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Maintenance payments and a new partner – what happens next? (Part 1)

Your ex-wife has moved on and is now happily living with a new partner. They are in a stable, supportive relationship and he doesn’t seem short of cash. So why are you still paying her regular maintenance?

Maintenance payment is one of the most divisive issues in family law. Over the course of two posts I’m going to consider why maintenance orders exist and the emerging case law which means they might be more readily challenged in the future.

Most financial settlements between divorcing couples consider only the “reasonable needs” of the parties involved. They or the court will share out the assets – capital and income – ‘fairly’ so they can both cope financially as they move forward with their new lives. In such cases, there often isn’t any surplus money to fund a “clean break” between them. The wife has no income, or earns far less than the husband, and so needs maintenance payments from her husband to support her. Sometimes these payments have a cut-off point in the future, by which time the wife is expected to be self-sufficient, but often the order is left open-ended because she has care of the children, or has no realistic prospect of earning a reasonable living in the future – or both.

Maintenance therefore remains payable by an ex-husband to his ex-wife, often with an automatic uplift linked to the Retail Prices Index, until the wife remarries, dies or the court makes a further order. Until then she receives tax free maintenance, which she regards as the income earned as a result of their marriage.

This doesn’t happen in mainland Europe, there maintenance is not payable to an ex-wife. She is expected to manage with an equal split of matrimonial assets and if necessary go to work. The husband keeps his income intact save for child support payments. There is no doubt that this causes great financial hardship, and in England the law recognises this fact and provides accordingly.

But suppose both parties move on with their lives and they both acquire different partners?

Let’s suppose that an ex-wife now has a boyfriend. She could be more or less living with him full time and gives him free rein of her house. He keeps his clothes in her wardrobe and his razor and toothbrush in the bathroom. He pays for their food and he might give her some money “to tide her over”.

To all but the keenest eye they are living together as man and wife. Yet they have decided not to marry, not now, or perhaps not ever.

On his part this could be because he is already married or can’t afford to get married. The wife’s reasoning may also be straightforward. She is desperate not to lose the hard won maintenance payments from her ex-husband, which she considers to be earned by virtue of her contribution during the marriage.

The ex-wife therefore rejects an approach from her increasingly frustrated ex-husband to vary the court order and reduce or even stop her maintenance because she is in a relationship with another man. She fears that she might have no long-term security with her new partner and hangs on grimly to her maintenance cheques. Her furious ex-husband (possibly egged on by his new wife or partner who is bitter about the continuing cost of the on-going, open-ended maintenance payments) consults his lawyers and asks: “Do I still have to pay maintenance to her?”

The original court order will usually provide no automatic cut off point in the event of cohabitation. If he wants to reduce his maintenance he will have to persuade the court that cohabitation does exist, and furthermore, that it should be taken into account.

On one hand it seems an open and shut case. Why should the former husband pay to maintain his ex-wife whilst she is living with her boyfriend? Surely she can’t eat her cake and have it too?  Furthermore, if cohabitation prior to marriage was taken into account when considering the length of their relationship during the divorce so that his wife could enhance her claims, why should it now be ignored in relation to her maintenance payments?

There is of course another side to this argument; one that is largely supported by the law.  The husband and wife jointly made the decision to raise a family and thus affected the wife’s ability to earn her own living. In many cases, as I have outlined above, there is insufficient capital to fund a clean break so maintenance payments are the only option. Also the wife has no claims against her new partner as they are unmarried and legally there is no cause for maintenance to end if the recipient is cohabiting. So is it right to leave her high and dry whilst she may only be “testing the water” in a new relationship?

These arguments for and against continue to rage. Now the Court of Appeal has waded in with much needed guidance on the subject. In my next post I will be looking at a recent, colourful case called Grey v Grey (2009EWCA Civ1424), which may have implications for partners past and present when maintenance orders are disputed in future.

This is a two-part post. You can read the follow-up post here: Maintenance payments and a new partner – what happens next? (Part 2)

The founder of Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known family law solicitors and divorce lawyers. She retired from Stowe Family Law in 2017.

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  1. Little Mr Mike says:

    In your blog of 17 February you stated that spousal maintenance is regarded in other jurisdictions as short term and rehabilitative. You state – in my opinion rightly – that this can cause serious hardship.

    In England and Wales the likelihood that that a maintenance order will be expressed to be payable for joint lives, unless the marriage is short or the parties are more or less economically equal.

    To be sure, it does not necessarily follow that, because a maintenance order is expressed to be for life, that the payer will actually have to pay for life.

    But is there no room for some half way house between these two extremes – one the one hand, maintenance for a very short duration, and on the
    other, maintenance for a period which might be twice or three times as long as the marriage ?

    In my case I have been paying maintenance to an ex wife for 27 years for a marriage lasting 13 and I can tell you the last three were sheer hell. I cannot and do not blame my ex for this, because the conduct was the result of mental illness.

    To protect the anonymity of my ex I have used my wikivorce username. Real name can be supplied if required.

    Little Mr Mike

  2. John says:

    It may cause hardship to the ex-wife, but that is what social security is for. There is a definite expectation that after marriage both parties should work. Maintenance is such the State abrogating its duty to provide social security.

    There is obvious inequity in the cohabitation vs marriage scenario. I have two friends, both with children. The one has been cohabiting for 20 years no marriage. Jointly owned house. The other cobhabiting for 20 years, married after 9 years. In the forme

  3. Enough Already says:


    I found this post via the usual questions into Google route and am looking for some help and advice.

    I am a co-habiting partner of a divorced man who helped him through his acrimonious +6 yr divorce.

    We are trying to come to terms with the court order from 2 years ago ordering him to pay global maintenance of around +50% of his net salary for kids of 13, 17 and 20 (at uni) and the ex wife.

    The problem is that his ex wife like many others has used her circumstances to her advantage by working minimal hours in a very low paid job (and makes excuses not to work full time). She declined a timeline in the proceedings by which to re-train which was her expressed wish and so remains in an unskilled, low paid position with no real prospects – she is mid 40’s.

    She has a partner of 7.5 yrs (non co-habiting) who is a very wealthy tax exile (he paid for her costly fees). She stated in court that she does not have any plans to marry or co-habit. Neither does she feel ‘sure enough’ about her partner after all that time to give up maintenance for an additional 2 years even if she DOES co-habit with him – so 2 yrs additional maintenance was awarded in the Court Order. Unfairly we feel.

    Anyhow, the whole situation relies upon my partner and myself scrimping and saving to break even while she is generously rewarded each month with maintenance, wages, tax credits, child benefit etc. which nets her over £30K per annum.

    I am aware there is an ‘earnings gap’ here but if someone makes no EFFORT to improve their circumstances why should they be rewarded with a tax free (annually rising) income for life whilst their RPI increase per annum outstrips any benefit my partner gets in an annual raise? There is no incentive for her to change things. Meanwhile we have this hanging over our heads for years like a millstone.

    I am currently unemployed (not through choice – it is so hard to find any work at the mo) and the prospect of varying down the order is not palatable as it would take ages, cost a fortune, require full disclosure and she would lie to make herself look worse off and probably try and land us with her costs too. She is also very vengeful and dishonest – hence the protracted divorce and unfair maintenance allowance.

    How can we get out of this stranglehold by a legally-aided, lazy, unambitious, deceitful person who wants to effectively make us suffer financially for a very long time? Even mothers on benefit are expected to get a full time job once their youngest child reaches a certain age. She sees no reason why she should do more as she expects us to both work full time to help support her. She doesn’t even support the eldest child at uni with the global maintenance paid partially for that purpose.

    There are many people in our position and it is grossly unfair that the man is penalised for being both honest and responsible whilst the ex gets away with doing nothing to improve things. There is no leverage and no incentive and we are the hardworking lone voices in the wilderness. What can be done? We will be even worse off when the RPI increase hits later this year.

    Please help.

  4. JamesB says:

    I agree with John.

  5. Enough Already says:

    hi Mariyn,

    Further to my above post on 25th Jan could you please provide some advice?

    I am still unemployed and it is hard to keep going with the constant rejection alongside the financial stress exacerbated by my partner’s ongoing financial obligations to his ex wife.

    At present I only receice £65 per week JSA, as of May 1st I will receive nothing at all. My partner will then have to support me, our entire household outgoings (including my personal outgoings), his own obligations and a large global maintenance payment to his ex wife.

    We are at our wits end.

