Spousal maintenance

(19 Posts)
Iloverupertp Thu 11-Jun-15 16:20:58

Just heading towards end of divorce and close to settlement but spousal maintenance is delaying things.
My solicitor is pushing joint life order and says if it went to court that's what I would get.
I'm struggling with the idea of joint life and would prefer a term order.what are people's views/personal experience?
I do work part time but there is a huge disparity in our salaries
We have 3 children under the age of 12 and they live with me 5 nights and most of school holidays.

Sammyshoelady Thu 11-Jun-15 19:15:11

I've forgotten the actual terms (I never thought that would happen….I knew the consent order word for word!!). I will receive spousal maintenance until he reaches state pension age, or I remarry. (or either of us die). We went to court. He is a very high earner, and I have always been a SAHM. Married 20 years. Is that helpful?

Iloverupertp Thu 11-Jun-15 19:39:21

Thanks for replying
It doesn't sit comfortably with me but there's the risk if I don't go for joint life I may have to sell the house once maintenance benefits finish and potentially the kids could still be living at home.
I will increase my hours once kids are older but I'm not a high earner
Part of me feels why should he pay when we're not together anymore.
Has anyone not gone with what the solicitor is advising?was it the right decision?

Sammyshoelady Thu 11-Jun-15 19:58:22

I know what you mean, and I am not sure it's right, but I figure that realistically it will change before then when I have a full time job so I'm not really thinking that far ahead.

LotusLight Fri 12-Jun-15 08:19:34

My husband wanted maintenance for life (I earn 10x what he did) so instead he got more of the capital assets and no obligations to the children financially (he got 60% of our joint assets) and I took on massive loans to pay him out. So this is your situation but the other way round. He does though work full time so could live on his own income although at a lower standard of living than when we were together. I wanted that "clean break" with no maintenance so we could each move forward but that was piossible because we'd always worked full time and I could raise enough (just) with the big mortgage to buy the clean break.

In the cases on this thread where one person earns very little or stays at home usually there is not enough capital to buy out all maintenance claims for the spouse so you probably need the on going maintenance at least until you can train up and start a career and children are older (or find a spouse to keep you I suppose)

yellowdaisies Fri 12-Jun-15 09:03:42

My DH's ex was in pretty much your position about 6 years ago I guess (before I met him). Her solicitor pushed for a life term of spousal maintenance, and his pushed for much less. They ended up with a 10 year term, which takes youngest DC to the age of 16, by which time she could be working full time. I can't really say how she feels about that, but from my DH's perspective it does become increasingly uncomfortable to have your finances mixed up with another household's. Decisions over changing job, retiring early, possible redundancy, etc all get mixed up with the implications for the other household. The logic of it though is that his increased earning potentail (relative to yours) is a result of decisions you made whilst married, so you deserve some compensation for as long as he goes on making higher earnings.

Why would you risk losing the house if the maintenancy stopped? Is there a mortgage on it? If so, I would very much push for a greater share of the assets if I was you, or a larger spousal maintenance for the first few years so that you can pay it off in a shorter time. Then the maintenance would finish only once you're mortgage free.

Spousal maintenance usually stops if you remarry (even if your new DH isn't earning anything), and can be reduced with a further court order if, say, your ex lost his job or something. Whereas whatever split of the assets you get is yours to keep regardless.

I think that spousal maintenance is normally awarded for X number of years, but with a reduction to a nominal amount (eg £1 a year) for the rest of your life, which would allow you to go back to court and apply for more if you still needed it after X years. That may be what your solicitor is pushing for, as it's unlikely your ex would agree to pay you a significant amount of money for the rest of his life. He'll presumably retire at some point.

cannotseeanend Fri 12-Jun-15 18:50:22

hmm "uncomfortable to have finances mixed up with another household"

You're talking about a life long commitment to a child!!!!!!! Anyone who partners up with another person who has children can never expect not to have their finances in the new partnership.

And yes I think it's reasonable to expect the parent left with the children to work, but easier said than done in the UK for women who've given up careers to support.

yellowdaisies Fri 12-Jun-15 21:43:34

No, I'm not talking about a lifelong commitment to a child at all. Child maintenance is completely separate to spousal maintenance. It is for spending on the child, and my DH doesn't resent doing that at all. It's also a fixed amount for a known duration, in as much as it's paid to your ex. My DH's lifelong commitment to his DCs will not go via their DM once they're left home.

LotusLight Sat 13-Jun-15 07:32:52

That is where the law falls down. people in our situation where higher earning woman pays man clean break in the divorce - cannot force him to see the children. He does not even have them for one night a year. So yes English law does very much allow either parent to walk away, not see the children and not pay. I know I could get nominal child maintenance for the children if I applied despite the clean break on the adults' finances of course but that would not be worth the trouble.

worridmum Sat 13-Jun-15 11:34:46

I agree with lotusLight but on the other hand its too easy for the RP to block access and play silly buggers with refusing access you forcing through stupid conditions that a near impossible to follow through

So i think courts should have more powers to force NRP to spend time with the children and this might be contreviosal but I think courts should use their current powers more often to actully punish RP for blocking access (when their is not a good reason)

The last belief is from personal experence my freind has been blocked at every turn to seeing his children and has been trying for 6+ years but the mother wants him to have nothing to do with his children as she wants them to think her husband is the father (was the OH when they were together) I know this as until she told me this reason I was a mutal friend of them both and I was so disgusted at her reasons for blocking access I could not in good faith still be her friend after that.

