Maintenance payments and a new partner: bad news for cohabitees? (Part 2)

maintenance and a new partner

In my previous post I set the scene in a hotly disputed area of law: maintenance payments and the ex-husband who resents paying after his former partner begins living with another man.

The Court of Appeal has issued a judgement (Grey v Grey (2009EWCA Civ1424)) that should help to resolve this grey area, even though it will mean wives who choose to cohabit could stand to lose their maintenance. Put starkly, in line with changing social attitudes the pendulum has swung away from dependent wives. They may now be faced with very tough choices post-divorce: do they live with someone, or keep their maintenance?

Grey v Grey

This case involved a wealthy couple in their thirties, whose 10-year marriage had produced one daughter. When they divorced the capital was divided equally between them, and the judge set Mrs Grey’s maintenance at more than £100,000 per annum.

The husband subsequently appealed this award, on the basis of his ex-wife’s relationship with a man called Mr Thompson. The wife hotly contested the claim that she was cohabiting. Unfortunately for her, she lived on the same street as her former in-laws. Mrs Grey’s former father-in-law and an enquiry agent carried out observations which showed she was indeed living with him, a fact that she persistently denied through her solicitors and later in court.

Worse still for Mrs Grey was that her former husband had also discovered that she was pregnant. His legal team ambushed her with this revelation during cross-examination in court. She admitted her pregnancy and that she was “in a fixed, committed relationship” that was permanent in nature. (At which point I can imagine her legal team fiddling with ties, looking intently at blank bits of paper and staring, stony-faced, into the distance!)

Insufficient information was produced about Mr Thompson’s financial position for the court to make an overall determination about the case, so they allowed Mr Grey’s appeal on the basis that Mr Thompson and Mrs Grey were cohabiting. The case was then sent back to the court that had made the original maintenance order, for a rethink.

The judgment

In his judgment, Lord Justice Thorpe clearly set out the law.

It is often difficult to establish that a couple is cohabiting, and this was the first question that he addressed.

His Honour Judge Tyrer reviewed the criteria used by social security authorities, and which were called upon to demonstrate a state of cohabitation in Kimber v Kimber (2001)1FLR383:

(a)  the parties were living together in the same household;

(b) the living together involved a sharing of daily tasks and duties;

(c) there was stability and permanence in the relationship;

(d) the financial affairs of the couple were indicative of their relationship;

(e) their sexual relationship was admitted and on-going;

(f) there was a close bond between the third party and the wife’s child;

(g) as regards the motives of the couple it was clear that the wife had denied cohabitation and acted as she had so as to continue to enjoy the payment of maintenance from her husband;

(h) there was sufficient evidence that cohabitation existed in the opinion of a reasonable person with normal perceptions.

The next step was to consider the legal consequences of cohabitation.

Firstly, as I explained in my first post about maintenance payments and a new partner, there is no automatic provision in English law for termination of maintenance because of cohabitation, unless a court order expressly provides for this. Very few orders do, because it requires the wife’s consent. Furthermore the law does not equate remarriage with cohabitation. Upon remarriage, maintenance payments cease.

Current law therefore requires a review of all the circumstances, but not an automatic cut-off of maintenance payments simply because a couple is living together.

In reaching his conclusion, Lord Justice Thorpe quoted the comments of that modern thinker, Mr Justice Coleridge:

Coleridge J, who in K-v-K (2006)2FLR468 criticised “this troubling and messy area of law and current legislation enacted against an utterly different social fabric…not adequate to deal with it, and invited the Court to “grapple with this point as there is no (early) prospect of statutory change …and this issue will not go away”

In response and considering the position overall, Lord Justice Thorpe stated:

This dynamic area of the law should not be out of touch with generally accepted notions of fairness:

The solution to this issue is, we suggest, as follows:

(a)    If settled cohabitation be established then, as a matter of ordinary practice that ought to lead to no substantive maintenance order being made: or if it be a variation application the previous periodical payments order being abrogated.

(b)   Secondly in a case where the court has continuing concern as to the dependent’s ability to be or become self-sufficient and has no obvious recourse against the cohabitant, then a nominal order should be made.

What does this mean for divorcing couples?

Well, it means that if a woman is found to be cohabiting, the discovery will not be ignored, even if she is not being funded by her new partner.

As both Lord Justice Thorpe and Lord Justice Wall have made very clear, the question is not what the new partner is contributing but what he ought to be contributing – and if he can afford to pay, he will be expected to do so. It is a matter for each court to make its own assessment based on all the facts. If they judge that no further maintenance should be paid, then no further maintenance will be paid.

There is clearly a greater risk now for those women who wish to cohabit, as they stand to lose their valuable, tax-free maintenance payments. If they do not want to be grilled in court about the nature of their new relationship they should be certain not to cross the line and live with their partner until they are completely and utterly sure.

The risk of starting a new, post-divorce relationship is no longer restricted to emotions. Now an ex-wife must also take into account the possible financial impact of cohabiting with a new partner.

Socially, morally and legally this all sounds sensible.

However, what of the dependent housewife who has given up her own career to raise children, and who now finds herself staring into the unknown with hands tied, asking two questions:

Do I jump without a parachute? If I do, what kind of landing will I have?

Image credit: John.

197 comments

Sam D - February 22, 2010 at 12:30pm

At last a sensible family decision from the Court of Appeal.

England and Wales are known as the divorce capital of the world – this is something we shouldn’t be proud of. Few other countries on this planet are as indulgent to the poorer spouse and unjust to the richer. Our system encourages lethargy in the dependent spouse post divorce and gives her no incentive to get herself back on her own two feet whilst punishing the richer spouse indefinitely with joint lives maintenance.

The courts in this country have ignored the intention of Parliament in diluting the clean break doctrine with layer upon layer of indelible judicial gloss. Marriages end – it’s a sad fact of life – but let’s have a legal system which, as far as is possible, allows them to move on and be free of each other, not to be chained together indefinitely by maintenance.

Apologists for wives usually come out with the old mantra: “What about wives who have given up careers to look after the children?” In those limited circumstances where the parties have both decided that the wife will give up her high flying career to be a stay at home mum, then yes, I certainly see the justice in longer term and more substantive maintenance for her. But in my experience as a family lawyer, most of the divorce cases I have acted in involve wives who gave up nothing – they never had the qualifications, the training, the experience or even the acumen to earn anything near what her husband earned. Yet she gets to live her married life in the lap of luxury, and then force her poor husband to pay her generous maintenance for life, whilst at the same time she sometimes even gets to go on to cohabit with another rich man and get further subsidy.

Grey v Grey is a start, but our terrible divorce law regime still has a long way to go before it’s fit for purpose.

Helen - March 1, 2010 at 2:05am

I gave up a well-paid career to have my children. I had the opportunity to return to a part-time consultancy position when the first two children were small but my then husband was not prepared to take any active part in supporting this decision or me through shared responsibility for a house which we were renovating at the time, or shared care of the children, even at weekends. Given the circumstances at the time – he was travelling a lot too – I felt it was in the best interests of us all for me to be the backbone of the family and the full-time mother that my children needed in addition to actively supporting my husband’s career which was so important to him. I put my career on hold for the benefit of the family. We had a third child and I had plans to re-train in a career more conducive to family life with young children. My ex-husband left when the children were 9, 7 and 3. He went abroad to live with the woman he had been having an affair with. She was, and is, a successful business woman who, as he put it, was more use to him than me. She had been his boss. My ex-husband made no financial provision for the first 18 months and it took 3 years to finalise the financial settlement, one which he contested even after the final judgement. He lost his appeal. My children were distressed at losing their father and their home. It has taken 3 more years to reach stability and even now my middle child struggles with the fact that his father lives abroad and he cannot see him as he would like. Despite a desire on my part to work, not only for my own self-esteem but because I would dearly love to be financially independent from my ex who continues to use payments to me as a means of control, it has not been possible due to the enormous stresses of the last few years care of protracted divorce proceedings and because the well-being of my children comes first and they have needed me to be fully available. I met a wonderful man two years ago but notwithstanding any reservations I may have about re-marriage, I would not co-habit since I do not see why he should be financially responsible for me so that I can raise another man’s children. I feel strongly that maintenance for the wife should be paid until the youngest child is 18, regardless of co-habitation or remarriage. My new partner is still financially responsible for his ex-wife, and their two adult children. He simply could not afford to support me too. So, much as I would like to be financially independent of my ex-husband, I am mindful that marriage is a contract and the obligations ensuing from that, when children are involved, should be fulfilled. My ex-husband, by the way, is now engaged and living with his ex-boss and they lead a very comfortable life with her son, who enjoys a standard of living far greater than that which our children enjoy. I only wish that I had the same freedom to live with my partner, should I choose to do so, without my children being compromised financially even more. I don’t, so I won’t. And I am, frankly, shocked to read that the comments above are posted by a family lawyer. I assume he only represents like-minded men.

Sam D - March 4, 2010 at 7:29pm

With respect Clare, I did caveat my views specifically referring to your kind of case as an exception to the rule. Actually, your case is a fairly extreme one and one where you clearly do deserve substantive spousal maintenance for a term given that you have three young children to look after alone and without any help for your ex-husband, given that he can clearly afford it, and given that you gave up a successful career, amongst other things.

The criticism I have with the law (and I see this all the time) is that there are many ex-wives who have not worked for longer than needed – sometimes 20 years or more (i.e. during the entire marriage), who have children who are in their teens and don’t need round the clock care, and who could, if they really wanted to, go out and work, but instead the court automatically gives them substantial joint lives maintenance, so that the poor husband has to subsidise them indefinitely, whilst himself has to slog his guts out at work, and he even has to share care to some extent of the children, and sometimes she even has a co-dependent relationship with another earning man.

I’m sorry that you don’t see the injustice in that. I’m not speaking for men, I’m speaking for justice, and I’m speaking from many years of experience. Your view that wives should always get spousal maintenance until the youngest reaches 18 notwithstanding remarriage or cohabitation is baffling and not one based on any sensible rational I can see (unless you’re confusing spousal maintenance and child maintenance?). And I think even Marilyn Stowe would agree with me there.

jo hoddinott - March 31, 2010 at 9:54pm

Thank goodness for Sam. I am a second wife, i work full time and have no choice to change as my earnings appeared to matter to the judge at my husbands recent FDR. His ex-wife fits Sam D’s description perfectly of someone who has enjoyed the life of luxury created by a hard working man who the courts now expect to work in excess of 60 hours a week ( at the age of 53 years)while she has no obligation to support herself, holidays frequently as a lady of leisure. There are no dependent children she denies cohabitation inspite of telling her ex that she intended to sell both her homes and move abroad with her partner of 3 years. She sold both her houses but now denies in court that she ever told her husband of her intentions. she denies cohabitation. Our barrister takes the view she cant be expected to work, ( she was 46 at seperartion 5 years ago) and that cohabitation makes no difference. She wants more than double the PP she agreed in the order 2007. ie more than i earn as a full time NHS consultant.
The distress this process causes to all concerned and the ability for lying under oath such as the form E has astounded me. In my work I see many women divorced who struggle to juggle childcare jobs with minimal financial support. These richer wives are an anomaly who do not need sympathy and pity just a reality check that the law needs to address. Where are the civil/human rights of the man who made a mistake but is tied to his ex for life. One partner working very hard while the other is having a laugh.
I have no confidence when this goes to a final hearing as the Judges seem to pity these ex wives the men don’t seem to stand a chance.

I dont think you only represent like minded men Sam D I can assure there will be plenty of hard working second wives and their friends who will be pleased to hear that the law may be waking up to modern society.

Afterall what do we teach are daughters… forget work do what it takes to trap a wealthy man marry well have a couple of kids and your laughing if marriage fails or work hard in school achieve success at university work hard contribute but if you get married and it fails expect nothing from the ex.

Jenny - April 1, 2010 at 11:48pm

There really is a grey area when considering if cohabitation can indeed effectively be considered ‘remarriage’ by the courts. I should have frozen my ex’s business assets and insisted on a clean break at the time of divorce. Instead I listened to his argument about not wanting to break up the company we both started and agreed to not touch his large pension so that he could continue to pay me in regular life-time installments. The caveat of death or remarriage I was told by my solicitor was ‘normal’ and not advised that it could come back to bite me if I began to co-habit. I have been with my partner for almost 3 years and whilst I am in a relationship, I do not have confidence in the stability of the relationship that my ex has with his partner of 7 years. The evidence for this is the fact that my partner pays rent and we share no joint financial assets – as opposed to my ex husband who owns three houses amounting to approx. 2m jointly owned with his new partner who also has her own business and a £2,500 per month in maintenance from her own ex husband. I think Sam’s comments about ex husbands easy money creating lethargic women is rather narrow minded and somewhat offensive. Whilst I appreciate that this may be true in some cases, women are an easy target in situations like this. I gave up a career (like so many women) to start a business with my husband. I had no income and no job when we split. It has taken me 5 years to train in order to achieve my MSc in clinical psychology. Women are mostly blamed for parental alienation but in my case on top of trying to study to make something of my life, I have had to put up with a narcissistic man who interferes with every relationship I try to have by alienating my children. This new law aims to be fair when considering both parties but how much are the courts prepared to consider in the name of fairness? There is a human story here too.

Sam D - May 6, 2010 at 1:54pm

Jenny, as I said to Helen, there are caveats to my view. If you’re saying that you let your ex keep the family business which you helped set up, and which was your only source of income, and as a quid pro quo he agreed to pay you maintenance, then of course it’s perfectly just and reasonable you get maintenance.

In fact, I see you agree with me that husbands’ easy money can create lethargic women. Jenny, trust me, it happens all the time.

We’re on the same page.

Andrew - May 7, 2010 at 1:06pm

I was divorced several years ago and ordered to pay maintenance on the basis my ex-wife was caring full time for the children. She now works and is co-habiting as confirmed by my teenage children who live with their mother. Their relationship clearly conforms to the criteria outlined in the article above. My issue is that they live in a very rural area and I have no idea how to prove the co-habitation. I cannot afford to pay expensive detectives nor an expensive legal bill with no guarantee of success. Is there a low cost way to collect needed evidence?

Sam D - May 10, 2010 at 6:09pm

Andrew, hiring a private investigator is actually not that expensive. What they do is set up a 24 hour hidden camera outside the house and let it roll for a week or however long you need. One of my client’s did that recently and the cost of a week’s footage was a few hundred pounds. Probably worth it by the sounds of it.

Andrew - May 11, 2010 at 11:14am

Thanks Sam I look into this. How much evidence is needed?

Sam D - May 11, 2010 at 12:53pm

NB the fact that she now works is itself a reason for you to reduce/stop paying spousal maintenance (as opposed to child maintenance which you would pay either way). But you don’t need a private investigator for that. You are entitled to ask her to disclose her recent wage slips and or other doc evidence of her earnings and she should oblige under the threat of you issuing proceedings if she doesn’t. Maybe you should do that before hiring the private investigator to find out whether she’s cohabiting, as her new earnings alone may be sufficient to terminate spousal maintenance.

If you do need to hire a PI to evidence that she is cohabiting (eg. if it transpires that she is not earning v much), what would be useful for you to capture would be both habitually spending nights at the home, so, footage of them returning to the home after work and then leaving to work the following morning. Weekend overnight stays too. Ideally the footage would pick up signs of affection between them, perhaps sharing the same room. The more footage the better, to be honest, but cost is of course a limiting factor. Ideally you would want footage that spans a couple of consecutive weeks.

Marilyn Stowe - May 12, 2010 at 8:10am

This is ironic because my firm is currently defending a number of applications to vary maintenance downwards, because former husbands are arguing that their income has substantially reduced. Some cases post recession are clearly genuine, but some appear not and have occurred I believe because of an increasing resentment at having to continue to maintain the former spouse when she is no longer part of their life.
I think the exchange of correspondence above demonstrates the far reaching views of those who are involved – husbands, wives and even lawyers and thanks to everyone for entering into the debate.
At the end of the day however it is a matter for the court exercising its discretion.
Where there is room for improvement, is the current procedure for variation of a maintenance order which requires the same process as a full blown financial application. Its a pity we cant devise a swifter, more economical system which would enable a court to deal with the more complicated applications which cant be heard in the Magistrates Court.
Could I finally warn that it is not advisable simply to stop paying under a court order even if you believe you have strong grounds to do so, because that leaves you open to expensive enforcement proceedings, additional costs and interest.

Lisa - September 27, 2016 at 10:24am

I am a new partner of a man who is on the edge die a lifetime spousal order that he has and was awarded to his ex on incorrect salary details some £3000 per month more than he earns due the results of an expert instructed to value his business – if he early thst his partner would want more and they would have to strip
All profit which would fold company – he had full custody of the children and was told to work more but the judge also stripped out any child ate costs as well??? How can any woman work full time without paying childcare? So she now has over 5k s month no debt no
Mortgage as received 100% of sale of FMH and claims she can work more than 16 hours even though her payslips in court proved she was working well over this! He bought new home a year after separation without using any of the marital assets yet she now has a charge on it that if he goes bankrupt or fails to pay this has to be sold yet it houses both children? I’m disgusted at the way this has been allowed to
Happen when as a mother myself I know after divorce that I would not have been
Left in his position with the children’s home and their financial position ring far worse than the non resident parent. We asked about appealing and was told you would have to
Find another 20k plus her costs possibly which will bankrupt him then
Lose his children’s home whilst get spousal takes priority over them
All??? He’s spent £84,000 on his case which is absurd!

So you get shafted even though u have the children and the mother had no
Debt bills or children to even worry about yet he’s almost at breaking point / how can this be fair. Oh and to top all of the above blackmail in the order he’s NOT allowed to
Apply for any child maintenance??? Please someone out there must be able to help
Him

Sam D - May 12, 2010 at 11:17am

I agree with Marilyn. The procedure for varying maintenance is problematic: it’s very long winded and expensive. I don’t blame laymen for believing that the court process is designed to make lawyers money (although it’s not true). Sadly I doubt parliament are going to do much to simplify the variation process in the near future.

Ellie - May 24, 2010 at 9:33pm

How low can some women get. I think the law should be changed. I don’t understand why some women don’t or should I say won’t stand on their own two feet. What happened to the independent woman? oh i forgot only when it suits!

If there are no children involved I dont see why any man should have to support a woman. At divorce they should settle all assets and move on with their lives. It serves no benefit to have that constant tie to each other.

I dont understand why the law of the land should expect any one to continue to provide maintenance once that divorce is through, if there are no children to support.

Its awful and degrading that you can work all your life and end up with nothing because someone else is literally taking the piss.

J Kase - May 31, 2010 at 11:04am

Very instructive to read up on Grey vs Grey, thank you to Marilyn Stowe for this important step forward into modern society. I am shocked to see how much an ex-spouse is encouraged to take advantage of the flexible UK laws/system, which allows one to live comfortably and without taking personal responsibilities at any determined point. However, I do have a question… As an example, after a long union to which a 10 year marriage and two young children are part of the family, irreversible difference lead to divorce. Capital is shared generously towards the new non-working ex-wife, which allows her to buy a mortgage-free home, along with child support (since the children remain with their mother) and spouse maintenance is also awarded. Three months after the separation, the ex-wife cohabits discretely but permanently under her new roof with her new partner, shortly after which a baby is born and the couple is living as a new “recomposed” family (now for more than three years). The ex-husband who continues to pay for child support with due personal responsibility, does not think it just to continue to continue to provide spouse maintenance to his ex-wife. How can the UK law assist and reconsider this maintenance fee in this case & scenario? Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts.

Marilyn Stowe - June 3, 2010 at 7:03pm

Thank you for your enquiry. Maintenance payments to the ex wife in such circumstances should stop. In practice, the former husband would approach his former wife and ask her to agree that the maintenance order should be dismissed. If she refuses he should make sure this is recorded by him in writing. He should then apply to the court for all her financial claims against him to be permanently dismissed and that she pay his costs of the application. The court has jurisdiction to depart from the usual ‘no order’ principle in relation to costs, and to make a costs order against the former wife. I hope this assists you.

Frustrated65 - June 11, 2010 at 12:37pm

Hi Marilyn

My partner and his ex-wife have been seperated for over 10 years and divorced for 8. They were married for a total of 7 years when they seperated. There are two children from the marriage age 17 (and currently at college full time) and 14 and they live with their mother. He has regular access to the children. He pays child support for the children as assessed by the CSA and this continues whilst they are in full-time education

My partner has an order to pay his ex-wife spousal maintenance until she dies, remarries or co-habits for a period of 6 months

The ex-wife has a boyfriend who has been living at her home for at least the past 3 years. He too is divorced with two school-aged children who live with their mother. These children regularly stay over at the ex-wife’s home – often sharing the bedroom with my partner’s son

The boyfriend registers (electoral roll check) at his mother’s address and my partner’s ex-wife registers (electoral roll check) as the sole adult occupant at her home

Over the years my partner has gathered and documented anecdotal “evidence” – such as the male’s vehicle regularly being at the address when the children are dropped off or collected, the fact that the male answers the telephone at the address – including on occasions when he is the only person at home. Driving the ex-wife’s car, letting himself in to the property etc etc
In addition we have all the information the children regularly (innocently) offer – including a scenario a couple of years back when there was a “row” between the ex-wife and the boyfriend resulting in her asking the children how they felt about him “coming back” to the address. He cooks meals for the children – often when their mother is at work and has made several “home improvements” at the address

My question is – how much weight will a judge be likely to give to the above if my partner makes the attempt to have the maintenance stopped? It seems totally unfair that potentially my partner will have to be financially bound to his ex-wife for ever due to her being dishonest and reaping the benefits of that

Will this recent appeal success in any way give more hope to people in our situation ?

