Lisa is a Senior Associate & Collaborative Lawyer at Family Law Partners

I did a blog on spousal maintenance and even without the email spam offers of spells and eternal happiness, it was an incredibly well read piece and is clearly a subject which raises lots of concerns and uncertainty in equal measure: both for the paying and receiving party.

It left me thinking it might be helpful to blog about the circumstances in which spousal maintenance may be changed: so, here goes!

Changes to spousal maintenance

As you may have read in my previous blog on spousal maintenance – or periodical payments – orders have the potential to be varied (in other words, changed) by either the paying or receiving party.

What does this mean? Put simply, in variation proceedings (or better still through a focussed dialogue using a dispute resolution model payments can be reduced, increased, rolled up into a one-off payment (i.e. capitalised) or dismissed altogether.

The fact an order can be varied may cause feelings of uncertainty and/or vulnerability for both the payer and the receiver.  For example, imagine a scenario where you have been receiving maintenance for a number of years and have relied upon it to meet your weekly outgoings. Your ex then says he/she has to stop paying you because he/she has lost his/her job. The impact of this will be difficult enough but what if they just resent paying and unilaterally reduce it or simply stop paying? Come what may your “income” is at risk and outside your immediate control.

Spousal maintenance is inherently uncertain. Neither party can’t control what happens in the other’s life and so it can often feel like having the rug pulled from under you without warning. A difficult divorce won’t get easier if dealing with this issue.

Life is unpredictable and it is simply impossible to build into a maintenance agreement/order protection for all possible scenarios in the future. Quite simply, if the money isn’t there the ability to pay maintenance will be affected.

So, what circumstances might warrant a variation application?


All manner of things could make the original order outdated or inappropriate. These may include changes in either party’s financial position; the start of a new relationship; the ending of a new relationship, the birth of children etc.

Significant changes to either party’s financial position might include losing their job or starting a new one on a much lower salary, ill health, disability or retirement. Conversely, it might include a new job with a much higher salary or inheriting or winning a large sum of money.

If the receiver starts a new relationship which would involve cohabitation, the court has to look closely at the financial circumstances of the new partner and what they ought to contribute to the household. If the new partner is poor and has no job for example, then it follows that their contribution will be minimal.

However, the court can infer a theoretical income based on what it is likely he/she would be earning if they had a job.

If the payer starts a new relationship it might mean that there are more resources coming into the household, therefore increasing what might be available to pay to a former spouse. Furthermore, if the receiver ends a relationship and no longer lives with their new partner the household income they were expected to receive is unlikely to be available in the future, which could also warrant an increase in the amount they receive.

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Circumstances where the payer has a new family to support may justify a variation application but in my experience this tends to be quite a difficult position to advance.  The court will still be concerned, primarily, with regard to the children of the first family if they are under 18.

What is clear is that neither party can apply for a variation without being able to show that there has been a change in circumstances from when the original order was made.

If you’re having significant difficulties managing on the amount of money you have, or if the income of your former spouse has increased significantly, then it may be possible to have payments to you increased.

In the same way, if you make payments to your former spouse and your income position worsens, you can ask for the level of the payments to be reduced.

In either scenario, a variation application is not something to be embarked upon lightly and it is very important that you do not simply stop paying without first reaching agreement with your former spouse or following an order made by the court.  If you stop paying this could lead to an application to enforce the original order and payment of arrears with possible cost consequences.

Maintenance payments do, however, cease automatically if the recipient remarries or enters a new civil partnership.

On an application for variation the court can consider capitalising spousal maintenance.  This would mean the payer paying a lump sum to the other to achieve a clean break. If this is an option, the court would consider whether the original order should be varied downwards or indeed upwards and then a formula is used to calculate what would be an appropriate lump sum payment depending on whether the original order was intended to be paid for a specified term or on the basis of the parties’ joint lives.

If you and your former spouse cannot agree a change in the payments then mediation or the collaborative process should be considered in the first instance.  However, only a court can vary the order and so if you reach another agreement with your former spouse it is important that you apply to the court for this to be endorsed.  Otherwise, the original order will keep running which could lead to difficulties over arrears.

Proceed with caution…

 Before proceeding with an application, it is worth understanding the potential risks and scenarios which may affect the outcome for you:

  • There is uncertainty.  The court has a wide discretion so predicting what will happen is not usually possible – even for experienced lawyers!
  • Timing is critical. If a variation application is made too soon after the original order it may be difficult to justify why it should be changed unless there has been a very significant (usually unexpected) change in circumstances;
  • Costs are a significant factor when considering a variation application. Costs can quickly become disproportionate to the amount of maintenance in issue;
  • Court proceedings are intrusive and emotionally draining;
  • The payments may increase or decrease, so getting legal advice as to the merits of your case at an early stage is crucial;
  • It appears to me that courts are becoming less keen on parties receiving long term substantial maintenance and I would suggest that attitudes are hardening.  Those people with maintenance orders made years ago may face a less generous approach if a review comes before the court.

As we have seen, putting forward an application for variation is not simple. The most important piece of advice I can give clients on this issue is to seek legal advice at the earliest stage and take time to consider all of the possible outcomes.

For more guidance about your specific circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

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128 responses to “Can’t pay or won’t pay; in what circumstances will spousal maintenance be changed?

  1. My husband walked out on me on 22nd February 2016 … Since leaving he has not paid anything toward anything
    We lived together for 12 years and have been married for 3
    I owned the house prior to meeting him and it is in my name only
    Is he entitled to any of the house ?
    He has three children who he has paid csa to … From 2008 to 2011 he paid £24,000 to … Due to arrears he had not he paying … I cannot find evidence from other years
    Would the csa be taken into account?
    Since he has left I have struggled to pay my bills
    I work full time and so does he

    1. Thank you for your comment Tracey. Spousal maintenance may be appropriate if you are unable to meet your income needs and if it is affordable for your husband to pay you. Any financial obligations, including child support, will be taken into account when reviewing the income needs of both you and your husband. Regarding capital assets, when resolving financial matters either by consent or through the Courts, all assets held solely and/or jointly will be considered. However, pre-marital assets may be excluded from consideration if they constitute non-matrimonial property unless there is not sufficient matrimonial capital assets to meet the parties’ respective needs. I recommend you obtain further independent legal advice from a specialist family lawyer who is a member of Resolution as soon as possible.

  2. My husband divorced 15 years ago and has been paying spousal maintenance and child support (incl school fees,extra tuition trips etc) since. He now has a child under 10 and will be retiring in a couple of years. He is fine to continue paying child support until son leaves university in a couple of years. His ex works part time now and got a house from settlement (no mortgage ). The settlement gave her proportion of his pension value so she isn’t entitled to his pension. Should he try to get final settlement now as it was agreed for life?

    1. Dear Caroline. Thank you for your comment. We would need to understand a bit about the background and review any court orders that were made whether by consent or otherwise before we could advise. The fact that you mention there was a pension share in favour of your husband’s former wife indicates that there may already be a “final settlement for life” in place but he should check the situation with a Resolution family lawyer. He should also check the terms of the spousal maintenance agreement and child support agreement. He will need to ask a lawyer to review the paperwork he would have had at the time. If your husband would like us to review matters please contact our Practice Manager.

  3. my wife of over 30 years is divorcing me. She refused to work almost our entire marriage even after our two children were in college and out on their own. I worked two, sometimes three jobs for the all 30 Plus year thinking that i was working towards our future, but now she is suing me for divorce and maintenance for the two jobs i work – she wants me to give her 1/2 of all the 401k pension plus continue to work the two jobs. and $30K for her schooling ( she just can’t decide what to get her education in) please. She has no bills and lives with her widowed mother. She has put away $30K in the past 6 months and wants me to continue to pay maintenance for the next 8 years and work 2 jobs. we are not coming to an agreement on any of this and it looks like we will go to trial. My lawyer says that going to trail will not go in my favor according to his experience. It is unreal to me that a judge would make anyone work two jobs to support someone that has not expenses and a means to work. She is currently working. Please give me some hope. Thanks

    1. I note from your query that you have used the dollar sign when denoting figures. If you are involved in proceedings in America then I am afraid that this is not something we would be able to offer any guidance on as it is a different legal system. In the event that you are going through proceedings in England or Wales then as you will have read in our blog there are a number of factors that the Court will consider when considering the question of spousal maintenance. Unfortunately they are too numerous to list in response to a specific question and how they are likely to be applied is case specific. If you have concerns about the advice that you are receiving then you may wish to consider consulting with another lawyer for a second opinion.

  4. My husband has been paying spousal maintenance to his ex for just over 5 years, on top of his child maintenance. There is no end date to the spousal maintenance, but the paperwork says this payment would stop if she remarries or co-habits for 6 months. His ex stayed in the marital home when he left.
    We have been married for 3 years, but our circumstances have changed and money is much tighter now. He will of course carrying on child maintenance payments, which was agreed between them not through Child Support Agency.
    Our question relates to the spousal maintenance and whether he can stop this monthly payment. His ex now works full time, at the time she worked part time, and has not remarried.
    We cannot afford to go back to Court, his ex works in a Solicitors and is up with family law, so just needed some advice as to whether it is even worth asking to stop this payment.

    1. Dear Vicky, thank you for your comment. If there is a spousal maintenance order in place your husband should not unilaterally stop making payments. He could only do this by agreement with his former wife or further order of the court. In the absence of an agreement he would need to make a court application to vary or dismiss the order. Your husband should seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer before making such an application. He should also consider raising the issue with his former wife within Mediation or a Collaborative setting.

