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  #1  
Old 03-03-2011, 03:15 PM
Aleanne Aleanne is offline
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Default Lone Parent - Choosing to work Part Time

Hi guys,

I joined AAM to get some advice please. I'm an avid reader of the site and there is some great advice given. Here is my story:

I am a lone parent to a 1year old little girl. She was completely unexpected and her father has not contacted me since she was born (he has never seen her and he is not on her Birth Cert). I returned to work full time after my Maternity Leave in August and my daughter is with a childminder Mon-Fri. I decided to go to a solicitor to see about getting maintenance. She sent him 2 letters, both of which were ignored. I went back to the solicitor and asked her to give me a ball park figure of what it would cost me to bring him to court. As he is not on my daughters Birth Cert, the court would order a DNA test, which I would have to pay for, along with the solicitor and barrister fees. The cost would run into the thousands! I would never be able to afford it so I didn't pursue it.

I am still working full time but I'm finding it a struggle financially. Childcare is €500pm on top of my other outgoings (Bank loan, Credit Union loan, Credit Card, Loan repayments to my dad and bills). I take home €1850pm plus €140pm Child Benefit, but after everything is paid, I'm not left with much. I currently live with my parents so thankfully I don't have rent to pay, but I pay 50% of all bills.

I have recently heard that if I reduce my hours at work to 20hrs p/w, I could apply for OPFP, FIS and Rent Allowance!! Is this true? It seems crazy to me that if I work Part Time, I would be better off financially! I have worked my whole life and have never claimed any kind of benefits, but things are so bad at the moment, if it is possible, I will have no choice! My daughter and I are currently living in one room at my parents which is not ideal, so if I could claim rent allowance, we could get a place of our own! It seems to good to be true.....

Any information would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks in Advance
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  #2  
Old 03-03-2011, 03:46 PM
Ildánach Ildánach is offline
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As a one parent family you could apply for One Parent Family Payment, if your gross weekly earnings are less than 425 Euro. This would probably be the biggest help to you if you were to reduce your hours/income. See here for details: http://www.welfare.ie/EN/Schemes/BirthChildrenAndFamilies/OneParentFamilies/Pages/opfp.aspx

If you are working 20 hours a week and also receiving a reduced OPFP payment, unless you live in Dublin, it is unlikely that you would be eligible for rent supplement, although this will depend on your rent and on the amount you're earning, obviously. You can't receive rent supplement while living with your parents, and if you wanted to get a place of your own, you would need to be assessed by your local authority as having a housing need before you could apply.

You would only qualify for FIS if your income (work minus tax plus OPFP) is less than 506 a week.

If you phone the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed www.inou.ie they have information officers who can go over the figures and let you know how it will affect your entitlement to various welfare payments and help you maximise your income. They have an information line at 01 856 0088
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  #3  
Old 04-03-2011, 07:53 AM
Aleanne Aleanne is offline
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Thanks for the prompt reply Ildánach.

My net earnings at the moment are €427pw - €1850pm x 12/52 - so I'm over the threshold for OPFP at the moment! I know I could apply for FIS with my current income but from what I've been reading, the amount is fixed for a year. If I do get part time hours at work, my situation would be tight until the year is up and I could apply again. I figured that if I half my hours, I would be halving my wages - €427/2 = €213.50p/w. I don't know how they calculate the payments allocated after that.
I should have mentioned in my first post that I have been assessed by the Council as being in need of housing. I just got the letter a few days ago. In my area, the waiting list is 5years+!

Thanks again
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  #4  
Old 04-03-2011, 08:19 AM
merille merille is offline
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hi,

im talking as a mother here so my toughts are a bit different maybe. looks like you are better off working part-time really. im working part-time, getting opfp and rent allowance (not full amount tho because its means tested). i was thinking to go and work full-time, but when i saw, that money wise i wont win, i just didnt do it. its even more costs if i would work full-time (childcare, petrol etc etc). also i wont see my child much then, only weekends - so it wasnt an option for me.
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  #5  
Old 04-03-2011, 08:43 AM
Ildánach Ildánach is offline
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A word of caution about the figures that you have provided, most welfare payments (except FIS) are calculated using gross pay minus PRSI and pension contribs, income tax is not deducted. Only FIS is calculated using net pay (ie, gross pay minus tax, PRSI, USC and pension contribs).

