My wife and I have split after 16 years of marriage. I earn about £43k whilst she does not work. She claims about £400 per month benefits but also gets about £500 every 4 weeks tax credits for our two children and my younger brother who lived with us after my parents died. In addition she gets child benefits of about £200 per month. On top of that the local authority pay her about £400 per month for my brother and she also gets my brother's DLA of about £400 per month. I pay the mortgage of £500 per month (instead of CSA) and also pay for her car at £300 per month.
My own rent is £895 per month as I have rented a property where i can have the children stay over. I currently have them 2 nights per week.
I want to move on with my divorce but i am worried about the spousal maintenance that she may claim. I do not have much money left as it is and anything further would leave me very short. She is already likely to get a god share of our assets.
Am I likley to have to pay this lazy woman spousal maintenance? I know she could work if she wanted to but why should she with all that money coming in anyway? She goes out to the gym everyday and the pub every night and I wouldn't want to subsidise her cushy lifestyle any more!
I'm afraid that, if you earn £43K ( you don't say whether this is gross or net - spousal maintenance is assessed on your net income ) and your wife earns nothing, then you are almost certainly going to have to pay spousal maintenance.
Of course, you're already paying your wife quite a fair slice of your income as it is ; and your wife is in receipt of very high benefits.
The issue as to whether it is reasonable to expect your wife to work at least part time depends on the circumstances, but reading between the lines, your brother's DLA is very high, which suggests to me a correspondingly high degree of disability. A Court might well say that it is not reasonable to expect a woman with considerable caring responsibilities to earn a living. But her benefits are of course part of her income and would be taken into account.
I am sorry that I can't be more helpful, but given the present uncertain state of the law, it is difficult to offer advice beyond suggesting that in your case it would be false economy not to get prompt legal advice from a solicitor specialising in family law.