Spousal Maintenance - whats morally right v the court order

(11 Posts)
boobah1970 Fri 20-Jun-14 13:13:21

2 years ago when I divorced my ex a figure was agreed on child maintenance (based on CSA calculator) and she was able claim an amount of spousal maintenance ( this would end if she cohabited or returned to work full time ) Over the past 2 years my salary has changed very little so any changes to child maintenance have also been v.small I also in addition to the child maintenance make additional contributions to their welfare. On the flip side she has increased her working to 4 days a week but not full time but had several promotions so her salary now exceeds the need of the spousal maintenance... Is it morally right that she can try and get more child maintenance out of me while at the same time earning way beyond the requirement for spousal maintenance and still demand the spousal maintenance ontop? the whole point of spousal was that she needed it to get by back then. Yes the court order states return to full time employment but is this morally right to justify the spousal maintenance when your salary has now far exceeded the original need?

DoingItForMyself Fri 20-Jun-14 13:30:14

Who is to say how much "exceeds the need for SM"? As far as I understand it, SM is to recompense the spouse who has put their career on hold to support the other and raise the family and hence has lower potential earning capacity. If your ex is now earning well (more than you?), she could have been earning even more if she had been able to work during your marriage.

If you are paying CM I presume she is still doing the lion's share of child care as well as her 4 days work. Given that the amounts the CSA calculator seems to come up with are generally pretty pitiful, giving her some extra on top of that to enable her to take care of your DCs properly seems the least that you can do.

Have you actually sat down and worked out each of your income/outgoings? Forget about the 'moral obligation', it might help you to see the practicalities of running two households and where you could each do more for the DCs.

boobah1970 Fri 20-Jun-14 14:14:36

SM is something courts prefer not to have to order as they would rather there be a clean break arrangement. The SM was to supplement her income and bring it inline with the budget she said she need to live.

She uses the phrase discuss maintenance amicably but then refuses to disclose any of her finances, however she does a job where salaries are public record and her salary will have increased by almost 4 times the amount of the SM being paid.

I have no quarms in increasing the CM above what the CSA prescribes ( the figure i actually pay is more than the CSA calc). But its not appropriate to expect to have your income subsided by SM when your salary has negated the need for the SM several times over..

Put it this way if you were paying someone £200 (made up number!) a month to help them out financially and then found out they were now getting about £800 extra a month plus your money would you be happy about it?

Just for the record I may not be the primary carer but I see alot of the children and make sure they are not without, and have had several mum who are friends with ex comment how they wished their ex could be more like me so please do not pigeon hole me as a dad that does bare minimum for his kids.

Cabrinha Sun 22-Jun-14 07:48:13

You're using SM and CM interchangeably here?
IMO, morally, when it comes to child maintenance, you owe her half the costs of maintaining them. Whether she earns £100,000 and you £10,000. They are your kids, half your responsibility.

SM is trickier and you need to check with your solicitor about varying it. Seems silly for turn to have said "full time". Easy enough to agree 38 hours with your boss instead of 39!

If the amount of SM is no longer fair, you could reduce your CM to CSA level.

I'm not saying that's right though, without knowing the ins and outs of your situation.

DoingItForMyself Sun 22-Jun-14 12:07:32

I think regardless of the figures, the amount each of you has spare at the end of the month is more important than how much her salary has increased.

Using your figures, the £200 a month may have been a drop in the ocean to you, leaving her scraping by and you with plenty of leisure time and the money to enjoy it. Just because she is now working a lot more and has a reasonable income, unless you both have a similar amount of time off and a similar amount of spare cash it's difficult to say how much she needs that £200.

Fwiw I have increased my hours and am now earning more, this means that my council tax has increased, I am no longer eligible for certain benefits that come from being on a low income and my ex now gives me less money. It's a bit crap when working hard means that you lose out in certain ways and isn't much of an incentive to earn more.

I think the only way to sort it out amicably is to both be very open about your finances, but please don't assume that any extra you give is unnecessary now and rest assured that most responsible mums will use that money for the benefit of their DCs rather than themselves.

boobah1970 Mon 23-Jun-14 10:02:15

I have no problem with the CM amount an in the course of the year I pay a lot more ontop of the CM amount for both the DCs. The £200 is a not a drop in the ocean to me, in the last 3 years my salary has increased by £90 a month while hers has now increased by approx £4-500 through promotion and increasing hours to 4 days but not full time.

The whole point of the SM was a short term measure as at that point in time in 2011 it was required to bring her income up to a specified level. Now if in 2 years her income has now exceeded that requirement several times over is it right that its still necessary?

I have no issue with being open with my finances so that everything is fair to everyone.. strangely she doesnt want to disclose anything.

DoingItForMyself Mon 23-Jun-14 10:10:36

I see what you're saying but without actual figures it's difficult to say how much is too much.

Your salary may have increased by £90 to her £4-500, but if that still leaves you earning significantly more than her, then the SM is there to redress the balance. Yes, she is now earning more than she was, but if it is still not enough and she is still bearing the brunt of childcare etc then to me, the SM should still stand.

I am now earning an extra £4-500 a month and my ex has only had a modest payrise this year. However, that puts him on around £58k in his professional role, and me on around £12k as i work to fit in around the DCs and his shifts. Whooppee doo.

FWIW my ex is dropping the SM part of his payments in return for me getting 100% equity from the house. I know this is the only way he would agree to it, so I have to take a short-term hit for long-term security.

However, it will mean that he has to take on more of the general expenses, contributing to school trips, shoes, party gifts even when they fall on his weekend etc, which at the moment ALL fall to me. The only thing he currently provides for the DCs is food when they're with him, every other expense is supposed to be covered by his payments.

boobah1970 Mon 23-Jun-14 12:42:18

With her promotions her income is getting close to mine she is a teacher in a leadership role so quite nice salary for 4 days a week, I already pay for schoool uniforms, shoes, birthday parties, etc... and when the DCs are with me I provide everthing so they have complete home away from home.

If the original SM was enough to meet the expenditure she proposed in 2011 and her income has increases by £400 in 2014 is it really fair to expand your expenditure by £400 and still want more on top?? I know cost of living increases but not by that much..

millymollymoomoo Mon 23-Jun-14 14:53:35

If I was you I would be seeking legal support and seeking to amend the terms of the court order if at all possible. Seems rather flaky if it merely states full time employment. Weather it is morally right is, i'm afraid, rather here nor there. Its what's in the court order that is important, so if you can't get her to agree to amend outside of this then that would appear your only redress.

Is the SM a lifetime one or for a fixed period?

FWIW I only agree with SM for a short period of time when children are very young but that is by the by!

millymollymoomoo Mon 23-Jun-14 14:54:06

oops whether not weather blush

boobah1970 Mon 23-Jun-14 16:45:27

The SM was set to end when...Kids reach 18, Starts to CoHabit or returns to work full time ( sort of court cover all bases thing) but as my solicitor has said in the past circumstances change and thus things need reviewing, bearing in mind both kids are in full time education and she is a teacher she is actually in a more enviable position than most to return to work full time. I totally agree with your view on SM being for a short period but one your are financially stable and your income exceeds the need then it should stop..

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