As I mentioned in the passing last week when I was discussing Lots's exam result, there has been a change in our financial circumstances. At the time, we had not been informed of any change by the child maintenance department, we simply had noticed that our bank account was rather on the light side and had telephoned them to see if they had any inkling why. Their unofficial reply then resulted in the cancellation of my planned trip to buy the kids their new school uniforms a few days before school went back. They told me that as soon as they had the official paperwork, I would be sent an explanation. So here's an excerpt from this morning's letter.
It just struck me as a bizarre concept altogether...
Let's analyse it. A child's father 'qualifies for the nil rate of child maintenance'. It goes on to list what can qualify a person for this rate - having no job, being a child themselves, living in a care home, working abroad for a non-UK-based employer (and various other options for 16 and 17 year olds). So although an absent parent earns a living and has a job they no longer need to give any financial contribution towards their children. They basically earn the right to be absolved of all financial responsibility for them by moving abroad. I'm not sure I understand how that is possible. If I lose my job tomorrow and find myself homeless, I am still financially responsible for them, the person with custody never gets that opt out. If I decide to move abroad tomorrow, I still have to feed and clothe them. How can any parent ever qualify for the nil rate of child maintenance? Children are your responsibility from the day you have them till the day you die, not even simply until they turn 18 (or 25, or whatever arbitrary cut off point is put on it.)
I presume they are assuming parents who move to good jobs abroad will feel morally obliged to not let their kids go hungry or without clothes and I hope that is generally the case but the wording that a parent can ever qualify for a nil rate of maintenance towards their child blows my mind. If I was homeless and hungry, I would still see to it that my kids were fed before me. I would never ever feel I qualified for a nil rate of responsibility towards them, no matter how old they are.
This notion is simply absurd to me.