I've been named as co respondant in my partners divorce, and am concerned that my earnings may be taken into account when the finances are being sorted. My partners ex is insisting that the finances are sorted after the divorce (there are 2 children). I'm concerned that as we live together we may then be deemed as common law, would it then be possible for her to make a claim against me to? Her solicitors have advised her that they will be taking into account my earnings, and I'm wondering if they are pushing to do finances after the Decree Absolute in order to do to this. We both earn a reasonable income and she doesn't work, however there is significant capital in the family home and none in mine, just a hefty mortgage, he has taken on the family debt and she is more than capable of working as their second child goes to school in september. I don't want to end up directly or indirectly financially supporting her, please help!
The impact that you co-habiting has is an indirect one. By living with you in your house your partners' needs are reduced (versus what his outgoings would be if he had to rent his own place).
In most divorces there is not sufficient income to stretch comfortably to keep both new households in the same standard of living as previously. So the limited available income (what he earns/could earn plus what she earns/could earn) is allocated by the court based on prioritised needs.
The needs of the kids come first, and it follows that the needs of the parent with whom the kids live is therefore a higher priority than the non-resident parent.
So a maintenance order can be made that has the effect of distributing the income to meet the needs of all parties if possible, but if not then it is the Parent With Care whose full needs will be met and the Non Resident Parent who will be left short.
By living with you and so having low mandatory outgoings each month it makes it easier for the court to award a good size maintenance payment from him to her so that her needs are met, and he is OK cos he is living rent free with you.
But the maintenance order will be for him to pay her from his income (you cannot be ordered to pay anything).
If he lost his job and lived with you then the court would not make a maintenance order as he had no income (unless exceptionally the court believes that the loss of his job was a deliberate tactic to avoid maintenance).
Of course the other element will be the debate over whether she can work or not, which is a common arguement which can go either way depending on individual circumstances - a typical conclusion the court could come to is that she should be expected to work part time.
Thanks for your quick response.
He's not in any way trying to avoid paying for his children and helping her out, but would there be any way in which he could limit his liability, say by paying towards my hefty mortgage and bills more equally (he pays nothing at the moment). Circumstances are such that I can't continue to support him indefinately, I'm doing it to help him at the moment, but from what you say I may be doing more harm than good.
Would it make any difference if the finances were sorted before or after the divorce is finalised?