Oldest Daughter once said with a sad sigh: “just when I think Dad can’t lower the bar anymore, he manages to crawl under it”.
Since she said this, he’s managed to crawl under a fair few more of his lowered bars. In fact, I could have been forgiven for thinking his bar was finally at ground level – until recently.
To recap: in October 2019, having gone through a whole year of no child maintenance payments, the CMS had finally served a Deduction from Earnings Order on E. This meant that I would start receiving regular monthly child maintenance payments, which would include an amount towards the, by then, £12,000 child maintenance arrears he owed me.
On October 28th, I went to Court. To my surprise E turned up. Looking back, I think the reason he turned up was the fact that the Deduction from Earnings Order had been served and he realised how much this was going to cost him. This was shown by the fact that the first thing he asked my lawyer to agree with me was to agree to go back to a Direct Pay agreement. It was made clear that, for E, the rest of the agreement we were negotiating, would hinge on me doing this. My lawyer reassured me that, as E was saying he had agreed in principle to everything, and that he’d sign something for the Judge saying this, that this would mean my child maintenance payments would be protected by the Court, which would be just as good as them being assured by the CMS, and that, in fact, they would be more certain, because CMS managed payments were subject to change if the paying parent called in and needed to renegotiate.
I cannot describe how reluctant I was to do this. Every instinct I had was screaming at me not to. It had taken a year to get any payment agreement (and at this point I still hadn’t received a penny), I’d finally achieved some financial security and I was being asked to give it up before I’d even seen a payment. However, E looked like he was going to come to an agreement, and this agreement hinged on my agreeing to this demand. Also, given that E had just announced that he and P were expecting a baby, I was pretty sure he’d seek to reduce his maintenance payments via the CMS as soon as possible and that my best option was to get the payments agreed by the court. In the end, I said I would agree to it – but only when I’d received a payment from him, and only if he agreed to set up a regular monthly direct debit,
The very next day, I received a phone call from the CMS. E had already called them to say we’d agreed he could pay by Direct Pay and that they could cancel the Deduction from Earnings Order. Despite his seeming inability to communicate with anyone, he was speedy as fuck with contacting the CMS when trying to wriggle out of paying – I was gobsmacked by the speed with which he’d done this. I explained to the CMS what had happened at court, but said that I wasn’t happy about cancelling the arrangement until I’d seen the direct debit and the first payment from him. The person at the CMS seemed exasperated with me – she explained that, as E had agreed to pay by Direct Pay, that there was no need for them to have the order in place. I was made to feel demanding, petulant, like I was creating a drama when there was no need for one. In the end, they accepted, with some reluctance that I didn’t want to cancel the arrangement, yet. E’s first private payment was due on 1st December, however, I received two further phone calls from the CMS in November, both pressuring me to end the agreement that we had in place on the basis that E had told them he would pay privately.
I couldn’t (still can’t) quite get over this – the CMS had on record the fact that this man owed me £12,000, that he had not made a single payment for nearly a year. They’d struggled to contact him themselves. The only time he’d contacted them at all was to raise a payment dispute in February 2019 (that delayed me getting any payments for months) and then, once they’d served the Deduction from Earnings Order, to tell them he’d now pay privately, I, on the other hand, had been in touch regularly, taken all their calls, answered all their questions. They could see that he didn’t pay anything until they had made him do so. But, despite this, the second he said he would start paying, it seemed that his word was taken over mine.
Eventually, he made a payment on December 1st. It was over £200 less than he’d committed to paying me at court, but he’d already sent yet another whining missive to my long-suffering lawyer, saying that he’d been reassessed by the CMS and this was what he was now supposed to pay. At this point, I was so beaten down by everything that I didn’t see the point of arguing. Also, he had committed to sending his details back to court, so I was hopeful that the agreement we’d reached would be honoured. I really thought that I’d be able to sell the house soon, recoup the arrears, get his payments mandated by the court and move on.
Of course, as the months went on, the information he’d promised to send to the court never appeared. I wrote to him, my solicitor wrote to him, but nothing was sent. By now he’d not only reneged on the amount he’d promised to pay me, but he’d also contacted my lawyer to try to renegotiate the figures he’d agreed to at court. Even at this point I didn’t throw my toys out of the pram, I agreed to try to renegotiate. I was desperate to reach an agreement that we could present the next time we were in court that would let me just move on with my life.
Another court date was scheduled for 14th January. This time I went along thinking he’d turn up, and we could finally sort things out. I borrowed a huge amount of money to fund being represented again, thinking that this would be it, that at least this time, we’d get everything sorted, After all, I’d accepted him paying less money, I’d said I was happy to come to an agreement. I had done everything I thought he wanted.
