This advice was received from a Father who has been through the 'mill' we publish it at his request without revealing his name.
I wanted to share this with people in my situation, I have spent so many hours,days weeks fighting the system - it all paid off and I simply want to help other dads too.
You may expand upon it and publish it (ANONYMOUSLY).
Firstly, I am not interested in any 'father' who has incurred the wrath of the CSA and ex wife if it was them who had an affair and broke up a marriage, at the cost of their children's happiness - we all can make choices and I despise this selfish act.
However, my wife of xx years and mother of xx children had an affair with an ex boyfriend. I found out ...we tried to patch things up, lots of counselling and honest talk, a new house , new job to make a fresh start.
But no, this was not good enough- 12 days after moving into the new house at christmas she was off again on her second affair with her new boss in her new job where she had gone to make a fresh start........all my fault apparantly because after xx months after discovering her first affair I had dared to lose my temper one night and throw a shoe at the wall.(I was still on anti-depressants and was being physically sick 2/3 times a day over the upset). She left the house and took the kids, never to return.
Anyway..then it started ...the mass of forms to complete from the CSA started pouring in. I was now offically "The Absent parent"...apparantly no better a person than the guy who gets a girl pregnant on a one night stand on holiday and does a runner...same rights(or lack of). The CSA hadn't spotted that it was her who had had the affairs and left the marital home.
So I was going to fight....I am not and never have been an absent parent. So this is how I succeeded...follow it and you have half a chance to keep your kids, the home and not end up destitute financially.
In no specific order........but act IMMEDIATELY :-
Tell your wife nothing but try to extract as much information about her relationship/s from her. Try to stay amicable ...I struggled to do this but it is better if you can.
NEVER resort to any violence to him or her....read no further if you do ...you will lose your kids for certain. ( I was lucky that my wife's ex partner attacked me and was given what he deserved in 'self defence' - I reported it to the police as an assault .
If he or she attacks you.....make a police complaint and get your solicitor to write and say that you are not happy about the safety of your children. This helped me as it prevented her lover from staying in the same house as my kids and resulted in them staying with me overnight more...they ended up giving up their rented house because of this.
DO NOT leave the marital home even for one night to let her stay........you will have lost it forever.
Try to get your wife to be the one to go without (or if not ) with the children to a relatives or friends. (this seems harsh but believe me...you will soon have the full force of the totally biased legal system crashing around you trying to kick you out - you must stay in that house if you want any chance of keeping your kids)
If she moves out get your solicitor to arrange for her not to come back in unless with a legal agreement ......and then keep majority share of the time there. It is technically incorrect to change the locks..DO IT ..the worst she can do is break in and no charges can be made for doing this to your own property.
(A mother with her children, in your house for more than 2 days a week and you have LOST it all...You WILL eventually be forced out...she will move in , with her new lover, with your kids and you will have to come cap in hand , knocking on YOUR door once every two weekends maximum (if SHE decides because that is the automatic law, asking her new lover if you can take YOUR kids out......oh and you will be paying the mortgage for him too whilst he sit in your chair and sleeps in your bed ! )
Start writing down EVERYTHING she says and does that can be construed as unreasonable regarding the kids. Tape phone conversations with a dictaphone and save text messages (copy and write down with dates etc). It is virtually impossible to prove she is a bad mother in law(and she probably isn't) but the CSA is very subjective and can be swayed by the overall behaviour of the individuals.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THIS....the whole decision process from the CSA is based on HOW MANY NIGHTS YOUR CHILDREN SPEND WITH YOU PER WEEK (OVERNIGHT).
Keep a written diary - every detail. Try to make the most of the early months when she will be wanting to have free time with her new love - offer to keep them overnight as often as possible and log it. Note that she was away with her lover and was readilly keen to 'palm' the kids off on you.
A private detective is money very well spent for finding out his circumstances as this is needed in some cases for CSA claims. Information is power and you will really need every scrap of information - the system is so heavily weighted agains men.
Try to keep this going as long as possible without your ex wife realising you are 'building a case' against her behaviour. In a joint residency/custody application the judge nearly always states leave things as they are to save confusing the children. If you have had 6-9 months seeing the kids regularly 3-4 nights aweek , that will likely become the legal decision if you then apply for joint residency....so wait and set a precedent first before applying.
