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Spousal Maintenance, rough figure

21 replies

Grayham · 17/11/2006 15:35

Hi, Hope someone can help me. My wife and I are separating (I think!!) and I've been trying to find a ballpark figure for maintenance payments for her.
I know that I need to pay 25% of my wages for Child maintenance (3 boys, 10, 12 & 16) but I can't find anywhere a figure for hers. I have tried all sort of websites and help lines and it boils down to "go see a solicitor" which is something I don't really want to do to begin with. In fact most "advice" on the net says to try and sort these things out between yourselves rather than go to court etc. Ironic! What I want to do is present her with an agreement and if she's not happy with it then she can go to a solicitor (if we can't agree amongst ourselves). I would be happy to go to Relate (I've been on my own but it's not much help!!) or counselling or any other mediation service but she refuses to.
Basically (the REALLY short version), I told my wife that I don't earn enough to pay all our bills and I've asked her to help out by finding a job. She says she won't and has told me that if I keep on at her (I have nagged her a few times) that I'll have to get out! So I'm calling her bluff (advice from CAB lady - see if your wife can manage the finances any better on her own).
I take home between 2000 and 2500 on average, the mortgage is about 400 and I'm guessing (willing) she'll stay in the house and I'll pay the mortgage until our youngest is 20. There are a few debts (one big loan 250 a month) which I'm also willing to service.
After paying child maintenance, the mortgage and the loans there will be roughly 1000 left over. I obviously need to pay my way, housing etc. so, please, any ideas???
I don't want to leave her short but I don't want to leave myself short either. I'm not sure what she'll be able to claim in benefits etc (Income support, child tax credits (currently ?40 a month) so any advice there would be useful too.
Sorry if I'm being a nuisance here, my first post, desperately trying to find advice and stumbled across "mumsnet". No "dadsnet" :-( but would have asked here anyway!! :-)
Thanks for your time,

OP posts:
Mumpbump · 17/11/2006 15:39

I will ask my dh what percentage his ex gets and let you know - probably after the weekend.

I think you generally get an initial consultation with a solicitor free so you could always use that to get this information. If they don't offer a free consulation, just ask if you can have a quick chat for free. Most solicitors will be happy to give some freebie advice if they are likely to be instructed if the situation escalates...

zippitippitoes · 17/11/2006 15:40

as far as the spouses are concerned i think now the preference is for a clean break

Mumpbump · 17/11/2006 15:50

You could also try posting in the Men's Room...

I am pretty sure that my dh's ex gets her own maintenance in addition to maintenance for the children...

dinosaur · 17/11/2006 15:53

This reply has been withdrawn

This has been withdrawn by MNHQ at the poster's request.

otto · 17/11/2006 16:01

When my dp split from his ex he went to see a solicitor and was given one session of free advice including don't use a solicitor to divorce as it will cost you too much! They used a mediation service to help hammer out a deal which included money and access, but obviously you can't do this if your wife refuses. It's hard to say what's reasonable in your circumstances. Dp wanted a clean break so gave the house to his ex who sold it and used the profit to buy somewhere else. He pays her maintenance of around 20 per cent of his monthly income. She is reponsible for paying her own mortgage and bills. She chooses not to work. hope this helps

Grayham · 17/11/2006 23:35

Thanks for your input so far everybody, I look forward to more info as and when.
I'm 40, my wife 41. She worked at Tesco until No.1 son's appearance. I fully understood and supported her decision to quit work and be with the kids as they grew up but things have changed and we're in a bit of a financial pickle. The really sad thing about it is that she would only have to work for about 3 years when a couple of the financial problems would be resolved. And even on a minimum wage she'd only have to do about 20 hours a week. Maybe less even.
I KNOW about solicitors, we did have a bit of a go at divorcing about 5 years ago, similar problems. After 6 weeks she decided to drop the proceedings. I had to pay about £750 for my solicitor! And because she came back home, I had to pay for hers too!! All for nothing !!!
Hey ho, it's nearly christmas
Look forward to any more advice, thanks for everything so far.

OP posts:
mumblechum · 18/11/2006 10:37

Hi, Grayham, I'm a family lawyer. I think dinosaur may be as well, but not sure.

There is no formula for working out spousal maintenance as there is for child maintenance. The principle however is that if there's a shortfall between the wife's income and her reasonable outgoings, the husband should pay spousal maintenance to bridge that gap if he can reasonably afford to do so.

