to warn SAHM that if they divorce

(206 Posts)
babybarrister Thu 27-Mar-14 12:56:20

they should not now have an expectation of retaining their standard of living during the marriage

The Law Commission report on Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreements came out a few weeks ago

here

It is likely to accepted to a large extent by the Courts and has in my view considerably tightened up the criteria for spousal maintenance.

Reading the full report at Chapter 3 it is clear that spousal maintenance should very rarely now be on a joint lives basis. This is echoed at various points in the report.

Perhaps more importantly the Law Commission at paragraph 3.109 states the following:

"it may be appropriate to impose a term on the payment of periodical payments, allowing time for a party to develop his or her ability to meet needs, perhaps by retraining or re-establishment in the job market. It should not be a barrier to the imposition of a term that, at the end of the term, the payee spouse, while able to meet his or her own needs, cannot necessarily do so at the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage"

What this means in reality if that for a SAHM whose career has been put on hold, if they divorce, they will get a short term of spousal maintenance [in addition to CSA/child maintenance] but then it will end even though they will be living at a worse standard of living .....

I appreciate no-one intends to divorce and everyone makes their own decisions about whether to be a SAHM or not, but this will change things on the ground in the courts I am quite, quite sure.

Please therefore think carefully about any decisions you are making

HolidayCriminal Thu 27-Mar-14 13:04:39

Does the rule not apply to SAHDs, too?
My mom got a generous alimony settlement back on '91. I thought she was very lucky as rules obviously about to change (she no kids at home, either).

babybarrister Thu 27-Mar-14 13:05:45

yes SAHD as well.

CremeEggThief Thu 27-Mar-14 13:07:23

Thanks for publicising this, babybarrister.

Bramshott Thu 27-Mar-14 13:07:38

I thought spousal maintenance was pretty much dead in any case?

And of course if you share 50/50 residency as more and more people are doing, there's no child maintenance payable either.

All the more reason why people should generally be able to support themselves (or at least to have a plan for how they WOULD support themselves if their relationship broke down).

Rebecca2014 Thu 27-Mar-14 13:10:47

I think putting your career on while your husband succeeds at his career is a big risk. A lot of marriages do end and where will you be? Right at the start again while your ex properly has a younger gf and his career sorted.

This is why I am going back into education after being a sahm for 2 years. I am not going to rely on a man financially for long.

babybarrister Thu 27-Mar-14 13:13:49

In many other countries there is very low and very short spousal maintenance - I suspect that this contributes to very high levels of return to work by mothers in those countries ....

Bowlersarm Thu 27-Mar-14 13:18:14

I haven't really thought about it much, but if I have thought about it all, it is that the family home is sold and proceeds split 50/50. If the children are dependants, there will be a maintenance payment for their needs monthly. Is that about right, bb?

Dreadedsunnyday Thu 27-Mar-14 13:21:07

I thought that was the case anyway...my exH had a little "talk" with me the other night about how he needs to stop my spousal maintenance (only apparently it's all the big bad OW's idea, no his at all, oh no) and he did point out that it was never meant to be for ever.

Although as far as I remember the "triggers" for it ending were remarriage, after cohabiting for 6 months and...death, I presume?!

If he takes away my spousal maintenance me and the kids will not be able to make ends meet any more and seeing as OW earns about twice what I do and exH about 6 times what I do (no exaggeration) they can both fuck the fuck off.

<ends rant>

RufusTheReindeer Thu 27-Mar-14 13:21:39

I though that was the case anyway

But in the last two years I have gone to solicitors with friends re their divorces and that is what the solicitor has told them

Creamycoolerwithcream Thu 27-Mar-14 13:22:53

I just assumed nearly everyone who got a divorce would end up with a worse standard of living. Dividing up assets and running 2 households instead of 1 is going to make a big difference to a person's standard of living.

splasheeny Thu 27-Mar-14 13:23:34

This is interesting, though in practice how much will change?

I know of friends who have divorced, having been a sahm for most of their marriage, and got no spousal support. This is despite the ex husband earning in the 6 figures.