We have spoken with private investigators, and for ordinary people like ourselves (who are already finding it hard to make the payments of CSA/spousal maintenance difficult) their services are almost unreachable

Evenmorefrustratedessex - October 26, 2015 at 11:19am

Hi,

Our situation is almost identical to this in every aspect. I very much hope that you were able to resolve this situation. If possible are you able to update as to what the outcome was? It would be so helpful to find out. We really don’t know what the best step forward is for us at the moment after receiving the same uncertain legal advice that is mentioned in this case also.

Many thanks in advance.

Marilyn Stowe - June 11, 2010 at 2:58pm

I think it boils down to this. Can you establish that they are living together as a couple? Even if you cant I wouldnt despair.
Given what you say there may well be the chance of success if your partner makes an application to vary maintenance downwards/extinguish the payments. He can argue that with the passage of time since the divorce, the age of the children, the existence of the boyfriend, his ex wife has had the opportunity to readjust and he should not continue to be regarded as a meal ticket for life in these circumstances.
Even if the Court doesnt stop the maintenance immediately there may be a good chance it will vary the payment downwards and/or make an order for maintenance to cease at some near point in the future.
It depends on the figures also – so I would suggest your partner gets some legal advice straight away. Many firms of solicitors offer some form of free initial advice.
Best wishes.

Evenmorefrustratedessex - October 26, 2015 at 11:18am

Hi,

Our situation is almost identical to this in every aspect. I very much hope that you were able to resolve this situation. If possible are you able to update as to what the outcome was? It would be so helpful to find out. We really don’t know what the best step forward is for us at the moment after receiving the same uncertain legal advice that is mentioned in this case also.

Many thanks in advance.

Frustrated65 - June 11, 2010 at 3:35pm

Hi Marilyn

Many thanks for your prompt response

When you say can we establish that they are living together as a couple what does this actually require for proof? As already outlined – we “know” (or reasonably suspect) that they live together and have been for some time – but how do we (without expensive P.Is) prove that in Court

The ex-wife has now taken a job (albeit part-time so she continues to reap the benefits of certain tax credits) There is no reason for her not to work full-time now given the ages of the children

My partner has sought some advice from two solicitors and you are the first thus far to actually offer a positive stance in respect of success of achieving a cessation – or at least downward variation – of the maintenance order

One solicitor warned that revisiting the maintenance could ultimately mean a fresh appraisal of my partner’s finances from scratch – which – as they described it – would put everything “back on the table” for consideration

This has obviously alarmed my partner a great deal because the maintenance order was agreed on the understanding that his ex-wife would not then make any claim on his pension. In hindsight – with the maintenance possibly going on indefinitely this may not have been the best choice but we cannot change that

I know you cannot offer any guarantees but with your experience and with what I have provided you (albeit not in absolute detail) would he have a reasonable chance of success or is it still just a very slight chance?

Many thanks again for your time
Kind regards

Marilyn Stowe - June 11, 2010 at 4:51pm

Why not arrange a telephone conference with me, no charge.Let’s see if I can give you some detailed advice.
Please contact my assistant Paul Read on 01423 532600

Frustrated65 - June 11, 2010 at 9:17pm

Thank you so much for your kind offer Marilyn – we shall be in contact

John - July 16, 2010 at 10:20am

One thing that strikes me here is the failure to mention Child Support payments. These are statutory and designed by Parliament to provide both maintenance for children’s immediate needs and an element of compensation for the resident parent.

Except where we are talking about very large money cases, I can see little reason why there should be further spousal maintenance payments on top of this when Parliament has set and determined a level. Furthermore, the ex-wife has typically had a capital settlement, which with children will be in excess of 75% of marital assets.

There are unfortunate cases where one spouse has contributed well to the other’s success – and there are since McFarlane ways to account for that. However, financial relief almost certainly breaches every rule in the equality book. Retained inheritance rights – on one party are unfair, they either both stay or should both go, ongoing maintenance claims should be achievable by both parties – what if the husband turns around and says “Hey I’ve worked my socks off for 20 years, I’ll look after the kids and you go to work ?” A perfectly fair split of duty.

Also I ask those complaining – what would you do if your husband lost his job/went bankrupt/fell into hard times during the marriage. You would be bound to trying to help to support each other – which includes taking a hit to your lifestyle.

Neither should success of one partner be necessarily seen as a function of the success of the other. Typically very successful people are just successful because that’s what they are.

Rachel - August 19, 2010 at 1:57pm

I was just wondering where we stand with the law. My husband divorced 10 years ago after a 9 year marriage with no children. They lived in Scotland as her parents lived there. The ex-wife had MS and was diagnosed 6 years into the marriage. They divorced and a settlement out of court was agreed for her to keep matrimonial home and contents (plus ex-husband to pay mortgage until ex-wife took over – amounting to 1.5 years). In addition Spousal maintenance was agreed at around £500 per month whilst paying mortgage then £750 per month thereafter. My question is, how is it acceptable that the ex-wife gets this huge amount of money regardless of the ex-husbands financial position or responsibilities. He now has remarried and has 2 young children to support. Living in the South East (where the money/jobs are) means a higher cost of living/property price/council tax etc. If the ex- husband and ex – wife divorced through both couples being unfaithful, how is it that her MS seems to be the ex- husbands responsibility. ??

Frustrated65 - September 22, 2010 at 7:51pm

Just wanted to post a little update to my entry back in June
As a result of making contact with Marilyn and employing the services of her team – I am delighted to report that my partner’s ex-wife admitted the co-habitation and we received the signed and sealed dismissal of the Court order last weekend!
Absolutely delighted with the result – thank you Marilyn – you and your team were the first people prepared to tackle our case full on! And the best result imaginable has prevailed!

Marilyn Stowe - September 22, 2010 at 8:55pm

Our pleasure.

mrs m sandell - November 18, 2010 at 12:22am

my husband has worked 32yrs on nights, all the time we were together i found it hard to live with in later yrs of our marraige to the point i now suffer from server deppresion, under medical care my husband forced me to leave marritial home, i rent private at £500.00 pm housing bennifit of £218.00 pm no other income,he earns £2400.00 per month he wants a divorce which i dont,he doesnt pay me any maintance at all im in so much debt,we were together 32yrs i didnt want my marriage to end i still love him,but hes just tossed me aside i work part time but am on sick because of my deppression have been seperated for 8 months,dont know how he sleeps,he put his job and money before me maggs

Marilyn Stowe - November 19, 2010 at 8:50am

Hi Maggs
You certainly do need some help. I don’t know where you live but if you would like to call me, I will point you in the right direction and there will be no charge. You will probably need a good legal aid lawyer, then a discussion about divorce and interim maintenance straight away and a proper financial settlement. Please telephone my assistant Paul Read on 01423 532600 if you wish to speak to me or instead you can go to the Law Society Family Law Panel website for details of good family lawyers in your area who offer legal aid. My firm does not.
I think you should also consider going back to see your doctor as it may be you need an adjustment to your medication and or counselling to help you through this bad time. Don’t worry about going to the doctor, some people think it will affect them in a divorce, but it doesn’t.
This is a difficult time but there are professionals to help you with all your problems and get them into proportion for you.
Very best wishes to you.
Marilyn

Bewildered 55 - November 22, 2010 at 1:13pm

Thank you for this most interesting blog, which I came upon by chance – it is consoling to read others have similar frustrations. Perhaps someone can help me with my angst.

My husband divorced his ex about 19 yrs ago and was subject to a maintenance order which would also include maintenance from his pension income – I am his second wife, having been living together since 2000, we married 2 1/2 yrs ago, At the time of the order he was a high earner, since then his earnings have considerably reduced; in line with which he privately negotiated with his ex, a downsizing of the payments to £1500pm.

At age 66 (in a few weeks) he is now running just to stand still financially, we come second in the queue for money, and his health is suffering. During the past 10 years I have worked but have lost employment twice through the economic downturn and I’ve had a period of being very poorly (mostly resolved). I am currently a general factotum physically undertaking all the maintenance our home needs etc. and having just managed to move my ailing parents (78 & 80yrs old) 300 miles to within 14 miles, I help with their increasing needs.

Before getting married my husband tried to arrange a clean break settlement with his ex which involved appraising respective house values, income etc. In theory it worked on paper and his mature sons helped (with the ex’s agreement)to ensure all interests were catered for fairly. She however did not sell her house as agreed and continues 3 yrs later to drag her heels. As a result the one off payment from my husband did not happen and we continue to pay monthly, and our finances/debts suffer.

He will not be able to continue working for much longer so we will have to sell our £300,000 home to pay off our £100,000 mortgage taken out to keep her payments up. The economic downturn has also had a drastic reducing effect on his pension (from which she is entitled to income) so this is an additional pressure

Seeing his health slide both I and his children want the matter to be resolved asap, but he is ‘frightened’ of his ex (now 67yrs) and her powerful legal connections – he was advised in his divorce ‘to lie back and enjoy the ride’ as her team were none other than Camilla Parker Bowles’ solicitors!

If we seek legal advice we are concerned that we will incur not only back settlement of the reduced monthly payments together with interest but also very hefty legal bills, including her costs. We have been lead to believe that my parents assets will also factor into any settlement equation he makes with his ex.

Selfishly I cannot understand that my parents sacrifices, and there have been so many, not only to enable me as their only child to study for a career etc, but to provide them with a more comfortable life should be at the ex’s gain and our loss. Like so many of the above comments she has done nothing but spend her money and enjoy herself with no thought to her future, cleverly she has neither worked or co-habited for obvious reasons. In the meantime, with cash flow problems, I cook, clean, launder for, and maintain her cash cow (or should that be bull).

Many thanks for any advice/pointers you may have.

Marilyn Stowe - November 23, 2010 at 4:22pm

“Bewildered 55”
Thank you for your enquiry.
I can only give you rough advice on the brief facts provided, but my approach would be as follows:
A change in circumstances, such as a downturn in income does mean that your husband can apply for a variation of the order.
If possible he should try and vary the order and obtain a clean break. He may have to pay for it. It depends on his financial circumstances and those of his first wife, neither of which I know.
However, as a guide, I would suggest that you first try and calculate the capital figure which covers the first wife’s reasonable needs for the rest of her life, and you do this by reference to the Duxbury Tables. You need to remember that she will have pension income to factor into the calculation.
Then I would look at the capital she has reasonably available herself to meet that sum. It wont mean every penny because a court will probably not require all her capital be made available to meet capitalised income needs -although I do think a house move for the first wife is a real possibility if it releases capital and it would be unreasonable in all the circumstances to expect her to remain in the current property. As she has already agreed to be rehoused I think that helps your husband’s case.
Then, after an allowance for suitable rehousing, and taking into account how much of her savings might reasonably be used, I would calculate what if any shortfall remains ;- and whether your husband can reasonably afford to pay it to obtain a clean break.
I would disregard your own inherited assets. These are only indirectly relevant, as being available to assist in meeting your own needs.
This is overall a balancing exercise, based on the specific facts. The case of Vaughan -v-Vaughan, and especially the judgement by the Court of Appeal which I have covered on this blog is one you should read.
I think this will ultimately be a negotiation, but I do not believe it is one you should by any means regard as hopeless. The costs risk you describe applies to both sides, not just to your husband.
Very best wishes to you both
Marilyn

Louise47 - January 2, 2011 at 1:33pm

I stumbled on this blog by chance. We have been looking for advice on this subject for years.
My husband divorced 7 years ago. He was married for 20 years and has 4 children, 3 which were dependent. 3 children came to live with us & 1 stayed with the ex wife.
The children are now aged 20 years & above. 2 still live with us, together with my son (16), 1 lives independently and the youngest is away at college ( my husband has to support her through tertiary education ) costing £350 a month & £11K a year for tuition.
The ex wife works 1 day a week ,in a shop. She has a nursing qualification ,but says she cannot nurse due to health reasons. She is also a qualified holistic therapist & qualified beautician. She denies being able to gain full time employment.
She is co-habiting with her partner of 6 years ( denies this) and the children tell us he lives with her.He drives her car,has his own key to her house,she cooks and washes for him and he cleans the house and does home improvements. He also has a house of his own, in which he has lodgers.
My husband pays her £2,200 a month until death or remarriage.
My husband is 57 & works all the hours God sends. I work part time, self employed, but business is failing due to the recession,so I am not making a profit.
He took the ex wife back to court 2 years ago for reduction of maintenance. She was awarded £200 a month more!
We need to know if it is worth hiring a private detective to prove cohabitation and what could be the possible outcome if he takes her back to court? Also if we go back to court how much is this going to cost ? We were left with a bill of £10k last time.
My husband now has an IVA in place due largely to inherited debts from marriage , she kept equity from house and all the private pension.
He is also wanting to retire in 3 years but we don’t know where we will stand with maintenance issue. Will it reduce or end because we cant afford to continue those payments?
We would appreciate any advice from you on this subject.
Kind Regards

Marilyn Stowe - January 4, 2011 at 4:48pm

Dear Louise
Your question is about meeting the reasonable financial needs of all parties following a divorce, within the context of the available assets. It is very much a balancing exercise for a court and therefore the outcome as you unfolrtunately discovered is not always predictible.
You ask how much and for how long should your husband have to keep paying his former wife her maintenance, where there has been a long marriage, four children and such a disparity between your husband’s income and her own that he is now paying her an increased and clearly substantial maintenance payment?
The problem for the court is how she is maintained in future.
You dont tell me what your husband does and how much he earns. This is critical. I note there is an IVA and therefore I assume there has been a significant downturn in his fortunes and you suggest that is the case for your income too.
On the face of it given the apparent downward change in circumstances, your husband does appear to have reasonable prospects of success. Cohabitation by the former wife with another man is relevant, because the court would consider what he ought to be paying, although I note he continues to retain his own home and if he gave evidence in court he might still deny his cohabitation, even if an enquiry agent produced a report. It is up to the judge’s discretion.
A court can also in appropriate circumstances require a former spouse to increase her own income.
The legal costs depend on the solicitor you instruct. It is not possible to generalise, because solicitors do charge differently, but a solicitor must give a client an estimate at the outset in a retainer letter which the client should sign. A solicitor would also try and negotiate an amicable settlement, given the costs risks which does apply to both sides.
I hope this helps.
Marilyn

Enough Already - January 25, 2011 at 4:31pm

My view is that if a man who is divorcing is co-habiting with his partner (as was the case with me and my partner) and my income was taken into account and I was expected to contribute 50/50 to our household in order to free up more of my partner’s income to be available for his ex and kids. THEN . . .

Conversely, if she goes on to co-habit with her partner who should by rights (as he is v wealthy) contribute to at least 50% of THEIR household then why should my partner not then be compensated by stopping AT LEAST 50% of his spousal maintenance payment to her?

Fair’s fair.

Also, perhaps the courts could provide a definition of a striking difference between people of any gender co-habiting or marrying and what differences that would mean on an ongoing day to day basis for the household. The only one I can see is that co-habiting offers no security longterm for an ex wife who is in receipt of maintenance whereas marriage would. Therefore, if she has made her bed why not lie in it and be prepared to suffer the consequences as any divocing man in my partner’s circumstance has to?

Fair’s fair. Let’s end the bias to these ‘delicate, vulnerable creatures’ who appear not to be able to fend for themsleves without bleeding their ex husband dry. The only exception to this is if there are young, dependent children to take care of in which case the ex wife cannot make the same contribution easily i.e. working full time.

And I’m well aware some ex wives maintain feckless ex husbands – in which case reverse the genders in most of my above comments!

Enough Already - January 25, 2011 at 4:44pm

And here here to jo hoddinott ‘s March 31, 2010 at 9:54 pm comment. So true.

These stories where one partner takes the mick and the other (and their partners, spouses and families) take the hit make me want to cry. People who abuse the system should be stopped to end other people’s suffering and misery. Why should one party do the bare minimum and the other suffer with a gun to their head?

Thank you Marilyn for your blog and for advising people who are in desperate and unhappy circumstances due to being let down by courts throughout the land.

Robert - March 9, 2011 at 1:51am

Hi Marilyn

Im hoping you can offer a little guidance concerning my ex wifes wish (and mine) to discharge the spousal maintenance order that I have been paying to her for approximately 32 years.

The previous Child maintenance order that I had been paying has timed out a few years ago and the children, ever so quickly, have now transformed to become working adults.

Is it suffice for my wife to send a letter to the maintenance department of the court asking for the spousal maintenance to be discharged with immediate effect or is there a form of words or procedure you may recommend that will ensure such an application is permanent and final?
Kind regards

Robert

Marilyn Stowe - March 9, 2011 at 9:35pm

Robert
You and your former wife will both need to complete a Form A marked for dismissal purposes only, and both complete a Statement of Information form disclosing your respective financial positions and lodge them together with a proposed order in which your former wife consents to the discharge of her maintenance order and all outstanding financial claims of either party of whatsoever nature against each other are dismissed.
Regards
Marilyn

Robert - March 12, 2011 at 2:19am

Your advice has been gratefully received.
Thanks Marilyn

stephen - March 24, 2011 at 2:27pm

hi . im just asking for some advice, i was married for 8 month and we had two children together, in the final hearing i was told to take on the debts and also pay spousal maintenance of £160 a month i also have CSA which i dont mind paying the thing is i know hand on heart that she has a new partner and he lives with them.they have been living together for 4-5 years and the children call him dad. and even though i have not seen my children in 4 years thats not through choice as my ex stopping me and i dont have enough money to splash out all the time an court fees ect ,i have now remarried with my new wife and her two children, in court i represented myself. . what im after is is there anyway of stopping the spousal maintenance i also know that he works full time and she works part time as both children go to full time school.
a family member has loan me the moneys to hire a private detective to gather information on her partner living in the same house however i can only afford 3 days worth of there service will this be enought to prove to the courts as i dont want to work into the courts and come out worse.
many thanks.

Marilyn Stowe - March 24, 2011 at 4:14pm

Stephen
Please see my reply to Enough Already. It also applies to you.
Regards
Marilyn

Variation on a Theme - April 7, 2011 at 9:25pm

I am caught in the nebulous gray area between what the thinking man on Clapham Common knows to be undeniably true, and a stalled act of Parliament (spousal maintenance when the ex is cohabitating). I have an upcoming trial date and am now at a decision point.

My situation is clear, no need for private investigation. Last year I began cohabitating with my partner and her 2 children and increased the custody of my 3 children from 20% to 45% – 5 years post-separation, 2 years post-pronouncement. My expenses increased dramatically while my income also declined as a result of the credit crunch. My ex refused to discuss any changes to the periodic payments and also declined mediation. As a final option, I filed Form A and have now gone through the process to FDR without resolution, with a trial date set for the Fall. I represented myself and was outspent 15:1. We are fully divorced; the level of monthly maintenance is the issue.

The following are not disputed:

– We fully switched partners in 2005, my partner’s ex is my ex’s partner and vice versa (a proper wife swap).
– My ex has now been cohabitating for more than 5 years.
– Subsequent to the divorce, the ex had her immigration tied to her partner, certifying to the Home Office that she is in a ‘permanent and lasting relationship akin to marriage’. In turn her partner certified that he is ‘willing and able to support her financially while in the UK.’
– After the first Form E submission, my ex’s father purchased a 7-room London home for her, with cash. The ex makes irregular ‘rent’ contributions to her landlord/father, sometimes making none at all.
– The ex committed in the consent order to endeavour to have maximised her income by next year, and now confirms she will in fact have earned no income at all by this deadline.
– The ex receives significant support from her father/partner that was not disclosed, taking 60 days of holiday last year, including a luxury cruise.
– During the court process I was made redundant. I am currently unemployed.
– I have maintained the stated spousal maintenance payments throughout, often drawing on capital/savings to do so.

What I ideally want is to be able to provide for my partner and our children on what we earn, and have my ex and her partner run their household on what they earn, with an appropriate exchange of child support payments. Does this not make sense? Every regular person I speak to views it this way, while the legal profession offers mixed and often discouraging views. Please tell me in what other country can two couples switch partners and have one woman live with another man for 5 years, have his child, live in a house bought by her father, promise to work and not, certify that she is in a permanent relationship akin to marriage and still be entitled to a debilitating level of spousal maintenance? What are my chances at trial of getting spousal maintenance substantially reduced? Any and all guidance appreciated. Thanks!