  5. HI I am choosing to exit my marriage. I was the stay at home parent . As I am instigating the divorce/ separation I have been unable to remove him from the family home. I need to exit I have no income and was actively encouraged to leave any employment I did have. I am currently job hunting but I need an exit strategy. I believe that even though our child is 15 I am entitled to some form of spousal support in order to exit the marriage. he is refusing to communicate about the dissolution of the relationship and I have zero financial autonomy . I have actively supported the idea of 50/50 child custody and giving the choice to our daughter but he is refusing to even acknowledge her rights . he makes around 80-90 k a year with bonuses .

    1. Dear Melissa, thank you for reading my blog and commenting. As you will have read any spousal maintenance claim by you will be based on your needs and your husband’s ability to pay. From what you have said spousal maintenance is certainly going to be an issue that will need addressing very early on for you. I would strongly suggest that you seek independent legal advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible so that you can indeed consider your ‘exit strategy’. You should also consider whether Mediation and/or the Collaborative process would be a good first step for opening up discussions with your husband.

  6. Hi,
    My ex partner has a well paid job, and shared ownership of another business. Whilst we were married the house was remortgaged for a specific amount, for the jointly owned business.
    When agreeing divorce it was agreed that the amount of the loan/Re mortgage would be paid back to me, (to cover the mortgage) by means of ‘spousal maintenance’. (In effect this is an interest free loan).
    I have recently been contacted by my ex by email, stating that the amount will reduce as of next month due to a role change within their job.
    In effect this would mean I have been burdened with the full remortgage payments.
    Please advise.
    Thank you.

    1. Thank you for your message Natalie. Much depends on whether, at the time of your divorce, you formalised your financial settlement in a legally binding Consent Order. If you did, depending on how your spousal maintenance payments were expressed in the Order, you could apply for such term to be enforced against your ex husband. Your ex husband should not unilaterally decrease your maintenance without first either obtaining your consent or court order following a maintenance variation application. If you and your ex husband never formally documented your financial settlement, providing that you have not since re-married, you will be able to make an application to the court for financial orders including spousal maintenance. I recommend that you obtain further legal advice from a specialist family solicitor who will be able to provide you with more information on the specifics of your circumstances

  7. Hi today I attended what should have been my AEO against ex husband who cut spousal maintenance to half in March 2016. (Court order from Judge in Jan 2015) ex husband turbed up in court with his barrister (as well as his father and co respondent in divorce!! Who basically presented their order to vary and saying that my order should be stayed and looked at at an FDA – my question is this at what point will ex husband feel it be told by the court or a judge that he cannot make his own rules up I have him logs if opportunity to return the payments and repay the arrears and I cannot see how my order seems to have. Even ‘trumped’ by his order when he’s the person who broke the original order – to add salt to the wound his barrister has requested I pay the costs of today – I am a litigant in person on condetsbky less income how can I defend myself at court – I did my utmost and spent a war of my life getting a decision and now my ex is clearly hoping I’ll get scared and just give in. He is basing his varying order on my apparent income having doubled completely untrue I still same as I did in January ’15 at Final Hearing and the fact I received some I heritance which I used to pay off debts, pay to help daughter’s one at uni one 17 – ex clearly feels that my inheritance has such a significant factor but that’s all I have I have hardly and pension pot he has thus still intact as I needed spousal maintenance today he earns £65k and has same partner who earns £30k no kids together she has grown up son and I earn £20k and live in my own- also in his response to AEO he didn’t put down her income at all but I’ve had no opportunity today to even discuss this as they’ve now ‘stayed’ my application – feeling crushed and defeated and can’t believe I’m here again 😢

    1. Dear Susannah. Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately we cannot advise you on your specific circumstances. We can only provide broad advice and guidance. There is clearly significant background and history to your case and I would recommend that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible.

  8. Hi my partner wants to stop paying spousal maintenance as his daughter is 19 and working, his ex is co ha biting and they have jointly bought a 5 bedroomed house, even though they only need a 3 bedroomed house and she has just bought a new car!! My partner is paying £200 a month and feels that he is paying towards the house or financing her new car! Is it possible that he could get the spousal maintenance stopped? He isn’t a high tax payer!

    1. Dear Ali, thank you for your comment. Much will depend on the terms of the order under which your partner is paying spousal maintenance. Often it does stop once a child reaches the age of 18 or ceases full time education. Equally a spousal maintenance order is often paid beyond this period. Your partner should not unilaterally stop paying spousal maintenance unless the order provides for that to happen at a certain point in time. If he is under an obligation to pay spousal maintenance beyond the current time he may want to consider making an application to vary the order. He will need to get some legal advice on the order before he does anything else at this stage.

  9. I have been divorced for 4 years. My ex was ordered to pay spousal support. In that time he has gotten remarried, purchased a new home and furnished it, and purchased 2 new vehicles. My situation has changed very little. He has harrased me constantly in that time to stop the support. He now says he is suffering from PTSD and will be off work for a while and would like me to agree to stop the support now or he will take me back to court. Will his diagnosis end my support?

    1. Thank you for your comment, Cheryl. Your former husband would need to make a formal application to vary the maintenance order rather than unilaterally ceasing the payments. As you will have read various factors are taken into account when looking at any application to vary a maintenance order. Your former husband’s ability to pay and your needs will continue to be the focus. If your former husband is able to show that he is now unable to afford to pay due to his illness which has impacted on his income and earning capacity then he may well be successful in a downward variation of the order. However your circumstances would also be looked at in detail and the court would need to be satisfied that your needs (having been analysed in detail) are met before ordering that the payments should decrease or indeed end. The diagnosis of his illness in itself would not trigger an automatic order that the maintenance ends. The court would undertake a very careful analysis of all the circumstances. Applications to vary maintenance orders are risky and can be very expensive. I hope this assists.

    2. Hi Lisa
      we were able to settle everything through mediation and now he is telling me that he doesnt think his choice of counsel or mediation was in his best interest and that because these issues were done through mediation they are upheld by the court but in fact not a court order. He now wants an end date to the spousal support also a relationship status added and an equalization of debt. Will the courts change all of this because his is unsatisfied with mediation and his lawyer?

    3. Dear Cheryl. Much will depend on whether there was a court order setting out the terms agreed within mediation. Without a court order there isn’t anything you can enforce or uphold. However you may have a case to say that there is a ‘concluded agreement’ but you would need to get some specific legal advice on this. The court won’t change an Order on the basis that your husband is unsatisfied with mediation and his lawyer. We would need to understand the background and the specifics of what has happened so far to be able to advise you properly. I would suggest that you seek some advice from an independent Resolution lawyer as soon as possible.

  10. I’m unemployed not my husband works for government. I want to exist the marriage. Will he pay spousal maintenance while I’m not staying in the house coz I’m intending to rent a room

    1. Thank you for your comment. It is possible that your husband will need to pay you spousal maintenance whether you are in the house or renting alternative accommodation. You will have read that much depends on your ‘needs’ and your husband’s ability to pay. I would recommend inviting your husband to Mediation in the first instance. You should also seek independent legal advice from a Resolution lawyer.

  11. My hope-to-be partner will be seeking a divorce in the next year. His three sins will be over 18 years old the youngest will be going to University this September. His wife has done almost nothing to help with raising the children exhibiting a lack of maternal commitment to her sons from their births. She was a director of the company they started with two others and worked with him early in their marriage. She opted once the first child was born to stay at home and manage the house and their finances which she did not do. He in effect was a single parent having to manage the business, home and children.They have known for several years that they will have to sell the family property to resolve financial difficulties as the company is not succeeding. What are the likely outcome for maintenance and split of property pensions etc.?

    1. Dear Hilary, thank you for reading and commenting on the blog. Unfortunately we cannot provide advice on specific individual cases. I would advise your partner to seek some advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible.

  12. Hi . I have been seperated for 4 months after a 15 year marriage . Over the last 9 years my husband has set up his own business and i have emotionally supported him for the last 3 years due to him suffering from depression . We have 2 children and it was his wish that i did not work and remained a stay at home mum. Im currently a 10 per cent shareholder in his business . Since we split he is only paying the mortgage and his company is paying me a monthly salary £670 . Im an open university student can only really work part time and i am struggling financially . He is pressing for divorce . We have been through mediation and an agreement has been agreed that i will receive 75 % of the house when it sells in 2 years . I now feel he is pushing for thee divorce wants me out of his life and the company . I still feel i am owed more for all the years i supported him. He is 80 % shareholder in his company and i know he can access a lot of money if he wants . He refuses to speak to me and i feel I’m going to have to spend more on solicitors in the new year . I don’t trust him and feel hurt he has gone against his word that he will look after me . Am i entitled to access his business account to see whats going on?He usually rewards his staff well but i have a feeling he won’t giving me a christmas bonus . Any info would be greatly received.

    1. Dear Claire. Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately we cannot advise on individual cases but I would suggest that if you are unhappy with the ‘agreement’ reached in mediation that you seek independent legal advice urgently. I appreciate that there are costs associated with instructing solicitors but from the information you have provided it is vital that all the issues (some of which appear complex) are carefully considered with the benefit of legal advice as soon as possible.

  13. Hi,
    Not sure this is the right place but I wonder if anyone can help..
    I have just received paperwork through from my X regarding divorce.
    He has ticked all the boxes in the financial order part.
    We don’t own any property, have children under 18, he is over 65, I’m a full time carer and we have lived apart since August last year.
    I have no savings.
    Can I be made to pay him spouse maintenance ? Or a lump sum to him ? He took with him anything he wanted from the marital home.
    Many thanks Sarah.

    1. Dear Sarah. Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately we cannot provide advice on individual circumstances. Both you and your husband have the ability to make financial claims against each other as you are divorcing. Although the petition includes the claim for financial orders it does not necessarily mean that your husband is intending to pursue those claims. However, I would strongly recommend getting some independent advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible and you may find it useful to read our factsheets about divorce and financial issues.