    If our only route is to vary the order then how much is it likely to cost, how can we guarantee some fairness this time around (when last time we were not really listened to or considered) and how can we stop her and her partner lying again in the proceedings to back each other up. They can afford top legal represenation funded by her boyfriend – we cannot so it is an unfair fight from the off. Can we save money by taking the case to a magistrates court or having some form of mediation to change the court order?

    When looking at affordability of monthly maintenance will the courts look at monthly income or will they expect any savings to be used by us before varying down any monthly payments to her?

    The thought of paying a lot of money we don’t have in order to achieve little or nothing is not appealing – neither is defaulting on court orderered payments which effectively would make my partner a criminal.

    If she was a reasonable person we would write to her but all she will say is that we signed up to the original order (with a gun to our heads and the threat of paying her very large court costs).

    There must be something we can do?

    Please advise.


    • samantha says:

      To james who said women only do part time to get what yhey can!you have no clue i bring up my three kids alone with no help they are gutted that there parents relashionship has ended but i will pick ip the pieces try yo be strong cook clean take them to school be there every day !do you get the point if i work full time they will never see me .so unless you have worked part time amd bought three children up with no family support you cannot say anything.

  6. Marilyn Stowe says:

    In reply to Enough Already:-
    The problem I have is insufficient information to properly advise you, so what follows is simply a guide. You need to take your own legal advice because it seems to me, on the face of it your partner may have a good arguable case for a downwards variation or even an extinguishment of his liability to his former spouse.
    The new Family Procedure Rules come into force on 6th April. There will be a pre action protocol in force and the process is intended to be more streamlined, managed much more effectively and proportionately by the court with the overall aim of ‘justly dealing with the case having regard to the welfare issues involved’.
    Your partner’s solicitor will ideally write the first letter, setting out your partner’s position and what he is seeking, and it is an important letter to be written with care, under the new Rules because there could be cost implications in your partner’s favour if you write correctly and set the appropriate tone.
    Mediation and other forms of ADR including collaborative law, is an important part of the new process, to keep costs down and I believe the court will expect mediation to be considered at all stages in the process, including at the start.
    So, I think its fair to say that this time round, it will be better than the last especially since the court must also ensure the parties are on an equal footing.
    You can certainly look into the magistrates dealing with the application – I believe the order would need to be registered in the appropriate magistrates court before a variation is made, but I suspect his former wife would object. Its still worth looking into with your local magistrate’s court.
    You need evidence of their cohabitation if you can get it. However, as this was raised albeit rejected last time, I would imagine a Judge hearing they still have an ongoing relationship is more likely to accept it now.
    Costs might also be important. The court does have power to make costs orders where litigants act unreasonably, and you mustnt overlook this.
    So on balance, your partner seem to have little choice but to proceed and I dont think you should be downbeat.
    Go and take some detailed legal advice.

  7. Enough Already says:

    Thank you very much Marilyn for your timely reply.

    I appreciate you cannot give detailed advice as each case is so complicated and individual. There was a fair amount of detail inmy 25th Jan post above though.

    I think my partner is so scarred and battle weary from the last round (and it was very costly) that he is loathe to take further action through the court – especially as we were so let down by the judge last time. Also his ex wife is not co-habiting with this man but has had a relationship with him for nearly 8 years now. It is a long distance relationship so the judge didn’t consider it a ‘proper’ relationship.

    However, we will think about your advice in light of the new rules. Is there a good online resource to investigate the new rules? Are you saying that as part of varying an existing order under the new rules that it would also involve mediation? Does it have to be heard in court with barristers or can it be done via mediation and rubber stamped by the court?

    I doubt there would be an extinguishment of any aspect of maintenance to his ex wife as the children are 13, 17 & 20. the two youngest still live at home. However, the 17 yr old may be living away at uni next in the academic year (Sept 11).

    Thanks again.

  8. Marilyn Stowe says:

    I will write a post about it. IThe Rules were only published a few months ago and since then practice directions and forms have been coming out until very recently. Its all supposed to be up and running by 6thApril but I am expecting quite a few teething problems as so many people, including all the court staff across the country have to adjust.
    In our firm we have been having training, and everyone has been issued with hundreds of pages of documents which we are trying to digest. We are having another meeting to go through all the new forms next week.
    Overall the way Judges’ manage cases will change for the better, and this is good as far more people are expected to be acting on their own without lawyers.
    One of the points I highlighted in my reply to you above is the courts have a duty to ensure parties are on an even footing.
    As I mentioned in my reply if you seriously wish to proceed given the anticipated drop in your income, and wish to consider in greater detail any sums that the boyfriend might be considered liable to pay, and a consideration of an increase in the former wife’s earned income, then take legal advice. I know this is one of the most thorny topics right now and there are strong arguments on both sides.
    At the moment your partner has a liability and if he decides not to proceed, then the only option, is grit your teeth and bear it. He has a former wife and children, and he has to pay his maintenance. So accept it and if you can put it out of your mind. If you let it eat you both up, it could destroy your own relationship and if you have a good relationship worth fighting for be strong and dont let it happen.
    Best Wishes,

  9. Enough Already says:

    Thanks Marilyn,

    Sounds like it may take a while for the system to accommodate these new rule changes. I suppose the question to ask of any legal practice is whether they have fully incorporated these or had training.

    With regard to our case, her income has not increased and her boyfriend does not live with her – he may well make payments to her but this is hard to prove as her legal reps won’t provide straight answers and he and she lie to cover each other (even drafting so called loan agreements). This was a thorn in the side of our original case. Our circmstances have subsequently changed considerably as we are relying on only one income into our house. My partner is supporting everyone until I find work again which is proving extremely difficult. As I said, come May my income will be £0 which is a very scary prospect – I have always contributed my share into our household until now.

    I did ask previously and this is a key point in whether we would seek to vary; When looking at affordability of monthly maintenance will the courts look at monthly income or will they expect any savings to be used by us before varying down any monthly payments to her?

    Also, as our situation is deemed temporary, would it be considered worth varying an order for? What would happen if I found a job and had an income again?

    Sorry to ask so many questions but our situation is financially very difficult and before we spend any more money we would want to be fairly sure of a positive (non-temporary) outcome.

    In your blog post about the new rules would you also be able to provide insight to those hoping to self represent throughout (or indeed, if that is possible)?

    Many thanks once again. Really appreciate your help.

  10. Lukey21 says:

    Enough Already,
    I have every sympathy for you, your partner is being screwed indefinitely by the English courts – his mistake was getting married – many men have to pay spousal support to their ex-wives until they die.

  11. Enough Already says:

    Hi Marilyn

    Thanks for writing about the New Rules in your blog.

    I did ask previously and this is a key point in whether we would seek to vary; When looking at affordability of monthly maintenance will the courts look at monthly income or will they expect any savings to be used by us before varying down any monthly payments to her?

    Also, as our situation is deemed temporary, would it be considered worth varying an order for? What would happen if I found a job and had an income again?

    Sorry to ask more questions but our situation is financially very difficult and before we spend any more money we would want to be fairly sure of a positive (non-temporary) outcome.

    Many thanks once again. Really appreciate your help.

  12. Marilyn Stowe says:

    Enough Already! As Ive made clear, I cant give specific advise, and whilst generally it is unusual for a court to require savings to be exhausted and a temporary situation to have a permanent effect on the payment of maintenance, it is necessary in giving legal advice to look closely at the specific facts of the case.The court has a wide discretion as you know and each case is different.
    I repeat, your partner needs to take his own legal advice.

  13. spousal says:


    I’m writing for advice for a friend. He pays £750 child maintenance for his three children age (9, 8 & 4). He is also paying £750 Spousal. The spousal agreement is halved to £350 when the youngest turns 5. He had assumed this was because all three children would be at school and she could fine work. However, the youngest is starting full time school in September. His current take home earnings a month are £3,500. When he got divorced he gave gave his ex wife the matrimonial home which is worth £300,000. She has a mortgage of £80,000 left on the home and it was put into her name. He didn’t take a charge on the house and handed over a lump sum of £220,000 for her to put into the mortgage which at the time was very high on the property.

    He is paying £120 over and above CSA calculations on the child maintenance side of the agreement. He now wants to re-assess the maintenance payments and wants the spousal maintenance to be cut to £350.00 as of this September as his youngest is starting school. He knows she gets in the region of £500.00 a month family tax credit and is working three days a week.