Now that all 3 children are at school, if this were to go to court the district judge would expect your wife to find a job working at least 16 hours per week because by doing so, she'd get working and child tax credits. For example, some of my clients work in shops during school hours and receive, say, £500 per month. They receive tax credits of £500 per month, child benefit (for your wife this would be about £145 per month), child maintenance from you £500 per month. So using your wife as an example and assuming she gets a little job, her income will be roughly £1645. The mortgage, assuming she stays put, is £400, presumably utilities are £225, food for self and 3 kids £320, car expenses say £150, stuff like life insurance, house insurance etc £75, and a cushion for birthdays, Xmas, holidays, treats and activities for the kids another £200pm. Her outgoings would be £1370, so you wouldn't be expected to pay spousal maintenance, other that nominal mtce of £1 per annum to give her a safety net in the event that she wasn't able to work. Where a nominal order is in place, the door to the court is left open if circumstances change.
Worst case scenario is that you pay her some spousal mtce for maybe a year to give her a chance to get retrained , perhaps some admin/computer skills, then to get herself a better paid job, but remember that the more she earns, the less tax credits she'll get so she may actually prefer a low income, low stress, family friendly job than anything high flying for a while.
What's happending about the house and any other capital?
Get yourself a free half hour advice at a specialist family solicitor. You're much more likely to be ripped off if you're not represented.

dinosaur · 18/11/2006 17:37

This reply has been withdrawn

This has been withdrawn by MNHQ at the poster's request.

Grayham · 19/11/2006 01:00

Thanks Mumblechum, that was really useful. Just the sort of thing I was looking for.

As far as assets go I was going to suggest that she has the house and I pay the mortgage until the youngest is 20 (which is when the child maintenance would stop assuming further education). That gives her 10 years. By then the mortgage would have reduced and the house value increased. If she couldn't afford the mortgage after that she could move to a smaller house (3 bed, mid terrace, around £130K currently. 60k mortgage, 20ish years to go. Had to remortgage due to bad endowment :-( ).
For that I was hoping that I would get my pension and be left alone in that respect??? (Looking at the "clean break" aspect). I have a good job and should get a good pension at the end of it which would match the house value roughly.
The only other asset is a share option which matures in 3 years (hence the need for her to work for just 3 years) and should be around 20k - 25k which I was going to suggest we have half each???

Having read your piece I sound like I'm ripping myself off!??? I was under the impression that I would be expected to pay the mortgage to keep a roof over her's and the boys' heads. Also to keep her in the manner to which she has become accustomed????

You may guess that I don't really want any of this to happen :-) but it's good to get a real perspective on this.
Thanks very much again, I really appreciate your time.

OP posts:
Grayham · 22/11/2006 17:56

Hi, just wondering if anyone managed to find any figure for spousal maintenance? Also, is it still the case that the partner should be kept in the manner to which they have become accustomed?

OP posts:
Juliangill · 19/06/2016 06:16


I've got a tough situation that is keeping me awake - and it's partly financial, but didn't start that way so hold any judgement if possible as we could benefit from some advice...

My wife and I have been living separately for about 5 years, married for 10, and together for 22 years...

We have 2 children aged 15 and 20 now, and the children have lived with me throughout.

My wife had a drink problem from a young age, although it wasn't something I was aware of when we met as drinking through college and uni was the norm... Still, after the birth of our first child about 20 years ago, I really noticed the alcohol always around the house and this continued despite me talking to her, and asking her to seek help.

Moving forward, this was never resolved, and in 2006 she was convicted of drunk driving in the uk. In 2007 I had the opportunity to move abroad so in a moment of what now seems madness I asked her to marry me, and suggested a fresh start in Australia which she embraced.

Once in Aus there was no difference, she continued to drink, fell in and out of work which put extra pressure on me and was subsequently convicted a further 3 times for drunk driving - the children were scared to be with her in the car...

The story continues, we tried some private clinics that were expensive but covered by insurance in part, but she would always check out after a day or two... Then one day I come home early from work and find her on the couch with the most peculiar breathing, she was unconscious. I picked her up and put her in the car and drive straight to the hospital. It's materialised that she had taken 200 paracetamol. We watched her die (flat line) and recover 7 times over the next 10 days - if you've ever been in a situation like this you soon become numb... She was sectioned under the MHA for observation and had a relapse after being given some sleeping tablets by the nurses! Unbelievable but true...

She seemed to suffer from memory loss, but came home "ok". At this time the courts were pursuing her for the drink driving offences and I spent the last 3000 dollars we had on a barrister - however this did not help as the magistrate did not accept there was any mitigating circumstances! He scheduled the hearing and at this point I decided the best thing to do was to get her back to the UK. I had 2 children and no social network/welfare with hardly any savings work paid for her flight back and she stayed with her mum for a few weeks. However the drinking continued, lies and deceit and her mum couldn't cope so she was put into a care home environment... 3 years on I was told she would not recover to live a normal life, and after struggling to honour loyalties I took a breath and accepted I was alone. This allowed me to move on, although in the last year she has made a significant recovery and stopped drinking for over 3 years - so good news. However, whilst I love her, it's not as a man loves his wife, but as someone you care for and worry they are vulnerable - and of course the mother of your children. I've tried explaining this and she gets it - to the extent memory impairment effects her.