Marilyn Stowe - April 8, 2011 at 3:26pm

I fully understand your dilemma. You seem to have a good arguable case. I would suggest you also carefully study your former wife’s arguments and be able to sensibly knock them down in court. Sometimes people get too wrapped up in their own case, they forget they also have to argue against someone else’s case too, so they fare badly.
Remember also to argue on the basis of not what the partner is paying, but what he reasonably ought to be paying particularly given his representations elsewhere.
I think on the whole, Courts are aware of the injustices that can abound in some cases where there is a requirement to pay maintenance post divorce. Guidance is clearly needed from higher up the courts. The problem is that it is usually not cost effective to pursue such a case all the way – its far cheaper to cut your losses and negotiate a deal.
Perhaps one reason that the position overall has worsened is the way that child support is so rigidly structured. Spousal support is usually set far higher than child support, yet children are very expensive to maintain. That is often why wives are reluctant to relinquish their maintenance, because in reality it helps support the children.
If a global figure was set instead, based on the cost of running each individual household, with an agreed contribution from the partner perhaps the issue would be less flammable and more likely to resolve.
Best wishes
Marilyn

Louise - April 18, 2011 at 5:21pm

I need to fill in a form FL403 to vary a consent order. There are two aspects of this:- 1. The consent order provided that my partner’s ex be given the sum of £450 per month spousal maintenance until 2014. At the time of the consent order, she was drawing virtually nothing from her new business and was living alone with the children in the former matrimonial home. She was aged 43 at that time. She also receives £300 per month for child maintenance. The consent order was made on the 8th February 2010. In or around August 2010, her new partner moved into the former matrimonial home (I say new but she had been having a relationship with him since at least September 2008). He works full time. She has now signed a contract with a prestigious hair salon to be their in house beauty therapist and is contracted to work 45 hours per week. We want to vary the spousal maintenance to zero based upon Grey vs Grey. 2. The consent order also details that the former matrimonial home be placed upon the market and be sold but in the event that it fails to sell by July 2010, she can then come back to my partner through the Court and request that he make payments towards the mortgage, in addition to everything else. The house has been very much over priced for the current market at £389,950 (a reduction from £425,000). We have been informed that the most she could hope to achieve would be £365,000 – the house over the road going for £359,000 a couple of months ago. We received a request from her previous solicitors detailing that they wanted my partner to pay the full mortgage payment direct to their client in the sum of £1,038 per month as she could no longer manage. We, in turn, confirmed that we could not afford to do that and would invite them to take this matter back to court. We heard nothing further and indeed, only a couple of weeks ago it was confirmed by her solicitors that they were no longer acting for her. We, in an effort to bring a conclusion to matters, offered her the sum of £17,500 for the house. This, in effect, would mean an offer at £380,000. My partner is still named on the mortgage. In simple terms we said she should remove the property from the market and we would take over the house and mortgage, it would be signed over to our names and she would walk away with the £17,500 equity – more than she could ever hope to achieve. She also has a legal aid charge which will be due to go on at some point in or around the sum of £8,000 and so this offer is more than generous. We want to also vary the clause in the consent order to say that my partner cannot be held responsible for the mortgage payments as, in effect, she has turned down a substantial and serious offer on the property. Please could you give me advice on how to appropriately fill in the form FL403 in order to achieve the above? Just to make matters even more complicated, I have now been informed that my partner’s ex and her boyfriend have split up and he has moved out – conveniently. Where do we stand now? Obviously, I will be keeping a very careful eye on the situation and possibly making a moonlight car ride to see whether a certain vehicle is parked outside the property more than three nights per week! Any advice would be gratefully appreciated. Thank you

Julian Hawkhead - April 19, 2011 at 12:46pm

Hi Louise

Thanks for posting your message. As Marilyn says in her blog, maintenance orders do not automatically cease upon cohabitation and indeed you need to ensure that all the criteria for establishing cohabitation are shown as set out in the test in Kimber v Kimber. For example if they still maintain two separate homes although spend a significant amount of time together, it may be difficult to establish cohabitation so checking to see if his car is there a number of nights a week will not in itself be sufficient. I also note that the order only provided for a relatively short term of maintenance, which may also be a factor for the Court to take into account when deciding whether to reduce or extinguish the order for maintenance.

In my opinion the more relevant issue is that she is now working full-time and presumably earning far more than she was earning previously. I think the combination of her additional earnings (is she also entitled to tax credits?) and the financial contribution that her partner is or ought to be making to the household expenses (if it can be shown that they are cohabiting at the present time – not in the past) are the grounds to rely upon for a downwards variation. Whether the maintenance is extinguished though will depend on the facts and figures as they are disclosed because the Court may take the view that even a nominal maintenance order running until 2014 is needed to provide her with a safety net.

As for the house sale I would recommend an application to court to vary the terms of the order for sale on the basis that the house should be sold to your partner for £380,000. You will need evidence from the selling agent and / or other chartered surveyors that this is about the best price you could hope to achieve for the property particularly when it has been on the market for so long.

Finally in terms of the mortgage payments, without seeing the actual court order it is difficult to comment on the procedure for the application but it sounds like the mortgage payments are part of the maintenance payments so should be part of the application to downwards vary.

I hope that this gives you some guidance but if you need any more assistance please do contact either myself or one of my experienced colleagues through the firm’s website: http://www.stowefamilylaw.co.uk.

Best wishes

Julian Hawkhead
Managing Partner, Harrogate
Stowe Family Law

Marie - April 22, 2011 at 2:15pm

I have been cohabiting with my partner for 25 years and we have agreed to go our seperate ways. He still lives in the family home and he has agreed to give me 75% of the value of the house. Both my childern from a previous marriage are now in their late 20’s Am I entitled to also claim against his pension. Could you also please clarify ”the intepretation of when exactly the 12 month time period” starts as to when I should have made any claim for a pension. We both went to a Solicitor to state that we were splitting up. Would it start from there, which would mean that I am outwith the opportunity to claim. Does it make any difference with him still living in the home? I would appreciate any feedback. (We live in Scotland) Thank you

Lukey - April 27, 2011 at 2:07am

Wow, he helps bring up your kids by another marriage, then agrees to give you 75% of the value of the house and you respond by trying to nail his pension as well – quality Maire, quality…

Marilyn Stowe - April 27, 2011 at 7:01am

Marie
You must obtain Scottish legal advice. I’m sorry we are English solicitors and can’t help you.
My understanding is there is cohabitation law in force in Scotland, and your solicitor will be able to advise you about options available to you.
Best wishes
Marilyn

Angela T - May 4, 2011 at 11:01pm

My partner is divorcing his wife. She left him four years ago for his friend and business partner whom she subsequently split up with after six months. He tried then to reconcile the marriage, she moved back in and as after a month as she was still seeing this man she moved out again.

This relationship stopped and she is now cohabiting with her new partner. She has said to mutual friends that as they are maintaining separate postal addresses this will not affect her claim for spousal maintenance.

It looks like they will be proceeding to mediation and I suspect eventually court. At what stage in the divorce process would you recommend getting surveillance evidence done to prove the cohabitation and at what stage would you reveal this. Also to help negate the spousal maintenance part of her claim how many nights a week would it need to be proved he was living with her for this to be taken into consideration.

Sarah - May 16, 2011 at 5:46pm

Hi,

If you could point me in the right direction i’d be so grateful. I’m seeing a man who has just left his wife of 10 yrs, they have a mortgage & a 7 yr old daughter. A divorce is on the cards, & I know he’ll have to pay child maintenance for her, but do you know if he has to continue making the payments on the house as his daughter will contine to live there, & is that classed as spousal maintenance? or normal practice? They both work full time & have roughly the same income of 26k per year.
I’d like to know what i’m letting myself in for, as I split with my husband a year ago, we have a young son who lives with me. My husband pays me nothing, I never asked as I didnt want to impose on his new life with his girlfriend. I work part time & am trying to set up my own business to give my son a better life. I did go to see a solicitor, but didnt get any of the answers I needed, & left feeling pretty deflated, as I know nothing what so ever about the legal system & failed to understand.
I really can’t be landed with helping to pay my partners soon to be ex wifes mortgage. I live on the bread line already, & have worked so hard to free myself from debt. I’ve heard so many horror stories about this sort of thing.
Thank you for any advice you can give me.

Marilyn Stowe - May 17, 2011 at 12:10pm

Sarah
It all depends on the outcome of his financial settlement with his wife. My advice is not to start cohabiting until you know exactly what he is ordered to pay and then you can make your decision as to whether it is worth it or not.
You are quite right to worry about the financial consequences of his divorce, because it puts a huge strain on a new relationship. You won’t ever be legally responsible for his obligations to his first family, but indirectly, you could end up contributing to help make ends meet and of course this means less for you.
To protect yourself in a cohabiting relationship you need to make sure that an agreement is in place to safeguard any assets owned by you, such as a house. It would be wise to see a solicitor to obtain advice and also if you decide to have a child with him, you need to understand the legal implications particularly that he may not be able to contribute financially because of his other obligations.
This blog has many comments by second wives or cohabitants who bitterly resent the payments being made to a first family.
Marilyn

Lukey - May 17, 2011 at 8:03pm

Sarah,
I doubt anybody could deny that Marilyn has given you fantastic advice on this.

It is not an exaggeration to say that there are many men out there that are – to be brutal – not financially viable after the Family Court financial settlement 🙁

Kim Farmer - May 25, 2011 at 3:56pm

Can I apply to vary an order for variation downwards of the continuing joint lives maintenance, now with termination at end of 2011 (applied by H, judgment Sept 2010) showing dire change in my circumstances, and no changes imminent for H as he claimed (retirement, sale of shares in family company by year end).
When must I do so? Can I do it from USA where I now reside?
How can I claim a share of the family company if he does sell shares? My shares were hotly contested at first instance and my stake in the company has been ignored or denied unfairly.
Cohabitation was raised by H but denied and not proven–I say it is a red herring, and untrue.
Thank you for your time.
KF

Churchill - July 7, 2011 at 1:58pm

After reading the first dozen or so posts here, one thing seems to have been missing – especially in the light of Marilyn’s mention of Grey vs Grey. There is a grey (no pun intended) area, between continued, but reduced SM and ending it entirely.To my mind this case helps establish the need for the co-habitor to make a reasonable financial contribution to the (in the case of Grey vs Grey) ex-wife’s household. It does not suggest it should end – the appeal failed after all.
To my recollection, in Grey vs Grey, the new partner’s contribution was (eventually) calculated and this sum was taken from the continuing level of SM paid by the ex-husband.
The ex-husband’s appeal that he should be entitled to end SM when co-habitation was proven, irrespective of disparities in earnings, between himself and the new partner failed. Simple. Surely Grey vs Grey helped establish that co-habitation does not necessarily end SM responsibilities. This is the grey area I referred to at the start of this post; co-habitation can lead to a reduction in SM payable by the ex-husband, but should not automatically end it.

Marilyn Stowe - July 7, 2011 at 2:23pm

This is a summary from Family Law Week of the judgment of Singer J when the case was remitted back to him.

Grey v Grey [2010] EWHC 1055
Appeal concerning a spousal maintenance order in which the impact of the wife’s relationship with another on the assessment of the maintenance award was determined.

Singer J’s judgment arises from the Court of Appeal decision to remit the further investigation required by it into the relationship between the wife and the father of her child, Mr. Thompson, after the husband sought to appeal the spousal maintenance order made by Singer J at the conclusion of the ancillary relief trial in 2009. The Court of Appeal allowed the husband’s appeal on the “cohabitation point” and the judgment is reported as Grey v Grey [2009] EWCA Civ 1424.

In this judgment, the court also considers the husband’s application for variation of the continuing periodical payments order. Singer J heard from the parties and the husband’s father as well as Mr. Thompson on the issue of cohabitation and while reluctant to embark upon an exercise to attach a definition to the wife and Mr. Thompson’s relationship, concluded that from November 2007 onwards that the quality of their relationship was to be regarded as such as to require an assessment of what Mr. Thompson should contribute to the wife’s household and that their stable and committed relationship had continued thereafter. However, Singer J found that it had not been a fully-cohabiting relationship and that it would have been inappropriate to assume that Mr. Thompson would give up his own home.

Singer J went on to find that there was no warrant in law for reducing the husband’s maintenance to a nominal order or to reduce the payments further than to adjust for the fair assessment of Mr. Thompson’s contributions. After assessing Mr. Thompson’s capacity to contribute to the wife’s household, he found that for two years it should be €55,000 and at the rate of €16,000 for the then current year and until further order.

The husband had a significant increase in earnings for 2008 and 2009 that were to be taken into account but in the circumstances would not lead to an upward increase of maintenance. After determining the wife’s budget, Singer J held that the husband should, from the date of the hearing onwards, make provision for the wife and their child (after deduction of the amount which reflected Mr. Thompson’s assessment) such as to continue to provide for them at the standard of living envisaged when the current orders were made.

In assessing the husband’s payments for child maintenance, Singer J, concluded, inter alia, that the husband’s income was such that an increase to €27,500 p.a., with a concomitant decrease in the maintenance payable to the wife was entirely affordable for the husband. The effect on the wife would therefore be neutral but reduce, to some extent, the overall payment the husband makes.

To vary or not to vary... - August 10, 2011 at 9:25am

Hi

Could you please clarify a simple point for me?

When calculating the ongoing affordability of global maintenance by the ex husband to the former wife in a case where the ex husband is co-habiting long term with his partner.

If that partner loses their job and the household effectively is in negative figures (and the lack of work is long term NOTshort term), when going back to court to vary down, would the ex husband be expected to use any savings to support the global maintenance payments OR would any decision be based purely upon his income and outgoings? Would bonuses be taken into account? Or if the ex husband asserted that any maintenance (and increases thereto) were unaffordable purely based on income / outgoings would the court view only this factor?

Please answer if you can.

Thanks

Marilyn Stowe - August 10, 2011 at 11:36am

The answer depends entirely on all the facts of the case. The judge will take into consideration all the financial resources of the parties, but will do so within the context of both parties’ circumstances, their ongoing reasonable needs and the existing court order.

I’m sorry I can’t be more specific, but each case depends upon its own facts, which also include non-financial information.

For a more informed opinion, the ex husband needs to take legal advice on his own situation.

Marilyn

To vary or not to vary... - August 10, 2011 at 1:52pm

Thanks for your prompt answer.

This is exactly why variations are so fraught with difficulties – there are no hard and fast rules and ex-wives will often lie to support their meal ticket for life that blind judges have awarded them! Sorry if I sound bitter here, but we are tired of his ex wife taking the mick while we suffer considerably through no direct fault of our own!

It just amazes me that the original Form E’s state a certain level of household income and the maintenance is decided on that. If the household income then lowers it seems this is not considered significant and effectively is tough luck on that party. The maintenance seems to be untouchable and sacrosanct. Surely only the ex-husband’s income should be considered – (not taking consideration of a 50/50 split of the second household’s bills) so that maintenance is set at a level the husband can actually afford if their partner’s income folds. It is madness!

Ken - October 4, 2011 at 10:06am

I recently divorced when I found out my wife was cheating while I was working overseas. At the time of the divorce, she was living with my son in the marital home, we both agreed that I would pay: the mortgage on the property, all bills and child support. Since then she has moved her boyfriend in (permanently) and got pregnant. I have asked her to come up with a revised figure for the amount I pay each month but always seems to avoid coming up with one. What I would like to know is, can I reduce the amount I pay each month? Is it wrong for me to expect her new boyfriend to contribute to the household bills at the very least? The other thing that really gets up my nose is the fact that some of the money I send for my son is going to be used on her new baby, how can I be sure that what I send is for my son and him alone?

Marilyn Stowe - October 4, 2011 at 2:11pm

Ken
You are referring to an agreement, but you dont mention whether this agreement was ever turned into a court order. If not you need to consider getting a court order, which will comprehensively deal with this situation and sort it out.
If there already is an order, it may say what is to happen to your wife’s maintenance payments if she cohabits. If it doesnt, I expect there will be a clause permitting you to apply to the court to vary it anyhow.
You do need to take legal advice specifically tailored to you.
Best wishes
Marilyn

Ray - October 6, 2011 at 10:11am

My situation is that, as a man, I took low paid flexible work in order to support my wife’s career and be available for the children. I have worked hard all my life as a full-time worker and a full-time parent. My wife has worked hard at her job, but also enjoyed a good social life – A little too good as it turned out, because I discovered, at the beginning of the year, that she was cheating on me and we are now getting divorced.

Unfortunately I was also tricked into a ‘shared care’ arrangement that had never existed before (because our children are teenagers), so there is no child maintenance coming my way. Also, my father’s will was used to pay down our mortgage, so there are negligible assets, although I am living in (and likely to keep) the marital home.

My solicitor is suggesting that I should get £27,000 pa in global maintenance, on a joint lives basis. Which I feel I am fully entitled too, since my wife would not be earning what she is without my support, and I might otherwise be earning far more. But that is not the way that the law views it.

My problem is that, whilst she (as the cheat) can remarry or cohabit with impunity, I (as the ‘innocent’ party) cannot. If I remarry I lose all maintenance payments. If I cohabit, I potentially lose my job (I work for a church). Furthermore, if I do meet somebody, they are unlikely to be on my wife’s income. Most likely they will be on a low income or in a similar situation to me. And, if they are a wealthy career woman, why should they support me anyway? They don’t owe me anything, in the way that my wife actually does.

I suppose what I am really asking is what is the wriggle room around cohabitation? If I meet somebody who is not wealthy in their own right, how would the courts be likely to view it? Could we potentially live together / sleep over? Or would we have to live in separate houses and avoid detectives with long lenses? (Given how much my wife stands to gain if I lose maintenance).

Graham - October 6, 2011 at 12:27pm

You could say in the order that maintenance to cease upon remarriage and then do anything you like except remarry. But Marilyn is better placed than I to comment. You don’t say how long the marriage was for but if it was long, I think that would be an arguable clause (rather than 6 months cohabitation).

Graham - October 6, 2011 at 12:29pm

p.s. for child and working tax credits, you can say you are not cohabiting if both parties have their sole name on their own property and pay council tax for it, even if you both live together at one property and rent the other out. i should know, my ex does this and claims child and tax credits from the welfare state people with them knowing all of this.

Graham - October 6, 2011 at 3:56pm

p.s. I don’t like to be a hypocrite or a sexist so I should point out – as I do to women – that in Scotland for example SM is to enable the other party to adjust to their new circumstances and is for a term only, usually at a maximum of 3 years and the arguments are limited to the division of capital in a 50:50 manner. Probably a sensible approach.

unsure - December 20, 2011 at 2:08pm

I’ve been living with my partner for 3 years. He earns £60,000 per year and pays £700 child support and £700 spousal. He has 3 children under 9. The spousal will be dropping by £300 in the next few months as all the children will be at school full time. The spousal is not due to change until the children reach the age of 18. My partner was left with nothing when they initially were divorced as the house was transferred to his wife. We have the children every other weekend, some extra weekends and some of the holidays. I earn £1,000 a month and have two children. We are constantly struggling to pay the mortgage we had to take out in order to extend the house to provide accommodation for the children. We struggle with bills etc and debts that accumulated since the original divorce agreement was based on unrealistic earnings. He works 60 hours a week at times. Is it normal for spousal agreement to continue until the children are 18 when the mother is fit and able to work and was given the house with no charge on it.I am no longer able to claim family tax as they take his whole wage into consideration. However, his ex is still able to receive family tax as maintenance is not considered an income. Should he apply now to have the spousal maintenance stopped?

Gary Fisher - January 4, 2012 at 9:25am

My Ex wife is due to re marry next month do i have to still pay maintenance ?

Marilyn Stowe - January 4, 2012 at 10:20am

Gary
Spousal maintenance ceases on remarriage.
Best wishes
Marilyn

OB - January 12, 2012 at 12:48pm

What a mess this area of law seems to be!
My ex husband’s lawyer treated me as if I was a gold-digger, despite the fact that I have worked all my married life, and been the main earner for most of it. I am in the position where I cannot afford a mortgage or anywhere decent to live for me and my younger son (his son) so I am forced to rent at a ridiculous price and be vulnerable housed because of the court order to sell the FMH and divide it 54/46%. The truth is, you cannot have a high-flying career and work all the hours that means and still have time for your young children. Not much of a choice is it?
I made the point at every opportunity during my divorce that I have full time care of our son, and this means that the maintenance I get is the only contribution the father makes to his younger son as he doesn’t even see him. It made no difference and no allowance was made for the needs of our children.
To assume that all women are on the make is offensive and wildly untrue. Where are all these idle women? How do I get to be one please?!!

paula - January 18, 2012 at 10:56am

Hi I am the second wife to my husband. He has two children to his previous wife and four with me. My husband has paid maintenance the entire time for his children. What breaks my heart is those two children from his previous relationship get more money than my four all together. His ex has been living with someone for over six years yet the payments don’t go down. His two children don’t want to see him as he could not afford to visit because of the rate of case and his ex could not help to split drop offs. My husband is in the forces and with our third child my husband got deployed to a war zone. He was to get a bonus… which meant for once we could afford to see his first two children, buy some baby bits and finally get some new things for our children not just second hand. We were told case don’t touch bonus. But in December that year they did. We had already spent the money. And they decided to increase case payments to really 900.00£. Leaving us as a family with 900.00 pound to live on. This continued for six months. We appealed they said bonus aren’t taken in to account and should not have been. But we got no refund no lesser payments. That six months of bell got us in so much debt. His two previous children do not want a relationship with him as we could not afford to buy presents for anyone that year so because he couldn’t buy contact ended.as a second wife it is so unfair. I and our children are penalized for being second families. Why can’t case payments be worked out equally what makes my children less important. Why are we left that we can’t let our children go on holidays as no money to save. Our money pays bills and a treat of one takeout a month. No pocket money for our children.

Val - January 18, 2012 at 2:19pm

Hi, I have been divorced since 2002. My ex-husband and I have two children. At the time of our divorce the children were aged 9 and 12. (They still reside with me and are now aged 17 and 20; both have continued in further education) . A court order for child maintenance was put in place as part of the divorce settlement in 2002. My ex-husband made the initial few payments which shortly afterwards, petered out to no payments within the first year or so. No action was taken other than heated dialogue and empty promises. When I finally decided to re-approach the courts my ex-husband was diagnosed with Glaucoma and became partially sighted. Lost his job and spent his time back and forth between hospitals. There was no point adding to his problems at that point. Since then things have now settled down. He has remarried and is now in full time employment. He has refused to make any contribution towards his childrens maintenance and I have managed to support them single handedly up until I was made redundant in 2010. Although the childern are practically adults now (one stayed on at school and the other is at university), what recourse do I have at this stage to enforce past or future payments from my ex-husband?