    He lives in his partners house which is owned by her. They took out a £100,000 mortgage to have a loft extension built to accommodate his three children every other weekend and extra long weekends in the holidays. He also has the children for 2 weeks in the summer. His partner owned the property outright before he moved in with her. They took out the mortgage in joint names. On the money left per month he would not have been able to afford to buy a new place for himself. They are both finding it hard to keep up payments of the mortgage, running the car to and fro for collection of the children. His partner has two children who also live in their home. She has not been earning this year but will be earning again in September. Will her earnings be taken into consideration or would the courts look at my friends outgoings and the time he spends with his children when considering an adjustment in the spousal agreement. It seems vey unfair that he is paying out so much when she will be able to work full time in September. The only has this affected his finances, it’s affected his partners as she obviously can no longer claim family tax credit and his full earnings are taken into consideration in terms of her own children. This year she can not claim EMI for her daughter as they don’t take into consideration that half of his earnings actually do not go into their home but goes on maintenance payments. The system seems very unfair on both my friend and his new partner. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I see him falling down with the pressure of working long hours to make the wage he does to support his ex wife’s lifestyle, and the amount of time he has the children and is commuting long distances to see them.

  14. Marilyn Stowe says:

    Thanks for contacting me. Your friend needs to take legal advice from a lawyer who has all the facts and documents to hand and who can then give your friend informed advice. It’s not wise for me to advise third hand on the basis of some but not all the required info.

  15. Al says:

    Hi there, reading through the comments of the many that have been sentenced (like me) with a lifetime maintenance order. It is clear that English law is so unreasonable to the point where it removes all ambition from those who have contributed to the countries growth and employment. I am self employed, I employ 12 people. My maintenance order is £ 60K cleared funds to a woman who cohabits, has received £ 700K in assets and the privilege of dictating when and how long I can see the children. My children are still young, 4, 6, 11 and 12. I understand that it is a full time job to bring up children and do not wish to relinquish my responsibilities. But the value of the maintenance order is so high, that I face certain ruin and those who I employ face the same dire prospects because of this unreasonable order. The lawyers agreed this value based on earning three years ago when the economy was blooming. Having looked at my company accounts this year, it has only made a profit of £ 65K (before tax), yet I have to pay this enormous sum. This sentence is eroding my liquid cash and soon tangible assets. The ex wife has received all the copper bottomed assets and I am left with all the liability and responsibility. I am desperately looking for help. My lawyer seems to think that I have to wait another six months, but I fear that my business will become bankrupt as this is were I need to draw this cash from, not mentioning the dividend tax that I will be lumbered with soon. Please help someone????

  16. Marilyn Stowe says:

    Al:- here are a few thoughts.
    1. How old is this order?
    2. How is it split between your former wife and the children?
    3. What would you say is a fair assessment of your own net income, not just what you choose to draw?
    4. Do you live with anyone else and does that person earn an income and if so how much?
    5. Does your former wife have any other source of income and if so how much is it net of tax?
    6. What do you think are your former wife’s and the children’s reasonable income needs and what are yours?
    7. Why did you transfer to your wife the “copper bottomed assets?” what were you left with and how much are they worth?
    Let me know the above and I will let you have my opinion.

  17. Gary Fisher says:

    My Ex Wife is due to re-marry in Feb 2012 and they have been living together aproximately 8 months am i still liable for child maintanence for my two children aged 13 and 17

  18. Marilyn Stowe says:

    Spousal maintenance only ceases on remarriage. Child support continues until each child leaves school or potentially until they have finished tertiary education.

  19. Emma Capes says:

    I’ve recently started co-habiting with my boyfriend who pays spousal and child maintenance to his ex and 3 children. He is currently in negotiations with his ex through their lawyers over reducing his maintenance based upon new legal advice he has been overpaying given his earnings have decreased since the original court order. She has approximately £700K in capital in the family home. She has no declared income albeit we have moutning proof that she is working as a freelance therapist. He is a high income earner but has no capital and approximately £75,000 debt due to maintaining the existing levels of maintenance and increased school fees. The current levels of maintenance and school fees leaves with him 30% of his net salary.
    I was interested in the flip side of the discussions on this blog, can the fact that he is co-habiting with me go against him and be used by his ex to maintain her current payments? I am mid-earning solvent professional.
    Any advice appreciated.

    • Fiona says:

      Yes, if only people thought long and hard about these things before walking away from their families. A family is for life, not just for Christmas. Two families, one wage, you pays your money, you takes your choice. You chose to hook up with a man who had a family, deal with it.

  20. Carol says:

    I have a hearing on the 1st March to remove my husband from the home injunction. I already have a non-molestation order against him. He moved out yesterday, but also wants to come back. I want him back. I also apply for a payment order ( of half the bills).
    Should I go to court on the 1st and withdraw the Home right injunction and pursue the payment order?

  21. Sharon says:

    Can you help I have a court order for my three children for my ex to pay main entrance until they leave full time education. My eldest daughter is now working and my 2nd daughter has decided to go and live with her father, my son is still with me but my ex is now no longer paying maintenance for my son as he has my daughter living with him. Is this right? I can’t afford a lawyer and he has mad life very difficult.

  22. Marilyn Stowe says:

    No I dont think it is right. You should tell him to pay the arrears and keep paying as per the order or you will go to court to enforce the court order. And then do it. Your local court office will help you fill in the forms to send a bailiff round to his house. You could also apply for an attachment of earnings order so the money is deducted straight off his salary.
    Best wishes

  23. Do family courts discriminate against husbands, or wives? - Marilyn Stowe Blog says:

    […] focuses upon the financial subject that seems to excite readers of my blog most of all: namely, continuing maintenance and when and if there should ever be a cut-off point post-divorce for wives who receive a […]

  24. Anna says:

    Hi Marilyn

    I am hoping that you might be able to give me your opinion on what you would think a fair level of maintenance for my former husband to pay me when he retires. Also, should I try to get an agreement tied to a particular date. If so when? I am really finding it hard to work out what would be fair to both of us.

    My ex contacted me recently with regard to what will happen to my maintenance payments when he retires. Although he is somewhat vague as to exactly when that might happen. His interpretation of our Consent Order was that when he reached 60 he no longer needed to pay me anything and that that was what his solicitor told him at the time of our divorce. I think not. He then made a proposal. This being that when he reached 60 my payments would be reduced to about 1/6 of my full maintenance, but only if, and as long as he carried on full time in his current job beyond 60. After that either way I would get nothing.

    We divorced in March 2008. Our Consent Order states that I am to receive maintenance from him until the death of either of us, or my remarrying. He has increased my maintenance in line with his salary increases. The maintenance is for me only. Our children although two were still at uni at the time were dealt with separately, so are not in the equation. My maintenance payment is currently £1170 per month. His salary is approx £70,000 pa (gross). I have two part time jobs, one self employed, and work usually 3 whole and 2 half days a week and earn approx £10,000 pa (gross).

    I knew he was completely wrong in his interpretation of the Order and realised that he may simply be trying it on. However, because of our clear differences of interpretation, I made an appointment to see a solicitor to clarify exactly what our Consent Order means. It was as I suspected, totally unambiguous, i.e. it means exactly what it says.

    The solicitor said that the only way he could get out of the Consent Order as it stands would be to go back to court or come to an agreement with me (giving me a leaflet on the various methods of achieving this).

    I do not wish him to continue paying me maintenance until death etcetera, nor expect the same level of payment as I am currently receiving once he retires from his current post. However I would like some payment to continue until I am 65, as I do not want to buy an annuity before or much before then. My jobs are both physical and I may feel I need to reduce my hours a bit at some stage.

    Our pensions were added together and split evenly – his private pension making up most of this. I am making contributions of £150 per month into a stakeholder pension only recently having increased this from £70. However he has a non- contributary pension and has 15% of his salary amount added p.a. from the age of fifty. Researching annuities has shown me that how much he is likely to receive as a pension at 60, is almost exactly the same as I would at 65. That being the case if he took the full allowable 33.3% in cash. (His cash sum could be around £130 – 140,000) My cash sum would be about 15% less than that whenever I retire.

    I am older than my former husband my being born in December 1953. He was born in September 1955. So he will be 63 yrs 3 mths when I reach 65. My state pension age is 65 and 2+ months. I am one of the women who have been hit hardest by the government’s recent change to state pension age. Don’t get me on the unfairness of that one, particularly to women born in 1953 and especially for those born in Dec ‘53! We were hit hardest of all.

    I do not want to buy an annuity with my pot until I am at least close to 65. As I said my husband is vague about when he wishes to retire. He has said he might try to find a local part time job when he retires from his current post.

    He may well wish to buy an annuity for his own pension at 60. I think it probably wouldn’t be very much later.

    Hopefully this is enough, but not too much information.

