Hope one of you well-informed people might be able to help me!
Me and husband are separated, as of end of last year, due to his affair. We did try to patch things up but his heart wasn't in it so we split for good in January this year. We are trying to keep things as amicable as possible for our three children. We have agreed an amount of monthly maintenance but have yet to finally unpick and separate our financial affairs.
I intend to go ahead with a diy divorce by the beginning of May on the grounds of his adultery.
My x2b has told me it is possible he could be in line for a major promotion at work which will result in a much larger salary. As it is, his salary varies depending on his job at the time. We have agreed on an amount of maintenance on the lowest his salary will be but I will have to rely on his goodwill on him informing me if his money increases, as to whether I receive more in the way of maintenance. (I earn just over £10,000 pa, he earns £50,000, currently)
What I would like to know is what can I do in the way of a legal agreement regarding maintenance/spousal maintenance if his salary increases/decreases depending on his current contract? It's not so much about now, but about in 'however' amount of years time (our youngest child is nearly 10). I don't want to rely on his goodwill in telling me what he is currently earning! Although we are getting on ok at the moment, things will change in the future, I'm sure when other lady friends appear on the horizon.
I need to make the point that spousal maintenance is only part of the picture, and that there are other factors in the equation, like how you divide the capital assets ( especially the home ) which can have a bearing on spousal maintenance, because the higher the capital settlement that you get, that would tend to reduce SM.
It is possible for an order for spousal maintenance to incorporate provisions for annual increases, otherwise the order tends to get out of date over time.
There are two ways of doing this ; the first is to link it to RPI, or some other recognised index ; and the second is to link it to the increase in his salary, and to make an agreement like this work it is necessary for your x2b to
produce evidence of earnings. By the way, you need a Court order to give effect to what you have agreed, that is much the safer way from your viewpoint.
In any event spousal maintenance can always be varied , up or down depending on circumstances.
If you'll forgive my saying so, I think that a DIY divorce may be a false economy if you don't have a good idea of the kind of order a Court might make in your case ; at
least this gives you a yardstick against which you can judge any proposals your husband might make.
I noted your comments re linking the Spousal Maintenance to RPI or salary increases.
This seems a bit rigid and could be a disadvantage to the husband.
If say husband agreed to RPI which ran at say 4.5% and he gota 3% pay rise then he has lost out.
Equally if it is linked to his salary and he works like a trooper and his reward is an annual salary increase over RPI then he gives some of his reward away to his former spouse which also seems twisted.
Is it possible to link it to RPI or Salary increase whichever is the lower ? That way the spouse is protected against RPI and the husband has an incentive to work harder as he keeps his reward.
Well - - - - you say it's a bit rigid, and perhaps it is, but you wouldn't want to go back to the time when the annual review of maintenance was as much part of life for divorced husbands as the annual trade union wage negotiation.
Whatever you do, index linking ensures that the value of the maintenance award remains more or less static and doesn't get eroded by inflation. As attiladahun said about index linking, it's largely a matter for negotiation which method one adopts ; for a payer who expects substantial increases in the future, it makes sense to argue for a link to RPI for the reasons you say. Equally, if your annual increase is less than RPI it can cause hardship, especially in times of unfavourable wage drift.
In the final analysis, I suppose that this is a question which raises fundamental questions as to what marriage is and what obligations should go with it. Different people can, and no doubt will, take differing views. Does marriage carry with it a potentially lifelong obligation to support the other ? Plainly, at the moment the answer is yes, it can do, but not in all cases. Is it right that an ex spouse in receipt of maintenance should expect to share in his/her partner's future prosperity even after the marriage has ended ?And would it act as a disincentive for people to work hard, scorn delights and live laborious days, as the poet said, if 40% of it goes to the Treasury and 33% of what's left goes to the ex ? Gosh, I need a degree in philosophy.