From what I understood divorce settlements take into account loss of earnings, rather than spousal support payments.

babybarrister Thu 27-Mar-14 13:30:00

having done this job for 20 years, my view is that things will indeed change ....

this is not simply a matter of dividing up the capital such that everyone gets less than had beforehand, this is going to impact on future maintenance, applications to vary maintenance downwards etc etc

NancyJones Thu 27-Mar-14 13:30:02

I'm not sure id expect to still have the same standard of living. I've been a sahm pretty much for the last 10+ years. We have ISAs and savings in my name only. This is mainly for tax reasons.

If expect the house to be sold (if the kids were older otherwise DH wouldn't dream of it) and us to split the equity. He'd continue to pay for the kids until they were past the staff of dependency. I'd assume that joint savings would also be split and then I'd go back to work.

Isn't this standard? I don't think about it much but wouldn't have considered spousal maintenance to still exist really.

Pigletin Thu 27-Mar-14 13:35:49

A SAHP will always be worse off if the couple split. This is a personal opinion (and I'm not inviting a fight here) but being a SAHP long-term is ludicrous in my opinion.

taratamara Thu 27-Mar-14 13:39:00

Tough in situations where couples agree the dw has given up a career as the dh has a demanding career then he has a midlife crisis and runs off with younger work colleague.
So main beneficiaries would be wealthy men IMO -completely consistent with a tory government. And main losers children.

Dreadedsunnyday Thu 27-Mar-14 13:39:23

But what if you stay in the house and there are no shared assets? Or only shared debts? Then how do you compensate for loss of earnings?

Bowlersarm Thu 27-Mar-14 13:39:26

Until what age Pigletin?

If I stop working once I'd had my children at an older age, late 30's say, and then suddenly I'm 55, is it essential, in your view, I then go out and find a job?

AuntieStella Thu 27-Mar-14 13:44:50

I had rather thought that was pretty much what happened in practice anyhow, in the sense that nowadays spousal maintenance was awarded only for shortish transitional periods, and with an expectation was that the period was intended to give the time for the previously non-earning spouse to secure their own income.

Life is uncertain, even if you don't divorce, there's no guarantee that you will be able to maintain any articular standard of living long term.

Pigletin Thu 27-Mar-14 13:45:20

Bowlersarm - that is a personal decision, I can't answer that for you. Like I said, my personal opinion is that it is crazy to rely on someone else for your financial support long-term (unless of course you have your own savings/income, etc.). Unless you are financially independent, you are inviting a whole lot of trouble for yourself and your kids (not you personally, but in general) if the relationship doesn't work out. In this day and age, you need to look out for yourself.

NancyJones Thu 27-Mar-14 13:46:55

Well it's only ludicrous if it's causing harm. I've been a sahm for 10+ yrs but then I've been having lots of children over those years and have a DH who works very long hours often out the country so I'd say it's been sensible rather than ludicrous. As I said, I have ISAs and savings in my name only and we have about 400k equity in the house so I'm not worried about being destitute. Oh and I'd just go back to work and he'd need to change jobs to ensure he could go his half of the drop offs and pick ups.

Guineapig99 Thu 27-Mar-14 13:47:53

I thought that was the case anyway? Split assets, maintenance for kids only sounds fair. One of the many, many reasons that women ( & blokes too obvs where it applies) should think carefully before essentially becoming financial dependent on another person. this isn't the 1950's...

Creamycoolerwithcream Thu 27-Mar-14 13:49:47

My DM worked all her life, got divorced twice and got screwed twice.

Pigletin Thu 27-Mar-14 13:50:44

NancyJones I agree - as I pointed out, it is ludicrous if you are not financially independent on your own.

Bowlersarm Thu 27-Mar-14 13:52:18

I agree in general Piglet but it's all very vague . A 20 year old becoming a SAHM and relying on her partner to support the family for the next forty years, is different to a woman who becomes a SAHM at 39, having presumably built up equity in the house, has put money into savings, etc, then relying on her partner to support the family for the next twenty years ish.

Individual situations vary enormously, and I don't think it's necessarily ludicrous for the 39 year old in my example to consider being a permanent SAHP. Should her husband agree., and it's affordable.

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