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Advice re: child/spousal maintenance and access

(32 Posts)
pollyh Mon 01-Mar-10 13:05:26

I've just separated from my husband and am waiting to speak to a solicitor regarding maintenance and access.

In the meantime my head is in a whirl.

I have a three year old a 20 month old and a three week old. My husband has left as he no longer wants to be with me.

What will I be entitled too financially for the children? What am I entitled too as I am raising his children and unable to work?He earns £50k so he can afford it!!

Also regarding visiting rights, I am happy for him to see more of the children at the moment whilst we adjust them to the new situation, and also to encourage a relationship between him and the new baby, but am worried that I will be held to this amount of contact in the future when it may not be as appropriate eg. new partners, children not needing as much etc.

We are planning to do this between us but have it drawn up by a solicitor, thus avoiding courts.

Also is there anything else I should take into consideration?

Any advice / support would be very greatly appreciated.

manda1982 Mon 01-Mar-10 14:00:33

i was told straight away dont share a solicitor!!! get your own and sit down and work it out amicably. as if one of you goes back on the agreement the swolicitor cant fairly advise you both when your on different sides. but when making arrangments, possibly put in that these are arrangments for contact at min but can be revised in future say when you go back to work or kids are all in full time education ect. hope you get it sorted out
xx

Niceguy2 Mon 01-Mar-10 14:32:17

>>>He earns £50k so he can afford it!!<<<

Firstly I bet your husband will disagree!

As far as child maintenance goes, you will be entitled to 25% of his take home pay minus 1/7th for each night he has them overnight.

You can't both use the same solicitor. They will only act for one party or the other.

As for "visitation" or contact as its known nowadays, you can agree anything you like. As long as you both agree, its fine. Just because you agree a schedule now, doesn't mean that you have to stick to it like glue for the next 18 years. That would be unrealistic. The key really is compromise. Its whats best for your children rather than whats best for either of you.

Bear in mind that any agreement drawn up by a solicitor is not legally binding. Only a court can do that so either of you can change your mind at any time and for any reason.

Lastly....you are not "raising his children" they belong to you too!

mummygirl Mon 01-Mar-10 14:39:18

unless he's happy to pay alimony, I don't think that in the UK he is legally bound to (correct me if I'm wrong). The argument is that you're a grown adult capable of working and that bringing up children is something working mothers do too. Child support yes, but not I think this is where his legal responsibility ends.

What has your agreement been until now?

Also, for future contact, there will not be a time when the children will need less! They will always need both of you just as much. But, yes, when there will be schools and after school activities and new partners with their baggage to work around the schedule should be more fixed. Go with the flow for now, look after yourself and gratefully accept your time away from the kids, you have a lot to deal with.

Good luck.

itsmeitsmeolord Mon 01-Mar-10 14:40:38

50k isn't a huge sum, he will need to provide for you and the children as well as provide a home suitable for him to have the children as well.

You can look on the csa website for a maintenence calculator, you can also check www.entitledto.co.uk to see what benefits you may be entitled to.

I don't understand your reasoning about contact, why would a new partner mean that your children see less of one of their parents, why would the need to have a relationship with both parents diminish over time?
From a legal point of view, at present you are both equal parents, any contact arrangements should be discussed with the childrens best interests in mind.

It must be very hard to have to deal with a relationship ending, particularly if you have young children and didn't want it ito end.
However, you really should try to keep your personal feelings out of any matters relating to the children if you can.

Do you have any support you can access, friends/family?

Hope things get better for you.

pollyh Mon 01-Mar-10 14:56:20

I think you've all taken me very wrongly. My husband and I are splitting on good terms. The reason I ask regarding visiting times is because I want him to see the children frequently, because it's what will help us all adjust, I certainly have no plans in interfering in their relationship. It is at my instigation that I have ahead of time put my three week old on expressed milk bottles with the sole purpose being that his dad can start to build a relationship with him too by being able to take him out as well.

My stance on the amount of time changing in time stems from the fact that I am suggesting he can come and do bedtime routines with the children as well as weekend access, but I don't imagine when we both have partners further down the line that this amount will be ok.

Regarding finances, £50k is a hell of a lot more than £0k which is what I get for raising OUR children. I appreciate he needs to have money left to support his own life, but equally he needs to ensure that his children have a roof over their heads, food in their belly and clothes on their backs. It is our joint decision that I don't work.

The cost of child care for three small children where I live is about £160 per day. And yes I know you can get help with that, but the figures still don't stack up for me to go back to work. Apart from the fact that my husband and I have agreed I should be at home to smooth the transition for the children.

We are not planning on using the same solicitor, simply getting a solicitor each to agree on separation terms.

Niceguy2 Mon 01-Mar-10 15:22:56

Sounds good that things are as amicable as they can be. That can only be a good thing.