    Many thanks in anticipation


  25. Chris says:

    About my situation:

    Unmarried, but have two kids with someone I was with for 8yrs. I stayed at home as a stay at home dad, cleaner, cook, etc etc, while my partner could enjoy and continue with her carear, then one day she decides to split up with me, but demands she wants the kids with her……. But I want them with me……

    Anyway what is she entitled to claim from me, I currently have no income but inheritence of 200,000 which 100,000 of that went on a deposit on our family home, which she now lives in with the kids while I have moved out, we have a joint mortgage, I wanted the house and kids, but now she has the house and kids because I didnt want the kids to suffer and my ex clearly didnt wouldnt leave.

    With all due respect to equality men and women being the same and equal, then whymon earth does everything go in her favour? I looked after the kids at home for years, paid 100,000 of inheritance into our “family” home and have now left it to her, yet she wants to screw me over when I havnt done a damn thing wrong, she cheated on me.

    You post describes the situation of a woman, but many men are now house “wifes” are where are our damn rights and protection when the crazy woman decides she wants an affair and then wants ME out of our shared home!.

    Can I make her sell the home and get my 100k back I want tge kids with me, I will house them, feed them, clean them, educate them, do everything right and not ask their mum for a penny! But hey no law will give me that right.

    What a crazy soceity we we live in, equal rights my arse.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      The first point is ownership of the house. How did you buy it? Was there a declaration of trust to protect your inheritance?
      Why are you so sure you don’t have a claim for residence of the children and for financial remedies against your former partner under the Children’s Act?
      You need detailed, good, legal advice in relation to the house, children and finances, fast.

  26. motherfox says:

    Hi Marilyn,
    I would like to know in all the cases does not the guilty party have to maintane the life style of the not guilty.
    Why should I suffer if my ex husband could not be faithful.
    I have given him 23 yr of my life, 4 children, supported him
    when I could work. I was Injured at work, so I cant work.
    He now earns 20 x more then any money I get, He has a bouns of -+ R500 000.00 extra a year. Yet I must fight for him to pay me R2500.00 a month, this he agreed to in our divorce contract (untill I re-marry or die). I have to take him to court to get him to do this.

    (to protect my children and myself, I use this name)

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Hi Motherfox
      I assume you are writing from South Africa? Im so sorry to read of your plight.
      I dont think the legal system in SA is very fair to non working wives and I have had a case where fortunately we were able to persuade the English court to hear the case, even though the husband was trying his best to proceed in South Africa and my client was still living in South Africa at the time. This meant that my client could receive a very fair award of spousal support in accordance with English law.
      In this country however, having an affair is not a basis for paying maintenance. It used to be the case, but when the law was changed in 1973, it became all about meeting both parties financial needs.
      What that means, is decided ultimately by a judge if the parties cant agree between themselves.
      In South Africa your pre nuptial agreement should stand up in law, but its unfair, because as you point out his income is presumably much higher than it was when you made the agreement and now you cant work. This is a real problem with an inflexible but legally binding pre nup.
      In England the law is going to change to provide that qualifying pre-nups will be upheld but only if the other party’s needs are met. Again it will be up to the Judges I expect, to decide what that means in the context of each case although the new law might include some guidance.
      Thank you very much for writing to me and I send you my best wishes.

  27. Karen says:

    I am thinking of living with my partner who pays spousal and child maintenance, will my income be taken into consideration?

  28. Marilyn Stowe says:

    Hi Karen
    Your income is relevant in meeting your own needs and contributing to your joint outgoings. It is not used to pay a future partner’s spousal or child maintenance.

  29. Mark Marsh says:

    I am going to court next week to try and persuade the judge as to why I cant pay my ex wifes solicitor’s fees and divorce costs,do you have any advice on what I can say please?, my ex wife kept everything in the house and I mean everything ! All I walked away with were my clothes and a box of dvds, she also took her new partner on a 3 week trip to America which was changed from my name, she now lives with her new man and has been for a while, the police have given her a written warning for the harassment of me and my partner, I am going through a bankruptcy order at the moment due to high debts during the marriage. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Hi Mark
      You don’t say exactly what the application before the court is. If you can clearly specify what it is I may be able to give you some pointers.

  30. Mark Marsh says:

    My ex wife has applied for me to pay all her costs and fees, I left her due to my belief in her cheating with the man she now lives with, she filed in the grounds of unreasonable behaviour even though I left her, in my court letter it says that the respondant pays the costs of the petitioner such costs to be assessed if not agreed. Thank you for any help.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      I assume this hearing is following decree nisi and you intend to be heard about the question of costs. If so I would suggest you tell the Judge you did not defend the petition because whilst it is correct the marriage has irretrievably broken down you could but did not cross petition on the basis of her adultery with another man in order to save costs. As such you strongly object to a costs order against you which would be unfair in the circumstances. You could add (if this is correct)had you been represented the costs issue could have been negotiated away on the basis you would not cross petition.
      Do you have proof of her cohabitation? It might be useful to take to the hearing.
      Costs are in the discretion of the Judge and in family cases it is usual to make no order but the court can make costs orders for divorce.
      I don’t know how much out of the ordinary in terms of costs has been incurred by your wife’s solicitors so that’s something to think about – have they been obliged to track you all over, get an enquiry agent to serve you, to get the case to decree nisi? If so, why?
      If you are bankrupt I would also mention that to the Judge too.
      These are just general pointers and given without liability as is all my advise on this blog and no substitute for taking your own personal legal advise.

  31. salli says:


    My ex has just pulled my maintenance (thousands) and now I get nothing. What can I do? I know he has savings and has just bought a big car (£32,500) and owns two houses and his GF works full time. He tells me because he is not working that he cannot support his two boys.

    I think he saw me and my new BF and baby going to Paris and assumed he was funding it – when it came from my business money/wages.

    I believe there to be a welfare issue in that I have just relocated from London to Sheffield and our two boys have settled in to local schools (12years old and 7 years old). The younger one is very bright and I could see that smaller class sizes would benefit his need for attention as his behaviour can be a little wayward in larger numbers of children – much to do with his own father leaving him five years ago and muy struggle to maintain a steady life for them.. inevitably it affected both boys differently. Things are very stable here now and I am left cold that he has decided to upset a happy apple cart at this stage when things couldn’t have been better for the boys with much work and support put in both ways.

    I have always supported contact. I am committed to alternate weekend journeys from Sheffield to London to drop the boys off to see their Dad. Without his ££ support I will not really be able to afford this but wish for them to see their Father despite the fact that he isn’t prepared to financially support them.

    Thank you for any advice,


  32. JamesB says:

    This article should also read against child maintenance also, especially with formula broad brush approach.

    What I mean is, if your ex took the big settlement and has house paid for and is with a high earning boyfriend (or husband) who lives there who has no other children, then paying child maintenance in that situation I suggest is well dodgy, especially if the NRP is being denied contact and struggling to make ends meet and the PWC walked out on him for her affair with the other fella anyway.

    As I say before, what a mess. There needs to be some fairness and morality with these decisions or people will vote with their feet and avoid lawyers and court and marriage and CSA as they are doing. Perhaps that is no bad thing. But I would prefer more civilisation than the law of the jungle and a system which is fairer than that, also would help with lawyers. But, failing that, and with the continuing monopoly of policy by feminist lobbyists, I will avoid these institutions also and vote with my feet until they get real and more fair. They need to have more discretion and be fairer and more in tune with natural law.

  33. Toots says:

    Hi Marilyn
    At 41 I have just found out that I have limited time to have more children.. Very saddened by this I am considering having one with my partner ( non cohabiting) which he would love. However I am saddened further to find myself worrying if having a baby would allow my ex to stop my spousal maintenance ? Please don’t think I am a mum who sits at home all day … And this is an excuse to do so! I do pt work and

    I appreciate your response. Many thanks

  34. Robyn Slade says:

    Please can you give me some advice – My husband (South Africa) has custody of his son and his ex-wife lives in England she currently pays about R1650 (depending on the exchange rate) per month for child support – he has just gone to high school and we’ve asked her to please pay R2200 per month plus half of all his new uniform stationery, school deposit and textbook requirements (about R3000 once off) she is refusing – what can we do to enforce this across the borders
    thanks I would appreciate your response

  35. Hayley says:

    I am a mother of 1 child who’s father does 3 years ago. My daughter was 2 and a half when he died suddenly. He had no life insurance and therefore I became a mother on benefits and I am now in part-time employment. I have moved on and in a relationship but my partner was married and also has 1 child with his ex-wife. What gets me is that there are women and men who like me have to manage on their own with no maintenance from an ex and we survive yet just because a marriage is over the man has to pay his ex wife money until she re-marries or dies and also the child support. My partner is very good and doesn’t complain about paying it but I have a problem with it. She moved on before him and has been living with her partner for about 3 years. He moved out of their family home for her to look after their daughter which she has now sold and moved (he did not get a penny) and she has now had a child with her partner. Also, she worked full time as a teacher and annual salary is a lot more than my partners. Now what annoys me is that my partners ex-wife is a full time working woman with a decent salary with a man living with her who is also a teacher yet my partner is struggling financially in a studio apartment. Why is it that just because of a marriage breakup does the man have to suffer and the woman gets to be looked after. Is it not fairer if the woman and the man then have to stand on their own 2 feet and go to work and manage like everyone else. As I said before I don’t get maintenance costs, yes I struggle to get by but that’s life. Me and my partner would like to live with each other one day but if he still has to pay maintence costs to his ex-wife and child then how on earth are we supposed to move on and live together. My benefits will go down because of his income yet we are still expected to survive while his ex-wife has her teachers income as well as her partners income and also my partners maintence. I really don’t think this is at all fair. Just because you are married then you are tied financially to that person forever. They are grown ups and there are people out there that are not that lucky to get maintenance costs and they are still expected to survive. I think the system in place is very much for the woman and its me fair for them to get everything and the man to be left with nothing.

