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Spousal maintenance

(26 Posts)
Iloverupertp Thu 17-Jan-19 05:52:31

My exdh has started the process of varying my spousal in amount and term which was set 4 years ago.currently it’s joint life
There’s a huge disparity in salaries even though I work full time and I have 3 children.
My solicitor hasn’t given me much confidence in going to court as he said it could go either way but would most likely change to term.
My ex has offered term until all the children are 18 (they are 17,15 and 13 )
Would I be a fool not to accept or would you pursue and maybe try and extend until they are 21?Anyone have any recent experience of the courts recently and probable outcome?

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HollyBollyBooBoo Thu 17-Jan-19 06:33:28

Don't have any experience of spousal maintenance (honestly thought that does out years ago) but for child maintenance it's until they're 18.

Fairylea Thu 17-Jan-19 06:38:38

Child maintenance is usually until 20 if the child is still in full time education, 18 otherwise. (If you google it you’ll find that on the government website for csa purposes, I used that to get my ex to agree to pay until dd is 20). But spousal maintenance I don’t have a clue about... sorry!

Iloverupertp Thu 17-Jan-19 06:45:09

I’ve got child maintenance until they are 18 as well

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HollyBollyBooBoo Thu 17-Jan-19 08:22:12

@Fairylea only up to A level or equivalent education does it keep being paid past 16 years old.

So for example if a child follows the traditional path of completing A levels and then going to Uni at 18, child maintenance will stop.

HollyBollyBooBoo Thu 17-Jan-19 08:24:45

Screen shot from Gov UK if that helps clarify.

Baby1onboard11 Thu 17-Jan-19 12:27:02

I think the courts are moving away from spousal maintenance, once children have become adults and start leaving home, the home parent is expected to fund themselves and seeing as you have a full time job already, your ex will not need to fund your lifestyle. With respect, at the point of the children being grown and gone, the money is for you which is why the courts are now moving away from this and aiming for clean breaks. If you were unable to work, or sacrificed your career and earning potential to have the children then it's much more understandable but this should not be for life and is usually fixed term only to make ammends. i would accept personally

After 18, your adult children can ask him directly for financial assistance

millymollymoomoo Thu 17-Jan-19 13:18:26

If you’ve already been awarded joint lives order through a consent order then he’ll need to demonstrate changes in circumstances as to why that shouldn’t continue. Is he able to do that ?

Iloverupertp Thu 17-Jan-19 17:57:23

Milly that isn’t the case
He actually earns more but bought a million pound house which he can’t afford and has debts (due to his stupidity with money)
I have increased my hours over the last 4 years from 12 to now ft.
His only argument to vary is the change is that joint is v rare and term order much more common.
My concern is that even with my ft salary and frugal lifestyle I will not be able to financially support the children
I don’t trust him to independently put money in the kids account

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lifebegins50 Thu 17-Jan-19 20:49:02

How old are you? Do you have pension provision? Did you accept Spousal in lieu of pension or capital. What % of assets?

Is he offering you a further 5 years? SM is now very unlikely and it really depends on your judge...newly appointed Judges seems to adopt SM of a very limited term, 3 years often, irrespective of income or age.

Sadly women will be worse off after divorce over the long term and that does impact children but it is the reality. If you earn less than a threshold your dc will get support for Uni, not ideal but will help them.

Would he agree to a one off payment that you could use for the DC?

millymollymoomoo Thu 17-Jan-19 20:51:22

Either party can bring an application to vary the amount but as I understand the courts would need to consider the reasons, earning capabilities of both, other financial factors (eg redundancy and ill health etc) and whether an adjustment will cause undue hardship. Could you look to capitalise it which could give you some certainty going forward?

millymollymoomoo Thu 17-Jan-19 22:11:10

I think poster ms are missing the point that op already has an order in place for a joint lives spousal maintenance order. Her ex wants to try to vary it

MissedTheBoatAgain Fri 18-Jan-19 02:30:13


I am not a family solicitor, but comment as follows;

Sounds like your Ex is going down the route that produced the famous "get a job" ruling made in 2015 by Lord Pitchford whereby previously ordered Joint Lives Maintenance was changed to Term. The Ex wife appealed, but lost as Judge ruled that once children reach age 7 mothers can obtain part time work and should not expect to be able to live off their husbands forever.