    2. Thank you very much Lisa 🙂
      I have made an appointment for next week..

  14. My husband walked out on me five weeks ago, I have not heard from him since. I have no income. I have received a very small amount in benefits, just enough for food. Don’t know when I will be receiving any more. I do have some savings but am paying bills and expenses from these. He won’t get a solicitor, will I be entitled to spousal maintenance for a period of time. He earns about £2,000 a month.

    1. Dear Kirsty, thank you for your comment. From the information you have provided spousal maintenance is certainly something that needs to be considered carefully. I would suggest that you seek assistance from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible.

  15. Hi I have recently seperated from my husband I have always try hard to make our marriage work . I have had to leave my job and move in with my parents which live in another city .I am now suffering from depression and recently tried to take my own life and now receiving councelling and trying to sort my life out I recently recieved my last wage I am not claiming any benefits would I be entitled to spouse mantinence as I did contribute towards the house hold

    1. Thank you for your comment. We cannot comment on individual cases and so I would recommend that you seek independent advice from a Resolution family lawyer. It will be important to ascertain the background and the current circumstances of both you and your husband. As you will have read any spousal maintenance claim will need to consider your ‘needs’ and your husband’s ability to pay.

  16. My wife is about to file for divorce. She has 2 children from a previous marriage and we have 1 child together. All the children are above the age of 19. The eldest child has left home some time ago. Will I have to pay maintenance for my wife. I’m earning around £21k a year but need to find rented accommodation now. Will I be forced to pay for any of the children still at home with my wife

    1. Dear Steve, thank you for your comment. As you will have read any claim by your wife for spousal maintenance will be based on her ‘needs’ and your ability to pay. Your wife’s ability to earn/receive an income will be considered carefully as will your own needs e.g. costs of accommodation etc. Your own income is relatively low and so I would think a claim for substantive spousal maintenance would be difficult for your wife, although not impossible. Child maintenance is dealt with mainly through the Child Maintenance Service [https://www.gov.uk/child-maintenance/overview – you can also use our online calculator at https://www.familylawpartners.co.uk/what-we-do/child-maintenance-calculator/ ] particularly if couples are unable to reach an agreement between themselves. You would only be responsible for child support for any biological child of yours if the child is under the age of 16; is under the age of 20 and in full time non-advanced education or approved training, or is under the age of 20 and child benefit is being paid for them, and is under the age of 20 and has never been married or been in a civil partnership. Your wife would need to make a court application for you to pay child maintenance in relation to the other children still living at home from her previous marriage where the same eligibility above would be considered – the Child Maintenance Service do not deal with maintenance for “step children” and they would need to be deemed to be “children of the family”. I hope that helps.

  17. I like to have an advice. We are getting divorce after 13years together, we have no kids, my husband initiated the divorce early last year, but the decree nisi will be out end of jan.
    He cut me off from access to our money, I don’t have keys from our house (morgage free) we build together,(abroad) he changed locks,he doesn’t want me to take a lawyer but he has one.
    I can’t afford a lawyer. I want to know what I am entitled too, he is not telling me anything thing, just that I am stealing him blind, but I have no access to anything, but I must say he send me 800 from our account that he said yesterday he will stop to sent if I ask for a lawyer. But he paid my PHD fee, I live at my parents since jan 2016 and he is in our villa abroad that we build together. He is not working past year, was just spending our money and now he said there is no more and that the house is not worth much (4 story, guest house, sea view), he claims he will take job in Saudi soon. I want to ask for maintenance least for period of time, he has thrown my clothes, jewellery, household items), I want compensation and recover least some of our money, I believe he spend it, but is there some chances of fair compensation. Can I still claim financial support? He is very controlling and still hacks my phones and emails even after a year.I did counceling and was advised to cut contact by the abused woman helpline, use only lawyer for communication.

    1. Dear Catriona, thank you for your email. There are a number of issues that need to be addressed which we are unable to advise on within this forum. I suggest you seek urgent legal advice from a Resolution lawyer.

  18. my husband left the family home june 2014. we are not divorced, i can not afford. We have 3 children together; 20, 19, 15. He pays £350 per month for our youngest child. I struggle on my wages of £20,000 to pay the bills on the family home etc. I do not drink or smoke and have stopped socialising and I have not had a break or holiday as finances do not allow. My husband and his new partner went away 3 times last year and took the youngest child. this year they paln to take all three of our children, have new cars too so clearly doing better than myself. I have been off sick since june 2016 and now really struggling, he has relunctantly helped me out financially and says I am to pay it back as it is a loan? but friends are saying that he should help and are also advising me that he shouls be paying me spousal maintenance, are you able to please advise?
    Kind Regards

    1. Dear Suzie, thank you for your comment. As you will have read any claim for spousal maintenance will be guided by ‘needs’ and wherewithal to pay. On the face of it I would certainly advise you to seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer so that your needs and your husband’s ability to pay can be assessed.

  19. I am 67 – married 5 yrs 3 mos and getting divorced. My husband is 64 – retired but earning a substantial pension and works 40 hrs a week plus a part time job weekends. I have an income of 24K – and he makes in excess of $75K. Will this short term marriage be held against me with no hopes of tempoerary spousal support? I am a pianist – arthritic hands and will have to get another job thinking we were going to be retired!! Do you think I should pursue temporary support?? Thank you. (Illinois)

    1. Thank you for your question. Unfortunately we are unable to provide any advice in respect of the law in Illinois as we are based in England. We would recommend that you seek advice from a lawyer in your local area.

  20. Hi,
    My wife and I divorced in 2013 of her choosing, after a 24 year marriage, despite me not wanting to separate. At the time I was earning more than £100k and my wife was earing £16k. All our children are over 21. The consent order gave the house to my wife and I retained just £55k from a matured endowment. She also got significant pension sharing and spousal maintenance of £1250/ month dropping to £750 on sale of the house.
    I remarried but my ex chose to be single. I then lost my job 6 months later and was unemployed for 8 months due to having a stroke, but kept paying the maintenance out of my redundancy for 6 months until my money ran out. I then got a new job at half my previous earnings but restarted payments at £750/month until I lost that job due to illness 23 months later, in July 2016. Since then, with my wife’s agreement I have been paying only £20/month and being unable to find a new job at 57, have started my own business. This is growing, but generates only a few hundred pounds per month. Thank fully my new wife has just enough income to support us both..
    My ex now owns a 3 bed house, without a mortgage and a modest income of £19500. By agreement we have a quarterly review meeting, at which she expects me to agree an increase to what I pay monthly. I have proposed a permanent adjustment to £200/month but she rejected this. Do you think my best action is to go back to court for a variation in Spousal maintenance payments or try and reach mutual agreement, thanks?

    1. Thank you for your post. It seems you have been through a very difficult time. I think it would be very sensible to seek advice and consider the issue as to whether the time is now right to bring maintenance to an end.

  21. I have been divorced from my ex-husband for 2 years now and a court order is in place for maintenance payments until my son is 18 or left full time education and spousal maintenance is in the court order that this will stop if I re-marry. Now I am in a relationship with a new partner my ex is trying to stop the spousal. Can he do this if the court order specifies only if I re-marry and I haven’t and have no intention to do so? Thank you.

    1. Dear Mary, thank you for your comment. Your former husband should not unilaterally stop making spousal maintenance payments unless agreed by you or there is a further order varying or dismissing the payments. You have not indicated whether you are living with your new partner. If you are, your former husband may be looking to vary the payments on the basis that your financial circumstances have changed (for the better) and therefore you no longer have a ‘need’ for spousal maintenance from him or that your need is lower as there is another income coming into your household. As you will have read in my blog cohabitation with a new partner is not an automatic trigger for spousal maintenance to cease. However it may be an opportunity for your husband to seek that it is reviewed. If your former husband were to make an application to vary the order the court will look closely at the financial circumstances of you and your new partner and what your new partner ought to be contributing to the household (assuming you are living together). If you are not living together I think your former husband will have some difficulty in suggesting that payments should cease. I would recommend that you get some legal advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible. If we can assist please get in touch. You and your former husband should consider Mediation as a first step, in my view.

  22. At the time of my husbands divorce from his ex-wife she was not working, therefore he was ordered by court to pay spousal maintenance along with child support for his 2 children at the time one aged 12 and the other aged 4.
    8 years on he stopped paying child support for his eldest daughter now aged 19 who has left home and engaged to be married in July, however he still pays and will continue to pay obviously without dispute for his youngest now aged 11, and he also continues to pay the Spousal maintenance.

    Being 8 years on from the divorce his ex-wife still does not want to go back to work even though the youngest daughter is now 11 years old. She has a new life constantly in and out of a relationship with her boyfriend for the past 5 years.
    With the spousal support and the child maintenance and living in Government rental accommodation it obviously gives her no incentive to find a job.
    With your experience do you believe that a court will now allow a clean break and can stop the spousal maintenance or do you think that he will still have to pay? any comments appreciated

    1. Dear Sarah, thank you for your comment. It is not clear whether the spousal maintenance order that your husband is paying is a term order or a joint lives order. This may have an impact as to whether it is now appropriate for the order to be dismissed or varied. As you will have read spousal maintenance is dependent on ‘needs’ and ability to pay. You will also have read that the court have to consider whether, in light of all the circumstances of the case, your husband’s former wife can adjust – and adjust without undue hardship – to the termination of financial dependence and if so when. The question is, can she adjust, not should she adjust. It will be highly relevant to consider any difficulties she may have in entering or re-entering the job market or resuming a career. That is not to say that your husband’s former wife should not be maximising her earning potential. There are other factors that will also be taken into account. I would strongly recommend that your husband seeks legal advice from a Resolution lawyer. It may, at least in the first instance, be appropriate to open up a discussion with his former wife through Mediation. If we can assist please ask your husband to get in touch.

