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Ongoing spousal maintenance

(21 Posts)
50andcounting Wed 10-Apr-13 16:14:12

I'm moved by many of the situations on this topic with women being treated very poorly, but equally irritated by the one I find myself in. My husband was divorced about 15 years ago, his children are now adults. We also have a school aged child. However, we are still paying well over £1000 a month to his ex-wife in maintenance. Now whilst my husband has had a good income, this has been something we could cope with - and at this point his income is still healthy enough to manage this. However as far as we can see, and have been advised, we are tied in to pay this amount for the whole of her life.

My husband has suffered some serious health problems four year ago, which he thankfully recovered from, but he is still having to work extremely hard to support all of us (none of his children are totally self supporting, and two will probably moved back in with us soon to re-enter education of one sort or another).

My husbands ex-wife has worked on and off for the years since they have been divorced. She is well qualified and could work more if she needed to. Now all we are looking to be able to do is to know we stop the maintenance payments when he is 65 so he can look forward to a worry free retirement.

Before anyone asks, it is very, very unlikely that she will remarry.

Had anyone had any experience of a situation of this sort?

OP’s posts: |
MatureUniStudent Thu 11-Apr-13 08:53:34

I am sorry but I have little sympathy with your DH situation. You have given your side and how you see it, but at the time of his divorce, it must have been agreed between both parties, that she could not work and needed maintenance. Doubtless because she was bringing up the children.

It is callous to hope that another man marries her to discharge your DH responsibilities.

And who are you to decide if she should work more - my assumption from your post is that she made an agreement with her marriage vows with your DH to work in the home, bringing up the children, and ensuring your DH could have a good job that allowed him to pay her £1k on divorce. If the DW is now in her 50's how on earth can she magic up a career and a job to let your DH "off the hook"?

My FIL still pays maintenance for his exDW even though he is a pensioner. His exDW never worked - that is just how it goes.

50andcounting Thu 11-Apr-13 12:03:45

Mature UniStudent - perhaps I should say she is a fully qualified teacher and worked for some years before she got married. So she has a career and has worked intermittently since the divorce.

The agreement was made with the assumption that she was resume working when the children grew up. I would have every sympathy with her if she was unqualified and had never worked, so was unable to support herself.

Do you think it's OK that she chooses not to work?

OP’s posts: |
titchy Thu 11-Apr-13 12:19:50

If the agreement factored in her return to work once the children had grown up why is he still paying the same amount confused

Cerisier Thu 11-Apr-13 12:35:45

If the ex-wife was a teacher before the adult children were born then she has been out of the education system for a very long time. She isn't going to be able to resurrect a proper career, the best she can hope for is some supply work. This might evolve into a full time job but might not. Part time teaching jobs straight off in a school that doesn't know you are like hen's teeth.

Anyway this is for your DH and his ex-wife to sort out, via solicitors if necessary. I think it best you keep well out of it and don't try to come between DH and his children's mother.

abbyfromoz Thu 11-Apr-13 12:45:18

Hmmm. Having no experience in the area i can't offer advice, but i couldn't just read and not say anything. I actually do sympathise with you. If his children were not grown i would say that he still needs to provide for them. If I was to divorce i would expect half of everything we have built together, and ongoing compulsory financial support for my CHILD until they turned 18 or moved out of home. I would also expect that should our child choose higher education (university) and we chose to contribute, he would make a substantial contribution along with me, and should she get married, he would also contribute to the wedding. Apart from that I think it would be unfair to be expected to give £1000 when the children are now adults and therefore able to support themselves.
So i guess the question is- is the £1000 maintenance or is it part of her settlement? Did he split their assets when they divorced or is this what he agreed instead at the time?

50andcounting Thu 11-Apr-13 14:18:27

AbbyFromoz - she had the majority of the assets on the split and we have supported the children through higher education and are still doing so, as two of them are retraining/going back into education. We also also unable to even move into a smaller house as two of them need to live with us for various reasons. But we have no problem with any of that.

And sadly, much as I would like to 'stay out of it', unfortunately my income is part of the equation. I don't even have a problem with that while we can afford it, all we would like is an end to it at the point my husband wishes to retire as we will have very limited pension income, or he will have to carry on working.

OP’s posts: |
jenny99 Thu 11-Apr-13 14:18:44

I am confused about how I feel about this. My husband and i are about to start divorce proceedings. I haven't worked for 15 yrs which was a conscious decision we both made. My solicitor tells me I will be entitled to spousal maintenance (until I remarry) (if!). I feel mixed about it - I don't want to be reliant on my stbxh but having not worked for so long, and never been in a workplace even with a computer, how on earth would I earn enough to support myself (and kids? - although child maintenance will cover this)? Do things like gas and electric count as child maintenance or spousal maintenance ? It is very confusing. I would like to be self sufficient but am trying to see the woods through the trees right now!!

So I know I have rights as does your dh's ex but feel uncomfortable about it and not sure how to strengthen my own position financially, independently. I don't want to be 'tied' forever over this.

So I see her side, and yours too - it's a hard one...

