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Spousal Maintenance: will it ever end?

(23 Posts)
AliceAnneB Thu 16-Jul-15 10:20:02

DH pays 2500 per month to his ExW and two kids. He lost his job about 18 months ago and has since become self employed and is making significantly less but is significantly happier. He has looked for other jobs but none have come up in our area and all would have required an international move which we are loathe to do because of the two DSC. ExW doesn't feel her and the childrens maintenance should be lowered so we are now in the process and have been for the last 6 months of getting the court order changed.

Do you all think we would be better off having the child maintenance go through CMS rather than a court order so it's easier to change if circumstances change? We are currently at 6k in lawyers fees and it's ridiculous!

Has anyone had any luck terminating spousal maintenance when the kids reach 18? Currently he is ordered to pay until she dies or remarries (big fat chance!). She is qualified to PhD level so certainly capable of earning just as much as him if she chose to. She currently works 3 days a week.

switchitoff Thu 16-Jul-15 10:51:40

I thought CMS was not for very high earners (which your DH must have been to be ordered to pay £2,500 pm)? Certainly there was a maximum amount of earnings which CMS could deal with when I got my divorce which is why, like your DH, we had to have a court order instead.

I was awarded spousal maintenance on the same basis as your DH's XW i.e. the agreement says it's until I die/remarry/live with someone for more than 6 months. Of course, there must have been a very good reason why spousal maintenance was awarded forever and not given a time limit.

In my case, even though the court order says my XH has to pay me forever, once the DCs were in secondary school I voluntarily agreed to stop it (well actually it's reduced to a nominal amount, just to keep it open). We agreed this ourselves: didn't involve lawyers or go to court. I just felt it was unreasonable to insist on it once the DCs were older and I had the ability to earn more money myself.

If your DH's XW is insisting that he continue to pay this, even though his financial situation has changed, then I guess the only thing you can do is to go through the courts and ask a judge to look at the financial situation afresh and to reconsider whether unlimited spousal maintenance is really appropriate. As you will know, if your DH unilaterally reduces the monthly amount, he will have broken the court order which would be frowned upon.

OliviaBenson Thu 16-Jul-15 11:08:57

I'd repost this in legal OP as someone on there may be able to advise.

yellowdaisies Thu 16-Jul-15 11:50:00

You can go to court to get the order amended if there's been a chance in circumstances - which there clearly has. You can also try at the same time to put an end date to it - my DH has one that ends 10 years from when he divorced, by which time youngest DC will be 16, she could be working, and DH also has the option of early retirement. I think all these things together were the reason for having it for a fixed period. I think after 10 years it goes down to some notional amount, which has the effect of keeping the order open which means she could in theory go back to court to ask for an extension, but the default would be no more payments after 10 years.

The amount he pays her should identify separately an element for child maintenance, which should end at some point (usually when the child is 18) and spousal maintanene, which can end either when specified, or - as yours does - only on death or remarriage. Yes I would think it would be a good idea to get the child maintenance bit at CSA rates, with an agreement that it can go via the CSA if either parent wants it to at any time - rather than having to go back to court any time things change. This could be a good thing for the ex as she'll be able to see that if/when your DP gets a job, she'll start getting more money again without having to go back to court.

heidiwine Thu 16-Jul-15 13:15:43

What does your lawyer think? I'd take their advice.
My DP also has a joint lives order, it's for a percentage of his earnings (50%) this is good in that it means that if his earnings reduce so do the payments.
IMO these orders are a nightmare because neither party is incentivised to fully move on from the other. In our case his ex doesn't work and lives with a very high earner. We're scared to ask for any variation to the order as the children will not be spared the details and DP will be demonised.
If I was you I would be asking to reduce payments gradually over time so that by the time the children are out of FTE you're no longer paying spousal OR go for a lump sum clean break which may be prohibitively expensive.
Good luck.

Quesera21 Thu 16-Jul-15 18:04:36

I think you need to understand why she got spousal maintenance.

My best friend is paid a sum pcm, which her EX Dweeb, tells his friends is spousal maintenance. No it sodding is not, it is the fact you refused to buy her out of the house, said you could not afford it, would bankrupt you and you would have nowhere to bring the kids and now you pay a percentage off each month of her asset.

Cheap for the dweeb and controlling ( which is what he wanted) as BF can not get enough for a deposit on a house this way. so yes if it was based around something like this - she has every right to be pissed off.

AliceAnneB Thu 16-Jul-15 22:20:18

It's nothing like the scenario your describe. She kept the very big 5 bed house and she got enough capital to pay off the mortgage plus a car and about 300k in cash. So she's not exactly hurting for money. She takes the kids skiing at Christmas for two weeks in France plus a nice beach holiday in the med over summer. We haven't been on holiday once since DH lost his job and she has simply carried on.

He didn't fight her at all over finances. He just wanted out. In retrospect he never should have signed up to joint lives.

sofato5miles Thu 16-Jul-15 22:26:09

Maybe but what % was that of their marital assets?

AliceAnneB Thu 16-Jul-15 22:31:45

60%. To be honest I find the lawyer somewhat useless. It's a whole lot of "well it could be this or it could be that" but I don't feel like we ever get a very clear steer. Hence asking what other people's experiences have been.

