Hi, my ex wife is turning our divorce into a very bitter drawn out process using our son as a bargaining tool, with holding access when she feels.
We separated in 2009 but she has stepped up the access restrictions since I started a serious relationship with someone else trying many tactics to break this relationship up.
I have been trying to reach financial settlement for a long time but just as I think we''re close to a resolution she adds another demand. She has a mortgage free house, significant monthly maintenance payments and I pay for our 10 years olds school fees.
She is now asking for £1 maintenance per year ''to keep the door open in case her circumstances change''. I have spoken to my solicitor who was not very clear but noted that its very rare for a spouse to take advantage of this clause.
I am nervous because it feels like an open cheque book, if anybody would use this, it would be my ex wife and would prefer to have minimal contact with her except where our son is concerned.
In your post you say your stbx receives significant monthly maintenance, I presume this is for children of the marriage and not spouse maintenance?
Judge''s often award nominal spouse maintenance of £1 per year so that if there is significant changes in circumstances, the person awarded it has leave to apply to the court for variation of the order.
If this happens, both parties have to complete form E again and the financial situation of both parties is re examined. Your ex will have to provide good reasons and proof before the court will allow her to re-open, she also stands the risk of the order being dismissed so should not be undertaken lightly.
As far as I am aware a nominal order like this is common but as your solicitor says it is unusual for a variation to be applied for.
What you should check is that there is a time limit on this clause so it expires when you child is 18.
I have just read a blog "second bite at the cherry" very scary that with an ongoing NSM you''re always responsible for your ex wife.
In theory 20 years later my ex could be after me for more money ''again'' because she''s chosen to not work even though her earning potential is greater than mine and / live a lavish lifestyle beyond her means.
Is it normal for NSM''s to have a timescale ie. when my child leaves full time education?
It''s important to remember that cases are treated separately and depend on the particular facts. When a wife has been dependent on a wealthy husband it maybe that an amount of SM is required to allow the wife to be left on a similar financial footing. If no term can be identified when she will self sufficient without suffering undue hardship an order lasting for joint lives is appropriate. A joint lives order may be varied, terminated or capitailized should circumstances change.
When resources are modest the purpose of a nominal amount of maintenance is usually to leave the door open for the order to be varied to provide insurance to ensure children don''t suffer undue hardship should the parent with the majority of care be unable to work because of redundancy or illness. In these cases the term is limited to the youngest child reaching 18 or finishing uni and variation is rare.
Where do I stand when she doesn''t have to rely on me but chooses to?
Our son goes to school with before and after care so could work and does on a consultancy basis earning £300+ per day but only when she chooses to. She was offered 2 jobs earlier this year at £80k per year but turned both down I suspect because it would look bad if we have to go to court, can''t think of any other reason.