    2. Many thanks for your reply. very much appreciated.
      In the Divorce papers it said that the Spousal payments should be reviewed again approx. 5 years after the divorce but my husband didn’t want to move things as she is a very difficult person to say the least and therefore has been left as it originally was. I was asking because we cannot really afford a lawyer, I thought I’d investigate first to see if it was worth while in seeing if the Spousal payment could stop as it’s been 9 years since their divorce. she has not made any efforts in finding a job or even trying to improve her academic ability in getting GCSE’s etc she is 45 and has no qualifications, she was working as a cashier in a local supermarket. She is in and out of a relationship with her boyfriend who we are pretty sure does not want to remarry. she wants all the modern ways of life modern clothes modern cars modern all sorts but she doesn’t want the modern life where women go to work even with children. just seems very unfair, and women want equality! and I’m a woman and really believe this is so wrong, but I know the law looks out for the woman. this should change in my opinion….my rant over. again your help is appreciated

    3. Dear Sarah, I appreciate that legal costs are an issue for you and your husband but please do not underestimate the value in taking advice at an early stage. I think it is definitely worth your husband seeing a Resolution lawyer so that he can then decide whether he wishes to pursue a variation or dismissal of the current order especially in light of the ‘review’ clause that appears to have been factored in. We cannot give advice on specific cases on this forum I’m afraid.

  23. I divorced my ex wife some 11 years ago and have been paying spousal maintenance ever since – as our children were both under 18 I paid an amount for each up to their 18th Birthday.
    For the last 2 Years I have paid Maintenance despite one child having their own place with a boyfriend and the other working full time whilst living with my ex.
    I now have a lower paying job, 2 children under 10 with a new partner and want to find a way of reducing or ideally ceasing Spousal Payments – am I being “selfish” by wanting to consider my family’s needs above those if my ex ?

    1. Dear Tony, thank you for your comment. We would need to understand the exact terms of the spousal maintenance order (if indeed there was a formal order). The important factor here will be whether the order was for ‘joint lives’ or a ‘term’. Child maintenance and spousal maintenance are different and I would expect the child maintenance to have ceased as each child reached 18. That may not be the case for the spousal maintenance paid to your former wife and so we would need to know when that was due to end. In any event I would recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as possible from a Resolution lawyer because if your circumstances have changed significantly then that may well warrant a review of the spousal maintenance. What you shouldn’t do is simply stop paying without there being a further order or agreement in place. If we can help please get in touch.

    2. Lisa,

      Thanks for the response.

      I would not have considered stopping payment without applying for a change through the court but I will review the papers and ascertain what type of order was made.

      Thanks again

  24. An application by my ex-wife has been made for a variation of a Spousal Maintenance Order. My circumstances have changed. She is under the impression (falsely) that I am about to come into a lump sum of money from my deceased Mother’s estate and is seeking to capitalise the outstanding debt and the future payments.
    I lost my job and I am no longer able to make any payments.
    I now live with my wife outside the EU where she works and I am staying in this Country as a dependent to my wife against her work permit. My dependents pass specifically excludes any form of employment.
    I am due to pay £1,300 per month via the Spousal Maintenance Order until I am 65 in 5 years time, however, due to my change in circumstances, I am unable to continue paying the £1,300 per month and have fallen in to arrears.
    Due to the loss of my job, my new wife and myself, can no longer afford to continue paying the rent on the house we are currently living in but still have 1 year to go on the lease.
    My ex-wife claims to be not able to work due to ill health and is currently supported by the State.
    I am so short of money that I can not afford to fly over to the UK to attend the First Appointment meeting or appoint a Solicitors to represent me.
    What should I do?

    1. Dear Graham, thank you for your post. Unfortunately we are unable to provide individual advice in relation to very specific circumstances. What I can say is that you will need to attend the hearing or you are at risk of an order being made in your absence. I would suggest that you contact the court in question to ask whether it would be possible for you to attend the hearing by telephone. You will need to make a formal application to the court for permission from the Judge to allow this but please speak to the court initially to see if they can assist in any way. I appreciate your finances are limited but I cannot highlight strongly enough how important it is for you to get some early legal advice on this matter from a Resolution lawyer.

  25. Hello – my husband walked out on my daughter and I in February 2017, he was a househusband. I have always been the sole breadwinner. We were in the process of signing a separation agreement and had agreed a lump sum (me to pay him) no maintenance payments had ever been discussed (for me to pay him). He received the agreement and now refuses to sign it. He is demanding GBP 1000 per month. This is outrageous given my daughter lives with me and my priority is to provide for her, her schooling, our future and the fact that I need to employ a nanny to take her to school/pick up, cook etc whilst I work. I cannot afford to pay this sum. He also seems to think that if he seeks legal advice all fees will be bourne by me, is this right?

    To add, he refuses to work and says that he won’t lower his standards by working in a supermarket. He lives with his sister, has no rent, council tax to pay or bills. He only wants to do yoga everyday and become fitness instructor. However the course is only one weekend a month yet he still refuses to work and wants me to fund his lifestyle.

    Our daughter has suffered so much and we are in and out of psychiatrists office. She has missed weeks and weeks of school from depression and anxiety due to my husband walking out on us so suddenly with no warning and refused to fix the marriage.

    Surely I don’t have to pay him GBP 1000 per month when I’m raising our daughter, and he refuses to work?

    Many thanks

    1. All financial claims spouses have over each other remain open until a final order is made by the court and the final stage of a divorce is granted. A separation agreement can sometimes have significant weight when deciding the terms of the final order. Usually each party within financial remedy proceedings pay their own costs and are not liable for the costs of the other party, but it depends on the circumstances of the case and the conduct of the parties. The earning capacity each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future (including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire) is one of the factors that has to be taken into account when determining a final order. A lot more information about your situation would be required in order to address your questions. You should obtain legal advice on the issues that you have raised, as specific advice to your circumstances can not be given within this blog post. You can find details of a Resolution lawyer local to you online.

  26. My Husband walked out after I uncovered an affair he was having and left me and our 2 boys 6 years ago. We divorced and had a spousal maintenance order in Court to be paid until my youngest reached 13 or I remarry. I recently moved in with my new partner into his home. He has specified a co-habitaton order which ensures that all our finances remain separate as does pre-relatonship money and property etc. As such, in the event of split or death, each of our worth would be passed to our subsequent children and we would have no financial claim over the other. My ex-husband now demands that my spousal maintenance be stopped on the grounds that I am financially better off. I have taken a lower paid job to continue child care for my kids but have chosen to spend my maintenance towards school fees to give my boys the best start in life. He is threatening court action. Any stopping of maintenance would mean i could no longer afford to keep my kids at school where they are doing well. My spousal order says nothing of co-habiting. I am now earning less than I was 10 years ago due to lack of jobs in my profession. Please help.

    1. Dear Anna, thank you for your post. It’s unclear whether you are receiving spousal maintenance as well as child maintenance and I assume that there is no school fees order as you appear to be paying these yourself. School fees, child maintenance and spousal maintenance are all separate issues. Your former husband should not cease paying spousal maintenance without agreement or further order from the court. If he does, you are entitled to seek enforcement of the order. Your cohabitation (unless specified in the terms of the order) is not in itself a trigger for your husband to cease paying spousal maintenance. You will see from my other blog the circumstances in which maintenance may be varied. As you will have read maintenance is based on ‘needs’ and your former husband may be arguing that you do not ‘need’ it any longer as you are now cohabiting and have chosen to spend your maintenance on school fees – I am assuming that the school fees did not form part of your ‘needs’ at the time the spousal maintenance order was made. You may need to consider whether to make an application for a school fees order if your former husband is intent on applying to vary the maintenance. In the first instance I would suggest that you invite your former husband to attend Mediation. Court proceedings should be avoided if possible and I am sure, as parents, you will both want the best for your children. I would recommend getting legal advice as soon as possible from a Resolution lawyer and if we can help please do get in touch.

  27. I have to children to my x wife we got deviorced 7 years ago I have all ways paid maintenance for both children. This year my son has just finished his A levels and starts a full time job . I have given notice to the x wife that I will not be paying any more maintenance to my son . Of wich she agreed . Is right . However I still pay for my daughter a set amount . But the x wife says that it is not enough and wants more . However as I pointed out to her in our devorice agreement that has been passed through the courts that we both signed that I only have to pay the amount that I have allway paid her untill my daughter reach 18 or leaves full time education. Can my wife contest the court order and make me pay more money . ??

    1. Dear Paul, thank you for your comment. We would need to understand the exact terms of the court order and whether the terms of that order provide for spousal maintenance as well as child maintenance. If the agreement is that you are only paying child maintenance (and not maintenance to your wife as well) and on the assumption that the order that is in place was finalised more than 12 months ago then either you or your former wife are able to approach the Child Maintenance Service for an up to date assessment/calculation to be undertaken. The amount you will be assessed to pay will be based on a percentage of your income and how often the children who need child maintenance stay overnight with you. An application to the CMS for a calculation will, once made, result in the automatic termination of the court order. I hope this helps.

  28. Hello. My fiancé and his ex wife split up 4 years ago with a consent order stating he would pay £829 maintenance (not stated whether child or spousal) plus half the mortgage on the understanding that he’d had half the equity on the sale of this.
    Government child maintenance is recommended at £324 for his salary (which is quite good but he has no other assets apart from the house with his ex) according to the government calculator and he is willing to pay over that but his finances mean that he just about breaks even each month without much to put aside for security, and we certainly couldn’t consider having a child of our own at the moment. We’ve approached her to ask about reducing payments accordingly.