He didn’t turn up.
The court said that they’d write to him demanding that he sent in the required information within the next three weeks, and agreed to consider adding my court costs to any settlement that would eventually arise. Again, I was stupidly hopeful that things would move along – he’d been TOLD by the court to send his financial documents in, surely no one could be arrogant enough to ignore that? My lawyer then wrote to him regarding the court demands, and he responded saying he’d get back to her ‘this week’. To this day he hasn’t sent the information they require.
A week or so later, I received a private offer on the house. It was a lower price than I think E was expecting, but it was a realistic price that reflected the condition of the house (lamentable, given the lack of funds I’d had to repair and upkeep it for over a year) and, as it was a private offer, it meant no Estate Agents fees, which meant we could save a considerable amount of money. As I’ve mentioned before, I had been reluctant to put the house on the market because E and I hadn’t reached any sort of formal arrangement, but this offer had kind of come out of nowhere – a friend knew I was going to sell eventually, and was interested. She knew the situation with E, and knew things might take a while, and it was a good offer, so I communicated it to E.
E immediately responded with some of the most stupid questions I’ve ever seen in my life, including “I have seen no evidence of the house ever being on the market, so can you tell me how the offer came about and who it is from?” His tone, his whole attitude was ‘explain yourself to me’. This wasn’t just willy waving, this was hoisting his manhood up a flag pole and flapping it around on the rooftops for an afternoon.
He then sent an email to my lawyer – which represented a similar masterclass in pomposity (and dodgy flagpole technique) – which, among other things, demanded to know the NAME of the person making the offer. I mean, fair enough, I guess the name is sort of interesting (I think he thought it might be a family member bailing me out and though he was being dead clever), but really, it’s not that important, given that financial checks etc will all be carried out by mortgage cos before any money changes hands. However, in this email he committed to getting back to us ‘regarding other matters” (aka what the fucking COURT had told him to send) “very shortly”. Inevitably, he didn’t send (still hasn’t sent) anything over that the court had demanded, but he did eventually accept that the offer on the house was genuine and things began to proceed with a sale.
As a result, a couple of months ago, the boys and I started packing. It was sad, but it felt like a positive move, like we were doing something for our future, like we were moving forward. There were tears, there was laughter, but we packed. E still hadn’t agreed to anything, but I was hopeful that he’d at least allow the sale to proceed and let me take my undisputed 50% of equity – this would at least allow me to put down a rental deposit and clear the more pressing debts. I was stupidly hopeful that we could come to some sort of arrangement, now that the house had been sold. After all, this was what he had been demanding since August 2018. This was what he wanted. My refusal to ‘snap to it’ and sell the house the second he demanded it was what had prompted a year of no child maintenance payments, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
All of a sudden, he just stopped communicating with anyone about anything, Again.
The last time anyone heard anything from him was early May – and this was because there was a court hearing scheduled that he wanted to wriggle out of. Everything has stopped. Everything has now fallen through because E won’t speak to anyone.
As a result, the house chain has now collapsed and I’m back to square one – including having to fight for regular child maintenance payments again. This time though, I’m living in a house full of boxes, and I don’t have the financial options I had before, I can’t put payments on credit cards and borrow money to get through, because those doors are now closed to me. If E persists in withholding child maintenance again, I’ll be facing eviction from my home because of repossession. In the meantime, E is just sitting back ignoring everything. I can’t get my head round it – I’ve literally done everything he wanted, but even that isn’t good enough. I’m exhausted.
I know it’s about control (although I can’t for the life of me understand why E wants any control over me – surely the whole point of the affairs he had was that he didn’t care about me or how I felt?). E has moved on with his life. but he won’t let me move on with mine. I could understand it if I’d been the one who’d betrayed him, had affairs, deprived him of money, but I didn’t. He was the one who didn’t want to be in the relationship. I gave him his freedom; I didn’t want him if he didn’t want me. He’s now got a whole new life, with a wife and a baby on the way. All I want is to move on too, to have a new life of my own, but E is quite literally keeping me prisoner in our old life, in our old house, mired down by debts that his actions forced me into. It’s unbelievably nasty, it’s frighteningly cruel, and it’s emotionally incomprehensible. I just don’t understand why he’s doing it – not just to me, but to his kids. The boys, the two kids that used to idolise E, are living in a house that’s only half a home. All of the ‘things’ that made it a home are packed. Not only that, but we don’t know where we’re going. I can only just live with the uncertainty, but is deeply unsettling for the boys. All they want is a home, a place to feel secure and happy, and E is deliberately, coldly, depriving them of that.
I’m beginning to think that bar of his will be subterranean by the end of all of this.