However, on 213.50 a week you would be below the PRSI and income tax threshold and would only be paying about 4 euro USC, so the difference between gross and net payments isn't going to make a huge amount of difference.

If your wages are 213.50 per week, then you would get the following:

Wages - 213.50
OPFP - 190.30
FIS - 63.70
Total Income - 467.50

Any rent supplement would be reduced by 132.52 each week, which when added to the 24 euro minimum contribution that you have to make would mean that you would only get rent supplement if your rent was more than 156.52 a week (ie 678/month), which unless you live in Counties Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, Cork or Galway is above the maximum rent supplement that they will pay for a single parent with one child.

On your current salary you would get a 47.40 FIS payment, which when combined with your wages would be 474. You would obviously have a reduced childcare bill to factor in as well.

It would seem that certainly if you remained living at home, then it would make more financial sense to cut your hours in half, you wouldn't be getting much more money, but you would be working 20 hours instead of 40.

Although if you planned to move out of your parents' house and factor in rent supplement, you would be worse off than you are now.
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  #6  
Old 04-03-2011, 09:03 AM
alaskaonline alaskaonline is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleanne View Post
As he is not on my daughters Birth Cert, the court would order a DNA test, which I would have to pay for, along with the solicitor and barrister fees. The cost would run into the thousands! I would never be able to afford it so I didn't persue it.
Is this what your solicitor told you? My understanding was that only if the father challenge it i.e. denies he is the father of your daughter, a DNA test is ordered. If it turns out that he is the father indeed, he ends up paying the DNA test costs plus maintenance incl. back-payments (last one was the case with my friend). Besides what might cost you 2k now in court fees, should bring in the maintenance for your daughter for the next 17 years!

Did you check Free Legal Aid?

Last edited by alaskaonline; 04-03-2011 at 09:04 AM. Reason: added Did you check Free Legal Aid?
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  #7  
Old 04-03-2011, 09:19 AM
ironman ironman is offline
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You don't need a solicitor to apply for maintenance. If you live in Dublin Just go to Family District Court in Dolphin House and apply for a maint order. There is no cost involved. A summons will be issued to him and if he denys paternity the judge will order a DNA test which he will have to pay for. Or if you really wanted a solicitor you could apply for free legal aid but there's a long wait for that. It would be much quicker to do it yourself.
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  #8  
Old 04-03-2011, 09:50 AM
Aleanne Aleanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alaskaonline View Post
Is this what your solicitor told you? My understanding was that only if the father challenge it i.e. denies he is the father of your daughter, a DNA test is ordered. If it turns out that he is the father indeed, he ends up paying the DNA test costs plus maintenance incl. back-payments (last one was the case with my friend). Besides what might cost you 2k now in court fees, should bring in the maintenance for your daughter for the next 17 years!

Did you check Free Legal Aid?
When I told him I was pregnant he said he wanted a DNA test. A delay tactic. I have no problem with a DNA test, I know my daughter is his, but I do have a problem paying for it!! My solicitor said I would have to pay for it, and I MIGHT be refunded, by him, when the results come back. I would also have to pay all the legal fees, which I would not be able to afford. I am already in debt so I cannot apply for another loan to cover the costs. As regards legal aid, I don't think I qualified at the time. I should qualify if I go part time. I hate to think he is getting away with not paying a penny towards the upbinging of his beautiful little girl. I was advised to get a solicitor, as because he is not on the birth cert, and with him asking for a DNA test, it could get complicated.

As regards the rent allowance issue, I'm in Galway and rents are still quite high, despite the ressession. How is rent allowance calculated and how do they determine how much to give? Do they take into account your outgoings every month, like debt repayments and childcare costs?
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  #9  
Old 04-03-2011, 10:39 AM
Ildánach Ildánach is offline
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Rent supplement is worked out as follows:

Maximum rent allowable in Galway for couple or single parent with one child is 700 Euro/month. This would calculate as a weekly figure of 161 Euro. If your rent is above this, they may not pay ANY rent supplement, and insist on you moving to cheaper accommodation.

They take your weekly means from employment and other sources (after deducting PRSI and reasonable travel expenses) and compare this amount to the rate of SWA for your family size. The difference is considered to be additional income. They disregard the first 75 Euro of this additional income and then assess 75% of the balance. This assessed amount is then deducted from any rent supplement that you would otherwise be entitled to.

