Let me tell you what the family lawyer said

I told you before about how I wanted to co-parent without a lawyer. I still do. My vision for the future does not involve protracted adversarial litigation and a bitter relationship with my ex, my co-parent. I feel my ex is pushing the boundaries of what is reasonable and fair and I certainly don’t believe that he is acting in the best interests of our son who is only 10 months old.  I went to see a family lawyer to get advice. I wanted some reassurance that I am being reasonable and that I am not letting my emotions and hormones cloud my judgement as my ex claims. This is what the family lawyer said.

what the family lawyer said

Our son needs to know where his home is.

I think I am seriously failing here and last week was really bad. I am living with my parents until I finally move into my new flat. Last week Baba has spent Monday night with me at my parents’ house, Tuesday night with his Daddy, Wednesday night with me, Thursday night with his Dad at his Granny’s house, Friday and Saturday nights with me and then Sunday night with his Dad. I know that I don’t actually have a home to give him yet, but if I had, he’d have spent three nights away from it, but not three consecutive nights. He must feel like Paddington Bear, always with a rucksack on his back. Indeed, he often has a packed lunch when I send him off to his Daddy. This cannot be good for his feelings of security and for his cognitive development.

Poor Baba also had two days at his old nursery and three familiarisation sessions at his new nursery last week. Grandma (my Mum) has been the most consistent person in his life this week. He doesn’t know whether he is coming or going. Being passed from pillar to post and his teething pushed him over the edge last week.

I should be asking for a decent sum of money in maintenance from Baba’s Dad

My ex earns £87,000 a year. This is a very good wage and significantly more than I am earning. When you put this in the government run child support agency website (www.gov.uk/child-maintenance/overview) based on Baba spending 2-3 nights a week at his house he should be giving me £116 a week for our son. This would be more than fine, in fact this would be more than Baba costs in terms of food, drink, clothes and nappies etc.

Unfortunately, what the website doesn’t make clear is whether this figure is before or after nursery fees. Baba spends two days a week at nursery at £70 a day. His Dad and I have agreed to split the nursery fees (that was the way our relationship worked, we split all costs 50/50). My ex is arguing that the £70 a week should be coming out of the £116, leaving £46 a week. When my ex’s take home salary is £4500 per month, this doesn’t feel very much. The lawyer suggested that I should be asking for £500 a month plus half of the nursery fees. I am not sure how I feel about this. To me, it feels a bit greedy.

The lawyer thinks I am stupid for not claiming half of our jointly owned house.

We were joint owners of our house. When we bought a flat together five years ago my ex had significantly more money than me and therefore contributed significantly more to the deposit. We also had a fairly chunky mortgage which my ex and I split 50/50. Despite my lower salary I have always paid half our mortgage and bills. When we bought our flat, we drew up and signed what is called a ‘Declaration of Trust’ stating that I owned 33.5% of the flat and my ex 66.5%. We never got round to drawing up a ‘Declaration of Trust’ for our next property, the house that we bought together (and recently sold).

I continued to pay 50 % of the mortgage and also contributed a significant sum of money from my savings to the renovation of our house. Upon the sale of our house, I agreed to a 33.5% / 66.5% split of the equity, once capital repayments on the mortgage had been refunded to each and we had each been reimbursed our respective contributions to the refurbishment. I could have asked for more because I was a joint owner on the deeds and was paying half of the mortgage and had contributed the lion’s share of money towards our house renovations. I didn’t though. Some have said that I was stupid, but money is not a big motivator in my life.

My ex has now reluctantly agreed to go to mediation. I need him to come to mediation because I don’t feel that I can raise issues such as the welfare of our child or money without him getting angry and flying off the handle. I’ve told you about his anger and unpredictability right? I find him intimidating when he is angry so I want a third party in the room.

I haven’t yet decided what I will raise in mediation or what I will argue for. I am not going to take all of the advice I received from the lawyer and am certainly not going to push for large sums of his money. That is not who I am. I know I don’t want this to escalate and for us to have to go to court. I know that our son is the priority.

I am doing a lot of thinking at the moment about mediation and my approach. I will let you know what I am planning to say and I will then let you know how it goes.

Watch this space!