Marilyn Stowe - January 23, 2012 at 12:10pm

Val
The court will consider your financial position and his to decide how to resolve your claims. I would stress the financial burden you have been under single handedly paying for them throughout their childhood which presumably has impacted upon your own ability to save for your retirement.
If he has capital, then it might be worth making an application under s31 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 for a lump sum.
I would suggest you take advice to consider the overall position, from your solicitor.
Best wishes
Marilyn

Bonnie Richetelli - January 23, 2012 at 10:16pm

Hi Marilyn,

My ex-partner has ducked out on paying proper maintenance 10 years ago when he refused to give me the agreed 300 GBP / month and has only given me 100 since.

He is married to an ex-Pop star who is still very much in the public eye everyday and is probably earning well over 1 MILLION GBP / year. He – has declared himself a ‘home-maker’ to avoid having to pay me proper maintenance.

Through my family solicitor we have filed court proceedings and are heading to court and are tin the process of filing our Form E. My question is, despite he’s made himself a self-declared ‘home-husband’ – and the fact that me and my married husband fully support my daughter (she is now 13 years of age) – Can I expect a favorable consideration despite he not showing any income??

They live in a mansion and have vacation properties abroad……

Thanks!!

— B —

Lisa Barker - January 25, 2012 at 2:48pm

Dear Maralyn

I have been seperated from my ex for 8 months but have always been the breadwinner in our family. Prior to and since seperation I have paid for the upkeep of the children and the house. Our 3 children live with me 20,10 and 8 (one of whom is disabled) and also for afterschool childcare needed so that I can work. My ex earns 1100 per month and of that contributes £200 per month for child maintenance. He has been advised that he can claim half of all savings and a claim on my pension despite that fact that I have supported him for the last 17 years. I also paid for the £100k deposit on our jointly owned house and I understand that he may even have a claim on that too!

I have been involved with a new partner and am seriously thinking about cohabitation but will my ex then be able to make a claim against his income too?

Marilyn Stowe - January 26, 2012 at 4:43pm

Hi Lisa
There is quite a lot of information missing from your query so it would be wrong to try and answer it on what you have provided.
If you dont already have a solicitor and would like some advice can you please call Morna Rose on 01423 532600 to arrange a conference call for which there will be no charge.
Best wishes
Marilyn

Kate - January 30, 2012 at 6:54pm

Hi, i was married for 20 years and had one son when his father left. 8 years later i still receive maintenance for myself and our son until he leave university. At the time of the divorce i was awarded maintenance for life of around 8% of his earnings which I am very happy with. His earnings are now well in excess of 7 figures, having more than quadrupled since our divorce and he’s just about to buy a £2m house with his new wife. Despite the increase in his wealth since our divorce, I am very happy with the current maintenance i receive as I always have been, but my concern is that with his new wife and the fact that i have been living with my partner for 3 years, he may try to stop my maintenance (which is probably around 1% of his earnings now). I did seek legal advice before my partner moved in and we have kept all of our finances separate. Everything is in my name, the house, all the bills and he pays me an amount of rent each month. In my original maintenance agreement my ex did try to put in that my maintenance would stop on co-habitation but I managed to have this removed. Is there anything else I should do to try and protect my maintenance? or is it purely down to the courts opinion? would my ex run the risk of any order being increased if he had to disclose his earnings and could this be the reason why he hasn’t challenged anything so far?

Marilyn Stowe - January 30, 2012 at 7:13pm

Kate
This is a very common situation. There is a moratorium.  He is paying perhaps because he wants a quiet life, or perhaps because he figures the maintenance may well be increased after such a long time given his own significant income and the wording of the order; which was presumably agreed on those terms because an immediate clean break was not achievable at the time and it was intended you would benefit in income rather than capital.
You on the other hand are mindful of the cohabitation, and are content.
But what worries me, is what will happen when your son is no longer a dependent, and leaves university. 
I reckon your ex could be biding his time, waiting until then and will seek to discharge his maintenance order to you, given your cohabitation.
You could apply now for a determination about your maintenance, and /or capitalisation of your maintenance, and personally I think you should give this some serious thought.
There is no harm speaking to him, to find out what his intentions are and trying to reach a civilised agreement which is evidenced in writing, perhaps in a court order.
If that isn’t possible then consult a solicitor.
The deal was you would receive a substantial sum of money over the years which you have not. Cohabitation also means nothing in terms of future support from a cohabitee if it breaks down. 
You mustnt fall into the trap of potentially leaving yourself with no future income especially as you grow older.
Best wishes
Marilyn

Marilyn Stowe - February 3, 2012 at 8:03am

Jan and Jill
I will deal with your questions in the forum on Wednesday.
Best wishes
Marilyn

Aquiobaz - February 14, 2012 at 5:53pm

It has been interesting reading your forum, but not sure what happens in my situation: I have been living with my partner for the last 12mths, and prior to that lived apart having met 14mths earlier. He moved in with me, pays the utility bills and food, and I pay the Mortgage (as it is solely mine) and I pay for anything else associated to it, along with my loan.

He was separated already, with the two children living with his ex-wife (soon to be official). She has been obstructive throughout, where my partner has paid Child maintence since leaving, and found by the CSA recently he was paying too much to her. We are due in court for a financial order, as in Mediation she would not commit to even discussing matters, as she wanted it sorted through a solicitor. Even though she tried to block a two nightly stay over with the children, this was won by my partner again in Court.

The ‘Ex’ is constantly reducing her hours at work, to gain more tax credits (of which we have found she has been claiming more than she is entitle to), and the ‘Full Financial disclosure’, we can see she is missing key dates and information, as she would need to account for large regular cash payments, which we question where this is coming from.

My Partners solicitor tells him that it is likely the best outcome would be, he will get his name off the mortage, but no equity (again he is being fair and only seeking a small amount to allow him to have his own mortgage). His solicitor says that the court will instruct to see my earnings/assets etc, as this will need to be factored in.

I am appaulled, as is my partner, as we do not have a joint account, and we do not share any other financials. Fact is he could leave tomorrow and not have a penny!

Would really appreciate some advice, as I feel totally lost.

BTW… the ex is seeking a maintence Order/Pension Order and also she took him to the CSA even though he has always paid her. She threatens to sell the house and move down south, so that would also stop the access to the children as this would be unsustainable.

Please help- – I am sure there are other partners out there going through the same thing.

steve - February 19, 2012 at 12:16am

Hi, Could you please tell me if my ex wife is remarried and now pregnant again, am i entitled to still pay child maintance. They are both in a better situation than me and believe that money directly for my son would benefit him more.

hazel harris - February 19, 2012 at 8:34pm

i wouldn’t wish this hell on anyone after 25 years of living with my partner in a completely loving relationship he died intestate in january he always assumed i was next of kin and always signed everything that is what i was. in all my grief his 2 brothers arrived 12 hours after his death and demanded all our money and goods and said i was nothing.i might add they hardly spoke for at least 15 years my partner disliked them both i had informed them when he was ill and they didn’t even bother to ring or come and see him they are so different to my partner who was a wonderful man.i am now in a battle with them most things are already in my name house etc thank god as i would be out on the street i was not dependent on my partner but it was never yours or mine but ours we had separate bank accounts but shared most things helping one another in our different work.wether i win or not with this 1975 act i don’t know but i have to try he would not want our money to go to them they have been extremely cruel to me yes we should have married some might say but its a piece of paper that doesn’t mean happy marriage just like the word brother doesn’t mean that you are close we were closer than anyone i know that is married i will battle on because it is what my partner would have wanted not for the small amount of money involved i would rather it go to cancer reserch has anyone else beaten the greedy immoral relatives that only turn only upon death to see what they can gain

Marilyn Stowe - February 19, 2012 at 10:09pm

Dear Hazel
I am so sorry to read about your problems but this is what happens when people don’t make a will and don’t get married.
I hope it all turns out ok for you, I am pretty sure from what you write that it will.
I hope what you have written will stir others into action.
Thank you very much for taking the time to write.
Best wishes
Marilyn

Marilyn Stowe - February 19, 2012 at 10:12pm

Steve
Your legal duty to pay child support remains whilst your child is in full time education even though your wife has remarried. You can calculate your liability using the online child support calculator.
Regards
Marilyn

Marilyn Stowe - February 19, 2012 at 10:21pm

Aquiobaz
Your financial position is only relevant in so far as your contribution to the household is concerned and thereby frees up your partner’s income. Your assets and income cannot be used for the benefit of your partner’s wife.
The court will consider what there is between them and how to divide it up. It is always very difficult when there is little to divide and both parties have needs, particularly if there are children.
Most people get very upset going through divorce. The best thing is for people to try and understand each other, talk and sort things out but it isn’t easy. The couple should keep persevering, however difficult it may seem for the sake of the children at least.
Best wishes
Marilyn

Churchill - March 7, 2012 at 4:06pm

A very late entry to this thought provoking thread……………..
Sam very early on here mentions the following:
“Few other countries on this planet are as indulgent to the poorer spouse and unjust to the richer.”
That’s an interesting start point? It’s as if the assets gained during the marriage (I am not inlcuding pre-marital assets here) are somehow allocated to one spouse or other. Several judgements have made it clear that the assets are ‘marital’. They are therefore jointly owned, even if for some practical purpose, it has seemed appropriate to put one spouse’s name to the asset.
Sam goes on to say that :
“Our system encourages lethargy in the dependent spouse post divorce”
The system allows for the widest possible discretion for the Judge to make an award given the specifics of the case. Some orders are joint lives, but others are for limited periods, or of a nominal value. Why? Because each case is looked at on it’s merits. I’d rather put my faith in a Judge who has access to all the details of the case than support a system such as that in Sapin where the parties don’t even have to offer full disclosure. It’s not perfect, but we should generally be proud of our system because it is aimed at providing each side with a fair financial new start.
Why would that be considered worse than the Spanish example, for instance?

Ellie - March 8, 2012 at 6:49pm

Marilyn, thank you for a great blog. I am about to embark on divorce after 22 years and I keep hearing that spousal maintenance doesn’t exist any more. My husband and I met at 23 when we both earned similar wages and continued to do so until 32 when I was made redundant. As I was pregnant with son 2 at the time, we made a decision that I would not seek another full time job but would go freelance. I did so for 12 years, bringing a reasonable 2nd income in. 5 years ago, aged 45, I went back to work full time in an admin role – my husband travelled a lot and it made sense for me to work locally. Now I earn 25k to his 93k (+ bonus). Surely I can claim SM? His take home is more than 3x mine and he intends to live with his equally high earning girlfriend post divorce. We still have a big mortgage as he bullied me into remortgaging 2 years ago to pay off his unsecured loans. We have 2 boys, one aged 21, living at home and working and an 18 yr old at Uni.

Marilyn Stowe - March 8, 2012 at 8:13pm

Dear Ellie
Stop worrying, of course you can claim maintenance. And for goodness sake stop listening to non specialists.
Please take immediate legal advice on your situation because you also need to think about your capital claims such as housing and then there’s pension sharing besides your income claim which could well be lifelong.
See a solicitor pronto!!!!
Best wishes
Marilyn

Ellie - March 8, 2012 at 9:54pm

Marilyn – thank you. I am seeing a solicitor next Tuesday. (I think I am spending too much time on Mumsnet . . .)

Marilyn Stowe - March 8, 2012 at 10:23pm

Ellie
Before you see the solicitor, think carefully about your ‘reasonable needs’ and how they are met, because that is what your case will be all about. This blog has lots of posts on the subject but reasonable needs includes where you will you live, how will it be funded, income requirements for you and the children. Your solicitor may have a budget sheet to help you work out your income requirements including expenditure you may overlook.
Visit local estate agents if necessary to get an idea of housing costs.
 Don’t undersell yourself or over do it either, come up with proposals you can reasonably argue, and you will save legal costs by so doing. 
Get your disclosure in order to complete the Form E which is your financial disclosure and don’t agree to a process that might delay or add to the costs, such as voluntary disclosure or mediation unless you are super confident there will be full disclsure by your husband and of a deal that won’t leave you short. If you aren’t sure then insist on proceeding in court straight away. You can always try to settle later but at least it will be timetabled.
Just a few tips and your solicitor will think of plenty more!
Marilyn

Ellie - March 11, 2012 at 3:11pm

Marilyn, thank you for the advice. I’ve now read up on ‘reasonable needs’ and am feeling more optimistic about my situation. I would be happy to agree to mediation but I know my husband won’t . . . he seems to think he can abandon a 22 year marriage and will keep all his pension and future earnings!

Derek - March 14, 2012 at 9:40am

I divorced in 2004. and the FDR finalised in 2006. We had no children together, we had been married for 10 years, She had her own business, she had half of the house (worth just under a million) and I was ordered to pay her £30,000 a year. I retired in January this year, with a view of living in France, my house (from the Balance of the procedes of the marital home) was sold, and I bought a house in France, my solicitor had already told her solicitor of my plans, her greedy solicitor then started threatening injunctions, etc. My ex is living with her boyfriend, and has been since 2007, she claims that she can no longer work through ill health, but she is. The ill health was bought on by her alcohol consumption, so therefor self inflicted, but her solicitors still expect me to pay her the same or similar maintenance. I have a new partner, I am 69 this year, i just want to be able to enjoy the rest of my life, after working very hard and long hours for many many years, but this parasite and her legal team won’t let me. even though the judge in the FDR judgement said, that in two years (2008) the husband will be eligable to retire, so the wife should make arrangement to expand her business or find employment to make herself independant. I stayed working for another four years, still paying her maintenance. Why oh Why are men penalised for working hard. I now have NO income but can not get rid of this parasite. Our divorce laws are BADLY one sided.

Maria - March 19, 2012 at 8:09pm

Amazingly helpful blog post and fascinating comments. I wasn’t going to respond until I got to the end and saw Ellie’s posts and Marilyn’s reply. I am in a similar position to Ellie, and wanted to share my experience in the hope that she will benefit.

I left my husband 18 months ago after 30 years of marriage. 2 children (now grown up). We met as students and have built up everything together. We both have university degrees, and started out on the same career with the same salary potential. I worked part-time throughout the marriage but without progressing my career because somebody needed to spend time with the children. Childcare was expensive, and you still needed to be there in the morning to drop them off, in the afternoon after school, and to cover holidays somehow. It wasn’t easy. I really wished I could have been with them full time, but my husband would never agree to fully support the family. I don’t think he valued any contribution that didn’t have a salary tag attached.

My husband always had a strange attitude to money, never sharing bank accounts, insisting that I used my much smaller income to buy clothes for the children, pay for xmas presents, buy shopping etc.

After moving out, I saw a solicitor and opted for voluntary financial disclosure. My husband was 3 months late in disclosing and when it arrived it showed with an amazing income with P60s that ran into 6 figures AFTER tax. I wasn’t aware of this.

He immediately made an offer of 50:50 capital settlement reliant on selling the house (which he lived in and hadn’t even put on the market at that point) with low maintenance timing out after 4 years, cohabitation or marriage. I couldn’t really consider this as it was based on incomplete info, e.g. despite his high income, he had declared no savings accounts and I knew he definitely had at least one, and would leave me eating into my capital at the mercy of him actually trying to sell the house. His income declaration was deliberately unclear and it was hard to follow where all the moneys were coming from or going to.

He was still in the family home paying a low mortgage (we own about 80% of it) whereas I was in expensive rented accommodation. I was eating into the lump sum I had set aside to cover the transition from married to single which I imagined would take about 6 months. I had by now got a full time job, but returning to my career after treading water for so many years, the pay is quite low. Nevertheless I hadn’t applied for any sort of maintenance because I assumed it wasn’t for people with adult children.

When I first consulted my solicitor she told me that after such a long marriage I ought to consider applying for maintenance, but I was resistant. I wanted to be able to support myself and thought I could provided the divorce went through fairly quickly.

Eventually, after 7 months I opted to go down the court route as it was clear that my husband was going to draw things out, but I first attempted mediation (my husband refused).

Only then did I apply for interim maintenance. He refused to agree to anything despite me emailing him assuring him that I would go to court. In court, I was awarded the full amount that I was asking for and to everyone’s surprise costs were awarded against my husband. I had been told that costs were seldom awarded in marital cases because it all comes out of essentially the same pot, but in his judgement, the judge said he saw no evidence of any attempt to negotiate and reach settlement on the part of my husband and therefore awarded costs against him. I got my first maintenance payment exactly 1 year after moving out.

Once we were on the court timetable, with full and sworn financial disclosure due within 8 weeks, things moved more swiftly.

Marilyn’s advice is very sound. All my expenditure claims are founded in solid facts. I have used right-move to assess my housing needs. I keep a detailed spreadsheet of all my expenditure grouped into categories of housing, housekeeping, hols & entertainment, car, personal, miscellaneous, and now that I have been away for over 12 months, I have a rolling average that shows clearly that my expenditure schedule is based on facts.

I don’t live a frugal lifestyle and I probably could cut down. Some of the comments in this thread suggest that ex-wives are deliberately living a life of luxury at their husband’s expense. But in the case of long marriages such as Ellie’s and mine, I think that there is an argument that both parties have contributed fully over their entire adult lives. It does not seem right that upon dissolution of the marriage, one spouse should undergo significant drop in lifestyle when there are sufficient funds to maintain it.

I now hope to be able to keep my current level of maintenance (although in informal discussions my husband is clear that he wants to stop it or eliminate it all together), and get a capital split that will enable me to purchase a house outright and live rent-free. My current job is very uncertain so I am faced with periods of unemployment, if not indefinite unemployment.

Marilyn’s advice on not relying on voluntary disclosure is also worth considering. Had I not gone for voluntary disclosure and mediation, I would probably be divorced by now, but it is very difficult to believe that somebody you have lived with for so long could be so short-sighted and obstructive.

As the many stories in this thread show, there are many different scenarios. I think that Ellie and I are among a very small number of extremely long-term marriage breakups where there can be no doubt that the lower-earning spouse should be supported, that there should be a favourable capital split where resources allow and with an equitable pension sharing order in place to ensure a comfortable retirement.

My FDR is next month. I still hope to be able to agree a settlement before then, but I’m not pinning all my hopes on that 🙂 I don’t really know how it will all pan out.

hazel harris - March 20, 2012 at 1:54am

dear marilyn i only just saw a reply today it was very kind of you to take time to send me a message you are right in what you say my message may help others realise the hell they will be in not only by losing their loved one but by family members even if you may never see them they can be cruel and have no morals in these situations it’s a very hard lesson i have learned in the worst time of my life. i will be doing all i can to inform everyone who is not married that in law they are not next of kin it hit me like a dagger through the heart not just for our assets but to feel that i was looked at as nothing to him who i had spent the 23-24 years of our life together in devotion and love there is no way i would wish this hell on anyone my battle goes on with uncertainty and abuse from two people who didn’t love him i hope the courts will acknowledge that we were a devoted couple and help me continue to feel even though we didn’t have that piece of paper that he was my husband .i hope my awful situation will help someone

Ellie - March 20, 2012 at 10:15pm

Maria, thank you for sharing your story. Wishing you all the best with your FDR. As you say there are so many scenarios but as the ‘wronged’ partner I can’t accept that my husband of 22 years (+ 4 years previous cohabitation) can think that he can just have the house sold, give me half and then get on with his life, earning great money and looking forward to a comfortable retirement! Because he would not be in the position he is in today without my support and career sacrifices. Without ‘outing’ him how could he have spent long periods on the other side of the world working had I not looked after the children? We were meant to be a team, working together for the good of the family – not so that he could climb the career ladder and then discard us for another woman!

Marilyn has given me a lot to think about re ‘needs’. I actually don’t spend much but I will add things like haircuts, holidays and ‘fun’ spending to my budget – God knows my husband of the past 22 years will have lots of ‘fun’ money on his expenditure schedule!

Jane - March 21, 2012 at 4:02pm

Why do women always talk about ‘sacrifice’ and ‘supporting their husbands career’? What happened to equality? Surely it is the woman’s ultimate decision to ‘give up’ her career? I had three children and a career – yes it was hard work, but my husbands wage alone couldn’t give us the lifestyle we wanted. When my marriage ended after 28 years we split everything 50/50 as I was still working. My now husband of five years has the opposite – his wife ‘chose’ not to work while bringing up two children so now he has to pay for her for the rest of his life. She is now working full time and I am not, she will never re- marry as she is too bitter and sees her maintenance as ‘right’ and a constant penance on our lives. Many of these women see having a family as a way out. This is so outdated in today’s society and we shouldn’t be governed by archaic divorce laws which feed grabbing ex wives and stop them from moving on.

Ellie - March 21, 2012 at 7:28pm

Jane
Please read my post properly. I WORKED during our marriage – although we were both going along the same career path one of our careers had to go on the back burner so that the children could be looked after! Nobody is sitting on her fat behind expecting to be supported until death! I STILL work, fulltime, and have every intention of doing so until retirement.
So yes, I DID sacrifice my career so that my husband could advance his and I will not allow him to walk away fro our long marriage with everything!

Jane - March 21, 2012 at 10:03pm

Then good for you! Pity more aren’t the same, and many do sit around and are allowed to by the law as it is, and your husband can’t walk away with ‘everything’ that just doesn’t happen.

