My wife and I are both in out late 30’s and have been married for 14 years. Due to an injury, my wife has been unable to work for the past 7 years, and claims incapacity benefit. Apart from her benefits of approx. £100/week, I have paid for everything in all that time.
Now we are divorcing, she says she is going to try for spousal maintenance as she is unable to work.
How do I stand with fighting against this? She is already getting 2/3 of all our money (after we sell the house) as she has agreed not to claim a share of my pension, which will leave me with very little money to start from scratch – I am not a multi-millionaire footballer, my income is under £30,000.
I want everything to be as fair as possible on both sides, I just don’t see how I could support a maintenance payment as well. There are no children involved.
I don't want to answer this question directly, sir, as spousal maintenance is a subject on which I hold some views which may perhaps not be entirely accurate, but the first question you need to ask is where you and your wife are going to live and what happens to the house.
Not knowing your wife's disability, it is hard for me to comment, but clearly both of you have to live somewhere.
This is going to be a Court's top priority. You don't mention children, this is highly relevant if you have.
Your wife's benefits as a single person would be quite different from what they are if she is married to someone earning £30K per annum. Benefits will be an important issue and I can certainly help you on this aspect of the matter, but I need to get a feel for your wife's disabilities and what is she going to do if she gets divorced and has nobody to lean on ?
The next question is what happens to the house. If your wife can't work she won't be able to afford a mortgage.
Do you sell the house, and if so do you divide the proceeds and in what proportions ? Your wife's housing needs must be addressed ( and so must yours ) and the vital issue is children.
If I know more I can help you on the benefit side. But I'm afraid, on what you tell me, I would say spousal maintenance is a near certainty and the only issue is how much and how long you have to pay it. Sorry, but
you asked me !
Thanks very much for getting back to me, I appreciate your comments.
My wife broke her ankle 7 years ago, and has had to use a walking stick ever since, although I think at her last benefits appraisal, it was the state of her mind that was the grounds for her benefit allowance as she suffers from depression and stress. Before her accident, she worked as a PA to a company director.
We are selling our house, and will both be re-locating, although it is looking likely that my wife will live either with, or very close to, her parents.
After selling our house, paying off the outstanding mortgage, and summing up all our finances, we have a total of approximately £150,000, plus I have a pension fund valued at £58,000.
My wife has already said that she would not touch my pension, so she will take a higher percentage of our sum total as a result.
The split works out at approximately £105,000 for my wife, and £45,000 for me, plus she will be getting virtually all of the contents from the house.
Also, as goodwill, I have offered to pay all her solicitor’s fees, to be a guarantor against a credit card for her, to pay her health insurance for a further 2 years, and to pay for all her belongings to go into storage for 12 months so she doesn’t have to face sorting through it until she is ready – the storage alone will come to approximately £3,500.
If she is awarded a spousal maintenance, I may be forced to remove my goodwill gestures to fund the payments, and I think she will lose out as a result.
Sometimes nominal SM (say £5 a year) is awarded so an order can be varied in the future should circumstances change. However, in my experience larger sums are rarely ordered against someone on below or average earnings because there isn't sufficient discrepancy in incomes after accounting for state benefits.