend to get more money if they were married to their child’s father is because when a couple go through a divorce they are more likely to get legal and financial advice. Whereas quite often couples that weren’t married just make arrangements informally and by using the government calculators.

“When they do this the payments will often be lower and won’t take in to considerations big expenditures that come up when you have a child such as costs for school uniform and school trips and childcare.

“It’s crucial that people take legal advice whether they were married or not to ensure their children’s needs are met not just in the immediate term but in the long term as well.”

Nearly two thirds argue about money with their ex with mums reporting that most arguments were around their ex wanting to pay less money than they have agreed or wanting to delay payments. More than half said that their ex was regularly late paying them with half saying that they have to repeatedly ask for the money.

Two thirds said their ex-partner regularly expressed annoyance at having to pay for their child and six in ten said they were often quizzed on how the money was spent. Nearly half of mums said they felt that tension over money negatively impacted their children with a quarter saying their children had missed school trips and a fifth saying they couldn’t afford to commit to after school activities and clubs.

Most mums (68%) resented that their ex could afford to take their children on days out and afford nice presents for their children when they couldn’t. The research also revealed that 62 per cent thought the government should review their online child maintenance calculators. The basic rate of maintenance parents not living with their child are required to pay is 12 per cent of their gross income for one child, 16 per cent for two children and 19 per cent for three or more.

On an average salary of £27,000 a year that equates to £3,240 to cover the cost of their child for a year.

Watch our video HERE with Hannah Cornish to find out more about child maintenance.

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