Frequently Asked Questions
Here we can give you some helpful scenarios which can assist you with some of the more common questions we are asked.
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I have been married for 15 years and my wife and I have three children – twins of 12 and a daughter of four.
We do not have a great deal of capital and I have not objected to my wife remaining in the family home until the children leave school, although this will leave me in rented accommodation, certainly for some period.
I have no real objection to this or to paying child support for the children, but I am very irritated that my wife is telling me that she wants spousal maintenance for herself. This seem to me unreasonable, although I have a large income.
Prior to our having the children, my wife worked and earned relatively well (£30,000 gross), but she says she had to work very long hours for this money and that she cannot go back to this sort of work and look after the children. It is uneconomic for her to employ a child minder, so she says, and I think she is probably right.
My own view is that my wife should just get a job, but her Solicitor is saying that she is entitled to spousal maintenance and that the fact that my wife is going to have to spend a significant amount of her future looking after the children as her primary obligation means that I am not entitled to seek a final termination of spousal maintenance until my wife can take a pension through a pension-sharing order.
I think this is unfair. What do you think?
Firstly, I believe you should undertake some detailed analysis of the sort of work that your wife could do on a part-time basis as it is certainly not enough for you simply to say that your wife “could get a job”. You would need to be very specific about what your wife could do and how much these jobs would pay.
Low paid jobs generally enable single parents to obtain Working Tax Credits, but of course at present the Government is planning a slashing of these Benefits which, in the past, have in fact helped subsidise divorce.
In the recent case of SF -v- NS (2014) EWHC4183 the Judge stated that in his view the very existence of children changed everything given the economic impact upon the wife, not only until they left school, but for the rest of your life and, in this case, the Court considered it wrong to speculate as to the wife’s future and declined to make an order for the specific reduction of the wife’s maintenance at any particular future date.
I think, therefore, you have to provide strong evidence to the effect that your wife can, in time, stand on her own feet, but you should be aware that at any time in the future you can apply to reduce your wife’s maintenance if her economic position improves by virtue of her obtaining work or even cohabiting. Equally if your financial position falters, you can apply for a reduction in spousal maintenance.
An answer may be to suggest a transitional maintenance under the terms of which, if your wife finds work, she can keep 50p in every £1 that she earns, but you can have a reduction in maintenance of the same sum. Your wife, therefore, has an incentive to find work and you benefit from her so doing. You also, this way, have a method of tracking your wife’s earning capacity.