My Random Musings
Mums' Days


  1. July 14, 2015 / 10:37 am

    Oh my goodness Pen. In my world your ex is rich and selfish. My husband went to court with his ex and he was earning about £37000 a year and was ordered to let her stay in the house with their one year old and continue to pay half the mortgage til she turned 18 (or bought him out which is what has now happened). He was also ordered to pay her £300 a month in child maintenance – so that was £650 a month he was paying (he now pays £450 a month in child maintenance in line with inflation and his daughter is now 11). I guess that money did include the childcare bill where she went to a childminder 2 days a week for the first two years until she got her free hours. I genuinely think that his ex had a better income than me when I worked full time if you took into account her part time salary 2.5 days a week as a dental nurse, tax benefits and the money from him. She maintened a horse and spent half her life down at the stables. Your ex can well afford to contribute £500 a month plus nursery fees and still be very comfortably off. Please, please don’t feel like you are being greedy or think that money doesn’t matter – raising a child comes with so many unexpected costs and you can bet he won’t want to contribute towards them voluntarily when the time comes. Good luck Xx
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    • thesingleswan
      July 23, 2015 / 7:38 pm

      Goodness me! I have to say that I don’t think that the arrangements between your husband and his ex were right. That is ridiculous! I do believe that both parents should have to pay money towards their children, irrespective of how much either of them sees the child, but I don’t want my ex to feel that he is funding me. That wouldn’t be right for our son and I think I would feel like a kept woman which is the last thing I want when it comes to my ex.

      Thank you for taking the time to write such a long comment.


  2. July 14, 2015 / 10:39 am

    Also – he has been taking huge advantage of your generosity in letting you pay half of everything when he earns such a massive wage – it’s way above the average. That speaks absolute volumes about what type of person he is.
    thenthefunbegan recently posted…The Truth about… #34My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 23, 2015 / 7:34 pm

      Yes, his actions do speak volumes. I believe in karma though. I think he is quite sad and lonely now…

  3. July 14, 2015 / 12:36 pm

    I think if you paid 50/50 for the house you should have got 50% of the money from the sale, however, if you were happy to take less, then why rock the boat by arguing about it.
    When it comes to monthly payments, I can’t abide this thing that some ex-wives/girlfriends somehow think their ex should be responsible for keeping them, although lawyers don’t help here as they recommend taking men to the cleaners on a regular basis!
    I do however feel very strongly that as a father, your ex should be made to pay a fair amount for your son’s upkeep.
    I know exactly where you are coming from – I wouldn’t feel comfortable being dependant on a boy friend, let alone an ex, but remember this money isn’t for you, it’s for your son. You shouldn’t feel guilty taking it, he should be happy to know he is contributing to his son’s welfare! If the money you receive does exceed what you spend on feeding and clothing him, why not set up a trust fund for him for when he turns 18?
    I hope you get sorted out, looking forward to keeping up with how your mediation goes.
    Good luck!
    Sorry for the ridiculously long comment!
    Thank you for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂
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    • thesingleswan
      July 23, 2015 / 7:32 pm

      Hi Debbie,

      thanks for your long comment. It is in no way ridiculous and much appreciated. I am not sure what the answer is. Like all things to do with parenting, everyone has an opinion and there is no right answer.

      I’ll let you know how the mediation goes.

      Take care. xx

  4. July 14, 2015 / 8:31 pm

    First of all, please do not beat yourself up about your little man being here there and everywhere at the moment. As everyone will no doubt say, they are resilient little people and as long as you and his dad are his constants, he’ll be fine. You have done everything in your power to stabilise things and when you move into your flat, you will be doing everything you can.

    Money wise, My ex plays a similar amount for my son but only declared his earnings of 18,000. Now he is with me except 6 nights per month but still. Your son deserves more. Life gets a lot more expensive as they get older.

    As per the house. Well, thats up to you. You have your reasons but it’s not too late to do something about it.

    You are a very strong woman. Your son has a fantastic role model in you. I hope you don’t have to fight for your rights but having something arranged legally is needed in my opinion, especially when dealing with someone like your ex. I’m glad he’s going to mediation as at least you can talk some things through.

    Love and support x
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    • thesingleswan
      July 23, 2015 / 7:30 pm

      Thanks Hannah,

      I appreciate your comment and apologise for taking so long to reply. I have moved into my flat (yipppeee) and don’t have any wifi. Baby is with his Daddy and I am currently in the pub blogging and drinking wine.