    His ex has continued to work part time over the 4 years. She is not struggling to make ends meet (new car, pedigree pets, holidays etc) but would claim that she is. We don’t know her salary or how part time the job is (I think it’s a few hours less per week- finishing early)

    However, over the past year or so she has had illness issues which would possibly prevent her from working full time and could be long term. She has suggested a minor reduction of £50 but says that in court she would be granted spousal as my fiancé’s salary hasn’t changed and he has previously paid this.

    Is she right? How long might he be liable to pay this to her? What would happen if we had a child?

    Thank you

    1. Dear Caroline, thank you for your comment. We would need to understand a little more about the agreement originally reached and indeed the specific terms of the order. The order should say whether the maintenance is for your fiancé’s previous wife, the children or both. This will determine what your fiancé’s next steps could be. I would suggest that he seek independent advice from a Resolution lawyer who will be able to advise further once he or she has reviewed the consent order or indeed return to the lawyer who he instructed previously. If we can help please do get in touch.

  29. Really helpful article Lisa
    Following divorce we agreed on spousal maintenance for a fixed period (8 years)
    There are 2 years left to run and my ex-wife has remarried
    The original court order does not state that payments stop on remarriage
    Does this matter and am i safe to just stop paying?

    1. Dear Jeremy, thank you for your query. It seems rather unusual that re-marriage was not included in the Spousal Maintenance Order. Be that as it may spousal maintenance ceases automatically on the recipient’s re-marriage. Child maintenance (if appropriate) does not automatically cease on re-marriage. I would recommend that you get the order reviewed by a Resolution lawyer to ensure that the maintenance is definitely termed as spousal maintenance and that there aren’t any other unusual circumstances that might need to be considered. If I can assist, please get in touch.

  30. I have a lifetime maintenance order for my ex wife. We separated in 2000 and were finally divorced in 2003. At that time we had been married for less than 10 years. It is now 2017, my only child is in her 20s and my ex wife is employed by the Church as a minister. I am still paying the maintenance order for my ex-wife of 1000 pounds per month ( though I have ceased paying child support). I am remarried and living abroad with a son of 11. Previously a corporate employee, I have been plagued with illness for the last 18 months and will stop being a corporate employee early next year. It is my intention to become a self-employed consultant and I am currently approaching 57. Is it reasonable to think that I can appeal my maintenance order successfully after a ten year marriage and 14 years of support?

    1. Dear Mairi, thank you for your comment. We would need to understand a bit about the background and review any court orders that were made before we could advise. As you will have read various factors are taken into account when looking at any application to vary a maintenance order. Your former wife’s needs and your ability to pay will continue to be the focus. If you are able to show that your former wife is able to meet her needs and that you are now unable to afford to pay then you may well be successful in a downward variation or indeed dismissal of the order. However your circumstances would be looked at in detail and the court would need to be satisfied that your former wife’s needs (having been analysed in detail) are met before ordering that the payments should reduce or end. Your first step should be seeking independent legal advice from a Resolution [link] family lawyer on the merits of any potential application. If we can assist please get in touch.

  31. Hi Lisa,

    I know you can’t comment on individual basis but could you advise please what I should do next

    Here’s my story was married to ex wife for 18 years.

    In 2014 she wanted a seperation / divorce

    I left the marital home.

    I met someone else and moved in with her.

    2014 – 2015 I supported financially the ex wife

    2015 through a bad business deal with a Chinese company I had no choice to be made bankrupt.

    I moved to Spain

    2016 ex wife started divorce proceedings ( after Bankruptcy discharge)

    I couldn’t afford legal fees so dealt with her solicitors myself.

    Did pre hearing over phone from spain to the court.

    Final hearing couldn’t attend due work. Couldn’t get the time off work. Didn’t want to lose my job/ income.

    I take home 3,000 Euro per month.

    Court order came through yesterday

    She gets her half of the property ( mine goes to trustee from bankruptcy)

    Spousal mainatance court order )1500 per month
    No way can I pay that and
    I have to pay 9000 GBP lump sum ( don’t have)

    What can I do ? I really have no assets at all as a discharged bankrupt just 1.5 years ago and just my monthly salary.

    I’m in shock totally that a judge could order this

    All kids are grown up and adults and feel I’ve been totally punished for not being able to attend or afford a solicitor

    1. Thank you for your post. You will need to act quickly and consider – although I’m not suggesting it will succeed – an appeal. I am pretty sure your non attendance will have worked against you.

      The level of the lump sum alone may have made getting advice disproportionate but you will need to address the maintenance or face the order being registered in Spain and enforced there if you default.

      If you would like us to consider this in a formal basis please contact us.

  32. Hi I found out last year that my wife had been having an affair after 2 years married. We have lived together for 7 years and we have a 6 year old son. My wife also has 4 other children from her previous relationship aged 8, 9, 12 and 13 all of which live with us. We are still together but may be separating. Can you give me an idea of how much maintenance I would be liable to pay or how it would be worked out?

    1. Dear Chris, thank you for comment. Unfortunately it is impossible to give you any idea as to how much maintenance you would have to pay. You need to consider both child maintenance and spousal maintenance. Child maintenance is dealt with, in the main, by the CMS but this would only be for your biological son. There are sometimes circumstances in which you may be expected to pay child support for step children as well but this would be dealt with through the court and not the CMS if it cannot be agreed. The issue of maintenance for a step child is a complex one and I would strongly recommend that you obtain independent legal advice from a Resolution family lawyer. The second element you need to consider is whether spousal maintenance is relevant. You will have read from the articles that this will be based on your wife’s needs and your ability to pay. There is no formula or calculation as there is with child support. Again I would recommend that you seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible so that all these issues can be considered. If we can assist on a more formal basis please get in touch.

  33. Hi, what is the consequence if you don’t pay spousal support? I understand this is a court order but if you don’t live in the country can they actually enforce anything?

    1. Dear Peter, thank you for your comment. I assume you are referring to an Order that has been made in the UK. If so, you are right in that it is a court order and should not be breached. Ceasing to pay spousal maintenance should never be done without agreement with your former wife or by further order of the court. Your wife would be able to make an application to enforce the Order in the UK and if necessary can be enforced even if you are no longer resident in the UK. The UK has a Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders (REMO) agreement with over 100 other countries. Therefore enforcement proceedings will be dependent on where you live and where the original order was made. I hope this is useful.

  34. Hi, I receive spousal maintenance on a lifetime order. My ex is saying his employment circumstances have changed and he needs to reduce payment. He has recently started living with his partner who is wealthy and a high earner. Will her wage be taken into account if he goes to court to vary the order?

    1. Dear Dee, thank you for your comment. Your former husband would need to make a formal application to vary the maintenance order rather than unilaterally ceasing the payments. As you will have read various factors are taken into account when looking at any application to vary a maintenance order. Your former husband’s ability to pay and your needs will continue to be the focus. If your former husband is able to show that he is now unable to afford to pay due to his employment circumstances which has impacted on his income and earning capacity then he may well be successful in a downward variation of the order. However your circumstances would also be looked at in detail and the court would need to be satisfied that your needs (having been analysed in detail) are met before ordering that the payments should decrease or indeed end. If your former husband were to make an application to vary the order the court will look closely at the financial circumstances of you and him. Part of the analysis of his circumstances are likely to include his new partner and whilst you do not have a claim on her wage per se it will be relevant as to what his new partner ought to be contributing to their household (assuming they are living together) and how this affects his ability to pay. I hope this assists.

  35. Hi

    I’ve been divorced for 11 years and after leaving the Home and contents to my ex wife I moved on.
    I e been paying an agreed figure over those 11 years and also got a sum when my ex Re mortgaged when we split. This wasn’t a fair amount but one we agreed on at the time.
    My son is now 16 and doing a 2 year football scholarship/ b Tec in sports.
    My daughter is 13 and still at high school.
    My ex wife has had a live in partner for the past 10 years and they have a 4 year old son together.
    My ex wife has a small cleaning business and her partner earns a good salary in his job.

    Wondering when my maintenance will stop and I can give funds directly to my children to support them, rather than go into my ex wife’s pockets ?

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Cheers

    1. Dear Dean, thank you for your comment. Much will depend on whether there is a court order in place which sets out the payments to be made and whether they are classed as child or spousal (or both) maintenance. We would need to understand a little more about the background and indeed whether there is a formal court order (by consent or otherwise) in place before we could advise further. What I can say is that you are responsible for child support until each child reaches 16 or 20 if they are in full time education/training. If there is an order that you pay spousal maintenance to your former wife then you may have justification to assess whether that should now cease. However that will depend on a number of factors and you should not stop paying without your former wife’s consent or further order of the court. If we can assist on a formal basis please get in touch.

  36. My husband currently pays £1200 spousal maintenance and £1300 child maintenance (£650 per child) to his ex and has been since the financial settlement 3 years ago.
    However his ex for the past year has been demanding more money. The child maintenance was worked out by the judge based on the financial position of both my husband and his ex not on how many nights the children stay with us. As the children are getting older (13 & 15) they have more weekend commitments which means they often cancel the weekends they are due to stay with us (we don’t live local to them), so his ex is now trying to say he needs to start paying double the amount to cover the weekends they decide or to come. As 12 months have passed since the court order (despite an agreement neither would go to the CSA for a variation) if she were to go to the CSA for an adjustment, would the amount of spousal maintenance he pays be taken into consideration for their calculation? We currently struggle on the money we have after these payments (4 children of our own also), so an increase in child maintenance would make money extremely tight for us.