  36. A husband says:

    I have a question out of curiosity.

    Is a husband in UK required to pay maintenance to his wife during his marriage? Or is it possible for a wife to apply for maintenance to the court during her marriage?

    This is the case in Singapore. It is said that the rule is inherited from English Common law. I am just wondering whether this rule is currently being used or not in UK.

    Thank you.
    A husband

  37. Wayne says:


    Could you give me some advice on the following situation please? I am currently paying maintain to my ex-wife for our 2 daughter’s who at the time that our divorce was ratified by the courts were still in school and living with her. Now that time has moved on our eldest daughter has completed her A levels and gone onto university whilst our youngest has progressed onto college.
    Both my ex-wife and I have moved on and we still remain on reasonable speaking terms. The question I have is concerning my ex-wife and that she now has her new partner living with her & our youngest daughter in our former marital home. We agreed the amount I would pay as maintenance between us and these figures were cited on our divorce papers, and accepted by the court. Throughout the last few years of our marriage and the time since my wife has been the higher earner of us, a situation that still continues. I am not looking to shirk any of my responsibilities but was wondering if I would be entitled, by law, to ask her if we could agree a lower amount of maintenance in light of her new partner cohabiting with her?
    Thanks for giving question your consideration,

  38. Eryl Jones says:

    Dear Marilyn
    I will be very grateful if you can advice me on my case.

    I have been married for 15 years and I have 4 kids the youngest one is 8 and the oldest 17. Me and my wife have been separated for 5 years. I have been living and working in Qatar for the last 8 years and the kids and my wife are living in UK. My wife refused to work for no reason so I fully support them financially by paying all the bills, food, schools fees, house rent etc. and I will continue to do so until the kids get 18 years of age.

    We both have partners and we agreed to get divorce on the basis that we have not lived together for more than 5 years without going to court but my wife is refusing to sign now because she is demanding a spouse maintenance until the rest of her life which I am not willing to pay because she and her boyfriend are lazy to go to work and want to live on my back. We have no house no pensions so we have nothing to share. My question is as an expat dose the UK divorce law apply to me and what would you advice me to do.

    Kind Regards

  39. Tracy says:

    Hi Marilyn
    Would my ex husband still be required to pay me spousal maintance once he moves to europe ?on our consent order he was required to pay me untill death or re marriage he has been paying ,but I think that this is he way of getting out of our legal aggreement

    Kind Regards

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Hi Tracy
      Yes. You can enforce an order though googling REMO at It’s a faff but it can be done.

  40. Pete says:

    Hi Marilyn
    Firstly, thanks for producing these very informative blogs, most helpful. This is probably a very basic question with regards to SM but one which I have struggled to find the answer to:-
    Would spousal maintenance be awarded as a matter of course in order to balance out or share incomes, even if the lower earner can fully support herself with a reasonable standard of living and still have expendable income?

    In my case I wanted my STBX to have a larger share of our property in orderto keep her mortgage outgoings lower so that her income would cover all living expenses and still leave a reasonable amount (£500/month) as expendable income. Admittedly, even after my increased mortgage and other outgoings I would still be a bit better off than her, would this then be taken into account and expect me to pay SM, or would the fact that I have offset this by allowing her increased captital from the FMH allow a cl;ean break?? I appreciate you could not give definitive answers but some guidance would help.

    Many thanks, and keep up the good work!!

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Pete
      Spousal support is based upon reasonable need both as to amount and duration.

  41. Anna says:

    Hi Marilyn, My Husband has a child from an affair 10 yrs ago and has been paying the CSA every month. He will be retiring in 3/4 yrs. He will be taking a lump sum from his pension so can the CSA take money from his lump sum? Can they access it even before he gets it or will they try and take it from his Bank Account? If he puts the money in my Bank account and says he has no money now, what will the CSA do?

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Anna
      If he has a child then he should support that child and has a duty in law to do so.

  42. Yvie says:

    Hi Marilyn – my son and his ex. had a clean break divorce. However as part of the divorce settlement he signed the house over to his ex.. Unfortunately his name still remains on the mortgage although she has agreed to indemnify him.

    My son has now heard that his ex. plans to remarry shortly. What will be the position regarding my son’s name on the mortgage. Is there a possibility that he will now be released so that he can take a mortgage on himself in the future if he wishes to. The mortgage is interest only.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Yvie
      I agree it seems wrong for him to remain liable and it may be he can apply to be removed or apply for an order for sale but I can’t advise without seeing the court order and also the conveyancing file when the transfer occurred.
      I’d suggest he has a conversation with his solicitor. Sorry to appear unhelpful but without sight of the documents I can’t help.

  43. Yvie says:

    Thanks for your prompt answer Marilyn. Although he was divorced three years ago, he has never actually had a copy of the sealed orders. However, he contacted his solicitor about this a couple of weeks ago and is awaiting her response. Best wishes.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Yvie
      She probably has to retrieve the file. Any issues let me know.
      Best wishes

  44. Yvie says:

    Many thanks Marilyn.

  45. charlie says:

    My wife left me to live with another man who she was having an affair on and off for about 10 years. we got married in 1995 and seperated in 2009. in 2004 my wife gave birth to my daughter after our final make up
    she made up some story after we had an argument and left me taking the child with her without even referring or telling me. she just left.
    i tried to contact her but only after she settled with her new partner in their new home (even removed my daughter from her school behind my back) did she make contact. i now see my daughter but i can make no decisions regarding her upbringing. my daughter is seriously upset by all that has happened constantly asking me to explain what happened. i try to reassure her as best i can and i am trying to make a bad situation good.
    Our resulting split had financial consequences as well. the business we both set up failed and i have struggled to get back into the jobs market for 3 years now.
    i lost the mortgage the house was repossessed and currently i have no fixed abode but my mum has offered me shelter until i can get back to work and get back on my feet again.
    I have just been sent a letter from shild support agency claiming that my wife has made a claim for child support against me. i really dont know what do. can somebody please help me

  46. charlie says:

    also according to my daughter (we keep in touch now) both my wife and her new partner are both in full time employment

  47. beauty says:

    My Husband has two kids from previous marriage,and has been supporting them ever since. 2009 he received court papers that the ex wife need him to pay maintenance of both the kids. Ex wife has full custody of the kids.Same year he went to maintenance court and they agreed on certain amount he has to pay and on top of that amount,he must put them on his medical aid,buy them school uniforms,stationery and clothes twice a year. And the kids visit their dad,every school which sometimes she refuses them to visit.