A ruling which I agree with totally.

Unlike Child Maintenance there are no set rules for SM (Spousal Maintenance). Joint Lives SM is rare nowadays and SM for a fixed term seems to be more common.

Spousal Maintenance, if applicable at all, will be based on what you need as opposed to what your children need as that is covered by Child Maintenance. Trying to base SM on the age of your Children will not work in my view.

Once children are over 18 they will be considered adults in the eyes of the Law and be expected to stand on their own feet. There is no obligation for parents to finance children once they pass 18.

That you are capable of working full time and can support yourself is a good argument against Joint Lives SM and changing it to term.

If I was forced to bet I would say that Judge will consider your Ex's offer to pay SM till children reach age 18 is fair. Judge may even order that the SM is stepped down when the eldest reaches 18 and stepped down again when the second eldest reaches 18 and eliminated completely when the youngest child reaches 18?

Look on the link:

MissedTheBoatAgain Fri 18-Jan-19 03:02:56

Sadly women will be worse off after divorce over the long term

Why? What prevents them from working to support themselves after Divorce?

The whole purpose of the 2015 ruling known as "get a job" was to rid the UK of the illusion and expectation that Ex Partners (usually ex wives) are entitled, to live off their ex partner for life whilst they put their feet up.

My Ex applied for Joint Lives Spousal Maintenance for the Staggering sum of 60K per year. Argument was that as I had initiated the Divorce against her wishes she was entitled to continue with the same lifestyle as before. If I was forced to live in poverty to fund her lifestyle that was my tough luck for Divorcing her in the first place,

Her own Solicitor and Barrister told her she was wasting time, but she insisted the application was made and appointed another Barrister a few days before the Final Hearing. Second Barrister gave same advice as the first, but again ignored.

Judge at Final Hearing slammed it big time and made similar comment as Mostyn in 2014 by saying:

"the wife's application has been made with a pen dipped in vitriol and overlooks fact that her husband has to be able to survive as well"

lifebegins50 Fri 18-Jan-19 19:42:39

You clearly have never cared for children on a solo basis for extended periods if you need to ask why.

Google is your friend if you are genuinely interested. However I will play along.

Studies show that women are financially disadvantaged after divorce for multiple reasons but namely caring responsibilities for dc. In addition there is unfair pay which further compounds the issue. Women may often be in lower paid professions such as nursing or teaching as well. This is changing but it's slow.

50:50 parenting is the way to go but it has to be from maternity leave, we also need to address bias against women in the workplace. I am one of only a few women in a male dominated industry.

Challenging a single mum working to earn more is just ridiculous. The life of a NRP who works away and has zero parental responsibilities is super easy and therefore can easily earn more.I would be shocked if a NRP isn't earning substantially more than the resident parent even if the skill set was identical.
It's not a level playing field and won't be until NRPs are forced to take on more caring..but you can't force a NRP to put their DC first and recognise how fortunate they are to have unfettered earnings capabilities.
If I was a NRP I know financially I would benefit,no doubt about that.

Poppyfr33 Sun 20-Jan-19 10:05:59

Never had spousal maintenance but had maintenance for children till they finished full time education. DC1 went to uni and the maintenance covered cost of accommodation.

HollyBollyBooBoo Sun 20-Jan-19 14:18:15

@Poppyfr33 out of interest was that maintenance still paid to you or straight from your ex to your child?

Poppyfr33 Sun 20-Jan-19 16:02:42

It was paid direct to me and I paid for the accommodation. I was very lucky we made an agreement between ourselves in writing which we both signed, and we have remained friends.

Dacquoise Mon 04-Feb-19 15:34:20

Hi Ilover,

How are you doing? I am not sure anyone on here will be able to give you a definitive answer to your question as the courts have such a wide discretion but as someone going through a similar situation I would like to add what I have been advised by my Barrister.

A lot of responses regarding this subject seem to assume an ability to become completely self supporting which may not be the case. The spousal maintenance is based on your need for it and the ability of the payer to pay it. If there is a shortfall between your reasonable expenses and your ex-husband is able to pay it, then there is no reason for him not to pay it. You are working full time. How are you able to increase your income on that basis?
It would seem that you ex-husband is appealing the order rather than having reasons to vary it, which is the situation I am currently in. My Final Hearing is next month. I have been advised that the maintenance is unlikely to change or be varied.