She has not once obeyed a court order for visitation not once but she gets away with it because the court does not use its powers (it can actully strip her of PR and reseidency etc but hardly ever uses those powers). It has cost my friend tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees just for her to ignore the ruling he has a court date for july yet again and here is hoping he gets to finally see his children

Iloverupertp Sat 13-Jun-15 12:10:50

there is no chance of a clean break as not enough money in the pot(due to his excessive shopping habit)
I will have a large mortgage but if I go for a term order(say 10years)I can only get a 10year mortgage so payments are huge.

LotusLight Sat 13-Jun-15 12:57:35

It sounds very difficult for you. I'm sorry.
We had enough equity in the house in combination with his getting my life savings and all my shares and my taking on £1.3m of debt for him to buy an unmortgaged house (not that he has once had the children to stay in it) and have substantial savings (I have no savings but equity in the house).

Worrid , yes I am huge supporter of the rights of the non resident parent to have the children half the time and not be denied contact (unless he's going to burn them wan iron or something) and that should be on the basis both parties stick to the arrangement - if a mother does not make children available 3 times in a row then the children live with other parent for 3 weeks. If father is more than 15 minutes late to collect 3 times in a row or does not return them on time, he loses next 3 access visits.
It is difficult however. I think the lady who ran off with her 3 year old had not allowed contact so the court went as far as it can by saying in that case child lives with father. it is a tough penalty in effect to impose on a child who is used to mother 24/7 but unless we put in a sense the child second like that those who abuse the system will continue to get away with it.

We need to avoid fathers just playing at it and constantly cancelling or being late (I have to assume my children are with me 365 days a year) and the 2 hours every few months he takes 2 of them for a lunch is the minor bonus. Rather than all the sharing in our marriage where he'd do half the driving of older ones around, half the washing of their clothes etc. What I don't understand is why any woman would want to be involved with a man who doesn't choose to see his children. Does she just think - great more sex, privacy and more money for me?

cannotseeanend Sat 13-Jun-15 17:20:25

The lady who ran off with her 3 year old is reported as the 3 year old already living 4 nights a week with his dad since February 2015, so if that is true, hard to see how she could be blocking access. OF course only those in the family court will know the facts.

LotusLight Sat 13-Jun-15 17:59:47

Okay, I have not really followed it so why did social workers say the child should live with the father when they were sharing it about 50/50?

cannotseeanend Sun 14-Jun-15 08:41:09

From reports, and we never know how accurate, social services say the mum was unable to provide "emotionally". Well how clever of SS to point out that in cases of family breakdown, that also means consequences for emotional provision for the children!!! The same could probably be said if a child was then taken away from the mum he's been with for 3 years to live with the dad, still at this time, the now custodial dad will not be able to provide emotionally during this period to their best, because of the circumstances of course, I don't think any parent can, until things settle down.

I find it horrifying, from watching from outside. I live in a country where it's 50/50 from a young age, once breastfeeding is out of way, unless there is a good reason like a parent chooses to move away or a parent has to move away for work and then the parents MUST use mediation to sort out a less equal proportion. I wish the UK would learn from this and not pitch one parent against another. I am sure the behaviour of bad parents is less bad here as a result. Having said that, I am so grateful my husband spared our kids the pain of being forced suddenly to have 2 homes. His mid life crisis has meant his new step kids from 2 different fathers are taking up his time and he has not made demands to parade his own kids, or see them etc etc. We have been spared that ugly aspect. So yes in theory 50/50 is best in theory, in practice it might be a terrible outcome for some children.

LotusLight Sun 14-Jun-15 08:50:57

The reports in today's press say as I said - she breached earlier orders (as well as unable emotionally to provide which is social worker speech for parent pissed me off or is different from I am so let's go in for a bit of child snatching).

cannotseeanend Sun 14-Jun-15 09:43:37

the problem is that courts are for me the worst place to settle these things, though no idea what an alternative would be. My own experience with courts, though short, was that they would favour naturally a petitioner and treat the respondent as guilty until proved innocent. Starting from this position, i would guess this mum has felt injustice from the beginning and has felt morally right in disobeying orders. That has worked against her. But does it make her a worse parent? Would a child deserve to lose their parent? What happens if in the end the parent who flees does so for very real reasons and not just as a publicity stunt? In these situations, emotions cannot be anything but very intense and people make mistakes. But does a child deserve to be forced to move house because a parent has made mistakes in a court process?

And the problem for all of us on the outside is that we will never get the full story at all and will form opinions on quite possibly one sided information.

LotusLight Sun 14-Jun-15 18:58:29

Indeed. If you say you hate social workers and will not engage with them for example I don't see that as any reason for them to use that against you in the process. It's very arbitrary who gets ordered to have or not have the children and as you say best to keep away from courts on contact issues as much as possible as it tends to make thigns worse not better. not always possible however.

STIDW Sun 14-Jun-15 21:29:03

Iloverupertp, under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 spouse maintenance should only be limited to a term if a term can be identified when the recipient can be self sufficient without suffering undue hardship. If no such term can be identified a joint lives order can be varied or terminated in the future.

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