Child Maintenance/Spousal Maintenance Advice

(27 Posts)
Allycat Fri 02-May-14 15:58:47

Hi there. I think that myself and SBTXH have reached an agreement at last regarding the finances of our split, amicably as well - hurray!

However, he has been to see a solicitor and the solicitor has suggested that cm and sp are set out as follows:-

With his earnings, the cm he has to pay on his basic is about £767.
He has earned a bonus this year, which means the csa calc says he needs to pay about £900 (incl basic)

As his bonus is not guaranteed (although he has received a similar about for the last 3 years), he has said that he wants things worded as follows:-

He is happy to pay slightly above the csa figures (which I am delighted about, obviously).

He will pay £1k per month, of which £767 is noted as child maint and £233 is spousal.

Child maintenance and spousal maintenance are payable until my youngest reaches 18, or if I co-habit. If the relationship with the new partner fails, spousal will kick in again.

I can not separately claim for maintenance on his bonus unless I just receive mandatory cm of £767, so will lose my spousal and end up worse off.

House and other assets have all been sorted and agreed separately.

Is there any tricks in this that you can see?

Many thanks.

Crazyfeministmama Fri 02-May-14 21:24:50

Have you taken legal advice yourself?

I presume you mean that if you cohabit, the spousal maintenance will stop, but why does it stop when your youngest reaches 18? I don't see why that would be a cut off for the spousal payments.

My second thought is what he pays if the dc continue in full time education after 18, esp if they still live with you.

If you have not seen a lawyer, do so. I am guessing to be entitled to spousal maintenance you have been a sahm, plus 767 a month cm leads me to believe that he is well paid. You do need to make sure you have what you are entitled to. If one party has seen a lawyer and not the other, you are at a disadvantage.

JessicaMary Fri 02-May-14 22:10:16

So he's paying £100 a month spousal maintenance really in practice. That does not sound like a huge sum given you don't work. What does he earn? It all depends on that. A friend of mine pays £60k a year to his wife in spousal maintenance (and he pays for the children on top of that extra and pays their university costs)

SuperSnowWoman Fri 02-May-14 22:13:40

Out of interest, what is the background to him paying any spousal maintenance? Assume you are a sahm?

littleblackno Fri 02-May-14 22:20:33

My exh pays me £1000 per month (£700 children £300 spousal).
The spousal maintenance stops when our youngest reaches 11. We were both advised that it would be 'expected' by a judge that I should be looking to financially support myself by then. TBH that's fine with me I guess it depends on your circumstances.

We had something written in the court order saying something like neither of us could go back to have it changed in the future. I can't remember the exact wording but could be worth speaking to your solicitor about. My sp also stops if I co-habit or remarry but wouldn't re-start if that relationship ended.

I'm not sure if that helps, just my own experience. If he starts another relationship be prepared for the "but I pay you more than csa... " bollox!

littleblackno Fri 02-May-14 22:23:40

Just to add, my ex pays spousal maintenance due to the disparity in our incomes. I have a good career but he earns more than 3x me. I was on a much lower income when we first split up and one of the reasons was that I hadn't been able to progress my career due to supporting him with his which meant us moving around a lot.

Crazyfeministmama Sat 03-May-14 06:22:40

Yes, had not got that but JessicaMary is right. He is protecting his bonus from you claiming against it and the spousal is really only £100 a month.

I think if you are a SAHM, or if there is a disparity in your salaries because you have supported him, this is worth more than £100 a month.

Honestly, get legal advice, not least to avoid any potential doubt or resentment in the future. Plus, if you are sure of your own ground, it will be easier to stand up to him if he starts to use the fact that he is paying more than basic CM as leverage.

Crazyfeministmama Sat 03-May-14 06:25:52

Do you also have your fair share of his pension if you were dependent and a SAHM? Or did he pay into one for you, making this not an issue? Is that part of the other settlement you mention?

JessicaMary Sat 03-May-14 06:32:58

Yes, I mean if you worked full time you'd be paying if you have under 5s for two sets of nursery places - say £20k a year or a full time nanny £20k - £30k. If they are at school you would still both have before and after school childcare and all the holidays to pay for. However it depends on what he earns and also how quickly you can get back to work and get going on a career again and age. My friend whose ex wife gets £60k - they are both in their 50s and she had not worked for about 20 years at least and probably has no chance in getting back into any kind of a job. It only stops when she remarries which obviously she won't as she'd lose £60k a year and also she has half his very very substantial pensions.

JessicaMary Sat 03-May-14 06:33:26

..sorry plus more than half his capital - so mortgage free house etc.

Allycat Sat 03-May-14 18:38:35

I have chosen to forgo my share of his pension for a higher amount of equity in the house.

I work four days but do not earn lots as only get paid for 38 weeks as it's a school.

I have seen a solicitor and she recommended I take him through the court but I value our ongoing relationship more than that.

I have asked my solicitor for advice on the wording of the separation agreement.

The finances have been the most uncomfortable bit of the separation but we're getting there without any nastiness thankfully.

JessicaMary Sat 03-May-14 19:16:41

What interests me is why he thinks it's a good idea to pay any spousal maintenance? Surely he should be going for a clean break and no spousal maintenance and just upping the child maintenance to say £1000 a month. That way you cannot come back later to ask for more spousal maintenance than £100 a month or whatever the above deal works out to. It's puzzling me.

We had a clean break as I did not want my ex (he earned a 10th of what I did) to be able to claim any spousal maintenance ever. He got more of our assets in return for that clean break.

Allycat Sat 03-May-14 20:11:15

The solicitors have said that if people pay more than the csa requirement, it is considered to be spousal.