Anyway, all those complexities aside, I know tomorrow on I need to end our marriage. About a year ago I bought a house in the U.K. after coming back with the children and renting initially which really wasn't stable in the in the uk. I have a good job and work hard, but had no real savings for reasons explained earlier. I borrowed some money from a friend as a deposit on a house, which provides a home for me and the children. There's not a lot of equity as its only a year old...
As I look in to divorce, the area of spousal maintenance is leaving me confused / worried. Id happily pay what I can, but pay for the children, my daughter is at uni and I cover this too. I have a good income but after all is said and done I'm not exactly rolling in it! I have a 2k per month mortgage, 800 per month travel and this comes from net of about 4500 which after food and bills doesn't leave much. I do pay for the children's holidays including one with their mum this year.

In summary, I was almost broke when we separated, I've looked after children throughout as my number one priority and have rebuilt a life.

I don't really want an eternal tie through spousal maintenance not do I want to leave her destitute - bit currently she is in care although much better to a level of almost full recovery - although maybe never 100%.

I am scared that any court will favour her circumstances over the children and me - and I realise that may sound selfish but it has been really tough rebuilding a life and keeping it all on track alone...


IceMaiden73 · 19/06/2016 08:17

Juliangill - you need to start your own thread, you have posted on any old thread and it is unlikely you will get any responses on here

WorldTraveller1988 · 08/06/2017 05:57

Preference is now for a clean break as soon as possible rather than spousal maintenance being paid forever (ie Joint Lives). For Spousal Maintenance to be payable the receiving partner (usually ex wife) has to demonstrate that her reasonable needs exceed her own income. If she is able to work she will be expected to do so. Refer to Lord Pritchard's "Get a Job". Paying parents own income and needs will also be taken into account when making a determination of how much Spousal Maintenance, if any, should be paid

Judge Mostyn probably gave good guidelines for Spousal Maintenance which essentially stated that Spousal Maintenance should be based on reference to needs alone and should be terminated as soon as possible as ex partner moves towards independence.

WorldTraveller1988 · 08/06/2017 06:06

If ex wife is able to work she will be expected to do so. Refer to Lord Pritchard "Get a Job" ruling. Based on age of children she could work part time to match school hours. This is what my ex wife did. Worked 16 hours per week in local hotel. Income about 500 per month. As she was on minimum wage she was entitled to; Child Tax Credits of 277 per month and Working Tax credits of 307 per month. Add Child benefit of 90 per month and she has about 1,200 per month of her own. Child maintenance was set at 600 per month based on what I earned. Spousal was set at 400 per month for 4 years on logic that Child would be 14 by then and ex wife could then work full time.

Ex wife tried to argue that she was no longer able to work due to chronic back problems she had for 9 years, but that was dismissed by judge when they saw her Gym Membership Payments!

RNBrie · 08/06/2017 06:17

This thread is 11 years old.

WorldTraveller1988 · 08/06/2017 06:18

Spousal Maintenance does not have a formula like that for Child Maintenance. Each case is specific. Receiving partner (usually ex wife) has to demonstrate their reasonable needs exceed their income. This has to be done by listing all income from; work, tax credits, child benefit, interest on savings and any income from investments or assets (eg rent from property). Then all essential outgoings must be listed. This is where most ex-wives make mistake and list outrageous amounts. Mine listed essential needs that totalled over 4,500 per month! Judge (female) saw through it and remarked that it was yet another example of an ex-wife basing expectations on greed and anger as opposed to needs. Judge Mostyn made similar remarks in a recent ruling on Spousal Maintenance.

Standard of living before marriage failed seems not to be so important now as with passage of time it becomes less significant. Only the most wealthy marriages will be able to afford same lifestyle after splitting assets. Most mere mortals will have to accept that their lives will change. Mostyn also remarked that a degree or hardship (but not undue) during the transition period from divorce to independence was acceptable and in many cases may be unavoidable. At end of day blood can't be extracted from a stone

Spousal maintenance is meant to make up the shortfall assuming the paying partner can afford taking into account their income and own needs.

bimbobaggins · 08/06/2017 18:34

worldtraveler as another poster has commented, this thread is 11 years old

Smudge1997 · 14/08/2020 17:32

How does it work when the wife has left and walked out on her husband and child. The husband is in the house and fully responsible for the child. Should he then still be liable to pay spousal maintenance. His ex is not working through choice.

bashcrashfall · 15/08/2020 01:23

Spousal maintenance is not really a thing in the UK unless one party is seriously loaded and the other dependent. But to get proper comments start your own thread.

bashcrashfall · 15/08/2020 01:24

I should have said England rather than UK. No idea if it is a thing in Scotland.

BarbaraofSeville · 15/08/2020 04:23


How does it work when the wife has left and walked out on her husband and child. The husband is in the house and fully responsible for the child. Should he then still be liable to pay spousal maintenance. His ex is not working through choice.

He doesn't need to pay her anything, as the non resident parent, she needs to pay him maintenance for the child. However if she is not working then I believe the award would be a token £5 a week out of her benefits.
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