    Husband has been honouring his

  48. alexandra says:

    My partner and I have been together for five years. We both did badly in our divorces – (as though the laws were completely different). I had always worked. My ex had had his own business. But when we divorced he claimed he was broke and refused me a clean break insisting instead that he pay me maintenance. I spent about 80K on lawyers only to find out that the financial settlement was worthless and unenforcible. After a couple of years he stopped paying maintenance to me and this last year he has stopped paying the agreed maintenance for our daughter. This was despite a pay-off 6 months ago, from the PLC where he was CEO of £377.00. The Child Support Agency saidf he didn’t have to pay as he had “no income”. I consulted a lawyer. Spent another rand on a consultation and letter before action – before the lawyer sucked his lip and said – as always – “depends on the Judge”. I had paid a lot for a consent order and financial settlement that I thought was binding. Apparently not. I have given up,put it behind me and decided to move on. In the meantime my current partner is haemorrageing money to his ex wife who is a lawyer. He pays about £50K a year in school fees and Child support – a sum he can ill afford as he has no job and is virtually unemployable. he is an ex racehorse trainer who is 59. Although he went to Harrow and inherited a fortune, most of it is now gone (horses and divorces) and he has no qualifications. He lives rent-free with me and council tax-free under my roof and is now selling his last inherited assets, a cottage in Leicestershire where he used to bring his daughters – in order to pay the school fees. It’s mad. There is nothing left for us – except what I can spend and invest. I worked all my life and have saved but we can’t build a life together as everything he has goes out to her and them. I love him because he’s kind and gentle me and with animals – (I know that’s mad too and have often thought I’m a fool – but I do care for him and cannot bring myself to end it as I would miss him – we are pretty inseparable). He’s likeable, loveable but he’s pretty useless. I have three children of my own and want to help them get on in life too – but I fear that my hard earned assets will be plundered by this aggressive and mean ex wife who got 4 leicestershire properties out of him – and it’s still not enough. She married him late – pregnant, clock ticking and desperate for kids. Split up with him after a few torrid and hateful months – but not before luring him back for a final night of love, to conceive a second child. The children are sweet (now aged 10 and 11) and it;s not their fault their mother is so nasty. She is a circuit judge in Northamptonshire and works short hours. the children go to private schools but she is desperate to send them to boarding school as she finds them hard to handle. His divorce settlement binds him into this (plus all extras!). he says she will go straight to court if he queries this or defaults – while he will not be able to fight it as the legal costs will be too high. he too spent a fortune on lawyers when he first divorced. She is also attacking his two daughters from his first marriage – claiming a family trust for his children was mismanaged – and everything spent on his older girls should be now returned (with interest for his younger ones. The older daughters are distraught with anger that this woman is constantly at war with them on behalf of her second two.
    It’s such a mess – I don’t know what to do.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Alexandra
      It does sound a mess. The court wont make your current partner pay what he cant afford. School fees are additional extras, not a necessity and if he cant afford it, then they should stop. He could apply for a variation of the maintenance order. You dont have to “sub” him.
      Best wishes

  49. Ann says:

    Morning, I am hoping for some advice. I am divorced, 10 months now, I am receiving both child & spousal maintenance which is in the court order until our son reaches 18 or I remarry, or die. The court order also states he has to pay school fees for our son until he leaves junior education which is one more year. The problem is this, my ex is taking me to court over contact and access and has stated in an email to me that because of the impending court costs he will not be able to meet future maintenance or school fees and stated in the email “go ahead and invoke your court order”. The contact issue is basically our son doesn’t want to see his dad, they didn’t have much of a relationship prior to the divorce and (I hesitate at using ‘my’ son as he is ‘ours’) but he just doesn’t want to spend time with his dad & the other woman. I have said continually I have no issue with him seeing his dad, it is his choice, but my ex continually states I’m influencing our son, definitely not true. My ex is a very controlling, intimidating & yes bullying character, he is using the maintenance & school fees, I believe, as a weapon. He does have parental responsibility, which I’ve never really questioned, but I see now he is using this phrase as and when it suits him. He was never interested in our son’s day to day welfare but suddenly I’m being accused of not keeping him informed on a day to day basis, surely it’s not expected that I have to keep him informed day by day!? We are due in court in a couple of months & I’m waiting to hear from CAFCASS, when I truly hope they will speak directly to our son and take his feelings into account. My ex has stated in an email he does not want to have anything to do with me (I am thrilled!) and will only communicate via email in relation to “his” son, however in every email & text he has sent in the past 4-5 weeks he verbally attacks & ‘threatens’ me, in some of them he doesn’t even mention our son! He is very angry, as when we divorced he didn’t get what he wanted and that was for me to get zero. He still denies any wrong doing on his part, whereas I know the woman I caught him out with was a full blown affair, not just a friend! When she wanted no more to do with him, within a week he’d moved onto his secretary, who he now lives with, despite not admitting to cohabiting with her on his Form E, she moved back to her mothers for a couple of weeks whilst we went to court! I also suspect he hid assets but because of a high court ruling in 2011 I couldn’t use the correspondence I’d ‘discovered’. In addition, I know he is a high earner, prides himself on his high level of education! He has his own company which has always been quite suffiently in the black. His new partner works fulltime in a reasonably well paid job and as a result of her divorce 11 months ago, she has just received her share of the proceeds of her family home. I don’t believe his statement of impending high court costs, so see no justification for him to threaten not meeting maintenance requirements. I guess I have 2 main questions; if ex is awarded a contact order, how do I ‘encourage’ our son to comply? What can I do about the threats to stop making the maintenance? The maintenance started off being sent via standing order, in my account on the correct date, however the last 4 have been sent by cheque which is dated the correct date but the last 2 cheques have been sent on the date so arrive late! I realise this is done to cause maximum annoyance and I am rising above it but if he wants nothing to do with me why exercise control, the money is too ensure the well being & welfare of our son. The spousal maintenance is not a large sum, but is needed as I’m not in fulltime employment and until our son is settled in senior school I can’t realistically obtain fulltime employment as I need to be around for him especially during holidays. My ex has also stated he intends to reduce or cease spousal maintenance at the earliest opportunity, again control, I can’t wait to be non reliant. Any advice you can offer is very much appreciated. Thank you for your time.

  50. Steve says:


    I am paying my ex wife child maintenance on a private arrangement. She has moved in with her new boyfriend to his house and he also has children he has to pay maintenance for to his ex wife. The children live with her mainly. Do you happen to know if his maintenance payments should decrease because he is now living with my ex and my children?

  51. Marianne says:

    Dear Marilyn
    Your blog is so helpful to those who find themselves in legal predicaments with no resource to fund costly legal advice.
    For this I thank you.
    My question is:
    If my daughter paid off my husband’s mortgage and became a tenant in common on the Deeds, would she be considered by the Court to be partly responsible for my monthly outgoings and as such, could my husband expect to either not grant me JLSS at the full amount,or even not at all?
    Could he also by this method make my daughter wholly financially responsible for me in my old age( I am in my 60s) and ask for maintenance to be capitalised over a short period of time? In other words a clean break divorce agreement due to the arrangement re the marital home.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Marianne
      Much as I would love to help you I cant. There’s too little information supplied and the law is complicated, depending on all the facts and circumstances of each couple’s case. Please will you download my book, which will cost you 99p from the sidebar and read it. The proceeds are all going to The Children’s Society. Then when you’ve read it, and if you still have a question, come back to the blog!

  52. Rose says:


    Love reading your blogs.

    My ex boyfriend and i broke up three and half years ago when i daughter was only 9 months old. I never claimed maintentance cos he threaten to kill me and kidnap my bby. Im finally going to court. I knw he is goin to say he’s not working and cant pay. He was married when we were together but i had no idea until a friend told me. I did get legal advise should he say he cant pay, his wife should pay since they are married in community of property. Is this true????

    Thanking you in advance for your advice

  53. Jacqueline says:

    Dear Marilyn,
    I want to vary my £1 a year SM order – I am unable to work my ex earns £85k – I child at university 2nd child just started Uni so I have lost £900pcm CSA/CTC/CB my income is now £500pcm struggling to cope. Is the loss of these benefits a reason for varying order – they were counted as my income but now lost my income I still have to support my children as they have no income of their own . My ex is now living with someone which is recent and he has got several wage increases since the order was made. If the loss of these benefits isn’t a reason for variation – what is I’m at a loss at what to do and cannot pay my rent 2 we may soon be homeless. Hope you can help???

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Jacqueline
      I think on what you write, you should apply for a variation. First step is to see a solicitor, and take with you details of your current income, capital and budget needs. You have got details of his income and presumably his partner works too. Your solicitor may then write a letter to him seeking an increase to see if it can be nipped in the bud. If not, then subject to what your own solicitor advises, go ahead.

  54. Jacqueline says:

    Thank you Marilyn – my ex won’t agree I’ve tried and so has a solicitor – guess it’s the court route although I will have to borrow money to do this. The ex will fight it all the way – I know from what’s happened previously – I’m just concerned about the time it takes – I have only £500pcm coming in just about can pay rent but getting behind with my bills gas/elec etc.. If it drags on we will lose our home – not sure what we will do? I’m claiming everything I can but now the children are out of full-time education it’s a struggle. The ex will drag it out – but where and what we live on soon I have no idea. He was paying £900 pcm MPS but after the divorce went to £1 year I could never understand why? I think the judge made a mistake in the FH by giving a nominal order?
    Thank you for your help.