Becky - March 25, 2012 at 5:50pm

Hi Marilyn,
I was divorced three and a half years ago, and currently have maintenance payments being paid by my ex-husband until my daughter, who lives with me, finishes primary school. There is an excellent secondary school near to the former matrimonial home where my ex-husband still lives, and which he would like her to attend, but there is no direct bus route from my home. Other schools in the locality are not suitable. The lack of public transport would mean that I would have to take my daughter to and from secondary school, and therefore would be unable to work. Will I be able to have my maintenance payments extended to cover the period my daughter is at secondary school? He is a high earner.
Many thanks
Becky

Marilyn Stowe - March 25, 2012 at 6:34pm

Dear Becky
If your order does not have what lawyers call a Section 28(1)(a) MCA 1973 bar then you can apply to extend it. Check the wording and take immediate legal advice before the order comes to an end because you will need to apply for an extension before it ends. Then you can consider an application too under Section 31 MCA1973 for capitalisation of the order.
It’s not usual for there to be an absolute bar on a mother’s maintenance when young children are involved particularly if the ex husband is a high earner, but I dont know the terms of your settlement and the capital split and how the order came to be made in those terms in the first place.
Best wishes
Marilyn

starlet - March 28, 2012 at 12:14pm

me and my husband split in december 2010. he had an affair and i kicked him out. he divorced me for unreasonable behaviour even though he admitted having slept with a woman the night before i kicked him out, i could not get legal aid to fight my case as i was on employment and support allowance, and he petitioned me.. we were together ten years and married seven, i also raised his daughter from a year after we met, until she went to uni.. i still care for her now while she at university, she comes back to me at weekends, her father not spoken since he left. four years before we split, we purchased our house from the local authority in dec 06, i had been in it roughly 16 years buy then. because of serious ill health i had to stop working from jan 2007, from then on he started having affairs, i have no proof but i knew, caught him on web cam many times, he was mentally verbally and physically abusive to me, i feel so very let down. i supported him through his career as a paramedic, working part time to be a mum for his daughter, whom i love dearly and have no regrets. i am now back on benefits, which has stopped and im appealing against. he now wants me out my home of 21 years, i live near all my family who help and support me, through my illnesses. is there a chance that i can go for maintenance from him, i feel so let down. i suffer from depression, pancreatitis and fibromyalgia and diabetes, all since getting with him, the stress of living with him a diagnosed narcissist was unbearable, and it seems he’s walking away with everything a career and my home, i am so very depressed. please can you advise me.

Dee - April 5, 2012 at 1:52pm

Another cautionary story!

I met my husband when he was a student and I was a staff nurse on ITU, we both then moved to the same city where he did a PhD and I did midwifery. After qualifying I returned to ITU and he decided to study medicine, to support us, I opted to do permanent night shifts as Sister on ITU for three years then gained sponsorship on the same salary to do a Health Visitor degree. Throughout his five years studying medicine I supported him in every way.

When he obtained his degree we moved 200 miles so he could undertake GP training and I secured the Senior Sister in Charge of ITU post at the same hospital. To cut a long story short, I became pregnant and subsequently had a still birth having found he had been having an affair.

It was a horrendous time but we worked through it and got back on track, three years later I gave birth to our daughter, he gained his qualification and joined a local GP surgery as a partner. Those were the days when out of hours were conducted from home and although I returned to work 5 months after giving birth, I was expected to answer every call, day or night. We were probably at our happiest, working together as a team and a beautiful daughter.

Fast forward to 2003 when my daughter asked if I thought her dad was having an affair, the same signs were there but I wanted to protect her, what ensued was emotional, mental and physical abuse. He constantly denied the affair, even when he was caught with her, out of hours were from a centre so he was telling me he was working when he was doing something very different. I eventually attempted suicide, admitted to ITU, had a cardiac arrest and ventilated, police found him with his mistress when trying to urgently contact him. When I was discharged I had a mental breakdown and have been unable to enter the hospital since.

He divorced me for unreasonable behaviour, I had no strength to fight and sadly agreed to many things that left him with the lions share of our assets. I was awarded SM £1500 pcm for life unless re-marriage or cohabitation for 6 months.

I am medically retired, live a simple and often frugal life but found peace and have supported my daughter through her medical degree. I am not in a relationship, the scars are still visible but he bought a house with his mistress prior to the final hearing (which he lied about).

My daughter is now in her final year and 10 days ago my world crashed around me, I received a letter from his solicitor saying he would not pay another penny. If SM stops I will be faced with selling my home and having my elderly animals put to sleep as I will not be able to afford the mortgage I took on to buy his half of our home.

Many will think the easy solution is go to court but he lied through out the divorce, never gave full financial disclosure and cost me the whole of my pension lump sum. I will shortly be 60 and now have other health problems, nor can I fund an expensive or lengthy court case.

So another long term marriage, a wife that worked throughout and a husband that has walked away scot free to a luxury lifestyle leaving despair and devastation in its wake. He has stopped payment and I only have enough to pay 6 months mortgage before my home will be reclaimed. If at all possible I would now have opted for a clean break. A whole different story to “trust me I am a doctor”!

Deborah - April 10, 2012 at 5:22pm

Divorced in 2002, 3 children, now 20, 18 and 15, the 20 year old has special needs, learning difficulties and epilepsy. NRP paid through CSA, Sm set, although a small amount this was dismissed by Altrincham County Court. I considered appealing on the grounds of income comparisons but was advised against it on grounds of cost. I am now in a position since my son turned 19 that the NRP hasn’t paid maintenance for him. How can I go about claiming maintenance for my son, since I am the main carer (father lives in London, me in Manchester) and as such have had to fit work in around that and it is low paid in essence.

I have been told that my son can take us both to court using legal aid, alternatively, it would be costly to instruct a solicitor; I haven’t the financial remit support this. I could litigate myself but have done this previously and failed, ex is lawyer himself!!! He will not do anything voluntarily so seeking to discuss it directly is not an option. In addition my 18 year old dropped out of school and is now looking for an apprenticeship, however, it still costs me dearly to support her, when CSA payments stop for her can I also ask for maintenance for her as she is still living at home?

Do you have any advice?

Carl - April 11, 2012 at 11:18am

I really need help, I have offered my x wife 75% of all my equity and assets as I just want to move on, we have no children and she told someone 1 year ago she was cheating on me and they told me, I confronted her and she moved out. There is no proof as no pics etc, we never even slept together since we were married as she said she had problems and i stuck around, was it a trap who knows. I now have a new girlfriend and want to move on but she wants to take me to court for spousal maintenance what do I do, do I give her the 90% she wants or go to court where they also want to see my partners earning? Help!!!!!

scut13 - April 27, 2012 at 8:13pm

Hi All
Can I just say it is so nice to find a blog such as this – I have never felt the need to write on one but this is a subject so close to my heart at this point in time I needed to write.

At present I am currently engaged to a wonderful man who I love dearly. He was with his wife 10yrs and during that time they had 2 children – 14 & 12. They separated 4 years ago and sold the family home each taking a share with his ex £6000 more to help towards the cost of buying her own home and mortgage was transffered. During their marriage they both undertook further education. He has pursued his career and become very successful.

Since they separated he has paid over £700 per month – at present his CSA payments should be £360, despite this he also pays additional towards uniform, phone bills and hobbies for them both. He currently has them 6 nights over a 14 night period.

At present as in most cases the finances are being thrashed out, in which disclosure has been given and it is clear that the ex wants a lump sum only, she disputes everything and is using the children in order to gain information (not always correct and throw it back in his face). She has stated that she was unable to progress her career or education due to having the children during the marriage and since the split, as stated he has them guaranteed 6 nights out of 14 on the same days, she has also been in a relationship for 4 years although claims they do not live together – i think someone mentioned earlier different postal codes. She is stating ill health due to the stress although will often go away for the weekend without the children,designer clothes and hair cuts costing £50+ are normal. She works 16hrs a week and has been offered full time employment and additional courses by her employer and refused them.

As stated she has requested a lump sum £16000 (we have offered £8000 (all we can raise at this time) or £200 per month for the next 6 years) and an increase in CSA as my partner had to work away ovenight and his mother had them – she states he is not caring for the children so he should pay more.

We are hoping to move house soon to buy a home together and they have threatened to apply to the court for an injunction to prevent any sale taking place – we are due to marry in Dec.

We are at our wits ends and could reaaly do with your help, PLEASE PLEASE any advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated. My partner works 70+ hours a week and is totally stressed thinking what is the point and i’m starting to agree – his solicitor in my mind is doing very little to fight a battle whereby they are requesting funds we do not have and the only way we can arrange them would effect our lives and the childrens lives.

PLEASE PLEASE – I’m / we’re desperate

Marilyn Stowe - May 5, 2012 at 6:50pm

Dear Scut
I cant specifically help because I dont have the facts. You both shouldn’t be feeling so desperate. You should explain to the solicitor how you feel and ask for the parameters to make your decision. If you aren’t happy with the lawyer, then you can get a fully informed second opinion from another solicitor or ask your current solicitor to see a barrister in conference. But don’t panic. The court always wants to make sure both parties reasonable needs are met, and will always take all the relevant circumstances into account including a wife’s potential ability to increase her income and ring fencing assets acquired post separation if needs have been met.
Best wishes
Marilyn

NS - May 18, 2012 at 1:03pm

My partner is now going through a nasty divorce, we have set up home together which we have 3 kids between us and one 13yr old from there marriage who stays with us have the week and his godmother the other half. His mother has him when convenient to her! She has cleared out all possessions in the marital home and my partner is still paying the mortgage til it sells. My point is we r struggling and she has moved her partner in the marital home and they are not paying nothing! She is always pleading povety can’t buy her son stuff but can go to pub every weekend! Should my partner continue to pay the mortgage?

Marilyn Stowe - May 18, 2012 at 1:26pm

Dear NS
Oh dear! This is a case where tempers seem clearly frayed and what I suggest is needed is some common sense on both sides. Ideally your partner and his wife should sit down and agree division of all their finances, once and for all but if not, then it should be done either through a mediator or between solicitors if they are involved.
On the face of it your partner should not be paying maintenance to his wife if she is living with someone else. But, (and there are a number of buts,) this may not apply if the family still needs a substantial contribution from your partner both before and after the divorce. It will all depend on the facts, and acting hastily and leaving the wife and children potentially homeless through a failure to meet the mortgage, might lead him to regret this if the wife then applies for a maintenance order through the court.
The sensible course of action is to take legal advice on his own circumstances and act on that advice which should include the best way of going forward, trying to sort it out as sensibly and quickly as possible.
Best wishes
Marilyn

NS - May 18, 2012 at 2:49pm

Thank you Marilyn, unfortunately there is no reasoning with her! It is a case of the world owes me and not much we can do!

Annabel H - May 20, 2012 at 9:43pm

I have just read a few comments above; having already asked for Marilyns’ excellent advice a couple of weeks ago. My husband is in the position whereby his ex-wife who he divorced thirteen years ago; is making an application for Substantial Maintenance Payments or a consolidation of such. We have just discovered that this is amounting to £40,000. This is after she had been given the Marital home, all assets, savings, shares, ISA’s and the contents of two homes (the other was attached to his work as a Housemaster). Our understanding at the time was that my husband had achieved a clean break and that his pension had been offset against the entire matrimonial assets. This whole episode has come about due to the inclusion of a 5p per year Nominal maintenance order which has given her ‘liberty to apply’ . We are now in the process of being dragged towards Trial with costs rising towards £20,000. We have had to take out a loan to pay for this. His ex-wife has savings in excess of £52,000 and is quite happy to spend it on a vendetta to bankrupt us. I agree with Sam, I am afraid Helen. I have also had a very poor financial settlement but in the final analysis you just have to take the hit and move on with your life. This particular form of Litigation is so destructive, not only for the parties concerned but for the wider family who are also dragged along in the detritus of these wrangling’s. The Courts must understand that there must be a clean break in ALL circumstances, however that is achieved; whether the mother gets the matrimonial home and the husband keeps his pension; the children’s interests will always be looked after whilst they are vulnerable and wives must learn that being dependent on another person for the rest of their lives is mentally stultifying. We all need to move forward in our lives unencumbered by bitterness and debt and this cannot be achieved by continued maintenance. This just perpetuates the problem. This is a way of clinging to the past and discourages independent living. It’s tough but it has to be the best solution for the sanity everyone, including the children of the family. We are going through a complete nightmare. We don’t know if we are going to be able to survive financially and are completely at the mercy of the impending judgement of the Court. Everything about our case has been deemed impossible; everyone has told us that it should be struck out. We just don’t know what is in store for us and cannot afford the huge bills to go to Appeal if the case goes against us, which would help others who are faced with a similar situation in the future. Where is the justice, when in order to get it you have to be able to pay for it?

Richard - June 1, 2012 at 12:06am

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the views and experiences of the posters on this blog and trying to be as objective as I can, I wish to share some views that have cropped into my mind from the reading of the above 100 or so posts.

When two people get together and start a sexual relationship, how difficult is it to not realise the potential changes to both of those individuals lifestyles, that embarking on a sexual relationship might occur.

As far as I’m aware no one can predict the future.

A man or a woman can raise children independantly of one another and be equally as effective as each other. I am specifically referring to the difference of gender.

However I feel all is not fair in the current legal system is it. The bias is based on the fact that it is the mother female gender that carries and gives birth.

As we know it takes two to tango, but only one has full and final control that an unplanned pregnancy should proceed against their sexual partners wishes/maybe even prior mutually agreed plans.

I do understand that naturally the mother female gender is the only one able to suckle their offspring. But we now have formula milk. We also have breast pumps to aid in milk expression for those times when it might not be appropriate to breast feed.

Some experiences and observations I have witnessed in life have astounded me. Let me give an example . An Amazonian woman suckles and raises the offspring of an chimpanzee which was killed for food for her own family. That’s a fantastic example of taking responsibility for your own actions

A chap whose wife died during labour but produced two healthy twins. Fed raw cows milk as substitute for either formula or if the mother survived breast milk perhaps.

I simply cannot understand that someone should be kept in the manner they were accustomed too if two individuals decide to part. Regardless of what indescretion took place that caused the parting of those two parents

When you as an individual make a choice that might have undesired consequences for yourself in the future, wouldn’t it be prudent to put in safeguards that you can control. which absolutely should not be a detriment or burden on anyone else.

I understand that having laws are important to assist redress for those individuals that maybe have been short changed because of another individuals lack of responsibility and accountability.

But I must point out a blatant observation within the law profession. That the higher the purse the higher the chance that fair justice will not be served.

What has this to do with maintenance payments I hear you say.
Maybe maintenance payments help to legitimatise your lack of responsibility.

AS - July 10, 2012 at 3:29pm

Thanks fo a great blog. My husband and I divorced with a clean break 18 months ago. He, unusually, has our child living with him and I pay maintainance in line with the CSA guidance of 15%. I see my daughter every weekend,but recently my circumstances have changed and I can now have my daughter to stay for the weekend. As such I feel I am entitles to pay a reduced maininance.

However, since the divorce my ex-husband has lost his job and claims that a rduction in maintenance would leave him with too little to live on – this feels like maintenance by the back door. He has also moved his current partner into his house for significant amounts of the week.

Where do I stand?

Marilyn Stowe - July 10, 2012 at 3:48pm

Dear AS
Thanks for your enquiry. If you follow the link below, it will take you to an online child support calculator which should include the appropriate deductions for time spent with the paying parent. You could also go onto Child Maintenance Options run through CMEC, which is an impartial service and is available though a freephone national telephone helpline, 0800 988 0988 and its website http://www.cmoptions.org It gives more advice about entering into an agreement for child support going forward.
Best wishes
Marilyn

https://www2.dwp.gov.uk/csa/v2/en/calculate-maintenance.asp

Nikkisixx75 - July 13, 2012 at 12:49pm

Co-habitation seems to be such a grey area, I have been divorced for 2.5 years separated for just over 4. There is a spouse maintenance order (until our youngest son is 10 years old – he is now 6) in place with a 6 month cohabitation clause. I have always been open about my partner of now 2 years staying occasionally over night – he works away from home and then lives at his Mums, I have been communicating with my ex about how my partners divorce is progressing as the financial settlement would be a key factor that had to be resolved before we could cohabit and buy my ex husband out of my former matrimonial home, we recently were able to obtain a mortgage and are just awaiting the offer, again making it clear that we will be cohabiting from the point the mortgage is completed and the transfer of equity. My ex husband is threatening court action insisting I have been cohabiting when I have not, this was because he wanted to reduce the spouse payments in June for his holiday and I objected, he went ahead anyway, because he uses my financial dependence on him and caring for the boys to manipulate what I do and I feel this is purely out of spite because I said I would submit forms to court to retrieve the monies owed and that I have applied to the CSA for the child maintenance as I am tired of being controlled and threatened by him with regarding money.

My was due £13k from the house if I cohabited for more than 6 months, the boys reached 18 years etc, I remarried or died. He agreed to the maximum myself and my partner could raise which was £8k, a consideration was that if I were not to cohabit he was facing another £8k in spouse payments until our youngest is 10. Since the argument over June’s payment he has retracted his offer now threatening court action if we do not pay the full £13k in settlement, that the court will force the sale of the house and we will have to pay him in full.

I feel I have always been open and honest with him even despite his behavior, I don’t know what it is I have to do to prove that I have NOT been cohabiting, that a two year period to gain a level of confidence in a relationship that will commit to mortgage payments of £1033 a month I feel is responsible when I would not be able to afford these payments alone if my new relationship failed, that it’s a reasonable time frame to allow a relationship to develop; even though for 18 months we’ve had his constant threats of court because its my ex’s view we’re cohabiting.

I feel frustrated that it’s not more black and white, I am not deceitful, I have been communicating to him how I am trying to change things, I want to be financially independent of my ex husband and always have been, if I was in a position to tell him to shove the child maintenance I would gladly do so, unfortunately I am not.

How do I know which way a court would view things? I’m feeling so worried right now, I can’t afford a solicitor and any advice would be welcome.

KG - July 23, 2012 at 8:56am

Dear Marilyn

My husband separated from his wife 7 years ago and divorced 3. We have been married a year and have recently had a baby.
Upon divorce there was no property to sell as they were renting. The ex wife already had 2 children to another man and one child to my husband. She claimed for rent for a 3 bedroom home and expenses of this. Literally 2 weeks after court she threw the 2 older boys out and downsized to 2 bed home. My husband was ordered to pay spousal maintenance until her death or remarriage. There were no provisions for cohabitation in the order.
She now has a partner living with her and they have had an offer accepted on a 3 bedroom home so are due to move.
My husband has contacted her to try and self mediate, only to recieve abuse!!
So…. Her 2 older boys do not live with her now being 23 and 21. My husbands son is 16 and just left school, child maintenance is not in dispute here and paid monthly. She cohabits, is due to move into a purchased home with her new partner.
We live in what was originally my home, with my 9 year old son (that we recieve no maintenance fir from his biological father) and our 8 week old baby. I am no longer working and suffered a condition during pregnancy which will prevent me fom doing do in the near future, and in any event I don’t see why I should have to with such a young baby.
We have applied for professional mediation which she is also refusing, do you think an application to court is our best move and what do you think our chances of a change in order are? Thank you

andy - September 5, 2012 at 10:07am

Dear Marilyn,

I have been divorced from my wife for a little over a year now and have two children who live with their mother aged nearly 12 and 8. A court order was enforced as I earn above the CSA maximum guidelines. The court order states that a quite substantial payment should be paid until the children are 18. Since the divorce my wife is now co-habiting with a new partner who works. My ex-wife also gave up working the moment the court order was finalised but as she is a teacher she occasionally works as a supply. Also I have now bought a new house and live with a new partner who has a child of 9 and we will be marrying soon. My new partner does not work and receives no payments from her child’s father which means I obviously support everyone.

What would the situation be in this case? Do I have a case for an adjustment downwards. I obviously have no problem paying for my children but it really is a struggle paying for everyone now.

One last question. I currently work in the city and have done for many years. I’m seriously thinking of a change of career at some point in the coming years which will most likely result in a drop of pay but a much better lifestyle. How does this work with the courts? if my pay goes below the CSA maximum guidelines can I apply straight to the CSA? How does the court look at cases like this? Am I expected to continue to try and earn what I earn to maintain the order?

Thanks in advance
Andy

Marilyn Stowe - September 5, 2012 at 2:20pm

Dear Andy
You have my sympathies!
I cant give you specific advise on your own case but in general terms if your and your former wife’s circumstances alter, including an ex wife who is cohabiting and a change in your outgoings and a career move then all these would certainly be taken into account by the court.
The outcome depends on the facts and figures but the function of the court is not to penalise the payee rather allocate the resources fairly in accordance with the parties respective needs.
Regards
Marilyn

Chris - September 22, 2012 at 11:03am

Hi Marilyn,
This case gives some hope to fathers who want to pay for their children but don’t see the justice in paying spousal maintenance for an ex-wife who has a co-habiting or co-dependent partner. I am at the FDR stage of applying to the courts to vary spousal maintenance to a nominal amount in the light of my ex-wife cohabiting and having a child with her long-term partner. Grey vs Grey seems to set a precedent for my application. She says he lives in a separate household (a flat he rents) and only visits his son at weekends. She is also claiming that he pays a sufficient amount for her new baby’s needs and therefore there is no case to vary my spousal maintenance downwards. She has had to stop work as a result of the new baby and so the maintenance from him covers what used to be her monthly wage. How do you think the court will see it if it goes to trial? If he has managed to move out and is renting a flat they may be able to argue that co-habitation is not happening. My argument will be that I am effectively paying for the primary carer of his child and my two children to stay at home and that the financial burden of spousal support ought to be shared between the two fathers according to their incomes. I appreciate you don’t have the full facts here but I’d be really grateful if you could give your view on how you think these kinds of scenarios are being looked at by the courts.