I would advise you to seek the advice of a Barrister. I spent a fortune on a solicitor who had no direct experience of joint lives orders. Perhaps yours is the same. You can use a Direct Access Barrister, worth their weight in gold. I know how distressing these things can be. Good luck.

Iloverupertp Mon 04-Feb-19 19:38:19

Thanks for the reply Dacs
I couldn’t face another battle with my exdh or afford the court fees so I agreed to vary it to a term and reduced solicitor didn’t give me the confidence to fight it and tbh it’s nice to know I’m not tied to him for ever
There is absolutely no reason to vary and defo no significant changes -he just doesn’t want to pay it
I now have a full time job but there’s still
a huge disparity in our salaries.financally I should be ok until the kids are 18 but then I may have to sell,be v frugal etc.
I really hope he keeps to his word and supports them

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Dacquoise Mon 04-Feb-19 20:58:43

Hi, that's such a shame but I totally understand why you don't want to go through the whole process again. It's so costly and mentally draining.

Mine tried to bully me into a variation he is not entitled to as well but I refuse to give in. I have been told there is no risk to me at final hearing because of his lack of case.
There must be a better and more efficient way to sort out these maintenance orders after divorce. I am sure a lot of women end up unnecessarily poorer because they don't have the means to defend themselves in court.

Take care and all the best for the future.

Iloverupertp Mon 04-Feb-19 21:14:36

I wish the solicitors I had seen gave me the confidence to fight it.
I did tell all of there was absolutely no reason to vary but not one of them said it would be dismissed by the judge
The feedback I got from all of them was how rare joint life was (it was only issued 4 years ago) and it would definitely be reduced to term and maybe less money too.
I hope your outcome is better than mine.
Good luck

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NotBeingRobbed Tue 05-Feb-19 11:09:00

The big issue really is kids over 18. The law says they are independent but in reality most will be at uni or in a very low paid apprenticeship or such like. They need a family base to come home to and if at uni they will need parental support. Summer jobs etc cannot cover their costs. However, the courts do not recognise this at all. So mothers (usually mothers) are left funding unless they have a father who chooses to do the decent thing. Their costs at this age are much higher than a younger child’s. Well done, British Justice!

Dacquoise Tue 05-Feb-19 12:12:44

Hi Not, I totally agree. My ex promised to finance our child through uni but has not done so although he is more than able to. He has now washed his hands completely which has left me with the ongoing responsibility. I am sure he will reap the rewards of that attitude in his old age!

However I would like to comment after seeing many posts on Mumsnet about spousal maintenance which seems to have turned into a bit of an urban myth. Maintenance is awarded to help the transition to independence if independence is possible.

That is not always the case. Age, length of marriage, disability and earning capacity are all factors for spousal maintenance. There is a big difference between someone in their thirties, even with small children, leaving a marriage than someone in their fifties or sixties.

I don't believe the case of Wright vs Wright defines the end of the 'meal ticket for life' per se. It reiterates the need for those receiving maintenance to contribute financially to their own expenses and rightly so. Hence term orders over joint lives.

If you look at the case, the wife refused to find work although she was warned at the time of her divorce. The husband's income had decreased and he was preparing to retire. The wife had substantial assets from the divorce to fall back on. It was assessed that she could manage on her own income if she got a job. All aspects are reasonable grounds for the judgment. It doesn't mean that the outcome of this case applies to every subsequent case and spousal maintenance is never awarded.

I would hate to think that women, and sometimes men, would be confined to a bad or even abusive marriage because maintenance is 'never' awarded now. Joint lives orders are rare, maintenance isn't.

Iloverupertp Tue 05-Feb-19 18:45:10

Not -that’s why I’ve settled as the kids all reach 18 within 5 years and I think if I went to court to challenge the variation the joint life would be reduced to them reaching 18yrs
You are so right though as kids don’t become financially independent at 18.even working full time and potentially downsizing so the girls have to share a room I will struggle financially to look after them.
Their dad has a massive salary so he really will have to support them and I’m not convinced he will
Only time will tell.Its not me who loses out it’s the kids but I don’t think the courts see it like that.

OP’s posts: |

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