You are also expected to pay the first 24 Euro per week towards the housing cost. So the total amount of your rent supplement will be reduced by the assessed amount, and by a further 24 Euro each week.

Here is a link to the Department's website which explains the above process in more detail http://www.welfare.ie/EN/Schemes/Sup...upplement.aspx
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  #10  
Old 04-03-2011, 10:49 AM
Ildánach Ildánach is offline
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Also, if you intentionally reduce your hours and your income, the CWO may refuse you rent supplement because the circumstances are of your own making. A CWO would not be impressed if you were to reduce your income simply because it gave you greater entitlement to welfare payments and increases your income, but they are likely to be sympathetic if you can point to another reason why you reduced your hours, eg. child minding arrangements etc.
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  #11  
Old 04-03-2011, 11:21 AM
alaskaonline alaskaonline is offline
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Aleanne, I wouldn't say that you end up paying for everything. looking2011 gave a good idea on how things could turn out. If I'd be you, I'd bring him to court to get that maintenance. If he states in front of a court that he denies paternity then the DNA test can be done and the one in the right will pay for it i.e. if the test says what you say is true then he will cough up.

As ironman stated, you don't need a solicitor to get the maintenance.

Before I would consider reducing my hours of work (you're lucky to have a full time job) I would chase this father of your daughter. It might look complicated or stressful right now but it's well worth it in the end. Don't let him get away with not stepping up to the plate!
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  #12  
Old 04-03-2011, 02:15 PM
Aleanne Aleanne is offline
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I know Alaskaonline, I'm extremely lucky to have a full time, permanent job, which I enjoy, but on the other hand, I'm working 40hours a week which means my daughter spends 40hours away from me. I know it is not the States responsibility to pay to raise my child, it is mine (and should be her fathers!), but if these benefits are there to be claimed, would I be silly working full time and earning less than I would working part time? I would be getting extra quality time with my daughter also which I would love.
If I did go part time and apply for OPFP, do you know if the Social Welfare Department will chase my daughters father for maintenance or will I have to do it? I'm just so afraid of hidden costs that may be involved and I won't be able to pay them.

Ildánach, thanks again for your reply. That whole rent allowance calculation is so complicated! I don't understand what figures they use to calculate it. Sorry for all the questions, but I would love to know all my facts before I make the decision to cut back my hours.
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  #13  
Old 04-03-2011, 02:38 PM
Scotsgirl Scotsgirl is offline
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Aleanne,
I think you would be mad to give up a full time job. I was in the same position as yourself and resented the single mothers I knew that were living totally on benefits, had a house and still managed to go out in the evenings, while myself and my son lived in a bedsit with absolutely no money, while I worked full time for very little.
I would have loved to spend more time with my son too but it wasn't possible.

I thought of giving up many times and living on benefits but am glad now I didn't as I managed to put my son through a private secondary school, have a very nice house, a car, and can afford the occassional holiday.

My son has grown up knowing I worked hard to provide for him, and I think that is a very important ethic to instill in a child.

I also didn't receive any maintenance from his father and he denied paternity. A letter from my solicitor, stating that if he didn't start paying maintenance, I would start court proceedings against him. He agreed immediately and a contract was done up which he signed. That might be worth a shot first. Sometimes a letter is enough. That wouldn't be very expensive. If you need the name of a good family solicitor, I can pm you the name of mine. I can highly recommend him.
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  #14  
Old 04-03-2011, 07:14 PM
SarahMc SarahMc is offline
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I would also caution to be careful giving up your full time hours for short term benefit. Career progression is much easier in a full time position, and nigh on impossible if working part-time.

Like Scotsgirl, I am a single parent, but worked full time throughout, and upskilled along the way, so I am now in a much much better position than if I had given into temptation a few years ago and got stuck in the poverty/SW trap. Also we have no idea what social welfare cuts are coming, but they certainly won't be pleasant.

I would definitely pursue the maintenance order though (but not with that dodgy solicitor), apply for the single parent tax credit, FIS and medical card.

And well done, you are doing a fabulous job bringing up and providing for your little daughter
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  #15  
Old 05-03-2011, 04:49 PM
sammi sammi is offline
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Be very sure of your figures before you do anything. If your planning to stay with your parents then you will be (slightly) better off. But If you want to move out and get rent allowance then you wont. Rent allowance is means tested. The CWO doesn't care about your expences, she/he will take a precentage of whatever you earn and dock your rent allowance. Also if you manage to get any maintenance from your ex that is also counted as means and again will be docked from your payment. (this happened to me).
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  #16  
Old 09-03-2011, 09:34 AM
Aleanne Aleanne is offline
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Hi Scotsgirl, I sent my ex 2 solicitors letters which he ignored so the only way to get maintenance from him is to bring him to court. I have absolutely no extra money at the end of the month so there is no way I could afford to do so. I'm going to contact mabs about my debts but thats for another thread!!