Marilyn Stowe - September 24, 2012 at 11:38am

Hi Chris
Are you a high earner by which I mean would you be liable to pay top ups in addition to basic child support? Even if not there may be scope to do a deal any how by increasing child support but reducing your liability to a nominal order until the children are older. Or even extinguishing it altogether. The judge will decide if you can’t agree.
I don’t think it’s right that because your ex wife has had to stop work by having another man’s child your liability to maintain her should continue. Rather, that’s her problem isn’t it?
The law isn’t about an ex spouse providing a meal ticket for life come what may. At some point the liability must end. I think (and I stress it’s a personal view) that having a child to another man signifies the end of her dependence on you.
Best wishes
Marilyn.

Elizabeth - September 25, 2012 at 9:31am

Thank you for the useful comments above.
We are in a situation where my husbands ex wife has bought a house with a new partner that they have been living in for 7 months now. In addition she now works part time which she never did during the course of their 10 year marriage and when the consent order was set.
My husband pays 20% salary for the children along with many other additions ( which we are both very happy to continue with) but also a further 10% spousal maintenance which we want to contest.
From the divorce she got 90% of the home equity, and half of everything else which includes a substantial amount following the sale of his business, pensions etc.

She has accepted that the maintenance payments should be adjusted but that they should not cease?

Also I have given up a good job as am now expecting a baby so our financial situation is very different. Would the courts also take that into consideration if it has to to back to court?

Any guidance would be appreciated.

Marilyn Stowe - September 25, 2012 at 9:39am

Dear Elizabeth
I agree with you on the facts you set out above. I dont know the basis on which the maintenance order was made, but I think that because the ex wife is living with another man and particularly because she has bought a house with him, her spousal payments should cease.
Your husband’s change in circumstances is also a factor that the court should take into account.
The newly issued report of the Law Commission in relation to spousal maintenance makes some very useful points that should assist you.
http://www.marilynstowe.co.uk/2012/09/11/law-commission-opens-consultation-on-needs-non-matrimonial-property/
Best wishes
Marilyn

Chris - September 25, 2012 at 11:22am

Thanks for your comments Marilyn,
I wouldn’t say I was a very high earner . My salary is approx £40k per year and the father of my ex-wife’s new baby earns approx £70 – 80k. There would be scope for me to pay something in addition to child maintenance in order to strike a deal which is what I’m proposing, although I’m expecting her to rely more on her new partner’s income now that they have a child together.

Emma - September 26, 2012 at 1:58pm

My partner is going through a nasty divorce. he was with his wife about 30 years. The chilren have long flown the nest. There was no third party invloved with the break up, he left her before we met. When the house was sold and all assets were sorted he voluntarily gave her two thirds of all assets allowing her to purchase a property of her own. She is in her fifties and has her own pension. I admit she did give up work to look after the 2 children, but she chose not to work once they were school age and has never worked since. My partner does have a good income and is a few years yunger than her. Please can someone let us know if he has to pay her maintenance?

Alice - October 3, 2012 at 11:45pm

My brother has just settled with his ex wife. They have no children. Married 8 years. She worked until she stopped work with an illness ME, she left him. decision that she will not work again. Ended in court because of unreasonable demands figures kept going up and up.
He has to pay for her maintenance tax free for 25 years and a lottery figure lump sum. Some kind of charity work this!!

Alice - October 4, 2012 at 12:37am

Rachel on August 19, 2010 at 1:57 pm
Why no response to the post above? It is very similar to my brothers court settlement. Why is he responsible for her for 25 years? She left the marriage too.

Observer - October 5, 2012 at 12:34am

It’s interesting to chart which of Marilyn’s threads attract fathers, and which attract mothers. It reveals quite a bit.

Jack Smith - December 28, 2012 at 10:58am

I have to pay combined maintenance for my ex and a child who lives with me 50% of the time. There was very little equity in the former marital home that was in my sole name. I was able to retain the former marital home and have an adult child living with me. My ex has been claiming benefits and enjoying living in varios flats in a luxury area. She constantly torments me by threatening to keep our child and continues to goad me. She is co-habiting and has been for the last three months, I have been taking pictures of her flat with boyfriends car being there most evenings and early mornings. Though the divorce order states maintenance will cease upon death or remairriage, it does not mention co-habiting. Do I stand any chance of a variation to the order after six months of her co-habiting even if I produce documentary evidence of the fact? I believe my ex’s boyfriend has two another propery, however my ex and her boyfriend clearly live together. It is clearly unfair that I have to work hard and provide for my ex who thinks it is funny that she can lol around all day, have a part time child that is clearly a meal ticket and a boyfriend who lives with her. Is there anything I can do? My exc has recently applied to the CSA, I don’t know why other than there are going to be changes to the CSA afoot so I have been told. The situation is very unfair as my girlfrien, who rents her own house and has children strugles to make ends meeet. What do you advise? Many thanks

elizabeth jones - February 10, 2013 at 7:12pm

It is unfair to suggest that the male is always the one hard done by. When I met my ex husband he was in debt and had no job and a house which was in negative equity and a bad state or repair and decoration. I owned my own home with equity, had savings and car, and had a career which would currently have me earning 250k per annum. I sold my house and paid off his debts from my savings and then repaired his home so that it made good profit. I also paid off his mortgage arrears and was instrumental in settling his debts. I continued to work for three years while he was unemployed and for many years after he rejoined the workforce. Eventually he wanted children, while i was settled having a child from a previous relationship. We had three more children at his request and i gave up my career to care for them. I continued to provide a good home for him and the children and cared for them all from ironing and childcare to taking the home from near derelict to stunning doubling its value. I became ill and shortly after he took up with a low grade woman, telling me he is not sure he wants to be a father anymore and wants fun. He now earns a very high salary working in insurance well in excess of six figures. The other woman directs his decisions and he is now of the opinion i should work though i am no longer healthy enough to do so, especially while caring alone for three young children. we had no savings when applying for the divorce as he had frittered fortunes on holidays, jewellery and branded items for his fling. Were it not for him i would have only one grown up child and funds behind me after a long and well paid career as i did when i met him. Why in such circumstances might it be correct that the children and their mother should readjust their reasonable standard of living so that a husband can fund his unreasonable, lady friend’s obsession with everything “classy and well expensive” ?…. her words. AND why should a wife give up the possibility of ever being in another committed relationship other than with a man who can afford to take on a poorly woman and three children belonging to somebody else? No the law is not always fair but it is better to ensure that women and children who have done no wrong other than trust and give to an unreliable man are provided for.

What's it got to do with me! - April 1, 2013 at 3:05pm

Hi
My question is a bit different to many of the posts here in that it doesn’t relate to the question of spousal maintenance of a dependent cohabiting. My boyfriend and I have been cohabiting with for 18 months in rented accomodation which we split equally. He is currently going through a consent order variation with his ex wife who he divorced 5 years ago. His financial situation has changed over the years due to the loss of a better paid job. She doesn’t work as she claims it is a full time job caring for their 3 children aged 16, 14 and 12.
She is now trying to bring my earnings into the negotiations and her lawyer has written to my boyfriend’s to state that unless I provide bank accounts as proof of my earnings and provide a disclosure as to my capital position post my own divorce then they will seek a third party disclosure and costs accordingly.
My boyfriend and I have separate finances and I’ve never even shared my bank statements etc. with him or discussed how much money I might have wrapped up in my former marital home. Can they get a court order for this or are they bluffing?

Respondent - April 1, 2013 at 5:54pm

The last few posts are really revealing, in that they show just how rife financial abuse is, in everything from pressuring partners into buying idiotic trinkets to using children as pawns for obtaining benefits and more maintenance. They also reveal the level of involvement of lawyers in encouraging such abuse.

Alan - April 22, 2013 at 7:29pm

This is obviously a long running thread on a difficult subject but reading through the responses I can’t equate my situation easily with some of your existing answers.

I was divorced in 2000, there was a capital settlement plus orders for child (3) and spousal maintenance as normal. My former spouse cohabited for short periods but my attitude was relaxed and I continued to make full spousal maintenance payments as per the original order. In 2007 the cohabitation became more permanent and in 2009 it was agreed by my former spouse’s solicitor that the order should be made nominal. No payments were made from that point onwards as no nominal amount was specified or demanded.

In 2012 the cohabitation ceased and there was then a demand for the spousal maintenance to resume at a far higher level than pre nominal levels, in addition there was an application made to capitalise.

I took the matter seriously and after a failed mediation process an initial and then FDA was held. At the first hearing the judge ruled that any questions concerning capital assets were inadmissible as these had been deal with by the 2000 initial order. At the second financial disclosure hearing the judge again expressed his surprise at the fact that the current application was based on a failed cohabitation and that the respondent was now expected to financially compensate an applicant whose present circumstances were not as a result of my actions.

Ultimately with the threat of costs hanging over me and the uncertain outcome should the case go to a final hearing I have had to settle at a substantial sum.

I would be interested in your views on this, personally I feel that the outcome is unjust being based as it is on circumstances outside my control ( a failed relationship between my former spouse and her cohabiting partner)

A draft order has been agreed but not signed at this point.

louise1965 - August 12, 2013 at 6:33pm

Hi
My questions are from the one in receipt of spousal maintenance. My husband divorced me 3 years ago (I left him for a week and he thought it would make me return!) I have been in and out of court since racking up a bill of over £36,000. My case is tricky as we ran 2 businesses together for the duration of our 28 year marriage, oh and raised 2 children. I was awarded nothing from either business, as 1 is a caravan site on his parents land and the other he cooked the books to show a loss. I recieved nothing from the house contents, the speed boat, the new static in wales, the only award I recieved was half of the house and 2 years maintenance.
My ex has managed to sabotage the house sale for 18 months and I have racked up debts now amounting to £16,000 going to court to get the house sold. I have set up a business which is not making a deal at the moment as all new businesses don’t and started college as I am not qualified in anything due to the 28 years of being in business with my ex.
My question is should I take him back to court for an extension on the maintenance and how strong is my case?
How do I sort the house ?

Yours sincerely desperate Louise

Marilyn Stowe - August 13, 2013 at 8:21am

Dear Louise
It’s simply not possible to advise you from what you have written. If you want legal advise you should book an appointment with a good lawyer and get face to face advise based on the detailed questioning of your position I would expect any good lawyer to ask.
Do it and put your mind at rest.
Regards
Marilyn

Sue - August 19, 2013 at 9:22am

Dear Marilyn,

I am about to go to court tomorrow for the second time following a breach of a consent order that was made only last year in September 2012. The consent order was agreed (out of court) at the final hearing, some 18 months after we separated.

My ex husband earns a significant (albeit fluctuating) amount and had within 18 months prior to settlement earned well over £190,000 net. Throughout the proceedings he had either not disclosed all his financial details or has stalled it’s production. He is a partner in a very successful LLP company and is currently working in SA. He is due to receive 5% share of the SA arm of the business under a Heads of Agreement Contract, he does not have any other company shares. We had been married for 23 years and have two children 16yrs and 18 yrs. They live with me in the FMH. My ex also stopped paying the mortgage for 6 months prior to the final hearing….unfortunately I could not afford to pay it and am still suffering the consequences. I gave up work to raise the children and support my ex in a job that took him away from home for long periods and took him all around the world. I have worked part time since 2006 but my pay is low.

To save on legal costs I agreed an out of court settlement on the day of our final hearing, whilst weighing up what was and what was not financially disclosed alongside what was a reasonable settlement in comparison to my needs. My ex did not have any assets other than the small equity in the house which was assigned to me (with a very large monthly repayment of £1700), and a share of his pension-I got 58%. As such we agreed that my ex would pay me a global maintenance figure of £2500 a month until I reach 60 (I’m 47).

He stopped paying me this amount in January 2013 only 4 months after the consent order was made, with no evidence of a reduction in salary and no application to the court to vary the order (he pays a portion to the CSA to cover child maintenance but this is less than half of the global figure). It has taken 6 months to get to an FDR hearing, whereby he has had to fill out another Form E. It is full of non disclosure (no surprise there) with statements that he has produced clearly showing that he has the money in the one bank account he has admitted to! He can manipulate what he earns as he’s self employed and gets paid a basic plus profit shares etc etc.

I fear the he is abusing the court system/process to stall the payments agreed under the Consent Order. It has caused great financial hardship to myself and our children and I am very stressed that he is ‘allowed’ to just suddenly stop paying. I now face a dire financial future particularly in regard to remortgaging and gaining any future credit. It is simply now not just about the arrears but the consequences of not being able to meet my own financial commitments. I fear that he will constantly default over the remaining 12 years and am not sure whether the legal process is robust enough to deal with a person such as this. I have been representing myself since we divorced last year.

I apologise for this being rather long winded but am worried about how I can enforce the arrears and ensure that he continues to pay in the future to avoid constantly being put in financial dire straits. I am also concerned about his constant non disclosure and the courts leniency in allowing him yet more time to produce evidence.

The most important aspect is that when the divorce settlement was agreed, for my part, it was on the understanding that the maintenance figure was a fair reflection on my contribution to a very long marriage and the fact that there was a large disparity in earnings. The fact that he now wants to vary the order downwards by 56% within a few months should surely impact on all the other points agreed within the consent order eg. should I be looking at 80% share of his pension, should I be looking at a lifetime maintenance? How can the law support me on this as I know that we can only now negotiate on the maintenance figure? My financial future is a lot more bleak than it was when I was divorced.

Please advise a very anxious lady!

Many thanks,

Sue

Marilyn Stowe - August 19, 2013 at 10:26am

Dear Sue
I am so sorry you are in such a mess. Accepting maintenance payments is always risky if there is the slightest concern about non payment, as in this case with him working out of the country. The cost of enforcing and varying the order can be very high and I certainly understand your concerns which are very serious.
However even with the best will in the world in the absence of your documentation and an understanding of both of your respective financial positions, and examining the disclosure he has produced and cross referring it against what was produced before, there is no advice I can give you about your case tomorrow.
I sincerely hope you do have a solicitor and/or barrister representing you in court tomorrow. If you do, then please speak to them. You are paying one or both to do this job and it is your lawyer(s) who should be putting your mind at ease.
Regards
Marilyn

Sue - August 19, 2013 at 9:19pm

Dear Marilyn,

I so much appreciate your swift response. I have been so bogged down with preparing for the hearing that I have only just read your reply.

For financial reasons I am unfortunately having to represent myself tomorrow, but hope to do the best I can in highlighting the non disclosure and the anomalies discovered within the scant evidence my ex has provided within his form E. I also hope to present my case in regards to not supporting a variation so soon after the final settlement was agreed. To me it is illogical to consider a variation within such a short space of time given his role as a senior partner. It also raises questions about the practicalities of a fair outcome at the final hearing for the financially poorer party and their ability to move forward and start a new life on an equal footing.

My ex enjoys a substantial income but it can fluctuate (from around £250,000 one year to £160,000 the next). During the divorce last year I paid a small fortune for a forensic accountant report that assessed that my ex’s average income would be around £190,000 a year in the future. However as his income fluctuates to the extent stated above I could potentially be in court every year…a thought I do not want to linger over for too long and I guess what my ex is hoping I will eventually tire of!!

Can the law really support someone in my position, or is it all too easy for the financially better off (particularly the high earning self employed) to evade his or her obligations when set against the difficulty experienced both emotionally and financially in getting the defaulting party to court.

It may not be the last hearing tomorrow!… please feel free to let me know your thoughts if only on a general point of law as I realise advise is very difficult to offer under the circumstances.

Thank you for listening,

Regards,
Sue

Marilyn Stowe - August 19, 2013 at 9:30pm

Dear Sue
Please get in touch after the hearing if you need any more help. Im sorry you didn’t contact me earlier as Id have been happy to look at the papers and let you have some pointers.
Judges aren’t fools however and he does have an uphill task.
Don’t forget to ask for arrears to be paid and Im wondering if its possible for maintenance to be secured against a capital asset as an inducement to pay in the future? A capital asset in this country?
At some point it might be sensible to try and negotiate a lump sum as capitalisation of maintenance.
Good luck tomorrow
Regards
Marilyn

Kay - August 21, 2013 at 11:14am

Dear Marilyn,
What about from the husband and new wife perspective.

My husband left his wife over ten years ago and gave her everything. She had the money from the sale of thier home (in excess of £30,000) and all of the contents. We had a large debt to pay off.
The children that they had together are grown up.

She would not initally agree to a divorce and this followed approx 4 years leater but was conducted by them and not finacial court order was made.

We have married and have a family – she has now decided to claim spousal maintenance and is threatening us with cout.

I would like to know if she has any claim on assets with I have brought into our marriage – i.e. deposit on our current home paid for by the sale of my former property and a property purchased (with mortgage) from my family inheritence.

Please can you advise as I have worked hard to build a life for us and our family and do not want her to take it all.

Many thanks in advance
Kay

Marilyn Stowe - August 21, 2013 at 11:58am

Dear Kay
She has no claim against your assets and to establish an income claim against your husband’s income she has to demonstrate that she has reasonable need of it but the passage of time is relevant and similarly your husband has reasonable needs too. He has rebuilt his life and re established himself based upon what was done at the time, which a court won’t ignore. The court will consider the entire picture in context of what is going on today and what she has already had. Don’t panic, do take good legal advice.
Regards
Marilyn

Annette - August 22, 2013 at 8:43am

Dear Marilyn,

I am 19 years old and my parents are currently getting divorced. My father has not attended any of the court hearings and was absent for the financial settlement which ruled that my Mother should receive £3,500 per month – he was served with new papers at the beginning of this month to attend court in September to explain why he has not paid any money to my mother from this ruling.

Whilst I love both my parents dearly, I feel the settlement has been unfair as my Mother lives most of the year in Tenerife with a new partner and she has not told the court about this. As I understand there is some sort of time frame that the custodial parent must exceed with a new partner for it to be deemed as cohabitation (2 months living together or something like that), but she always returns to England after 4/5 weeks or so to avoid this. She openly talks of the relationship, it has been going on for more than a year and it fulfills all of the social security criteria you list above. Her new partner provides everything for her and has an income to allow this although I am sure he would not be prepared to present it to the court.

I know my father is in the wrong for keeping his head in the sand about the court settlement but I really don’t think what has been ruled by the judge has been particularly fair as all the facts aren’t there. For the upcoming court hearing in which my Dad is expected to explain why he has not paid, is there any way I could alert the court to this cohabitation?

Kind regards,

Annette

Marilyn Stowe - August 22, 2013 at 6:39pm

Dear Annette
It’s up to you if you wish to take sides. You are an adult and you can give evidence via a witness statement and in the court hearing. Tell your father you wish to do this and his lawyers will deal with it but from a purely practical perspective, a word of caution. They are both your parents, and you may come to regret taking sides- most cases comprise many different shades of grey.
Your understanding of the law for cohabitation is incorrect. There is no common law wife in English law and no rights are gained by parties living together.
Best wishes
Marilyn

Kim - August 23, 2013 at 8:28am

Dear Marilyn,
Many thanks for your speedy reponse to my comments and concerns.
I have to say a huge thank you for putting my mind at rest. I have been so worried that she will try to take everything we have worked for.
Upon reading my comments I forgot to mention that the property purchased from my inheritence is in joint names with a mortgage – will this make a difference.

Many thanks again
Kim

Marilyn Stowe - August 23, 2013 at 5:19pm

Dear Kim
There is his half share of an asset he owns which the court will ,take into account but equally will take into account where it can from.
Regards
Marilyn

richard - August 23, 2013 at 2:20pm

Dear Marilyn,
I have question for you. I finally divorced my wife 2 years ago, just before we went to court for the second time, she got engaged and was co habiting with another man, when we went to court her new partner discolsed his pay slips and income, we asked the court to consider that they were living as a married couple and that I shouldnt be responsible for any joint lives maintenance, the court refused this on the basis that my ex wifes new partner didnt earn enough money to make an impact on the amount I had to pay monthly, I currently pay £1500per month joint lives maintenance and £800 per month for my duaghter. My ex wife has now been living with the same man for 2 years and I have never disputed or refused to pay the maintenance. Do you think I should now go back to court to dispute the joint lives maintenance I am paying, which I dont consider fair, they have clearly not decided to get married because of the maintenance I pay.

Regards,

Richard

Marilyn Stowe - August 23, 2013 at 5:16pm

Dear Richard
In principle I do. She has had two years to re establish herself and appears to have done so. Why not write and tell her you intend to do this and agree a date for a final payment?
The only issue may be the Judge could say the amount is low by reference to your income, she may not have had an adequate clean break and I suppose theres a risk it could be i creased. I don’t know the facts.
Take personal legal advice.
Regards
Marilyn

Susan - August 29, 2013 at 1:24am

Dear Marilyn. My partner and his wife are divorcing after 24 years marriage and two years separation. They split the care of the children (now 18, 17 and 15) equally. My partner has recently been earning 100k gross (approx 70k net) but private education costs, a big mortgage and negative equity mean that instead of assets, there was approximately 50k debt when they separated. Part of their problems related to her refusal to make any attempt to reduce the financial pressure by returning to work when the children were old enough. (She was a specialist nurse). He is paying voluntary child maintenance and has shouldered all the debt. So far he hasn’t paid her spousal maintenance because he’s been paying the school fees (30k a year). Throughout this time she has been co-habiting in a rented house with the man she left my partner for and now has a teaching assistant’s job, earning approx 8k. My partner thinks she could easily earn more. He and I recently bought a house together (my cash, and a joint mortgage including 50k to pay off the debts). His wife is making a claim for spousal maintenance and pension share plus ongoing child maintenance. Do you have any idea how the debt, her co-habitation, the gradual reduction of school fees and the disparity in their income will come into play? My partner has recently become self-employed so his future earnings are not as predictable as they once were.

They both consulted solicitors at the time of their separation but it never progressed. This time the divorce papers say she doesn’t have a solicitor. Will it look heavy handed if he uses one? He would happily make her an offer and avoid a court battle if only he knew what was likely.

