My husband and I have agreed to share residency of our daughter (ie 4 days vs 3 days per week) and my husband feels it is fair for us to both put an equal sum of money into a joint account to cover "maintenance", although I am not sure that is fair as he earns 4 times as much as me.
We have agreed a 50:50 split of all assets, so really it is only this issue that is a sticking point at present. He has said that if I try to get him to pay more than half of the maintenance then he will fight for full time residency and obviously I don't want to go down that route if at all possible. We get on well and I want to keep it that way. He feels that 50:50 is very fair, as most of the money and investments were his anyway - but we have been married for 15 years. He argues the point that I haven't contributed as much as he has, as I have had periods of unemployment. With these points in mind, I am wondering about the maintenance money for our daughter eg is it fair for us to pay half each and if so how practical is this as we would need a joint account. Can you also advise on what maintenance costs need to cover (eg clothes, books, shoes etc) or do I need to include groceries and outings plus more? Any ideas on how much I would need to put aside each month? Thanks.
It's great that you want to keep your relationship with your ex on a good footing, that is very important from your daughters point of view.
However, you should know that the law is on your side and that you may well be entitled to a lot more than he is proposing to pay.
A key principal of family law is that the contribution of homemaker is equal to that of breadwinner. So he may say that he has contributed more, but unfortunately for him the law says otherwise.
This is oversimpifying things - but the law goes on to say that in a long marriage, with equal contribution, you should both be entitled to an equal share of the assets - that includes his earning power.
So if you have agreed a 50:50 split on other assets then as he earns 4 times more than you, you can claim for spousal and child maintenance.
His suggestion of a 50:50 share of costs for the child does not stack up in law and you are probably entitled to child maintenance and spousal maintenance from him.
Another key principal of the law is that (unless you are super rich) the division of assets and income is largely based on needs. As you plan to share child care your needs will be pretty equal. So your share of income should therefore be equalised.
All told it is likely that he would have to give you some significant portion of his income, maybe 25%.
You will then have 2/5 of joint income and he 3/5.
As you appeared to be on the road to accepting an offer significantly lower than you are likely to be entitled to in law, we strongly suggest you seek legal advice. You don't have to tell him you saw a soliictor - but you should call or see one for an initial view if only to confirm what we have told you.
One more tip - many solicitors offer a 'free' half hour initial meeting - ring around and find one who will agree to do this.
Take along to the meeting a short note (1/2 page A4) that shows clearly the general facts (marriage length, nbr of kids, kids ages) and financial facts (assets, debts, your income, his income, your ages).
Finally the current offer (i.e. 50:50 asset split and equal payment to direct child costs).
Show this to the solicitor and ask his/her view on:
- what is a fair settlement
- how much do they charge per hour
They will likely resist guessing the outcome saying they need to have another meeting and gather more info. So you need to push them: Say you need to understand how much you might get, so you can tell if its worth fighting over.
Don't go over the 1/2 hour and don't sign any agreement there and then. Go home and think about it.
Then when you have done that leave another post here and we will go over the various steps that you need to take and the likely costs of each step.
I have now been to the solicitor for advice and most things appear to be straightforward. She said I would be entitled to spousal maintenance and this would be based on 1/3 of joint incomes, minus my income. She has quoted gross figures and my husband has told me that the amount I would receive would be net of taxes and NI. I am assuming this is probably correct? Also, he says that it is purely base salary and wouldn't include his car allowance, as that is for business purposes (or any bonuses as they are not guaranteed). Could you clarify the facts regarding this issue?
I am still unclear regarding the child maintenance issue, as the solicitor suggested that we both make separate assessments based on our incomes and amend the calculation to take account the number of days we each have our daughter for (eg 4 days and 3 days), then for me to deduct my liability from my husband's with him paying the balance. Can you give me a monetary example of how that works as I don't really understand it. I assume he would end up giving me some money, but I wouldn't give him any? I don't really know!
One further question: is a nominal maintenance order instead of a spousal one or can you have both? My solicitor has recommended having one as I have been ill and unable to work in the past.
If you could provide clarification on these issues, it would be much appreciated.
Nominal maintenance just means that the amount of spousal maintenance paid is zero. It means that if you DO need SM later on, you can go back for it, whereas if a figure is agreed for say 5 years and then stops, you can't go back later.
So norminal maintenance is just a form of Spousal maintenance.