You need to look at the short term and long term.

Short term you both want you to stay at home and that is a noble aim. However I would say from experience that its unrealistic and even if you can, i don't expect it to last.

If he's on £50k a year his take home pay is just under £3k per month. A good salary sure but not enough to run 2 households. Especially since if he's been on good money he will be used to a good lifestyle.

What usually happens is the ex will at some point decide to get a new partner and need more money for his "home". Or he will get bored of paying 25% of his salary to you. Or perhaps you will disagree on something and he will punish you by withholding money. Expecting him to pony up between £500-£750 a month (depending on his overnights) for the next 15 years simply isn't going to happen.

Longer term you need to be totally independent from each other. Ideally maintenance considered a luxury. The moment you rely upon his money to survive and pay bills you set yourself up for a fail.

gobsmackedetal Wed 03-Mar-10 08:35:21

50k might be a good income for one household, but it can hardly sustain two. The pbest part of it will be spent on rent/mortgage therefore your children will suffer.

Look at the CSA site for what maintenance the children are entitled to, depending on their overnight visits to their dad's of course and stick to that. I don't think this should be considered a bonus, the children whould be supported by both parents equally.

Now, as for supporting you, do you really want this? Although I don't think SAHP in a relationship are financially dependant on their partners because they are a family and work together as such, you have to face the fact that you and your ex are not a family anymore. Do you really want to spend your life financially dependent on him? Look at what help you're entitled to and start planning.

Also my sympathies, I know it's not easy.

traumaqueen Wed 03-Mar-10 08:50:43

All the above AND

you need to differentiate between Spousal Maintenance and Child Maintenance. CM is going to be what Niceguy2 says. which clearly isn't enough for you to live on. as you have a 3 week old dc it's probably reasonable for him to pay you some Spousal maintenance but there are no hard and fast rules for this so you will need to negotiate on how much and for how long.

You also need to take into account any equity you have: equity in teh house, pension, savings, debts etc.

You really really need to see a solicitor; sorry, but Divorce is expensive and complicated when you have children.

Try OnDivorce.com and WIkivorce.com for more advice

pithyslicker Wed 03-Mar-10 10:09:29

I think with a 3-week-old baby you wouldn't be expected to go back to work until the child is at least at school, and I think you probably would be entitled to spousal Maintenance.

See a solicitor, but try not to go to court as this just eats the finances.

And try and keep contact and finances separate.

And he should 'pony up' his 25% for as long as deemed suitable.

ChocHobNob Thu 04-Mar-10 17:37:04

But that 25% could be a hell of a lot less in the future if something happened and he lost his 50k a year job. Relying on child support to live can end in trouble. Child support is not to keep a roof over the children's heads. It is to contribute to the costs, not pay them altogether.

Hopefully the OP won't have to worry about that for a long time though. Hope things go smoothly.

Mongolia Thu 11-Mar-10 17:28:01

Spousal maintenance is possible in the UK, albeit under very special circumstances, for example for a limited time and dependant on how much is your monthly income.

The limited time is based on your age, your possibility to return to work, etc. For example if you were 60 yrs old, and had not worked for the last 20 years, you would get it. Or if you were out of work but training to return, you would possibly get it until you end your course provided the ex has enough to live on. Anything that is classed as a relationship generated disadvantage can be used as grounds for spousal maintenance, but I expect you will need to fight for it at court, to get it.

littlemoominmamma Fri 12-Mar-10 16:52:49

Don't be put off claiming spousal maintenance, it is becoming more common and you may need it!!! Get a good solicitor and get things right at the beginning to avoid having to sort it out later. - Good Luck hun smile

Niceguy2 Sat 13-Mar-10 18:34:53

There's a good reason why clean break settlements are the norm in this country rather than spousal maintenance.

The reason is that unless your ex is stinking rich, chances are your ex cannot/will not sustain payments for long.

So take the above example, OP's ex earns £3k a month. 3 kids, thats 25% or £750 a month in CM alone. Lets for arguments sake add another £250 a month in for spousal maintenance to make it a round £1k a month.

Fair? To OP maybe, maybe not. To the ex? No way. He's now losing a third of his net income. Chances are he will stop paying and disappear, quit his job, appeal against the order, rejig his finances so he doesn't have to pay so much....basically whatever he can to avoid paying.

Result? OP doesn't REALLY get £1k a month. She might get some one month, none another etc. CSA are as much use as a chocolate teapot, solicitors get rich as they slug it out whilst the parents hate each other so much that it effects the children.

Clean breaks are way better for the courts as everything's sorted once. Both can move on and leave the CSA to sort out the maintenance. No more messing with solicitors etc.