Many thanks for any advice you give, your clarity is very reassuring.

Marilyn Stowe - August 30, 2013 at 1:01pm

Dear Susan
Everyone has the choice of instructing a solicitor if they can afford to do so. Its very wise in his case to take his own personal advice because I agree all those factors are very important and I think they will impact on his liability.
Why not download my book which is free at the moment from Amazon (click the link on the side bar) and read it. It will tell you far more about how a court comes to its decision, than I could in this short reply.
Regards
Marilyn

Ann - September 28, 2013 at 2:51pm

Dear Marilyn

I wonder if you could give a honest appraisal of my and my partners situation. They seperated and divorced in 2006/7 as a result of her unproved extra marital affair. Divorce was on breakdown of marriage. They have two children now aged 14 and 12. The court determined at the time maintenance costs for the children and £200 per month for her for the rest of her life until either of them die or she cohabits for more than one year. The relationship she was in has now broken down and as far as we are aware she is single. At the point of divorce she was not working and she was awarded the property (the court order states that my partners name should be removed – she has never done this). My partner was able to see the children at weekends every two weeks. This has gradually been reducing and she now says that the boys want to see their father only once a month. Which he is not happy with. In addition to this as my partner was ordered to pay her costs in the divorce he got into financial difficulites himself. If he was not in a relationship with me he would be currently be in deficit each month. He is currently in a debt managment programme and we just about hold our heads above water each month. As the circumstances have changed since the divorce and she is now working he has received previous financial advice from his work who suggested that he approach her to reduce the payments which he did and she flatly refused. The other thing to mention is that 4 years ago she asked for an increase in child maintenance as the boys wanted new bikes. He refused as we were unable to afford so she went to the CSA and the payments increased by £200 per month. Therefore he now pays what the court ordered for her and the children in CSA payments alone. My partner is a high earner but we do not have an high availablility of disposable income and live in a one bedroom flat while she is in the three bedroomed house. CSA don’t take your other expenses into account and it was this increase would pushed his outgoings into deficiet each month and consequently resulted in the debt management plan. In addition when he was at risk of being made redundant she did not beleive him and told the CSA he was in £2000 of arrears – he wasn’t and never would miss a payment to support his children. It is her he no longer wishes to support. In addition to giving us an idea as to whether or not we would be able to reduce / stop maintenance payments to her, I am also interested in whether or not us getting married means she would have a claim on my financial situation. I have been led to understand that as long as we have seperate financial accounts my finances will not be taken into account. Is this true? I do not wish my monthly salary to be taken into account as especially do not see why I personally should support my partners ex!! Any advice would be gratefully recieved. Kind regards.

Marilyn Stowe - September 29, 2013 at 8:15am

Dear Ann
Your partner can do the calculation in relation to his liability for child support and see if he is paying too much. If so he can ask for them to reconsider his position.
If he isn’t then he could apply to vary his spousal maintenance payments downwards. I don’t know if he will be successful there are no figures in your e mail.
The cost of a variation if solicitors are involved can be significant as the process is similar to a full blown financial settlement in divorce. So it needs to be cost effective. One thing to consider might be a one off negotiated lump sump sum if it can be afforded.
Your income is relevant to the extent that it reduces his needs. It is not relevant towards hers.
He should ask a solicitor for advise with all the figures taking into account her increased income.
Finally if he isn’t seeing his children he can apply to the court.
She doesn’t sound amenable to a mediation.
See this link:-https://www.gov.uk/looking-after-children-divorce/types-of-court-order
Regards
Marilyn

TN - October 22, 2013 at 11:38am

It is so helpful to see that this blog exists! 🙂

I need some advice – please – I will be getting married in 3 weeks and I can hear some horrible unfair procedures out here..!
1. My partner divorced 4y ago- this relationship resulted with 1 child- he is paying £230/m – by common agreement, it`s aprox 15% of his wage – the ex never justifies the expenditures.
2. The ex cohabits with her partner and they have another baby together – would my ex be able to use this information against reducing any payment?
3.What changes can my marriage bring (financially)?
We both have our companies- and it would be extremely unfair that I should be paying for something/someone I have nothing to do at all!

Where is the law protecting the current wife and re-married person? 2 human are settling down and creating a family, dependants.
Why should my babies suffer to a certain extent that out there, there is a greedy person? (when the ex was informed of my existence, she requested (and received) more money!!

4. Is there any EU law that could be brought in or somehow exercised (I`m dual citizen of 2 EU countries) or will it be British one applied? If I would get married in a different country, would it make any difference?

5. When I will have my babies, can I request her child maintenance amount to be reduced , as fairly, it should be the case.?

Regards,
TN

Marilyn Stowe - October 25, 2013 at 6:39pm

Dear TN
You are getting married with your eyes wide open, or they should be. Read my book on the side bar for more information about what happens on divorce. It will be 99p well spent as a general guide.
Then in relation to your impending marriage, get a pre nup in place if you think it beneficial, stipulating what you want on divorce and where you want it to happen if it ever does. Your lawyers here and abroad can advise you further including as to the appropriate jurisdiction.
Your partner has been married before however and he and his first family are subject to English law and he appears to have an ongoing liability:- but is it just to his child? Has there been a clean break with his ex wife? This is important. Many second wives complain they are effectively supplementing their husband paying the first non working wife.
The child support liability will naturally continue but of course his other children do count and their needs are taken into account. You can call “Child Maintenance Options” a free service, for more specific information.
I don’t know enough to give any more than very general advise. If you haven’t already, you should take legal advice about your own overall position and make a judgement call, on a fully informed basis.
Regards
Marilyn

Margaret - November 22, 2013 at 3:54pm

Good Afternoon Marilyn – I am enquiring on behalf of my brother who divorced his wife 20 years ago and gained custody of the children after she left the family home after a series of affairs.
She signed an agreement -drawn up by a solicitor – stating that if he paid her an agreed amount (I believe this was to go towards buying her own house) she would not ask for half the house.
This was duly done – and signed in front of witnesses – that she acknowledged receipt of the agreed sum and that the house and responsibility for it would now be his. The only problem with this is that, although the document was drawn up by a solicitor he paid the money directly to his ex-wife as three seperate payments within 3 months as he had to borrow to pay the agreed sum – but she did sign that she acknowledged receipt.
She married again and upon the death of her 2nd husband she gained several thousand pounds of his money.She has now married again for a third time – still living in the same house.
My brother unfortunately did not get the changing of the deeds finalised at the time due to all sorts of pressures on him at the time including raising his 4 children whilst working at the same time.
He now wants to do that so that he can move on with his life and also ensure that their children will benifit when the time comes.
The Land Registry have looked at the situation and have decided that they are unable to do anything without his ex-wife’s consent as the original agreement was not dated at the time.
My brother contacted his ex-wife and she agreed to go with him to a solicitor to sign a new agreement – this was 7 months ago – but so far has made several excuses as to why she hasn’t yet been able to do so on any of the agreed dates that they had made. Now after saying she will sign she has now stated that she has a couple of queries which she has not yet told him about.
I think she is just playing around as she had told one of her sons that she intended to go for half the house if anything happened to him.
Can you please let me know where he stands and also why the original agreement should need to be dated if she signed that she acknowledged receipt of the agreed lump sum at the time.

Marilyn Stowe - November 22, 2013 at 6:31pm

Dear Margaret
I agree this needs sorting out pronto.
If your brother divorced his wife he will have been the Petitioner and presumably there was no order made for a financial settlement. I think he should inform his ex wife that if she doesn’t sign he will apply for a transfer of property order in the terms of the agreement and seek an order for costs against her. Then do it.
If a court order was made in terms of the agreement and she won’t sign, a judge can sign in her place. Again she can be advised that he will seek the costs against her.
Regards
Marilyn

Luke - November 22, 2013 at 7:47pm

“I will be getting married in 3 weeks and I can hear some horrible unfair procedures out here..!”
=============================

TN, I would be very wary about signing a marriage certificate until you understand what you are getting into, don’t assume that Family Court will be ‘fair’ because in your eyes it may well not be. I certainly don’t think it is even close to being fair.

Marilyn has of course given you great advice when it comes to getting legal advice because your signature may as well be written in blood on that marriage certificate.

To be honest I would be concerned that you are 3 weeks out and your prospective husband has not thought about the ramifications of his previous entanglements already and discussed it with you – how can that be ?

Hati - January 22, 2014 at 5:43pm

Hi have been reading all the comments on what constitutes co habitation including grey v grey ruling and find it much more useful than my current lawyers comment – the courts know it when they see it !
As this blog was started in 2010 have there been any further refinements of definition of co habiting ? One point I don’t think covered by previous questions – if my new partner and I spend 3 nights at his house 4 at mine but otherwise totally separate financially house care etc can my x argue we Are co
habiting – he is a litigation lawyer and fought all the way through the courts to resist paying maintenance until
Finally saw sense and settled. – it says maintenace payable till death or my remarriage till 60 ( we are both 51 ) would really appreciate your thoughts

Marilyn Stowe - January 26, 2014 at 1:20pm

Dear Hati
It’s interesting you use the word “new partner” about someone you aren’t sure if you are living with?
In all these cases it’s a question of fact. It would be up to the court to decide if you aren’t cohabiting and in your case it sounds like a grey area;- separate homes, finances etc.
Regards
Marilyn

Pip - January 30, 2014 at 3:05pm

Hi – I’m hoping someone can help me. I need to know where I stand re child maintenance. My ex-partner remarried just over two years ago. he is self-employed and works mainly cash in hand, he has always paid me less than a third of the amount that the CSA calculator says he should but this would be difficult to prove because he doesn’t declare half of his earnings. His new wife is very wealthy and is currently supporting him financially, he has wound down his business because he doesn’t need to work any more, and is starting to say that he will reduce the tiny amount that he currently pays for our children; is this legal? We have no official agreement in place, but if I took him to court, would they consider his household income or just look at his own? I work part time and I have gone back to university to study nursing in order to support my children. However he and his wife own multiple houses and businesses while I struggle to provide food and warmth for our children – I know that the children are not “hers” but this doesn’t seem fair.

CC - February 13, 2014 at 10:15am

Hi

I’ve now been separated for 2 and a half years. During this time my ex-wife and I have tried to come to a financial settlement but have failed completely.

She has since entered a new relationship with an Australian citizen, with whom she now has a baby. He has been living with her, in our former home, since prior to the babies birth – approximately 9 months now. He also spent 3 months living in the home prior to his relocation from Australia.

I am happy to pay the maximum determined level of child maintenance for our three children, but paying spousal maintenance now seems unreasonable as my children are all in full time school, and she is cohabiting with a new partner whose baby she cares for during the working day.

I am not aware of his visa or work status. During negotiations approximately six months ago, it was claimed that he was in the UK on a tourist visa and was unable to work, although it was clear that he was working illegally. He must have since acquired a new visa as he still resides in the UK and there is no sign of this changing.

I am a high income earner, although I now earn the least I have in over four years due to troubles in the financial services industry. I earn approximately £120K. The problem is, this leaves me around £6K per month after tax, of which I pay £2K rent to live in London and have space for my children, and I pay £2.5K to my ex for voluntary maintenance leaving me less than £1.5K per month to live and work in London.

She is aiming for 100% of the former matrimonial house, and £3K per month ongoing maintenance.

At this point I face a very costly and difficult to afford legal battle, which if it goes against me will leave me unable to afford any sort of existence.

I no longer enjoy living in London, and have never enjoyed my work. I’m simply not prepared to continue with it if all financial incentive is taken away from me. Am I to never own a house of my own?

At this stage I am considering all of my options. My new girlfriend is Irish, so I am considering relocation to Ireland where I will certainly earn a lot less, but will have a more enjoyable standard of living. Alternatively, I would consider relocating to mainland Europe.

Would the UK courts be able to force me to pay more than child maintenance if I lived in Europe? I am happy to pay the approx £2K monthly for child maintenance but really can’t afford any more. Both my ex wife and I are from New Zealand, which is where the marriage was conducted, however my lawyer has suggested that as proceedings have started in the UK the law here now has complete control of the matter.

Regards
C

SE - February 21, 2014 at 5:24pm

Hi
My girlfriend is in dispute with her ex-husband. She is in receipt of spousal maintenance which he is trying to get dismissed after just over 2 years and obtain a clean break, although he’s offered to pay for a further 2 months. He is claiming circumstances have changed which they have to an extent. His income is less and she now works but her income including spousal, tax credits, etc only just cover outgoings. Also after a year of child maintenance under the order he referred to the CSA who halved his child maintenance payments. She is the carer for 3 young children and was forced back to work before she would have liked, to obtain a mortgage to house herself and her children. We do not co-habit currently but are in the process of purchasing a house together (completion likely to take a further 3 months) at which stage clearly we will be and she is happy to accept that after 6 months the spousal maintenance will cease. She is loathe to accept his 2 month offer because her current finances aren’t great and last year he unilaterally decided to reduce spousal to her and was in contempt of court. In the meantime he placed her in financial difficulties. Furthermore he often pays the spousal late. She doesn’t see why he shouldn’t keep to the order for the remaining few months but his solicitor feels the order will be dismissed, he’ll get a clean break and all costs awarded against her. What we both find ridiculous is that given the ex knows the spousal maintenance will finish this year why he is persisting with taking this to Court. What should she do?

SED - February 24, 2014 at 10:09am

I am not cohabiting with my girlfriend, but her ex-husband is asking for full financial disclosure from me in respect a spousal maintenance dispute. Am I obliged to provide this and what are the circumstances in which I would be required to fully disclose my financial circumstances?

Luke - April 4, 2014 at 11:35am

“What we both find ridiculous is that given the ex knows the spousal maintenance will finish this year why he is persisting with taking this to Court.”
====================================

How does he know that SE ? Has she given that to him in writing ? I suspect not.

You are also clearly a couple and he probably feels you are taking the mickey.

Regardless, if his solicitor thinks he will get a slam-dunk win in court and you don’t seem at all sure that he is wrong it suggests that he might well have the grounds for it.

D - June 4, 2014 at 11:38am

hi Marilyn

I have been divorced 9 years. I pay my ex wife £1000 per month maintenance for her. there was no mention of my 2 children in the divorce papers. We share the children (now 18/19) equally and always have done. However i have paid for virtually everything for them. Other than the time they are at their mums with is now no more than 50 days a year.

She is now engaged to be married. Her fiancé lives with her virtually all the time, though she says they do no t cohabit. Having said that she want to not get married for 4 years. I see that as a way to get 4 years money from me.

i have now retired & my income has greatly reduced. Just some interest on savings & a small pension.

if i go to court will I get the maintenance stopped -as she is engaged to be married and only delaying it to exhaust me of funds.
Regards D

Blaine - July 17, 2014 at 9:02am

There’s definately a great deal to learn about this subject.

I really like all the points you have made.

Denise - August 10, 2014 at 9:12am

Hi Marilyn , I issued divorce papers 4 years ago, have the nisi, due to my illness and pressure/lies from my ex I didn’t go any further with financial settlement. I am now a bit stronger and requested from my ex a full financial statement , we had been married 29 years, two children, I still at uni the other working, we both filled in form E. He is a high earner (200k + bonus pa) I have benn ill most of our marriage whilst unable to work claming incapacity allowance £440 mth + high care and high mobility £552 mth.
House/ £260k equity
His pension 980k
He’s emptied his savings account at least £60k and cashed in his shares £55k I can prove all this, he want to keep the family home while I rent £600 mth for a bungalow he give me £1250 towards my bills etc. we are going to the FDR in a couple of weeks and he wants a clean break he stating he needs £8000 mth to live on which is ridiculous I have been honest and just put all my utilities down I don’t go out socialising my life has always been my family and my home if they were happy so was I . My nerves are shot going to this hearing it’s making me ill I have the support from my wonderful children and family my ex is a big bully and very sure about himself I would appreciate any information on how you think the courts may go

Marilyn Stowe - August 12, 2014 at 6:15pm

Dear Denise I’d love to give you some detailed advice but there isn’t enough here to go on. Your own solicitor and barrister should be able to give you the advice and confidence you need. If that isn’t happening get a second opinion.
In law the court must meet the reasonable needs of both parties out of all the income and capital of the parties. The judge has to decide how much there is and how to divide it. If your ex has already helped himself, that should come down on his share of the balance sheet.
I’m sure all will be well.
Regards
Marilyn

Lesley - August 15, 2014 at 9:21am

Hi Marilyn,
I feel rather guilty picking your brains, but I wonder if you could point me in the direction of some case law regarding your last comment above: ‘However, what of the dependent housewife who has given up her own career to raise children, and who now finds herself staring into the unknown with hands tied, asking two questions: Do I jump without a parachute? If I do, what kind of landing will I have?’
I’m not cohabiting so the above case doesn’t apply. I am actually a former solicitor, but haven’t practiced since 1988, when I gave up work to bring up our 4 children (including the eldest who was special needs), with little or no input from their father. My ex-husband is a successful barrister. We married in 1986 and divorced in 2009. I received a lump sum and a maintenance order, which he is now seeking to slash by more than half on the basis of a drop in income. In the consent order, I agreed to use my best endeavours to obtain full time employment. I am now self-employed full time as a copy-editor, and this has been the case for 12 months. I started by working part time in a dress shop, then in their office. I did not have the confidence to go back into the law, and anyway I don’t think anyone would have wanted a middle aged woman with a huge career gap when they had the pick of the youngsters. Also I was unable to work full time at first because I still had children at school, plus elderly parents.
I’ve had to sack my solicitor as she was stirring the matter into an all-out war, so will have to arm myself for a fight.
Do you have any helpful hints please?
Thanks so much,
Lesley

Jade - September 8, 2014 at 12:48pm

Married for 25 years 3 grown up children
My Ex gambled for years. He lost our family home and incurred massive debts.
I worked all throughout our marriage.
He went bankrupt for £100k and I went bankrupt for £30k due to his addiction
I suffer with depression. Work part time. He works and earns approx £50k
Has agreed to pay me £250 a month spousal maintenance. Still not divorced. Can I expect an increase in SM?

Joanna - October 2, 2014 at 4:53am

Has there been a reply to this question?
I am in a similar situation whereby my ex gambled us into huge debt, I ended the marriage but am now left destitute, working part time, struggling to pay rent whilst my ex lives very well, with a new partner, earning in excess of £40k?

Lucy - September 25, 2014 at 8:14am

Hi Marilyn,

I’ve scanned through the posts on this blog to check my query hasn’t already been raised by someone else and responded to… it hasn’t so here goes.

My boyfriend has recently been through a very vicious divorce where they have a child of school age but she hadn’t worked for a number of years prior to having the child after being made redundant from a very well paid job.

The original outcome at the final FDR hearing after the process being dragged out over 4 years by the wife, was that the wife was awarded the house and he got a clean break. They have a child together so he obviously pays the CSA money too. The judge was seen as being a ‘mavrick’ (even though to most laypersons it was a very commonsensical approach to releasing 2 people from a nasty relationship) and she appealed on the basis that she wanted spousal maintenance. At the appeal hearing we was awarded a substantial amount of spousal maintenance and retained the house which has a significant amount of equity in it. Throughout the process she has been on legal aid and he was representing himself. His whole argument at the appeal hearing was based on the fact that she had been award a house with £150,000 equity in it and that he’s walked away with nothing (and I mean nothing except for his clothes). At the hearing the judge advised that they couldn’t talk about the house as that part of the original order was not in question, just the part about the clean break. He later found out that he too should have contested the order and then the house could have again been taken into question.

He is now living with his mother, and cannot afford to pay the monthly maintenance, and has zero assets to pull from. He is going to have to go back to court to apply for a variation but is concerned about what that looks like.

There are 2 queries I have here: 1. We are in love and want move our relationship on, however, I have huge reservations as I have a child of school age, I work full time (always have) and have my home 3 bedroom property with a significant amount of equity (in my world). I would expect him to contribute to the running of the house and pull his weight both financially and domestically. If he were to move in with me is she able to take him back to court to get a variation on the order based on the fact that he’s now living with someone and would my income and assets be taken into account. Even though I’ve chosen to work hard for what I have and she’s chosen not to work and claim benefits playing on the fact she has a child, although she is extremely clever.

Query 2: If goes back to court to apply for a variation could he come out worse than he goes in, eg a life time order rather than one until the child is 18?

Really hope you can advise as my life is in complete limbo at the moment and I need to make a decision about mine and my child’s future that’s best for us. I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m constantly looking over my shoulder and thinking of how I can protect what’s mine from a lazy vulture.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Lucy

Marilyn Stowe - October 1, 2014 at 2:51pm

Dear Lucy
Your income and assets cant be used towards her maintenance. She could argue your resources free up his income to help out with her income requirements and those of the children. If the court has cut off maintenance then it depends on what basis. Did the court order no application for an extension could be made and therefore the maintenance would definately come to an end or did it not address that point?
Your boyfriend should take legal advice and take the order with him.
Regards
Marilyn

Luke - September 26, 2014 at 12:43am

Lucy,
I know it’s outrageous but it may be that the system has made your boyfriend a financially unviable proposition for you – if he is he will be one of many men in that position – welcome to the vagaries of our wonderful Family Court process…

Lisa - October 4, 2014 at 6:37pm

This has been an interesting thread. I’m a soon to be 2nd wife and have watched my partner go through 2 years of solicitors trying to agree a settlement. The ex wife and my partner earn near enough the same amount (about 2k net a month) and they have a 12 year old and a 18 year old. The equity in the house is worth 90k (fmh). He’s paid thousands in solicitor fees and got no further. She’s made sure to turn the children against him so neither will see him too. He pays child maintenance to her and now lives with me and my toddler twins.

