I was a single parent for six years. For the last 10 years, I’ve been trying to get child maintenance.
Going through the child maintenance system can be like trying to scale an impossibly high wall, without ever knowing if there will be anything on the other side. It seems as though you are forced to repeat the same information ad nauseum, but without anyone actually hearing what you are saying. Recently I wrote about Gingerbread.org.uk and their Maintenance Matters campaign, and I was asked to write a guest post for their site about my own experiences.
For the first time, I’ve encountered a group that actually listens and is actively campaigning for single parents (and those parents who, like me, have re-partnered but still face the same difficulties).
Here is an excerpt from my story:
Hello? Is there anybody out there?
Sometimes – most of the time, actually – it feels as if there’s no one listening. And that even the ones who are listening are only hearing it because they have to. They don’t want to really listen, because they don’t want to know.
Talking about child maintenance makes people uncomfortable. They’re embarrassed about talking about money, they’re embarrassed by knowing you don’t have enough money, they’re embarrassed by the thought that your family fell apart, and they’re embarrassed by your frustration.
But think about how embarrassing and frustrating it is to have to go through the child maintenance system. You’ve got to admit to strangers that your child’s parent doesn’t want to share responsibility, and that you are on your own. You have to answer the same questions over and over and over again, and if your case is anything like mine, you’ll go through innumerable phone calls, letters, forms and tribunals and still go more than 10 years without any maintenance…
March 2017 child maintenance update –
£3091.55 owed. £0 received.