Written evidence submitted by anonymously
In the last two years, I have been fighting a system which allows my ex-husband (earning £75,000 a year) to put 47% of his salary into voluntary pension contributions, so his child support is almost halved.
The facts – as summarised in a tribunal hearing – are as follows:
After my husband and I split up in 2015, our solicitors drew up a Separation Agreement and he agreed to child support of £750 a month for our two sons.
He was a senior manager in the banking industry, earning £70,000 a year. I was working part-time, having taken a career break to stay at home with our boys until they started school. My salary was £20,000.
With child support and my wages, I barely made ends meet. But I knew that I was
lucky, to have an ex who fulfilled his obligations to his children.
Then in January 2020 he claimed to have lost his job.
Despite suspecting he’d have a large redundancy package, and a decent lump sum in savings, I was on my own. My ex-husband didn’t offer to buy his sons so much as a pair of shoes for seven months.
Then he got another job. Another managerial position with a bank. Only this time, he wouldn’t co-operate with me to agree child support. I was forced to make a claim through the Child Maintenance Service.
The first CMS calculation was double the child support I had previously received at around £1400 - and I wondered just how astronomical my ex-husband’s earnings had become!
I later learned this was because his redundancy package meant he was taxed on £163,000 in 2019/2020. So it didn’t surprise me when he requested a recalculation.
However, the next calculation was £400. When I queried this with the Child Maintenance Service, they explained my ex-husband had increased his private pension contributions.
I took my ex-husband to tribunal, and he had to submit evidence. This gave me all the facts of his earnings, his pension contributions, and his redundancy payout. It showed that he had made the additional pension contributions AFTER I made my claim for child support through the CMS. He had never put so much into his pension before.
I produced evidence that the assets divided after our marriage ended in 2015 included a £270,000 pension pot from his previous employer – which my ex-husband got to keep.
My ex-husband said that he wanted to retire at 55, due to ill health (of which he provided no proof). He said he needed to increase his pension contributions in 2020 as he was aged 52 by then. He argued that his £270k pension couldn’t be cashed in until he’s 65.
My appeal has been dismissed at the first tribunal, and I have appealed to the Upper Tribunal.
How can it be a fair or reasonable system which allows a Dad to put his own comfort in retirement before the needs of his children? As the custodial parent, all of my earnings go on supporting us as a family, and I have nothing left over at the end of the month.
I couldn’t choose to give my pension a boost. And if I suffered ill health, nobody would help me. I have to raise my two sons.
We both made these children, and they deserve proper support from us both.
If he cheated the taxman, he’d be pursued and threatened with the full force of the law.
But he’s allowed to cheat his kids and stockpile his cash for himself. And the Child Maintenance Service has no interest in doing anything about it.