50andcounting Thu 11-Apr-13 14:40:14

Jenny99 - if you haven't worked in 15 years and have been relying on your husband I think you are absolutely entitled to spousal maintenance (plus support for your children up until they leave higher education if they choose to do so). And your solicitor should get you to assess the costs of running the home (so gas and electricity and everything will be covered by that). And I think you should be entitled to it, until you have been able to retrain or find some work you can do to support yourself.

Have a look at this blog/book - it might be helpful. And I have not agenda pointing you this way, it's just that I happened to see her on This Morning the other day -

The only problem I have with our situation is that it is for 'life', my husband has been very comfortable with providing support to his ex to help her retrain or do whatever she has needed. The only issue he has is with retirement.

OP’s posts: |
Cerisier Thu 11-Apr-13 15:05:33

DH and his ex-wife need to go over the terms of the divorce and sort it out sooner rather than later so everyone can make plans for their financial futures.

Also if DH were to die is everyone going to be financially comfortable?

He is not doing any of you any favours by sticking his head in the sand and avoiding the issue of money.

50andcounting Thu 11-Apr-13 15:19:35

Cerisier - He's not avoiding it - he has taken advice, and that advice is until his income actually drops at retirement he can't do anything about it. So we can't plan as we won't know what is going to happen. We can only speculate as to what will happen then as there are no clear guidelines.

In terms of our financial planning we are trying to think of ways to generate more income on our retirement. If we do have any income she will have a claim on it if she hasn't made any additional provision for her retirement (we have been hoping she was putting away her additional income from working into some kind of pension plan but I expect she hasn't).

Also, he has made provisions for everyone to be comfortably off if he dies - including a generous provision for his ex.

As far as going over the terms of the divorce, she refuses to discuss anything with him at all in anything like a constructive manner.

OP’s posts: |
abbyfromoz Thu 11-Apr-13 22:10:10

OP... I don't know what to say, apart from telling you I think you are justified in how you feel and I also think you are handling it quite graciously. I hope this can be resolved for you soon.

50andcounting Fri 12-Apr-13 10:05:08

Abbyfromoz- thanks for that. I guess we just have to 'suck it up' as the teenager would say.... It's mainly frustrating not being able plan but at least we all have our health at the moment, so I am thankful for that :-)

OP’s posts: |
newbiefrugalgal Sat 13-Apr-13 10:59:53

What happens if your DH loses his job?
Changes jobs? Earns less?
Genuine question if his circumstances change?

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Sat 13-Apr-13 11:14:46

Why is your income taken into account for your DH's Ex's Spousal Maintenance? Forgive me for being a bit dumb on this subject, but you were never her spouse, so I can't see why your income should be taken into account?

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Sat 13-Apr-13 11:27:42

Did your DH have any say on this when the divorce was finalised i.e. was this awarded against him or was this agreed through active negotiations? From what you have said, if your DH assumed the ex would be working and fully self sufficient by the time their DC were adults, why was that not written into the terms of the settlement? If the agreement said support for life, but he hoped the ex would soften and adapt at a later stage then it seems pointless blaming the ex for what your DH agreed to at the time of the divorce agreement.

50andcounting Sat 13-Apr-13 19:34:06

I know it seems a bit mad - but it's not an uncommon situation if you can't afford to pay a large cash settlement on divorce. Most women use the spousal support to get back on their feet as they do not want to be reliant or supported by an ex forever, but this obviously depends on the willingness of the ex-wife to want to support herself (assuming she is able to).

It seems that now the law commission will advise that supporting ex-wives for life does nothing to encourage independence and that to expect them to maintain the standard of living they had on divorce is essentially unfair. So legally it looks like this will be changed in the next year or so, and England will be put more a par with other countries which do not allow this to happen.

OP’s posts: |
MMcanny Sat 13-Apr-13 19:36:21

My only experience of this is women who refuse to remarry so their ex does not get off the hook.

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Sat 13-Apr-13 19:38:20

All sounds reasonable in theory but how does that affect your DH? Does he have any recourse to change the agreement retrospectively? Would it be an option now to get a 'lump sum' to buy off the years left to pay the maintenance?

Xenia Sat 13-Apr-13 20:18:37

If you marry or tolerate a housewife or husband then on your own head be it. It might be convenient to have your shirts ironed but it tends to pay to marry a woman who earns a lot more money than you do.

If the court order has a review date (or his income has reduced) then he can apply to change it. He may want to pay it off in a lump sum - I think a judge who had been divorced 25 years and remarried for 20 found his first wife 25 years after the divorce wanted her maintenance upping and I think the court did give her a bit more but by way of a lump sum once and for all pay off.

£1k a month is not huge. Plenty of higher earners pay £60k - £200k pa plus £20k per child plus school and university fees.

If stopped work and you earned all the money then I think he can apply to have the order varied as his own income is less. Plenty of people do that to avoid their responsibilities.

My own view is avoid a situation where one of you does not work as it never comes to much good at the end of the day for the women who end up having no income and no career and nor any use for the men when they divest themselves of the women and find they have to pay out huge sums. A fair feminist marriage where you both do as much at work and home tends to make everyone happier

user1469838185 Wed 08-Nov-17 18:30:31

Yes fantastic in theory. However in the real world, what about a woman or man who stays at home to look after a disabled child? Or older women who didn't have the opportunity of a career. There was a time for example that if you were married you had to eave the Civil Service. Good luck in your little perfect world# hardknockscomingyourway

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