The solicitor is saying we should accept her offer of him giving her the house and all the equity and paying her spousal of 150 a month until youngest is 21.

His ex wife has a partner of about a year who funds her holidays etc but hasn’t moved in.

Is it usual to have to give all the equity and pay maintenance? We’re now 40k in debt because of the sol bills with no way of paying it off and both working all the hours there is to make ends meet!

I’d love a 2nd opinion!

Lisa

David - October 23, 2014 at 5:51am

Hi all, situation for me is the other way round than most. Over 18 years I have consistently earned around £20k pa, which was at the start enough to keep our whole household running. I am self employed and choose my own hours and for eleven years every day began with dropping the kids off at school at ten to nine and picking them up at twenty past three, and I worked around this while my wife had more conventional hours. I supported my wife who for many years had minimal or no earnings with her training as a therapist, as well as doing about the same amount of childcare as she did. She has recently started to earn twice what I earn. A few months ago she moved out of the family home to live with a retired multi-millionaire. Children are 16 and 12 and we share childcare 50/50. Originally she had said she would continue to pay all her wages into the joint account as she wouldn’t need money; lover boy would pay all her living expenses and rent on a massive house. She now suddenly wants to take over paying the mortgage, about £11K, and keep the rest of her income. Can I take into account her new partner’s considerable wealth to argue for a better deal? I have supported her over many years and had taken over all the shopping, cooking and washing in addition to about 20-25 hours of one-to-one teaching so that she could further her career, and just at the point where our family would benefit from her training and increased earning she has skipped out and we will be left with a severely reduced income to manage on. I’m sure plenty of women will have been in the same position. Can I argue for a better deal?

Many thanks

David

Mark - October 29, 2014 at 11:49pm

Hi,

Having found this post and reading through the case law it has finally provided more insight towards my current situation, so I am looking for further advice. Currently separated for 2 years with a child and paying maintenance, I wanted to see if there was any way legally I could break free of payments. I have my child approximately 3 nights a week, the rest of the time she is with my ex who has been cohabiting with her new partner also living with my child. My child’s welfare is paramount and I want to contribute to her growing up but I feel that it is unfair I pay my ex maintenance when she is living with her new partner and allowing them to essentially take my role as a parent, not knowing whether or not the money I pay does go towards my child or worse towards paying for her to live with her new partner or for her own personal expenses. In this situation proving cohabitation and a fixed commitment, should I still be liable to pay weekly maintenance when I fully contribute and pay for my child buying her clothes, toys, taking her on days out and holidays.
Many thanks.

Marilyn Stowe - October 30, 2014 at 7:53pm

Dear Mark
I think you are asking for advice about on going child support. Give Child Maintenance Options a call or contact them for a web chat. Completely free, I think they will help you. They have a lot of ideas for sorting out situations like this.
Regards
Marilyn

Eva - November 7, 2014 at 4:57pm

Hi
my partner and I are expecting triplets, he is separated and has two boys from his marriage. His ex works part time and also get benefits. He pays for the house, all their joint debts and maintenance for his boys. He has his boys 2 night a week at my house and he contributes to my bills but no the mortgage. His ex is saying she wants more money and is asking for spousal maintenance, im terrified that if she gets it, i would have to run the house and the children just on my salary which is impossible. he earns £40k per year and pays over half of his take home pay to his ex already. He will contribute £800 to the bills and childcare of our triplets when they are born With me on maternity leave and needing to return to work after, i am in a position where he may have to move in with his brother so I can afford to run the house as a single parent, I earn £25k for working full time but cant see how i cpuld return as childcare is more thsm my salary and id get £800 from my partner due to the amount he currently pays her. Please advise how much it would be likely that his ex could get in spousal maintenance and how long for and how this is worked out?

A.sand - November 10, 2014 at 9:33am

Hi
I have a query regarding co habitation which my solicitors are very grey about.
My ex-wife and I have been divorced for over 3 years now and she was seeing her new partner prior to the divorce whilst we were separated and still living in the same home. Not ideal I know and no way of proving this as she never disclosed anything. My ex-wife and her new partner are engaged and had a party with all her family, new partner family present and have the new partner has been living at our old matrimonial home on at least 5 days per week and his car is often seen parked on the front drive as my brother lives on the same road. The new partner also has a key to the house and on occasions when I’m collecting my 3 children from the old matrimonial home, I have seen him driving down the road towards the home and upon seeing me, he drives past.
Do I have any grounds to say that he is co habiting even though I personally can’t prove he is paying towards household bill etc

david - September 15, 2016 at 8:48am

your situation is the same as mine. What was the outcome for you?

viv - February 23, 2015 at 12:05pm

Hi
my husband and his first wife divorced 4yrs ago and his wife was awarded maintenance which he stopped paying when she had been co-habiting for 6 months (this was not contested). At settlemant she was also awarded 30% of his pension, will this still be payable?

CF - August 11, 2015 at 12:05pm

Dear Marilyn,
Help needed please, my partner has been separated from his wife for 2 and half years, they are currently trying to divorce and sort their finances. They were married just under 5 years before they split, they have 2 children aged 5 and 3 they stay with him 3 nights a week, he has a house just in his name that she currently lives in and it has about 280k equity in it, he has a business that earns him about 100k a year and she owns a salon that she puts through as minimum income. Neither want to do all the financial paperwork through their solicitors so are trying to do it their selfs, he has agreed to 60% of house to her £750 child maintenance 8k for a loan she has, but she also wants spousal maintenance of £500 a month for 10 years, he disagrees with this part and is willing to agree on £250 for 5 years, she will not agree and is dragging this out, should this go to court is she likely to get more than this?, considering they were married less than 5 years, she has her own business.

Stuart75 - September 1, 2015 at 7:28pm

Hi everyone I have 4 children whoninpay maintenance for directly from wages to CSa but my ex wife (of 2 children) has been remarried 2 years now nobody told me things would change! Can I stop payments now? Who do I contact? Can I claim any back!!!!!!!!!!! I still pay for all 4 but as above 2 are with ex wife and she’s remarried for 2 years
Please help me?

Yvie - September 2, 2015 at 9:09am

If you have four children you still have to pay for them, even if your wife re-marries.

Robert - November 16, 2015 at 11:37am

Hi,

I am currently in the process of getting divorced from my wife of 11 years and have 2 children 7 and 11. We separated on the 28 Nov 14, between then and Sep this year I paid above the required mainrenance. In Sep, my wife said that she no longer could look after my 7 year old and I happily assumed full custody, my 11 year old remained with her. It was agreed that as we had a child each, the maintenance would stop. My wife’s solicitor has now requested all my financial details, so she can advise on a settlement. I do not earn a great deal, less than £40k. My wife has told me she is going to apply for a share of my pension (even though promising not to for years). We also co-own a let out property, which is in negative equity. What I am actually asking about, is; my wife is now cohabiting (and has been since Aug) with her new boyfrined, in his cottage. He is a very successful buisness owner and is very wealthy. I am unsure if her solicitor is aware of the co-habitation, or the fact that I now have primary care of one of our children. Will any of this have an effect. Also when we split, I took on a family loan that we had together and the finance of a car. I gave her a car and left the family home with just my personal belongings. To be honest it feels like she is trying to bleed me dry.

CC - November 17, 2015 at 10:09am

My wife and I divorced amicably earlier this year. So she could buy a house that our three children could live in, I didn’t fight her and agreed to a 75/25 split in her favour, even though a lawyer told me I could get 40%, 35% at worst. I also agreed to pay her £2,200 per month from my salary of £6,000 at that time. Unfortunately, I lost my job at the end of July but was paid until 24 September. Since then, I have had no income despite multiple interviews for jobs and freelance work. My ex wife is co-habiting with her business partner with whom she works 7 days a week (staying with him 4 nights) yet is still demanding I pay her the same figure even though I have no money coming in. I explained to her that every penny I now give her has to come out of the money I got from our house sale – I have no other savings. We have three children – 19, 17 and 14. I’m happy to send money home for them (we’re very close despite me not being around much), but I’m not sure why I have to keep paying her when I have no source of income. Can someone please explain my legal obligations? Do I really have to pay her out of my savings? It seems grossly unfair considering the split was so skewed in her favour – I agreed to it to protect the future for our children. I am currently in Vietnam where I have been working for almost 4 years. If I send home £1,200 a month (£1,000 less than we agreed), am I breaking our contract– or does the Law take into account financial hardship? And can I send money directly to the children’s bank accounts rather than to her? She tells me she has financial obligations but as she is working and drawing an income from her own business, it seems that the money I am sending to her is simply paying for her new (small) mortgage and doing a house makeover (I saw her new place a fortnight ago). Little is going to our children – just basic food, not even any new clothes this year apart from those bought with birthday money. I send them each £50 a month as a top up for treats. After speaking to them when I was back in the UK at the end of October, this only matches by what she gives them. So our eldest daughter is suffering at University financially because she is having to survive on £100/month, as well as the Government subsidies. Do I have any say in how the money is spent that I send to my ex wife? Can I mandate that she spends a certain amount on our children? I used the online Child Support Agency calculator. It said if I was earning £6,000, I’d need to pay £1,028 for them. But as I’m earning nothing, I pay nothing. This isn’t realistic but I’m only asking to reduce the figure. One other note is that a condition of our divorce settlement was that I took out insurance to cover the payments. To be honest, I didn’t. However, I checked online and no company pays immediately on loss of income – usually after 3 months – then pays up to 50% of your previous salary, and only for a maximum of 12 months. I do hope to find a job soon, but if I am forced to keep paying her the fixed amount, my savings will dwindle rapidly until I have nothing left. A very sad way to go considering I paid around £1.2m in mortgage payments alone over the course of our marriage.

I have just signed up a Lawyer in the UK. Hopefully she will be able to advise me and I’ll send her the two posts on here – the only ones I’ve found online that give me some hope to be honest. If I was still in the UK, I’d certainly order Marilyn’s book off Amazon. I suppose that my other option would be for my Dad to buy it and read me chapters each evening on Skype : )

Singh - November 24, 2015 at 10:42pm

Dear helper, I pay 20% maintenance to my ex (was not married) for our 10 yr old daughter. I have since been married for 5 years and ny ex has a cohabitee now since 2 years. Can I reduce my maintenance payments to her so I can be sure to spend the difference directly on my daughter? Thanks.

Name Witheld - December 4, 2015 at 8:32pm

This is a question for Marilyn,
My husband left me after 24 years 2 years ago. I gave up my career as a specialist nurse to look after the family. Two boys the older one with Autism and extremely challenging behaviour to the degree that the younger boy was deemed to be at serious risk of harm by his brother. My husband excelled in his career and earns in excess of £150,000 per year. I am 57 and am part of the team that looks after my now 25 year old autistic son who needs 24/7 care. My husband left in July to live in Germany with the woman he had an affair with 2 years ago. This in itself has caused my older sons behaviour to get worse because he is very anxious about his Dad and the carers are calling upon me to sort things out much more frequently. We split the assets fine and I have a house without a mortgage and 200,000 in the bank and will get half the pension, but so will he and he’s still earning his salary ( he is 52). He says that I should get a job but I have to cover all sickness and holidays that my sons carers take and be on hand when things get tough for him. I don’t feel that I have the freedom to live my life. Is it unreasonable for me to expect him to pay maintenance to me and if not what would be fair?

Andrew - December 5, 2015 at 8:27am

Name Witheld: If I had been his solicitor (and I would guess the same is true of Marilyn) the deal under which you got half the assets and a mortgage-free house and £200,000 would have had a clause dismissing all other claims – maintenance included. Read the order. if it does, that settles the matter.

MH - December 6, 2015 at 8:44am

Well Andrew I am not yet divorced but going through the process. We sold the house and divided the assets equally. We are at the stage where the pensions are being assessed by an actuary. I guess my question is about financial needs being met. Regarding spousal maintenance there are many levels of financial need starting from basic which is what he is paying at the moment. If that were to be the level of maintenance set that would equate to less than a quarter of his monthly salary, not including bonus and share options. Looking at my situation would that be considered fair as we would clearly not be enjoying similar lifestyles. He thinks not because he is working and I am not.

Andrew - December 7, 2015 at 10:54am

MH: If as I suspect there is a consent order in force in Name Withheld’s case specifying no maintenance then that is that. And in fact if she agreed it as part of a deal and the court approved it it would be unfair if that was not the end of the matter.

MH - December 7, 2015 at 12:50pm

Hello Andrew, MH is also name withheld, sorry to confuse you. I haven’t got to the stage of a consent order.

Andrew - December 7, 2015 at 6:11pm

All is explained!
.
I’m just a simple soul . . .

Andrew - January 7, 2016 at 5:03am

What a good and informative read. I stumbled across this by chance while searching for divorce/financial advice pertaining to my situation. I have been with my wife for 20 years, married for 9. We separated around 4 years ago due to an irreversible breakdown of the relationship. The family home belonged to her mother when we met, and my partner was living with her mother in order to help with the financial side of things (ex council house, bought by mother in law when she was cohabiting with someone, she later kicked him out). I moved in around 3 or 4 years later, and all 3 of us were on the mortgage/deeds as our income (as a couple) wasn’t enough at that time. Over the course of time we re mortgaged, built a flat/extention on the side and generally modernised the house. I was commuting over 120 miles a day for a number of years, until it became impractical. I looked for, and found a job much closer and have been there 17 years now. We have 2 sons, 13 and 10, but her mother (who was our built in babysitter while they were very young) passed away some 5 years ago. We separated 4 years ago, I moved in to the flat, I work permanent night shift, my ex has always worked full time, both employed and self employed. I have been paying the mortgage and my own life insurance and sundries, my ex pays the bills. We wanted to leave the house to the boys ultimately, but now she wants me to move out (and I do as well) because she is in a relationship with another man. I am more than happy to leave, and pay any and all child maintenance I am due to. But my ex wants to keep the house and for me to pay towards it. I want to sever all ties, we will be divorcing very soon, and I don’t know if I am entitled to a share of the house (do they buy me out) or if it’s sold, or they rent it and use that income to rent another place? I am very confused currently, I will need to find a place to rent, although temporarily I can move back with my parents (although my daily commute will be back to 100 miles a day) I want to see my boys regularly, and am trying to be as friendly as I can. But I think my ex is after me paying for way more than I expected. I would be interested to hear any comments. I will be seeking legal advice in the next couple of weeks.

Marie - September 15, 2016 at 1:00am

My case is slightly different I am 69 years old and have today received a letter from my ex-husbands solicitor stating that my ex-husband will no longer pay the agreed maintenance payments to me because he claims I have co-habituated with two women since 2015, he has cancelled the payments to me without any reference to the court, these accusation are false. The reason stated was that I have purchased two houses since 2015 – this is true.

The first house was purchased with Ms. A with whom I had been friends for a number of years and as we were both aging and living on our own we decided to pool our resources and share a house, there was absolutely no question that we had any sort of sexual relationship. Unfortunately this arrangement did not workout and in I moved out in September of last year. I then purchased a house of my own, Mrs B (also divorced and with a long term partner) made me an interest free loan of $150,000 to be repaid to her within 3 years at which time she would remove her name as part owner of the house, Mrs B uses this house as her vacation home and never intends to be in residence here for more than two or three months a year, again there is no question of a sexual relationship between Mrs B and myself, Mrs.B and I have been friends since the 1960’s.
I need advice as to whether my ex-husband can just stop the maintenance payment purely on the evidence he has that I have co-owned two houses and with the assumption and no evidence of cohabitation.
I should also point out that at this time I live in Florida USA and my ex-husband lives in the UK.

Marilyn Stowe - September 15, 2016 at 8:52am

Dear Marie
Thanks for your enquiry to our blog. Don’t despair! If there is a court order in place he can’t simply stop paying. But I suspect he thinks you will do nothing about it. He needs to have the court order ended. You can apply to enforce the arrears through what is called REMO and I believe there is a reciprocal arrangement in place between Florida and UK. Your US lawyers should be able to advise how to do it. Here is a link from our end. https://formfinder.hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/remo020-eng.pdf
You can also write to him or his lawyers to make it clear you aren’t going to allow this, and/or also apply for an increase if it’s been running a long time and never been increased and/or you can also apply in the U.K. for a lump sum in lieu of monthly payments to buy out your maintenance. It depends on both your finances but there is a great deal you could do.
If you want any more help, such as a Skype appointment to discuss your options please call +44 (0) 1423532600 and speak to Morna Bunce our Chief Executive who will arrange it for you.
Regards

Kim - October 24, 2016 at 9:40pm

Hi, I’m confused as to how much I would need to talk about any new relationships during financial settlement. I’ve recently started dating someone after being separated for over a year and have received my decree nisi. We’ve never discussed anything permanent other than we would both like our relationship to work out, so I’ve ticked no to the box about planning to cohabit within 6 months. Does this mean that if I did cohabit within 6 months of settlement that it could be set aside? What if I mentioned that it might be a vague possibility? Would I need to make a new declaration if finances are not settled within a few months? I don’t even know how much he earns or even if he would be prepared to support me and the children, so would not be comfortable in asking him to declare his earnings to the court. How should I proceed so that I’m not committing perjury, risking my new relationship or risking my settlement?

Ali - January 5, 2017 at 11:35pm

Hi
Advice please
My partners ex has bought a bigger house( 5 bedroomed, they only need a 3 bedroomed) with her current partner & a new car. My partner’s daughter from the marriage is 19 and in full time work. My partner pays £200 a month spousal maintenenance until death or remarriage. Can he get this stopped? Our joint income and their joint income is roughly the same. She says she won’t remarry because the SM will stop. Surely if she & her partner have bought a bigger house together why should my partner be paying towards it & a new car. My partner has offered a one off payment of £10k to end it and be a clean break but it looks like she wants to go to court even though she hasn’t the money to fund a court hearing.
Has my partner got a case to stop SM? We are not on high tax bracket
Thanks

Fiona - March 22, 2017 at 10:47pm

my current scenario is almost the exact opposite of the blog post. My husband and I separated and he swiftly entered into a new relationship, and had a baby with his new partner within 15 months of our separation. Both he and his partner work in the city and they each earn 140k+ bonuses gross.

During our marriage, I worked part-time during school hours to enable a balanced family life when the children were small and in primary school. his income wasn’t quite so high then, but my being at home at the tail end of the day certainly enabled him to put in the extra work that has led to the promotions to his current position, and also meant we had good food on the table when he walked in the house (which was cleaned by me). It was a good family life.
They are now 11 and 12 and, although I have now returned to work full-time, my gross income is ~25k – significantly less than the other team! I currently live in the marital home.

My husband has bought a new 4 bedroomed home solely in his name. He declined his new partners offer of 100k cash as a deposit on this new home, saying he didn’t want to be financially tied to her. He chose instead to borrow the deposit money from his father, covered by a verbal agreement.

His new partner has bought another property, at the seaside , in which her mother occupies one of the five bedrooms.

The new partner doesn’t contribute financially to their family home at all – not a penny towards utility bills/food/childcare – nothing! My husband says that he is struggling to repay his father the loan for the deposit and that he wants 50% of the equity from our marital home to enable him to do so. Our marital home has a current value of 450k, with an outstanding mortgage of 150k. There are 11 years left to pay on it, and the house & mortgage are still held in joint names.

My lone mortgage ability is 125k (so I can’t even take on the existing mortgage debt, based solely on my earned income).

He has been paying the mortgage in lieu of any maintenance payments – 1000 a month. He is now demanding that as part of the divorce settlement that the mortgage is extended to give him 50% of the equity, ie to 300k over 25 years, and that he will pay 500 a month in maintenance to cover this (where the rest is supposed to come from, I don’t know).

He asserts that his partner’s assets and income are a moot point as she just won’t contribute to their household at all financially, and that neither he nor I can force her to do so. This rankles enormously, to say the least! I am pretty sure that if this goes to court (which I am trying to avoid) there will be an assumption made about his partner’s contribution towards the household income. They live together, they sleep together, they have a child together. Case closed, Surely?

I would expect that, if I had a new partner earning a sizeable income, any spousal maintenance would be reduced accordingly. Surely then, the flipside of this is that if he has a partner, the call on his income to meet his housing/other financial needs are reduced accordingly?

I would be glad of any advice on whether my assumption is correct or not. I really need to draw a line under this and get it settled. Is there any judicial guidance that I can wave under his nose so that we can start a sensible conversation about this? Your guidance in this matter would be very gratefully received!

jannie1973 - April 13, 2017 at 2:04am

I don’t agree, look at
listverse.com/2013/10/29/10-first-world-countries-with-third-world-problems/
– Jannie

dornag53 - June 1, 2017 at 2:34pm

I disagree Best regards, Dorian

D - June 27, 2017 at 6:31am

I am currently going through a divorce & trying to sort out the main asset ‘The House’ – i seperated from my wife 10 years ago & have paid her half the mortgage as maintenance continously as well as my own half as when we split she didnt want to end up in a tower block & we both wanted our children to grow up in a good home in a nice area. My son is now 20 & my daughter is 15 – my ex has had her new partner living with her now for over 2 years & they have a 2 year old daughter – basically they are cohabitting. At the time she bragged to me there was nothing i could do & everything stays the same ? There is something just not morally right & although i want the best for my daughter my ex & her partner are not paying anything to live there. While my name remains on the mortgage i have had to make huge sacrifices & pay extortionate rent to house myself & my new partner + we now have a 6 month old baby too. My ex does not earn enough to buy me out of the mortgage & i feel they have put me in a terrible situation where my daughter is concerned. What solution or outcome can you see coming from this ? My new partner is currently on maternity leave & financially the situation is becoming unsustainable.

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