      We spoke yesterday to talk things through in advance of mediation. It didn’t go to well, but at least he has agreed to mediation and has actually arranged his first meeting. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll let you know.

      thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I hope you are well lovely. xx


  5. July 16, 2015 / 9:20 pm

    oh love, I really feel for you – it’s soooo hard 🙁 I think in all honesty going to mediation is definitely the best policy. It’s really hard to be objective when you’re in the thick of it all. I don’t think you’re asking for too much and you certainly shouldn’t feel greedy, you have a child to raise on your own and that is hard work, so the last thing you need is to add money worries to the pile. Fingers crossed you get everything you need AND deserve xxx Thanks for linking to #TheList xxx
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    • thesingleswan
      July 23, 2015 / 7:24 pm

      Thanks Hannah,

      I appreciate your comment. I think mediation is best too, but I am really dreading it. I hate any form of confrontation – it is just not me and I get really nervous. I hope the mediator will be able to help with this.

      Thanks for your support.

  6. July 17, 2015 / 11:33 am

    Hi Pen,
    Wow, you’re going through a lot right now. You sound extremely reasonable to me. When I was getting divorced we agreed on £250 a month maintenance for my son. I didn’t go for maintenance for myself (even though I was earning about £15k at the time working two days a week and he was on about £50k). My ex made it quite clear he would fight tooth and nail not to pay me maintenance and has a temper too. At the time, I was not up to fighting and like you, I wanted what was best for my son and not to aggravate matters. So I agreed to £250 month on the basis that I could just about afford to live. However due to my low income my ex did agree to me getting the lions share of the house. He got 35% and I got 65% after we’d paid off all joint legal costs and his loans and credit cards. Because of this arrangement I had £50k deposit to put down on a house and luckily I managed to get a mortgage for the rest. Over time my ex then reduced my money to £200 a month which was a real blow but as it wasn’t properly arranged through the courts then I couldn’t do anything about it. Funnily enough I’ve just managed to get it back up to £250 recently by negotiation (to help with school dinners and maths tutoring). It really isn’t easy but you did the right thing going to see a solicitor and you should listen to their advice. You need to make sure you’re not going to struggle because kids cost more as they get older. This month alone I’ve paid £14 for a school trip, £25 for cub camp, £60 tutoring, £120 for music lessons for next term, £40 on new blazer and school crested jumper. I shall need to buy rest of uniform and new school shoes in August. Plus new rugby boots and some kit, new trainers, new PE kit etc etc….the list goes on. So it might seem like some nappies and clothes right now but it soon starts to mount up when they start school and you’ll be the one paying for it all out of your maintenance. Don’t worry about your man, children are very reislient. As soon as you’re settled in your flat and make it a home, he’ll be fine. The main thing is that he always has you and other people that love him in his life. Lots of luck and don’t take no crap! You’re an inspiration 🙂 xx
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    • thesingleswan
      July 23, 2015 / 7:21 pm

      Hi Tor,

      THanks so much for taking the time to write such a long comment about your situation when you divorced and I am really sorry that I haven’t replied until now. I have no wifi in my new flat yet. Baby is with Daddy tonight so I am in a pub on their wifi, with my wine, doing a bit of blogging.

      It is really tough isn’t it. There is so much press about single mums getting a fortune in maintenance for free. My ex the other night claimed that he was the cash cow, which I have to say I just laughed at because he hasn’t given us a penny yet. He says he doesn’t want to pay for my lifestyle, which is fine, but he isn’t paying anything for his son either at the moment.

      I have managed to get him to agree to come to mediation though which is a great step forward. I feel that he is treating our son like a possession and not doing what is best for him. As long as we get things right for our son, money is less important to me.

      I am really impressed that you manage to retain a relationship with Seb’s Dad. I don’t know the circumstances obviously, but it sounds like a massive achievement.

      You are my inspiration Tor. If I can have the relationship with my son that you have with yours I will be as happy as anything.

      Take care and thank you again for your long comment.


  7. July 21, 2015 / 12:18 am

    Oh, Pen. This sucks. My sister has been through two divorces that involved child support and custody issues, and they were brutal.
    That being said, I’m not going to offer any advice, other than this: Go to the Internet. Type in the words “adorable kittens.” And dedicate a full hour to watching cat hijinks.
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    • thesingleswan
      July 23, 2015 / 7:11 pm

      Kittens are always a great antidote for feeling shit. Stroking kittens releases oxytocin. I think I’ve already blogged about oxytocin – that’s how sad I am! x

  8. March 23, 2017 / 1:04 pm

    Lawyers consider several factors when setting their fees. For example, some lawyers who are well-reputed in a particular law area may charge more than ones who are not. You may not mind paying a higher fee if you feel the lawyer’s special expertise and skill will yield better and faster results.

    • thesingleswan
      March 23, 2017 / 3:27 pm

      Very true. thanks for your comment. Pen x

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