Hi SarahMc, thanks for your lovely comment. In my job, while I love it (mainly due to the lovely people I work with), there are no career progression options. There was talk of a pay decrease this year so a pay increase is out of the question! Before I got pregnant I was in college at night so that I could get a better paid job. I had to drop out because I couldn't afford the fees and I moved out of my apartment back in with my parents. The money I saved on rent was used for a buggy, cot, highchair, bouncer, steriliser etc...
My thoughts now are that if I reduce my hours at work, claim whatever benefits are available and do some part time courses like FÁS, by the time my daughter will be going to school in 3 years time I will have upskilled and will be able to get a better paid job. Of course that is in an ideal world...
I am claiming the single parent tax credit but after the budget I'm worse off again, like everyone. I applied for a medical card but I was given a GP visit card which is a help, but I'm asthmatic so I need monthly medication which I get on a repeat prescription. If I'm a part time worker I might be able to get a medical card which would be a huge help!

I was told at the weekend that if I was working part time I wouldn't be able to apply for any rent allowance! Does anybody know if this is true? My reasoning on it was that if I was working Part Time, I would be saving 50% of my childcare costs, so that saving could be put towards my rent, as I know I definately wouldn't get a full rent allowance, nor would I expect to.

Hi Sammi, do you know how much they deduct from your earnings to calculate the rent allowance?

I think I'm more confused now than when I started!!
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  #17  
Old 09-03-2011, 07:44 PM
ironman ironman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleanne View Post
Hi Scotsgirl, I sent my ex 2 solicitors letters which he ignored so the only way to get maintenance from him is to bring him to court. I have absolutely no extra money at the end of the month so there is no way I could afford to do so.

You absolutely do not need extra money to bring him to court!! Contact Galway District Court Office for information on issuing a maintenance summons. It will cost you nothing as there's no court fees and you do not need a solicitor because the clerks at the court office issue the summons to your ex which will let him know the date of the court hearing. If he turns up and states he's not the father the judge will order DNA test which HE will have to pay for.


Phone +353 (0) 91 511500 / 503
Fax +353 (0) 91 564895
Email galwaydcc@courts.ie
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  #18  
Old 10-03-2011, 08:06 AM
alaskaonline alaskaonline is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ironman View Post
You absolutely do not need extra money to bring him to court!! Contact Galway District Court Office for information on issuing a maintenance summons. It will cost you nothing as there's no court fees and you do not need a solicitor because the clerks at the court office issue the summons to your ex which will let him know the date of the court hearing. If he turns up and states he's not the father the judge will order DNA test which HE will have to pay for.


Phone +353 (0) 91 511500 / 503
Fax +353 (0) 91 564895
Email galwaydcc@courts.ie
+1 - I agree with ironman here, you have nothing to lose.
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  #19  
Old 10-03-2011, 08:21 AM
truthseeker truthseeker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ironman View Post
You absolutely do not need extra money to bring him to court!! Contact Galway District Court Office for information on issuing a maintenance summons. It will cost you nothing as there's no court fees and you do not need a solicitor because the clerks at the court office issue the summons to your ex which will let him know the date of the court hearing. If he turns up and states he's not the father the judge will order DNA test which HE will have to pay for.


Phone +353 (0) 91 511500 / 503
Fax +353 (0) 91 564895
Email galwaydcc@courts.ie
+1 - definitely do this.

Ironman - in the above situation what happens if he DOESNT turn up for the court hearing?
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  #20  
Old 10-03-2011, 08:24 AM
alaskaonline alaskaonline is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by truthseeker View Post
+1 - definitely do this.

Ironman - in the above situation what happens if he DOESNT turn up for the court hearing?
"Where someone refuses to give a sample, the court can draw whatever conclusions it thinks proper from the refusal. For example, if the alleged father refused to give a sample, the court may take the view that he was afraid the tests would indicate he was the father." from the C Info site on paternity.

I'd say it's similar for people not turning up....
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