Like I often say, its not so much going for what you are entitled to but going for what you will regularly get. From bitter experience I can tell you its better to get £50 a month than go for £100 cos thats what the rules say and get £0. Is it right? Of course not but principles don't pay the bills, nor do they put food on the table.

Mongolia Mon 15-Mar-10 12:27:08

Yes Niceguy, that is very true, that the father will complain ad infinitum of getting the hardest part of the deal for having to pay 1/3 of his salary to his former family and entertaining the children during 48 hrs a fortnight, while pretending for the rest of the time that he is a single man with no responsibilities, free to live his life as he pleases...

... while the mum, that cheeky beggar, puts 100% of her income and time into raising the family, putting her life in hold so she could raise the kids on her own, and what on Earth does she do in the time when the kids are with the father??? surely lazying around like catching up with all the stuff she couldn't do with the children around? like doctors appointments, working, or sorting the house up? Lazy cows, get the clean break so the men can swan off to live their life while the woman are blessed with their children's company.

Now, having said that, I TOTALLY agree that clean breaks are the way forward if both husband and wife had the same level of income and the children were going to spend an equal number of days with the father and mother. However, how often does that happen or is that feasible?

Niceguy2 Mon 15-Mar-10 12:39:24

I am not saying whether its right or wrong. Just what happens.

Like I said earlier, you can fight the good fight for the sake of the principle but it's v. stressful doesn't put food on the table.

I've learned its better to accept life as it is rather than what is ideal. Its better to get £50 a month regularly than insist on £200 and get £0.

Mongolia Mon 15-Mar-10 13:06:37

For that level of money... yes, surely you will get more in benefits without all that hassle. But how much do you need to earn to pay £50 a month? ... £200? in such case I agree get the £50 and leave the poor man to try to sort his life as he is having it bad enough even before considering he is a father who needs to pay maintenance.

But if the guy is earning £3000 a month and the wife has to care for 3 young children on her own.... those £1000 make a HUGE difference. In black and white, with those £1000 she will be scratching a living for herself and 3 children (lets say thats £250 per head), while the father still has twice as much to cover his own needs (£2000). Someway it still seems fair to me, and generous to the husband...

Expensive to fight for? definitively! worth it? YES! because she CAN'T survive without that money.

Mongolia Mon 15-Mar-10 13:08:30

Besides, if she wasn't there to care for the children, how much would that man had to pay for someone to provide the same level of care to those children? £2000 a month plus baby sitting if he wants to go out/work at night?

Niceguy2 Mon 15-Mar-10 15:11:58

LOL Sorry Mongolia. I didn't mean to confuse. The £50/£200 were just examples I plucked out of thin air. It was not related to OP's situation.

What I'm talking about is principles are one thing but reality is often different. So my point is that although she may be entitled to spousal maintenance, in reality there's a very good chance she'll not get it and even if she gets it, it probably won't last long. So what I am trying to say is don't get overly hung up on spousal maintenance.

Child maintenance is a whole different topic.

DevastatedDad Wed 24-Oct-12 15:21:26

On the topic of spousal maintenance I would love to hear people's views on what might be "fair" in my situation

Recently informed my wife wants a divorce after >20 yrs together. 4 beautiful kids all in full time education. Wife works <10 hours a week for c40wks pa to earn >£10k gross pa. She is highly educated, articulate and talented. Her job is self-employed and scalable to her needs and timings. Doubling or even tripling her hours would not impact on her ability to care for our kids. I have suggested 50:50 split of assets (for which she could afford a small house locally, mortgage free) and joint custody of kids with full CM from me for the 50% time she has them, but I would not consider it fair to also offer spousal maintenance given her ability to support herself from her own actual and potential earnings and the c£1,000 pm she would get for CM. I do earn a high wage (just under the max used by the CSA calculator) but believe she should not have a right to make a call on my future earnings other than for reason of child care (CM). She has destroyed all my hopes and dreams of our life together and now wants more than the 50% assets and the c£300k total of my future earnings that I am happy to pay on CM...is that fair?

Sassybeast Thu 25-Oct-12 16:33:02

You obviously don't think it's fair and that's the important thing - what I or anyone else would consider to be fair is completely irrelevant so the best advice I can give you is to speak to a solicitor and see where you would stand legally. AFAIK, the courts are in favour of 'clean break' settlements so from that point of view you may be in a stronger position to argue against SM. I think you may find that a 50:50 split of assets is only the starting point so you may have to be more flexible from that POV.

STIDW Fri 26-Oct-12 20:58:12

Arrangements for children and finances are treated separately under different bits of legislation. It takes longer than most people expect to go throughout the process of divorce and separate the finances so it can be a good idea to consider interim arrangements and then the longer term.