  55. Sam says:

    Dear Marilyn
    My ex has never paid the £1100 a month consent order, payable to me.
    He was also to pay me and the 2 kids’ private health, but he stopped paying for any of us without telling us.
    He’s been paying less than half the agreed maintenance for me (kids are 20 and 22 so he doesn’t pay for them).but I have to pay for my kids who both live with me , and I can’t cope. BTW, he has never set up a standing order, and I have to chase him every month for the £500 he pays me ( order was for £1100).
    I know he has now bought a house, and he may have a live-in girlfriend, but I’m not sure.
    I want to go back to court to enforce payment, but am worried about the cost, and also worried he’ll try and claim he can’t afford the original order and try to get it reduced.
    So he’s currently about £5k in arrears on the original order.
    he’s self employed, and I know his former business was closed down.But am sure he’s working, and may be earning more than before.
    He’s very mean, and very cunning,but I just can’t go on with chasing him every month for payment, and only getting£500 a month.
    I work 2 days a week for min wage,but this was the case when the order was made 2 years ago.
    Question is, do I go back to court and risk reduced payments, or try to soldier on?

  56. Stitchedup says:

    “I work 2 days a week for min wage,but this was the case when the order was made 2 years ago.”

    Wouldn’t it be sensible to be in a position to demonstrate to a judge that you’re doing everything you can to stand on your own two feet before going to court??

    You say the kids are 20 and 22, so child care isn’t an issue, perhaps it would be worth trying to find a full time job, not easy I know, but worth a try.

  57. Stitchedup says:

    By the way, the private medical cover you refer to may well have been a benefit linked to his previous business. If that has close down the health cover will have disappeared with it. The majority of the population have to make do with the NHS; I’m no lawyer but it seems a little unusual to force a man to pay private medical cover for an ex.

    If his business has closed his circumstances have changed and you run the risk of him claiming he can’t afford to pay the sum originally awarded. It would be wise to get some evidence rather than working from what you suspect.

  58. Andrew says:

    One of these days either Parliament or the higher courts is going to have to give a definite and clear answer to the questions:

    Is maintenance payable to the recipient (usually, let’s assume, the (ex-)wife) as an individual or to her family unit? If the former, you ignore, if the latter you consider, the means of her new partner – of course if she remarries, that’s the end of the maintenance.

    And is maintenance payable by the (ex-)husband as an individual or by his family unit? If the former, you ignore, if the latter you consider, the means of his new wife or partner.

    Either answer can cause injustice in the individual case, but there can only be one answer – and it must be the same both ways.

  59. Mike says:

    Dear Marilyn

    Like most people outside the legal profession, I never knew that maintenance was payable where there are no children involved (as in my case). We were married 16 years. I contributed 85% of the income. I understand that domestic contribution is equally valued and that often (traditionally) tipped the scales back in favour of the wife. However, I did 90% of the cooking, all my own ironing, 50% of the washing and we had a cleaner. It would be very generous of me to say my wife even contributed 50% domestically (please just take this at face value).

    I was basically a meal ticket in a miserable marriage. We nearly broke up many times but didn’t for various reasons to complicated for this message (including a 3 year period of my mother-in-law dying). We argued about money and her lack of contribution (financially and domestically). That was a major cause of our split.

    I am astounded to find that I might need to give significantly more than 50% of the assets and/or lifetime maintenance to my wife because of the length of marriage, her being much older (she’s 58 now and I’m 45) and her lower earning capacity (she was earning almost as much as me when we met but stopped working against my wishes and eventually started a low-paid part-time job). It seems that the law infantalises my wife by making her my dependant – she is highly educated and ruined her earning capacity of her own volition and against my wishes. Why would the law make me responsible for her for the rest of her life? I didn’t even meet her till she was 40!

    It seems ironic that we split because she refused to take responsibility for herself, and so now she is rewarded with a bumper payout and a lifetime meal-ticket. There must be something I can do about this. Surely this law was meant to protect women (and men) who stayed at home to look after the house, raise children and take on the domestic burden at the expense of a career. Not to reward a complete dereliction of responsibility and a marriage of abuse and laziness.

    The assets are not big enough to satisfy ‘needs’. I’m being faced with losing just about everything I worked so hard for over the last 26 years and having to carry on paying for another 20-30 years perhaps! Any advice?


    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Mike
      When a marriage ends the court endeavours to meet both parties reasonable needs out of the available assets which are the assets of both parties, both income and capital. The parties reasonable needs are those as assessed by the court if the parties cant agree. The factors the court applies in making its determination as to division of all the assets are set out in Section 25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. My book which you can download from the side bar for 99p is a 300 page guide which will assist you with more in depth information.
      However, staying in a marriage later in life with one party whose assets are lower than the other, and whose income capacity is lower and limited, for many years, is an undoubted risk. After 16 years and perhaps pre marital cohabitation before, the court will be concerned to ensure your wife doesn’t end up financially destitute and that there is some type of parity between you.
      The court can consider her ability to increase her income however under Section 25 but given her age I doubt that will amount to much. I assume you have solicitors and think you need to look carefully at your own reasonable needs and requirements in some detail as indeed you should hers and have a look at how sharing your pension might assist. You can sometimes do creative things with pensions given the right advice.

  60. Simon Mackesh says:

    The Family Court is driving men to an early grave through stress, severe debt and subsequent court proceedings and suicide. Women arent committing suicide over this issue in their droves. Everyone knows its not fair on men and why a woman thinks another human being is personally responsible for her for the rest of her life is beyond me. The Family Court feminists and politicians who support them need to be sent very clear message to stop their persecution. So if youre driven to the point of no return then take it to the persecutors… Sooner or later they are going to realise they cannot murder men with impunity.

  61. Luke says:

    “Like most people outside the legal profession, I never knew that maintenance was payable where there are no children involved (as in my case).”

    Mike, it’s about the marriage certificate you signed and how our court system now works – it means you bear a high risk of becoming an automatic meal ticket for your spouse (a pack horse is perhaps a good definition) and this is what is likely to happen to you.

    I would hire an aggressive lawyer but I suspect the probability is that you are financially FUBAR’d.

    The truth is the system doesn’t give a to$$ about what’s fair unfortunately 🙁

  62. JamesB says:

    Advice to Mike should be damage limitation and trying to keep it as amicable as possible.

    As a friend of mine says, fear of loss is a path to the dark side. The word reasonable above can mean reasonable I am told.

    I was stuffed in court through the needs of the children line and being an nrp. You have the advantage that she cant use that against you.

  63. Stitchedup says:

    “When a marriage ends the court endeavours to meet both parties reasonable needs out of the available assets which are the assets of both parties, both income and capital. The parties reasonable needs are those as assessed by the court if the parties cant agree.”

    Of course, this all falls flat on its face when big money is involved. We all know of cases where very wealthy men have had to give 10’s or 100’s of millions to an ex wife who he was married to for a few years at most. How can this be described as meeting “reasonable needs”????, it’s a nonsense.

  64. Sarah E says:

    Hi Marilyn

    My fiance and I have been together for four years. We have two children each. I am the main carer for my two who are 6 and 11 and his youngest who is now 13 lives with us 3 days a week. His elder daughter is now 19 and leaving for university this year. Her main home is with her mother though she generally stays with us 1 or 2 nights a week. After 2 years of negotiation my fiance’s divorce finally came through a month ago. My partner is a freelance creative earning around £50k net each year. I work part time. The upshot of the divorce is that she took 86% of the equity of their property when they divorced, and it is part of the court order that he pay her £800 a month until September 2015 and then £500 a month for a further three years. We have never been happy with either of these agreements, we gave in because of persistent abuse and harrassment by text and name calling, shouting, emotional blackmail (if you don’t agree to this I’ll commit suicide etc). We have just wanted to keep things secure and nice for the kids so gave in. However, we have a £250k mortgage (she bought a new house, spent £130k doing it up and has a small mortgage) have to have lodgers to supplement our income, and my partner is now struggling to afford his tax bill this year. My older son is nearly a teenager and not unreasonably wants his own room, despite being his main carer I can’t afford to do this. We also can’t afford to maintain basic upkeep/improvements on the house. Hours wise my partner’s ex only has the one child who is under 18 for an extra 14% of the time each week. My partner’s ex chose not to look for proper work until two year’s ago, and also – though she could have bought a house outright – has chosen to get one that is bigger than she needs and spend a fortune doing it up while we struggle to provide the basics for four kids.