Take as many holidays with the kids during this time. The ex will see this as a 'break' for her and her new partner and see it as good for the kids....it really helps in accumulating the number of nights you have had with them. Add them up - write them down
Eventually you stand a good chance of a joint residency as you will have been having them for more than or at least 50% of the week. You will have the marital home and the judges like it fior the kids to be in their own home.
Get a child welfare qualified solicitor to do this , from the outset get a good solicitor in a firm where they have specialists...it really is worth the extra.....it will cost you a fortune anyway...but at least it will be successful.
Do not let your heart rule your head in this...go for the beat deal you can get with the kids....you can always relax it on your terms after.....the man otherwise has no legal rights and you will be fighting her AND the law forever. - go for the maximum time with your children
NOW FOR THE CSA BIT.....
With 50/50 joint residency you have a fighting chance with the CSA. Once you have a 50 /50 court order you can now apply to get one of your children (at least) registered for Child Benefit in YOUR name...this is vital.
The CSA in their wisdom base the whole decision on who claims against who, on who's name is on the Child Benefit certificate. TOTALLY illogical they admit but that's how it is.
If you already have them in your name - great things are looking up. Make sure it stays like this. If not , write to the Ch. Benefit office and send a copy of the Joint residency court order asking to have one child or half the total number of kids in your name. They will say no but argue this as it is lawful. Unfortunately if you only have one child they can not split the allocation of that child between you and it can not be changed.
Once you have your name on the Child Benefit for at least one child....GUESS WHAT...the CSA no longer consider you "The absent parent"
You can then raise your own counter claim against your wife to reduce the totallu unfair, crippling, biased assessment that will have been levied on you.
You can even appeal to their Lytham St Annes office to have the original claim from her cancelled. The CSA will tell you all along the way you can not do all of this...you can...they are in total disarray and are bonused (I believe) on how many cases they can 'close'. They want the easy optionat any cost to you - fight it all the time.
Send as much written background as you can - not just the forms. They get thousands of cases, but if you show from the start you are serious and the injured party it does help. Try to send all the evidence in day one.- they are more likely to just accept that you are right and have a genuine claim.
Remember the CSA is run very inefficiently and mostly I was having to tell young clerks the rules to get them to process my claim......do not take no for an answer fro the CSA ...always ask for a senior person, befriend them and speak to them regularly.
Keep copies of everything.
INCREASE YOUR PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS TO 20% OF YOUR SALARY (THE MAX ALLOWED) FOR AT LEAST 2 MONTHS BEFORE YOU ANTICIPATE HER CLAIM. This is offset against your disposable income and reduces your payment significantly.
TRY TO GET A PERSONAL LOAN FROM A BANK OR YOUR EMPLOYER TO HELP 'PAY OFF DEBTS INCURRED DURING YOUR MARRIAGE FOR THE FAMILY. ...DO NOT USE CREDIT CARDS TO PAY IT OFF AS THEY WILL NOT OFFSET CREDIT CARD BORROWINGS
Other loans can be offset when assessing CSA contributions. Private relatives loans are not acceotable.
Ask for a 'DEPARTURES' booklet staright away ....it will show you what you can appeal against once the claim is set...better forewarned.
You have the option to meet with a CSA representative at your home....it is worth doing this.
Watch out for the Working Family Tax Credit...if she is on les than £23k you may not be able to claim against her...this classifies her as 'almost destitute' for some reason and she will get the supplement and it disqulaifies you from claiming CSA against her...very unfair - but then it all is
That is about all I can pass on for now.
After nearly 2 years I now have joint residency of my kids, I have kept my marital home, the kids love it here, I have a very reasonable CSA contribution ( although I don't believe she should have anything from me on her salary of £23k + £5k WFTC last year + all the Ch benefit until recently ) and having kept a £5 car just bought for her- on credit card - whoopps !)
I am now counter claiming for one child and have appealed against her own claim to be re assessed or scrapped totally.
A long hard battle - but it can pay off. The most important thing now , is that I have a great relationship with my two wonderful kids and some money to spend on them....it could have been so much worse.