    1. Dear Sarah, thank you for your comment. We would need to see the court order to establish the exact terms of the spousal and child maintenance order(s) before we could specifically advise. If the Child Maintenance Service (CMS, previously CSA) were to assess, which they can now do as you have suggested that the court order is now over 12 months old, they will not take into account the spousal maintenance that your partner pays. They will assess his liability on the basis of his income and the number of nights the children stay with him. They will also take into account the fact that he has four other children to support. It is worth taking some independent legal advice from a Resolution lawyer as to whether your husband may have a case to make an application to vary the spousal maintenance part of the order downwards particularly if his child maintenance liability goes up after having been assessed by the CMS and the fact that you are suggesting that money is extremely tight and your husband is struggling to meet the payments. If we can assist on a more formal basis please get in touch.

  37. Many thanks for the reply to my question on 30/12/17. My ex is threatening to make a retrospective claim for overpayment of maintenance even though my financial circumstances and life situation have not changed in any way since the lifetime order was granted. Can he do this?

    1. Dear Dee, thank you for your comment. Your former husband would need to apply to vary the order if he believes he is paying too much for whatever reason. I have never experienced a situation where a former spouse has been able to backdate any reduction in the maintenance he/she is then ordered to pay. The only circumstance I could think of would be if you had remarried and your husband had continued to pay maintenance to you after it should have ceased. If your former husband does make an application as he is suggesting then it will be very important for you to seek legal advice from a Resolution family lawyer as early as possible. It may also be a good idea to suggest Mediation to your former husband so that you can discuss the issues in a more amicable and resolution focussed environment.

  38. Hi. I had a financial order with nominal payments of £1 per annum, one of the clauses on the order are for this to cease if I remarry, I have two children 6 and 4 with my ex partner who reside with me. I am now cohabiting but not legally or civil married and expecting a child from my new partner.
    My ex is writing to me and saying thats you have now remarried and asking me to confirm in writing I am now no longer entitled to the nominal payments. I have not replied to him as I am not remarried. Can he just stop paying the nominal payment even though I have not replied to him?

    1. Dear Ally, thank you for your comment. If you have not re-married the nominal maintenance payments remain in force in accordance with the terms of the order. Given that he pays £1 per year the reality is that this is not going to cause you any difficulty and even though he might stop paying it, does not mean that the order no longer applies. If your ex-husband wishes to dismiss the nominal maintenance order in your favour then he would need to make a formal application to the court to do so if you are not in agreement. I would suggest that you do not respond to him in the terms he has requested.

  39. I have been paying my ex wife£250 per month spousal maintenance since 1995. Our 3 children are all working adults and no longer live with their mother. The youngest child moved away 4 years ago. Child maintenance payment have ceased. I remarried 22 years ago and had a further 3 children with my wife. 2 of our children are still at school. My ex was in a realationship and considered marriage but didn’t as they didn’t want to lose the £250 per month. I am no longer in full time employment as I retired from the forces but do have a pension. My ex works part time but would be capable of working full time.
    Everyone tells me I shouldn’t have to pay any longer but I have approached a few solicitors about thus and have had pretty negative responses. I still pay £3000 a year spousal maintenance which basically funds my ex wife’s holidays. This situation causes arguments between me and my wife who feels I have paid enough! Is if fair to say I have grounds to seek a variation or a halt to these payments. Thank you.

    1. There would need to be a significant change in circumstances to warrant a variation. Spousal maintenance is only required to be made for as long as is sufficient to enable person receiving the payment to adjust without undue hardship to the termination of those payments and there has been a shift recently in case law with courts nowadays expecting the spouse receiving maintenance to become self efficient. There is essentially no automatic entitlement to spousal maintenance, it is only payable if one spouse can prove a need for it and the other spouse can afford to pay it. Within a variation application the court need to consider all the circumstances of the case. There would need to be full financial disclosure within the proceedings to work out what the person receiving the maintenance needs and what is affordable for payer. The court are under a duty to consider whether there should be a clean break and will look of the option of capitalisation (paying a lump sum to offset any further maintenance payments). Within this blog post we are not able to give you specific advice as to whether or not you have grounds to vary the maintenance payable, review of your court order and a full analysis of your case would be needed. If you wish to book a consultation with one of our specialist lawyers for advice please contact us on 01273 646900.

  40. My ex and I divorced in 2010 after 15 years or marriage. She had not worked at any point during the marriage or any point since. At the time of the divorce our three children were 8, 9 and 11. My ex received all matrimonial assets (house, cars, etc..) I received absolutely nothing but a court order for spousal maintenance. I had been working abroad for several years and that contributed to the breakdown of the relationship. I am still working/living abroad and have since remarried without children.

    My oldest is now almost 21 and graduating from university, my youngest turns 18 soon and has no intention of further education. In 2012 my ex moved herself and our children to her new parters home and was renting out our former home. She has been with her new partner for almost 8 years and has two children by him. She has stated matter of factly that she wont remarry as she expects me to provide for her for the remainder of her life. Her new partner has a very good job and together they have undertaken several renovations and additions to the home they are living in.

    My circumstances changed soon after the divorce as I changed jobs in a different country for less money than I had been making previously, and through verbal agreement with my ex I have been paying 20% less than the original order. I am becoming increasingly frustrated as I feel I have been fleeced for years. Would these circumstances potentially warrant a cease order? Feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Thank you for your comment. We would need to understand a bit about the background and review any court orders that were made whether by consent or otherwise before we could advise in any detail. However I think it would be very sensible to seek advice and consider the issue as to whether the time is now right to bring maintenance to an end. As you will have read spousal maintenance is dependent on ‘needs’ and ability to pay. You will also have read that the court have to consider whether, in light of all the circumstances of the case, your former wife can adjust – and adjust without undue hardship – to the termination of financial dependence and if so when. The question is, can she adjust, not should she adjust. It will be highly relevant to consider any difficulties she may have in maximising her income potential. There are other factors that will also be taken into account. I would strongly recommend that you seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer. The fact that you are living abroad is not a barrier for us to advise and support you so please do get in touch if you would like us to assist on a formal basis.

  41. I have had a REMO issued in 2004 from California to the UK and in 2006 applied and succeeded in getting a modificationto the California order. That order was then sent back to California. The new order was never contested and in 2017 I made my final payment. The California court say they dont have to recognise the modified UK order that I still owe a substantial amount of arrears. California is now trying to take me to court, in California, for the outstanding balance. A couple of questions, Once California issues a REMO and charges the UK court to enforce, is that now the controlling order? And as the UK has juristacation, to collect, once the order is modified, is that order now the controlling order. And as its been over 13 years without California contesting the new comntrolling order, what ground do they have in ignoring the new order.
    Any help in this matter would be most grateful.

    1. Thank you for your comment. My understanding is that the UK courts would only have power to vary a registered Californian Order provisionally unless a defined set of circumstances apply, including that both the payee and payor are resident here. As such, I have assumed that the UK courts made a provisional order varying the Californian Order. At the time the UK court varied the Californian Order a certified copy of the provisional order and summary of evidence given in the proceedings should have been sent to the California court. Only once the Californian court has confirmed the varied order – which it is under no obligation to do – will the varied order take effect. If the Californian court never confirmed the varied UK order – depending on its terms – the “controlling order” would remain the original Californian order. This is a very complex area of law and I recommend that you seek advice from a specialist international family practitioner.

  42. My husband and I have two children living with us and he has two children from his ex he had a court order which was made almost ten years ago and he never failed or missed a payment. Up until now when his income significantly dropped so we applied to family court for a variance. Only 2 weeks after that we got told we would apply to CMS to have a recalculation( never had csa or cms before just the court order) and they advised us CMS will take over the court order and new calculated amount will be the one to pay. We now received a court date for hearing of our variance application. Do we still have to attend this even though we now applied through CMS? We will be happy with CMS calculation even though it’s only probably hundred pound less then now but we certainly can’t afford the court costs etc if we lose? CMS told us old court order will cease is there any way we can withdraw our application for variance when we have a court date? CMS won’t issue a letter to say they are dealing with the case ? Many thanks for your help

    1. Dear Deniz. Thank you for your question. Unfortunately we cannot provide advice in respect of specific cases within this forum. If you would like assistance from us on a formal basis please do get in touch.

  43. My ex-husband hasn’t paid the spousal maintenence since november 2010. Is there a time limit on claiming this through the court ?

    1. Dear Sharon, thank you for your comment. Where arrears of spousal maintenance have become due more than 12 months before the commencement of enforcement proceedings, it will be necessary to seek the permission of the court to enforce those arrears. I hope this assists you.

  44. If an ex husband’s outgoings significantly increased two years after agreeing an amount of spousal maintenance is this grounds to reduce the amount of SM if the reason his outgoings increased is due to him buying a house worth £1.1million rather than the £400k he stated he would buy during the negotiations for maintenance? We have 3 children, youngest is 12. I work approx 25 hours per week as a paramedic and purchased a house worth £300k

    1. Spousal maintenance can be varied if there has been a significant change in circumstance since the order was made. The whole circumstances of the case have to be considered, affordability to pay and the ability to adjust without undue hardship to a variation will need to be taken into account as well as whether there can be a clean break by the way of capitalisation or other supplementary provision. You should seek legal advice on the specifics of your case, you can find a specialist lawyer local to you online on the Resolution wesbite.

  45. My husband divorced his 1st wife over 12 years ago. He is still paying her monthly spousal maintenance in the sum of £1400, she is not working and did not make any attempt to go back to work for the last 23 years. Also, 3 adult children (all working) are living with her and contributing £200 each to the household. My husband has no end date to the spousal maintenance; recently he has been made redundant and has around 4 years until he will be able to draw his pension. Basically he has no income, except for 4 rental properties we own together. We will definitely apply for her payment reduction and end date. My question is: if our income from properties and my salary will be taken into consideration when applying for reduced payment? Also, as our properties are in joint names, will the court consider only half of the income from our properties as his only income? What about our savings we have in our joint accounts?