Crazyfeministmama Sat 03-May-14 21:32:23

I have never heard that, is it not just a private maintenance agreement? There is no law which says you have to pay the CSA amount, it is a guideline.

Allycat Sat 03-May-14 22:37:41

That's what both solicitors have said happens. To be honest I'd rather it just be called child maintenance.

It's over complicating it!!!

But if he separates it there are two sets of rules for the maintenance in respect of me cohabiting so you can't blame him.

freemanbatch Sat 03-May-14 23:01:27

spousal maintenance will effect any benefits you receive whereas child maintenance won't. If both will stop when the kids are 18 then its child maintenance and you shouldn't accept being disadvantaged if its at all possible to avoid it.

Crazyfeministmama Sun 04-May-14 06:33:07

I think it depends on your own financial circumstances, but I would weigh up whether you actually want child maintenance on everything he earns, including bonus, as that won't change if your circumstances do (and therefore there is no obligation for him know about your personal life formally). It also won't affect your benefits, presumably also tax credits, if that is an issue.

Is there any way he would be able to hide his bonus? Or does it go through PAYE?

What about asking for CM including bonus and the 'real' amount as spousal?

There is another consideration, which is that you unwittingly get involved with a new man who when push comes to shove is not prepared to pay towards your dc, even though you have lost your spousal. I lost my tax credits when I got married but my ex turned out to be a complete skinflint when it came to anything for my dd. He said it was up to her father, never mind that her dad was unemployed at the time.

So, as a point of principle, I would be tempted to be clear about what is actually CM and what is actually spousal, and not have part of the spousal as CM.

Crazyfeministmama Sun 04-May-14 06:44:51

Sorry, I think my post was as clear as mud, I am essentially agreeing with you that what is child maintenance should be called child maintenance.

I have re-read your OP and I am not clear why you cannot separately claim on his bonus. Is this what he is saying or a CSA rule? I don't see how he can legally stop you going to the CSA if it turns out he gets a much bigger bonus, say. You need to reserve the right to revert to the CSA, whatever you agree.

Sorry, the more I think about this, the more I think it is bollocks. His bonus should be included in CM, and any spousal should be on top of that. Obviously you risk he won't get his bonus, but he must be pretty sure he will if he is using it for spousal.

What does your sol say?

JessicaMary Sun 04-May-14 06:55:57

if it ism ore than CSA I don't think it DOES mean it is treated as spousal. Eg people in my income bracket will be required in the court order to pay school fees (in my case x 5 children) and university fees - which presumably puts you aeons above CSA. Are we really saying my "clean break" is therefore void and mym ex husband could come back now and say ah it wasn't a clean break at all and I now want £100k maintenance a year from you until we draw our pensions? I just don't think that's the law and both solicitors may well be wrong. I might be wrong. I'm not a family lawyer. The very rich get much much much more than than CSA in binding consent orders all the time on a clean break. i don't think the legal principles differ if you earn less. Paul McCartney is another example - his ex got a clean break , no spousal later. They assessed her needs at £700k a year for her and gave her a lump sum which generated that. For the child I am sure they paid above CSA levels including provisions of a full time nanny . That was not an invalid clean break at all.

However the longer your husband believes this fallacy both lawyers have told him the better as you don't want a clean break (and he would). You want the right to go back for a lot more spousal later if things change.

However if you can work it to your advantage by saying this to him and say look I'll take £1000 a month for the children and do a clean break consent order and I can never claim spousal from you ever that might get you more cash if you are pretty sure you could not up the spousal cash later and also spousal would stop on remarriage whereas the children money would not so could be to your advantage. You need to talk those pros and cons over with the solicitor of clean break or not. If I were the husband unless he thought you were due to remarry next week and not have any spousal I would be rushing to get a clean break.

Crazyfeministmama Sun 04-May-14 07:48:30

The only reason not to get a clean break is about control, though, because it means the spousal money he gives the OP may be a factor in her later r/s decisions. If the money is clearly for the dc, this is not an issue.

Crazyfeministmama Sun 04-May-14 07:49:30

For him not to want a clean break, I mean.

Crazyfeministmama Sun 04-May-14 07:51:52

Plus you can always revert to the CSA if things change.

Jessica, five sets of school fees shock. Well done you, whatever your job!

JessicaMary Sun 04-May-14 08:15:24

(lawyer, but not anything to do with family law; though my divorce did mean I got a bit interested in divorce law).

I was very clean to get a clean break as originally my ex wanted half our assets (most of which I suppose technically was my money) plus very high maintenance for life so the deal was a clean break and he got more than half the assets to buy out those future maintenance claims.

I have spoken to a few friends with divorces going on (male) who sit there having to consider how likely is it the wife will marry again - if she will be right on to the next rich sucker in a few months and has done it twice before on earlier divorces then they may be better with a lower cash division and spousal maintenance which will stop very soon as she's got the next husband lined up. If they think she won't ever remarry or cohabit then they might find the clean break better as at least it gives certainty that the only thing either of you are paying for is the children.

littleblackno Mon 05-May-14 17:33:33

I had a clean break when I got divorced but as I say above I get spousal maintenance and cm is well above the csa rate but the amounts are separate. I mean that the cm is counted as that even though its above csa iykwim.

clean break to mme ment I got all the equity in the house snd he kept his prnsion. I can't go back in the future and ask for more even if he earns alot more (which he now does).

JessicaMary Mon 05-May-14 20:36:19

I don't think you can get spousal maintenance and also a clean break though in law. The Order is one or the other. If it includes maintenance even nominal, even 1p a year you can go back for more spousal maintenance later. If it includes none then in England that's a clean break and you've burnt your boats and are each free entirely of financial demands from each other.

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