Snoozybird Thu 16-Jul-15 22:53:05

Spousal maintenance is just that - spousal, so unlikely that the kids turning 18 will have any bearing on it especially in light of it being a joint lives order. Either there's more to the situation than you're saying, or your DH made a massive mistake in agreeing to it.

Does your lawyer specialise in family law?

AliceAnneB Thu 16-Jul-15 23:17:58

It just seems bonkers to me. Even though she is more qualified than him and has just as much earning potential he is going to have to support her until she dies? What other dependent can you have that you must support until they die?

The solicitor is, of course, a family law solicitor. He very helpfully handed DH a list of countries and U.S. States that don't have reciprocity with the UK at our first meeting. I thought he was nuts at the time but I'm starting to understand why!

Quesera21 Thu 16-Jul-15 23:32:27

Sorry on a 60/40 split and she got that - then your DP was minted and still has a lot of monies left. If he was paying her £2500pcm per month then he still had penty left over.

There will need to be a reality check on both sides but right now you are coming across as bitter and twisted. I struggle to see why your life stopped , changed yes, when he became unemployed unless he never saved or put anything else away.

What she does has got nothing to do with you and your jealousy is dominant in your subsequent posts. She is also working 3 days per week - so not doing nothing. You make no mention of how old the DSCs are, but even with a PhD it can be bloody difficult if you have not kept current in your specialist area - circa any Mum who re enters the work force.

You are coming across v badly. I got my self a rich man and you appeared to have no issues with his payments until he lost his job. He kept up the payments after losing job ( respect him for that) Your life took a hit, hers did not and now you do not like it. If it was the other way round and she had lost her job and the DCs life had taken a hit would you be offering to help her out?

Epilepsyhelp Thu 16-Jul-15 23:38:34

Coming across as bitter and twisted?! Maybe in your opinion que

The order should definitely reduce with his earnings, but I'm afraid I have no helpful advice except court with a much better lawyer.

I think either party having to support in perpetuity another qualified and capable adult is infantilising and utterly unjust. Once the children are grown up it has no justification whatsoever.

Quesera21 Thu 16-Jul-15 23:47:02

some of us would just love any maintenance!

Yes it is my opinion.
My Ex wanted to stop his payments whilst his DP was on long term sick leave because he was not funding her and her DCs because of course his DCs no longer cost anything and i could afford it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Quesera21 Thu 16-Jul-15 23:47:24

sorry that should read now funding her

Epilepsyhelp Fri 17-Jul-15 00:09:26

Child maintenance should of course always be paid up until 18, or if they are in HE then as allowance to them etc, that is very different to spousal maintenance.

heidiwine Fri 17-Jul-15 09:00:37

Epilepsyhelp - couldn't agree with you more.
Que - no one is saying that the OPs DP shouldn't pay any maintenance. Every case is different but IMO (unless the marriage has been long and the earning capacity of one party is negligible because of the joint choices made during the marriage) then joint lives spousal maintenance is, at best, outdated and at worst infantilising (usually the woman). I really question women (like my DPs ex) who are happy to continue living off someone they no longer even like for life. It isn't good for anyone.

alwaystryingtobeafriend Fri 17-Jul-15 12:55:38

Never new there was such a thing.

Can't wait for ex to find out about tthis as she will definitely try to drain dp for this.

yellowdaisies Fri 17-Jul-15 14:12:56

If they're already divorced always I think you're OK grin It is awarded as part of the divorce settlement - she can't just decide to claim it years after, fortunately.

sofato5miles Sat 18-Jul-15 08:44:42

So he is still asset rich. What % of his salary was it and is it now. Do you work?

BlueBlueSea Sat 18-Jul-15 11:11:15

The CMS will only advise what should be paid from his salary as child maintenance, but they do not have the power to over ride a court order. The spousal maintenance is nothing to do with CMS so you will have to go to a solicitor (as you have done) to change this and if she disputes this, then go to court.

As there are no defined rules when it comes to family law and maintenance your solicitor can not say what will happen, it can be variable, he can only guess. If it goes to court the judge will decide.

Quesera21 Sat 18-Jul-15 19:21:03

Did not think anyone was suggesting not paying maintenance.

but how much of the £2500pcm is spousal and how much is child maintenance - we do not know.

Why spousal maintenance was awarded etc the ins and outs of the whole situation. The OP just does not come across well. Like I pointed out my friend gets "spousal maintenance" in lieu of her share of the house. It is not really that - it is an interest free loan for her EX - he is the one who calls it spousal maintenance.

heidiwine Sun 19-Jul-15 07:42:09

Que - not all spousal maintenance orders are split x% for spouse y% for children. Some are general and for life. You are judging the OP as if her DP was your friends ex.
Spousal maintenance is not always a story made up by men who have mistreated their wives. It is a real thing and can cause resentment and bitterness particularly when, as they are bound to, circumstances change on both sides. That is why, in my opinion, a joint lives order should be an absolute last resort, 10 years ago they weren't and many people are now financially connected to their exes for life, this (as I said earlier) prevents either party moving on with their lives independent of the other which goes against the whole purpose of divorce

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