    1. Thank you for your comment. It sounds a really difficult time for your family. We are unable to advise on specific cases within this forum. The court will consider all the circumstances when dealing with a variation of maintenance. He should really look to get advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible as to how best to deal with matters. If we can help on a formal basis please get in touch.

  46. I work full time for a company – I separated in 2010, divorced 2012 and we have equal care of the children (11 & 16) based on a week with me and a week with the other parent. my company started redundancy proceedings in July last year but I managed to keep my job. Given the state of the economy and our sector I am likely to be made redundant in circa 6 months from now. Given I am 50 I am very unlikely to be able to find another company to work for but could go self employed earning significantly less than I do now. is it better for me to wait and be made redundant to prove to the courts that I had no option or hand in my notice now and become self employed in the same industry as it is very unlikely a company would employ somebody at 50. will the court take a dim view of becoming self employed and being paid less rather than waiting until Im made redundant?

    1. Dear James, thank you for your comment. We are unable to comment on specific cases. What I would say is that the court would expect you to maximise your earning capacity at any given time. I would recommend that you seek detailed legal advice from a Resolution lawyer before making any decisions. If we can assist on a formal basis, please get in touch.

  47. I have been with my husband 20 years married for 14years when we met I was working earning 30k so was he. I took out an endowment mortgage which we still have due 2023 this is not connected to the excising mortgage he moved in with me. At the moment we live in a leasehold pub and are due to come out in a year. 4/5 years a go he continued to pursue his career leaving me to run the pub a large country inn food lead I do all the cooking cleaning ordering till etc and I am totally stuck here can’t do much else due to the commitment. He now wants a divorce he earns 54k Plus and is looking at promotion which will be a significant increase. I however cant get a job until we leave the pub. we have 2 old dogs and 2 horses one we have had for 13yrs the horses live on the land to the house we bought. I am worried I will not be able to get a job that will enable me to pay him off, look after myself and our animals. Please help

    1. Dear Alex. Thank you for your comment. It sounds like a really difficult and worrying time for you. We are unable to advise on specific cases within this forum and there are a number of issues that will need to be considered. I would recommend that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible so that your options can be fully explored. If we can help on a formal basis please get it touch, I am sure that one of our specialists will be able to assist.

  48. I divorced from my wife of 16 years in 2003, splitting our assets and leaving her with a mortgage-free 4 bedroom house. I have paid child maintenance and spousal maintenance ever since. We also have a pension sharing agreement on my NHS pension. My children have left home, although I am still supporting them through university. I have re-married and have another child. I am now approaching retirement. Can I vary the spousal maintenance or stop paying it entirely on my retirement, as my ex-wife will receive part of my pension directly? It seems unfair that she should receive part of my pension and that I should continue paying her maintenance out of my share of the pension – her income stands to increase on my retirement, whilst I take a double whammy! She has always worked and will receive her own pension

    1. Dear Alex, thank you for your question. First, you should not unilaterally stop making payments without agreement with your former wife particularly if there is a court order in existence. You would need to make a formal application to vary the maintenance if you are unable to reach an agreement about it. The original court order will need to be reviewed so as to establish when it was envisaged that maintenance would cease, if at all. As you will have read various factors are taken into account when looking at any application to vary a maintenance order. It is not uncommon for maintenance to be reviewed/varied when the paying party reaches retirement and I would recommend that seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer as to your options. If I can assist you on a formal basis please get in touch.

  49. I am currently going through a divorce that I have requested. I held off applying until after 2 years separation so that it could be a blame free process. I left the family home 2 years and 8 months ago and for just under 2 years of that time I have voluntarily paid my partners rent in full (£1500/month). I have also voluntarily taken on our joint debts of £25k as my own. She has now left the family home and has been cohabiting with her new partner for the past year.

    Now that divorce proceedings have begun, she has informed me that she will be applying for spousal maintenance as she earns significantly less than me (£15k to my £60k although at time of separation I was earning £45K). This has obviously come as a shock as I tried my best to lessen the impact for her which meant me being unable to have anything more than a bedsit for the first 18 months of separation. Will the support that I have given since our separation be factored into any hearing for spousal maintenance please?

    1. Dear Mark, thank you for your comment. As you will have read any spousal maintenance claim will be based on ‘needs’ and ability to pay. Your wife’s cohabitation with her new partner will be a relevant factor as will whether you have any children together. The fact that you have been paying voluntary maintenance (by way of paying her rent) since separation will be considered as part of all the circumstances – indeed your wife may suggest that this proves she has a ‘need’ for maintenance from you and that you are able to afford to pay it. However as I said above her cohabitation will be relevant in this regard as he/she should also be paying towards the rent and outgoings on the property they are sharing as will your own needs and your ability to meet them from your income. You should seek legal advice as soon as possible from a Resolution lawyer. If I can help on a formal basis please get in touch.

  50. My ex-husband of only two years has brought me back to court a year ago to try and drop some of the years off of the maintenance payment to me, I dropped three years. Now he is trying to become unemployed by claiming he has severe arthritis. He has been seeing a doctor and been on disability at his job for months now. in our first court appearance he said he was in good health. Now two years later he has debilitating arthritis. I have video of him running across a golf course from less then a year ago, and texts from him stating that he wasn’t going to be working much longer from over a year ago. Is there anything I can do to prove that he is just trying to get out of paying maintenance? Can I ask for him to pay out of his SSI or his retirement if he can’t work anymore?

    1. Dear Jessica, thank you for comment. As you will have read any application to vary a maintenance order should be carefully considered. We cannot provide advice in relation to individual circumstances – I would advise you to seek independent legal advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible. What I can say is that if your former husband is able to provide medical/expert evidence that he is unable to work and/or cannot afford to pay the maintenance that he has been ordered to pay then it is likely that he will be successful in varying the order. The court will look at your needs and your former husband’s ability to pay which will include taking into account his income from all sources.

  51. I have recently undertaken financial remedy proceedings and settled with my now ex-wife. As she is currently not working full time and claiming benefits, In the consent order I agreed to include a nominal 1p per year spousal maintenance order in case my or my ex-wife’s circumstances change. She will return to her career when my youngest child starts school in 2 years. My question relates to me remarrying. If my future spouse brings in salary that boosts our joint household income but my own income stays broadly the same, could my ex wife bring a claim against the ‘household’ income (if she has a fallen on harder times) or would she only be able to make an application against my income? If household income is at risk if I remarry and not just my own are there any steps I could take to mitigate this apart from not getting married again?

    1. Thank you for your blog comment. Your ex-wife would only be able to make a claim against your income, however whether you have surplus income after meeting your needs to make a claim on can in some circumstances be impacted if you are pooling your resources with a new spouse. The extent it would impact on claims would very much depend in the specific circumstances. There are some steps that can be taken when remarrying to mitigate claims such as reviewing the way financial resources are pooled together (if at all) and by getting a pre/post nuptial agreement in place to make the financial arrangements between you and your new wife clear. You should get advice from a solicitor on your individual circumstances, you can contact us or find details of solicitors local to you on the Resolution website.

  52. Hello. I completed my divorce 3 years ago. The court order specified that I must pay global maintenance of 1800 less any CSA payments until October 2020 (when the youngest child is 13).
    Since this order, there have been relevant changes in both of our circumstances. I am soon to have my second child with my new wife, and more importantly my ex wife recently remarried.
    I estimate my CSA obligation to be 1400, meaning i am currently paying around 400 in spousal maintenance. Am I correct that this should be dismissed now that she has remarried?
    I represented myself in court, and I think due to my lack of experience remarriage isn’t explicitly named as a trigger. I assume this means that I would have to apply to the court to vary the order?recently

    Many thanks for any advice

    1. Dear Chris, thank you for your comment. We would need to see the original order to be able to provide specific advice. It is important that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer as to your options and how you approach your former wife about the issue. What I can say is that as a matter of law spousal maintenance ends on re-marriage, regardless of what the order says. However I reiterate that it is important that the order is reviewed before you make any changes. If we can assist on a formal basis please do get in touch.

  53. I completed my divorce three years ago and retained a provision for spousal maintenance until my son reaches 18 – he’s currently 12. At the time I was working full time on a reasonable salary. I’m now facing a change in my working circumstances and will be without a job shortly, my face no longer fits and I have been asked to leave or face disciplinary proceedings. There is a compromise or settlement agreement being discussed currently. My question is if I accept a settlement agreement will I be damaging my chances of making a claim for spousal maintenance. I.e. is it regarded as leaving the job voluntarily which I’d assume would go against me in court.

    Many thanks for any advice,

    1. Dear Lianne, thank you for your email. The court will expect you to maximise your income and earning capacity and therefore the circumstances in which you are leaving your current job are likely to be relevant. The court will also take into account any financial settlement you may receive in respect of your settlement agreement and will also expect you to seek alternative employment as soon as you can. I would suggest that you seek formal legal advice from a Resolution lawyer before you embark on an application for substantive spousal maintenance as it will be important to assess the costs and benefits of such an application carefully. You should also speak to an employment expert to review the terms on offer and your situation at work.