Both parents have Parental Responsibility meaning they have equal responsibility and rights to carry those responsibilities. You can agree living/contact arrangements between yourselves and above all the arrangements need to be practical. There is no point in one parent insisting on contact during the week if they never return from the office until 7:30pm or the other parent insisting on a routine that involves attending after school club or a child minder when the other parent is available to look after the children. If no agreement can be reached it is open to either parent to apply to court for an order to regulate Parental Responsibility.

Having said that good contact for children relies on separated parents working together, or at least not against each other and going to court tends to cause resentment and resistance making that difficult if not impossible so alternative ways of resolving disputes such as mediation or collaborative law are preferable. Arrangements tend to change as children reach different stages and parents move on with their lives but there is no reason why ultimately children can't stay overnights and spend time with both parents and their new families.

Financial settlements on divorce are all about balance. The value of any assets held jointly or in sole names forms the matrimonial pot which is shared according to a number of factors set out in s25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The welfare of dependent children, in particular their need for housing, is the priority but if the former matrimonial home is larger than required to house the children and a parent it may need to be sold to release equity to enable everyone to rehouse adequately. Equality in divorce settlements isn't necessarily sharing mathematically 50:50 share, rather it is to leave both parties on a similar footing.

A good starting point is to research local property prices and both parties' mortgage raising capabilities. The nature of the marriage and the way the relationship was conducted is important. When one parent stays at home to care for young children it is unlikely they will have the same earning potential even if they return to work as someone without the child caring responsibilities. That means if they have the children the majority of the time they will require a more substantial property to house the children and they won't be able to raise the same mortgage as the breadwinner which can justify a larger share of capital in their favour.

Spouse maintenance has to be seen in context of the overall position and depends on the needs of one party and the ability to pay of the other. For example if the assets are split in favour of the parent with care to enable them to house the children their mortgage payments will be relatively low decreasing their need. The breadwinner will have less capital and will require a larger mortgage with higher monthly payments to leave them on a similar footing and that decreases their ability to pay any spouse maintenance. A local solicitor in possession of all the details is in the best position to advise where you stand and what options there are. There are local differences and SM is more common in some parts of the country than others.

Children of separated families often have poor outcomes because their family doesn't have enough money so financial contributions are one of the most important contributions parents can make to the well being of their children. There are of course some spouses who resent paying maintenance but in my experience most will adhere to a legally binding agreement or court order. The minority who don't are going to be problematic anyway regardless of what you do. People who evade their responsibly say by giving up or moving jobs are really cutting off their noses to spite themselves as they usually damage their long term employment prospects impacting on promotion and salary with long term consequences effecting their finances long after children have become independent and when they have retired. The same applies to parents with the majority of care who don't maximise their earning potential in the long term.

DevastatedDad Fri 16-Aug-13 11:13:19

Just thought I'd post an update on this for the benefit of all to see what is possible. After initially being quite acrimonious about all aspects of our divorce (despite it being her wish to end our 23 years together) the x ended up becoming more accommodating and reasonable. We did mediation for a couple of sessions and then she realized that my suggestions were actually eminently reasonable and legitimate. So the assets were split 50:50. I have been able to stay in the marital home. She has ended up in a new house just a few miles away, with room for personal space for her and all our 4 kids, fully furnished and mortgage free. We share the kids 50:50 (my work has been accommodating in allowing me to work from home regularly to make this happen) and she received 6 months spousal maintenance to see her comfortably beyond the point at which she starts a new job. CM is being paid in accordance with the CSA calculator. I think the overall resolution has been fair. I only had one free session with a lawyer in advance of all proceedings. The lawyer had suggested I should expect to have to pay 3-5yrs of spousal maintenance in addition to the CM, which seemed a little unfair, but it helped set my expectations. Given that I am footing the entire bill for the kids until they are self supporting, the financial arrangements are already skewed significantly in favour of the x, but I don't begrudge this as it is for my kids. The first few months of single parenting, and doing everything to do with the house and home have been tough and exhausting, but also liberating. I'm now moving on. I may even learn to thank the x for abandoning the marriage...who wants to live in a one-sided marriage?, far better for me to find a new soulmate, someone who can reciprocate the love I provide. Good luck all who find themselves in a similar position. Stay cool, calm and put the kids to the fore and you too can hopefully find a fair resolution to the issues.

kinkyfuckery Fri 16-Aug-13 11:16:15

DD, glad to hear that your situation seems to have been resolved fairly and happily. Best of luck for your future life with your kids.

Sparklysilversequins Fri 16-Aug-13 11:19:34

I was told I was entitled to spousal maintenance as ex H is a high earner and we had two small dc. I did not take it as I would rather jump off the oxo tower (not really but you know what I mean) than have him holding the fact that he supports me over me. So yes you will probably be legly entitled.

As for the term "pony up" surely you mean support his children as he is legally and morally obliged to? That's a really crap attitude to have to it if you ask me.

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