Sunday, February 08, 2009


The contractual obligation to pay top bankers their cash bonuses despite their failures is all over the front pages of the Sunday papers today. Most people are angry because tax payers are now the major share holders so why should we pay out.
I, however, am struck by that phrase 'contractual obligation to pay bonuses'. Why? Because if they are contracted to receive the money then surely it isn't a bonus, it is a contractual part of their salary. Now if you are an average man in the street you don't see the problem or reasoning there. If, however, you are a divorced parent of small children the penny drops. The CSA, the UK body that deals with child maintenance payments, bases the sum paid to the residential parent on a percentage of the non-residential parent's gross salary excluding bonuses and shares. What you find in companies and sectors where there are a lot of divorced, well-paid, middle-aged men is that basic salaries have gone down and are now supplemented by bonuses equating to between 25% and 100% of their salary. Why is that allowed? In my own case, having been the family accountant before my divorce, I know around half of my ex-husband's salary is being exempted from child support because it is paid as bonuses and shares. I presume the banking sector too means long, stressful hours and therefore has led to many divorces. Often what has happened is that the salary is minimal and the bonus outstrips it by far. The bonus of course was probably once part of the salary but if you are a divorced 45 year old dad a salary of £80K is much less interesting to you than a salary of £40K supplemented by a contractual bonus of £35K, but those who have opted for the latter will be up in arms if suddenly bonuses are removed given competitive salaries for similar jobs are probably around £80K.
All I am saying is that if bonuses are part of your contractual salary and not a one-off gift, then it should be taken into consideration when child maintenance awards are calculated. This situation should never have been allowed to develop with the purpose of avoiding paying for the upkeep of your children. Otherwise you end up with one parent struggling to provide the basics for the kids while the other becomes super-dad visiting restaurants and cinemas every time they have them for the weekend. The kids are meant to be the ones that count here, not the parents.

1 comment:

The Scudder said...

A very good rant my dear daughter; one I urge you to seriously consider sending as an email to that very same Ex-husband ,, just to perhaps make him undersrtand that neither you, your children or your parents are under any illusions that he is CHEATING his kids out of what is rightfully and morally theirs !
Oh and definitely let the children too read it