  54. My father has been paying spousal maintenance to my mother for 10 years he out of no where reduced the monthly payments by £200 for the past 5 years (not agreed she just could not afford the fees to go to court). He has now just stopped paying. He has remarried and owns his own home she has not remarried. She also got the family home in the settlement but agreed to give him £50,000 when it sold. He would not allow her to work during the 30 year marriage so has no great job prospects at 62. What are the steps she has to take to make sure he continues to pay(she can not afford solicitor fees as every penny he used to pay for maintenance goes on bills)? Thanks in advance

    1. Thank you for your comment. I understand that costs are an issue for your mother but it is very important that she seeks legal advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible. Your mother may need to make a court application to enforce the court order (assuming there is one). Permission of the court will be needed to claim arrears that are older than 12 months. If an application is necessary your mother may be able to seek an order that your father pay her costs or at least some of them. As I said above she should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

  55. My dad has been paying spousal maintenance for 28 years. He and my mum are both 81 years old and my mum has been in a care home for the past 3 years. My dad can no longer afford to pay this money. Can he just stop?

    1. Dear Mrs Vaughan, thank you for your question. It will depend on the terms of the original maintenance order as to when and if the payments should or could cease. I would not recommend that the payments are unilaterally stopped. Your father should get some independent advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible to look at what options may be available to him. If we can assist on a formal basis please do get in touch.

  56. I pay spouse maintenance to my ex wife but since the order was made my circumstances have changed I’m now remarried but she doesn’t work so i have to support both of us also when the order was made I was only a lodger at my sisters house but now we’ve got a council flat so need to pay all Bill’s and buy all furniture as I left my ex with everything I give her £300 a month but its crippling me my bank account is always into my overdraft could I get it reduced.

    1. Dear Stuart, thank you for your comment. As you will have read seeking an order that spousal maintenance is reduced can be complicated and risky. I would suggest that you seek some advice from a Resolution lawyer so that you can discuss the terms of the original order and any change in your circumstances in much more detail. You may also want to consider inviting your previous wife to Mediation to discuss your concerns to see if you might be able to reach a compromise.

  57. Hi-

    I had a court order for child maintenance that has been in place since 2005, and varied downwards with my agreement once due to his having another son.
    My order states that it will stop when the children reach 17 or the end of further/ higher education. Can you confirm whether this means the end of University or School or is it dependent upon the person reviewing the order? Both my children are planning to go to Uni and he’s stated that he will not support them at Unii as I should have been saving all the money he’s given me over the years.

    Finally, the order has not increased with inflation and based on cumulative figures he should be paying about £150 a month more than he currently is. Would this form the basis for varying the order?

    1. In most circumstance the jurisdiction of the child maintenance service, as opposed the court, takes precedence over an order for child maintenance after the order has been in place for 12 months. If the order provided for maintenance is to increase in line with inflation and it hasn’t you may be able to claim arrears (usually only up to 12 months of arrears is recoverable unless there are exceptional circumstances). In order to advise you on your specific circumstances we would need to review a copy of the order and know a lot more detail about the circumstances of your case. If you would like to arrange a consultation with one of our experts please call us on 01273 646900.

  58. Hi Lisa,

    I am divorced and pay my ex-wife periodical payments for the benefit of herself and the children of the family under a global order.

    The Global order states, “Payments continue until the first to occur of: …the applicant’s cohabitation for an uninterrupted period of 6 months or more.”

    If she then cohabits for more than 6 months, do I just stop paying? Or at least notify her of my reason for not paying? Or do I need to get the court to amend the order?

    Can she then apply to the Child Maintenance Service or Child Support Agency (CSA) for child maintenance payments?

    Thank you for your help.

    1. Thank you for your comment. In order to properly advise we would need to see the order and understand your circumstances in more detail. There are often disagreements as to what constitutes cohabitation. Also, your obligation to pay child maintenance will continue regardless of whether your obligation to pay spousal maintenance ceases. The amount of child maintenance you are required to pay will depend upon the precise terms of how the order is framed and whether an application has been made to the CMS. I would therefore suggest that you seek advice from a specialist family solicitor who is a member of Resolution who will be able to assist you.

  59. Hi Lisa, I separated from my husband in July 2017, we have not divorced or been to court. I agreed to a 50/50 split of assets (my husband manipulated me in to agreeing by withholding money in an attempt to bankrupt me as I was left in the house with massive outgoing) and my husband pays maintenance as per the government calculator which is currently £90 per week but was £50 per week when he earned less, our son is 3 (17 year relationship, 8 years married). He is threatening to go back to study and pay £0 as per the government calculator. I took 50/50 on that basis that I would get child maintenance continually (never dreamt of asking for spousal despite being FT parent and him working FT)- he has not purchased anything with his 50% of financial split so has £230,000+ in the bank but is threatening to pay me £0 if he retrains. Can you please give me an idea of where I stand and if I should consider going to court, this financial uncertainty is incredibly stressful and as our child is 3 I can’t cope like this for the next 12/15 yearsI have worked PT for the last year since he left me financially ruined and am now returning to study in the hopes of getting a better job. Thank you in advance.

    1. Dear Emma, thank you for your comment. As you will appreciate we are unable to provide specific advice within this forum. I would recommend that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible so that you can look at what options might be available to you. If I can assist please do contact us.

  60. Hi Lisa
    My husband and I divorced nearly 5 years ago (Decree nisi Dec 2014). At the time of the divorce I was 59 yrs old, in full time permanent employment as a company director and my husband was 60 yrs old, and unemployed (and had been for several years through alcohol dependency). We agreed through a spousal maintenance order that:
    • the house would be sold and from the proceeds, he would receive £120,000 and I would receive £50,000
    • we would both retain our respective pensions (I have an NHS pension of about £6.5k per year, he has private company pensions of approximately the same value)
    • I should pay him £1475 per month until I turned 68 yrs.
    The reason for the agreement was to ensure he would have sufficient funds to purchase a property in which to live. The spousal maintenance included an element to cover the costs of a mortgage on a property that he had decided to purchase in Bexhill-on-sea. I was in rented accommodation. The duration of the spousal maintenance was agreed at 8 years to cover the mortgage costs.
    About 3 months following the divorce I was made redundant. Following the redundancy, I continued to pay the maintenance from the redundancy settlement. I failed to secure another job so started a consultancy company some months later. Initially that was financially successful but over the last 2 years I have struggled to secure contracts and as a result my income has virtually dried up.
    When the downturn in my earnings started, my ex-husband and I agreed that I would pay him half of my earned profit from the company, which I have done.
    I am now nearly 64 and am not optimistic about future income. My ex-husband and I are both living with new partners. To my knowledge he has not sought work or benefits. I have no assets and my income is from my small NHS pension. I have elderly parents, one of whom has Alzheimer’s and I provide support for my father in caring for my mother.
    Frankly, I am unsure what to do as I know I am in breach of the financial order but am unable to meet my legal financial commitments. I realise I will need to seek legal advice but in general terms would a variation to the spousal maintenance be likely?

    1. Dear Cara, thank you for your question. As you will appreciate it is very difficult to provide advice without knowing the background and more details about your respective financial circumstances. I would certainly recommend that you get legal advice (from a Resolution lawyer) as soon as possible and on the face of it, it appears you would be justified in seeking a variation/dismissal of the order. If we can assist on a formal basis please contact us on 01273 646900.

  61. Hi Lisa,

    My wife of 23 years walked out on me 4 years ago with our two children. We had shared debts of £42k in comprised of an overdraft and credit card in addition the mortgage of our joint property. We tried several times with mediation, but each time it failed as my ex-wife kept insisting that I pay all of the debts and that she receive all of the proceeds from the house for her and the children. She also insisted on a Child Maintenance of £750 pcm plus my paying for our son’s fee paying school at £900 pcm. I kept proving time and time again that I only made £3k pcm net, so how was I suppose to live on £1k pcm?

    Before we entered another round, my wife did agree to sell the house, but before we could agree on how the proceeds were to be divided, she put the overdraft into dispute in April of this year, causing the bank to issue a default notice, which blew my credit score out of the water, which as a Company Director almost forced me resign due to it being viewed as a bad debt. Nevertheless, in June my ex wife said that their was a legitimate offer for the house, but that she would not agree to the sale unless she received all of the net proceeds from it following the paying of the overdraft and that I agreed to pay back to her my half of the debt, plus the £750 pcm along with the £900 pcm in school fees. I again explained that on £3k pcm I was not going to be able to meet these obligations, but with the bank breathing down our neck to accept the offer and pay the overdraft off as otherwise they would had over our default to the bad debt recovery team, which meant they could have forced the sale of the house for a lower price and being in complete default would have cost me my job.

    My ex continued to profess that the proceeds from the house was all she had for her and the children to rent and that with her part time income of £9.5k per annum it was all she had. With and with the bank pressing down and her constantly threatening both verbally and written that if I did not sign the FCO she would pull the sale I felt I had no other choice.

    No sooner had I signed the FCO in June where it was filed in July, then my children tell me of that my ex, their mother has bought a house, that would have required her to have found over £100k in additional cash. What is extraordinary is that under the terms of our agreement, if either of our financial circumstances changed significantly, we needed to inform the other party in writing, which has never come from her.

    So how is it I am left with all of the debts, plus maintenance and school fee payments I cannot afford and she is able to buy a house with money she clearly knew she had access to (I have been able to find evidence that she had been negotiating for the house as far back as April, which is when she put the bank overdraft into default forcing me to agree to a sale) but did not declare??

    Regards,

    Tom

    1. Dear Thomas, thank you for your query. If there has been ‘non-disclosure’ on the part of your former wife you may be able to apply to have the order set aside. You will also have read the circumstances in which a spousal maintenance order can be varied which includes not being able to afford to pay it. The same applies if there is a school fees order in place which is unaffordable. It is vital that you seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer before proceeding with any of these applications to fully understand the potential risks and scenarios which may affect the outcome for you. We cannot provide specific advice on this forum.

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