    My question is, how receptive do you think a court will be to us asking for a reduced rate? It was agreed that the fact that the ex took most of the equity, that was counted as her spousal maintenance for life, and the further payments were just child-maintenance. Taking into account the fact that my partner share’s the care of one of his kids, and the other he is no longer legally required to pay maintenance for, AND the fact that he has two step-children that he supports means that according to the government child maintenance calculator, he should only be paying £284 a month. Would a court take all this into account? And do you think there is any indication, from your experience, of what our chances of success would be?

    Many thanks Marilyn

  65. Naomi says:

    hi been separated 2 and a half years, we are just selling house. I think he earns 60k now, I don’t work and have a illness. I have a 12 year old at home and a 18 year old who is still in education. How much should he pay me, once house is sold? Been together 20 years and marriage 16 years.

  66. Louise says:

    Hi Marilyn, My husband left me after 34 years (28 of marriage) and is now with one of my (ex) friends. Initially he didn’t want a divorce, but a year later demanded one. That was a year ago and after torturous negotiations we have almost reached a settlement. We moved around during our marriage for his career so I was the homemaker and raised our children. I had part-time jobs when possible, but never earned much. I have a number of health conditions that prevent me from working now. The draft agreed settlement includes maintenance on a joint lives basis – with him paying me a percentage of his income, but my fear is that he will simply stop work and live off the salary of his live-in girlfriend. Is there a clause I can insert into the court order to guard against this? Unlike many of those who have written to you, I am not an ex-wife with a rich new partner! I am a single woman just hoping to continue living a decent life. Thanks for any advice you can give.

  67. Mary Stogner says:

    Dear Marilyn;

    I have been married to a wonderful man who had three adult children but although he was paying small monthly chil support payments, he had an arrearage of $18,000.00 because of terminal cancer that took his life two months ago, 2014. I received a statement or bill for $18,000.00 two days ago and am appauled the step kids and ex wife would submit to such greed. It was my pay and medical insurance that supported us, and my income with often 80 hour workweeks to support husband and kids. My husband had an ongoing lawsuit for asbestos related cancer of which I was made executor of the estate. His belongings were given to his three adult children, but now they feel entitled to everything, even though they changed their last names and had little to do with dad. There is no estate at this time but monks are expected in the future. Since 1998 his wife has been very fruitfully employed with ample funds for new cars, trips to Italy, etc, and all adult children are working.

    My intention was to have the estate attorney get my funeral expenses reimbursed, medical bilks reimbursed, and costs incurred during his illness. During his four year cancer span, I was without any of his children’s assistance or consistent communication going through the terminal process as caretaker for my husband, a difficult time but done lovingly and dedicatingly out of great live and respect for him. Although these monies should be tended mine, iI am at the point of washing my hands of this lawsuit due to the greedy ex and adult children. Please guide me in what legal rights his ex and my step kids have in future estate monies, if any.

    Respectfully yours,


    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Mary
      Reading your question it seems that you are based in the USA. I’m very sorry but I can’t advise you except in relation to English law.

  68. Andy says:

    I live with my fiancee of 5 years,we jointly own a home,and we are both employed,albeit with minimum hours.
    Recently my partners youngest daughter,who had been living with us,decided to return to her fathers,and live there with his wife who he married shortly after divorcing my partner.
    Between my partners ex husband,and his new wife,they have a joint income,which far outweighs that of myself and my partner,and they also have a joint income from two rented properties,which means that financially,they would be classed as quite well off.
    However,my partner has just received an email,stating that they will be pursuing my partner for child maintenance,despite their obvious wealth.
    Where do we stand in the eyes of the law?,are we embittered to pay what they are asking?
    Many thanks for any replies

  69. Jo says:

    Hi Marilyn
    My ex-fiance and I split up before I gave birth to our son in Jan 08 and he now pays maintenance for him. He also said he would pay for half his school fees but has now changed his mind. How likely am I to get a favourable response if I make a court order? I am also battling for him to see our son! My ex is well capable of paying half.
    Many thanks

  70. Christopher Brown says:

    My ex wife (with children in tow) has now moved into the house of her boyfriend. She has put her current (my old) flat up for rent. As we will have soon been divorced over a year, and I am in financial difficulty meeting the maintenance I pay her (for the kids benefit) and a larger share of the school fees, is it possible to try and make an attempt to reduce my outgoings?

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Christopher
      Give Child Maintenance Options a call. They will go through all the numbers with you and advise you further, FOC. You may be able to apply to the Child Maintenance Service if it cant be amicably agreed.

  71. Katherine says:

    Dear Marilyn, I live in the USA. My British husband of less than one year brutally beat me, then hopped a plane to London. Criminal charges of assault have been filed by the local DA. There are warrants out for his arrest, so he certainly won’t be coming back to the USA. He is, not surprisingly, refusing to pay me any support or restitution for the nearly 2 years we lived together. Can I bring suit against him in the UK? Thank you for your advice. Kind Regards, Katherine

    • Luke says:

      ” He is, not surprisingly, refusing to pay me any support or restitution for the nearly 2 years we lived together. ”
      Katherine, if he brutally beat you then it is very understandable that you would want to get him charged with assault, I would too, but if you were married less than 2 years and have presumably no children what sort of ‘support’ can you be expecting ???

      • Katherine says:

        Hi Luke,
        He had been paying all the bills. His verbal abuse led to my asking him to leave. He explained that my asking him to leave has repercussions. I would like to know if a magistrate can order financial support and how to apply for it.

        • Luke says:

          Right… so you want shot of him, but not so badly that you are not putting your hand out for his money – for no other reason than the fact that you have been married to him for a short time and expect him to carry you indefinitely as some sort of leech on his back !
          All men should read these comments before they get married so they understand what they might be letting themselves in for 🙂
          He may not be a nice person but I agree with him about repercussions – you could try paying your own way Katherine – your sense of entitlement is breathtaking…

          • Katherine says:

            Luke, Since you obviously support beating women and then fleeing the ramifications, you should probably offer your opinion in a woman-bashing forum rather than here for those of us seeking legal advice. Your opinion clearly demonstrates your own embittered intolerance for wrongdoing and restitution. But you are right about one thing: All men should read this! There is never a reason to strike a woman, much less repeatedly. And based on your last tirade and advice for fellow batterers, I suppose you really don’t want to admit that you can’t provide any helpful legal advice to me on this issue.

          • Katherine says:

            Also note that he may never return to the US without arrest. Fortunately, the District Attorney disagrees with Luke’s opinion and will prevent this British offender from crossing the borders without facing his crime. Personally, and the reason I posted to this forum initially is that I would like to ask for restitution; whether that be in the form of ongoing, monthly payments or a one-time settlement. I have repeatedly asked for advice on how to pursue a magistrate’s help. My physical and psychological scars will last for a lifetime; on my back and on my face. Men like Luke should not be allowed to post hateful comments to victims of domestic violence.

          • Luke says:

            Your comments on me are absolutely ridiculous Katherine, I have never suggested that domestic violence – or indeed any such violence – is acceptable and it cannot be reasonably inferred from what I have written either.
            If this man is tried and found guilty of the crimes you claim he has committed then I think a custodial sentence would be appropriate and yes, depending on the circumstances it may well be appropriate for you to receive damages for pain and suffering.
            All of this has NOTHING to do to with your short childless marriage and your wishing to take money from him on that basis (which you made very clear you DO want to do) is sadly not that unusual. Quite a lot of ex-wives and some ex-husbands think this is acceptable (I’m not claiming men are better or worse given the opportunity) and seem oblivious to how mercenary, unreasonable and unpleasant they are being.
            I wasn’t offering you legal advice, Marilyn, and her associates will do a far better job of that – I was pointing out to you and others the ridiculous state of things where there can be the expectation by some that after a short childless marriage one spouse can force the other to be their financial slave.
            It isn’t nice to point out such matters and I wasn’t expecting it to be well received by you. Many may consider my statements blunt but given your extraordinary expectations I think they were appropriate.
            I do sympathise with your pain and suffering and I am very sorry that it has happened to you and I hope you can recover soon.

          • Yvie says:

            I suppose this begs the question why would you want this man to offer you financial support when he has treated you so appallingly. Your marriage was very short and surely you are capable of earning your own living and standing on your own two feet. Just my opinion.

          • Katherine says:

            In answer to your question, Yvie, I want financial support as recompense for his assault. A one-time payment could satisfy me, help give me time to recover and stand on my own two feet again. Yvie, have you ever been beaten black and blue? Before this, I had not been, so honestly, I don’t know exactly what to do. The shock and bruising is severe and long-lasting. It is likely that I will never completely get over this trauma, but I am seeking psychological counseling to help me identify signs of abuse earlier in the relationship. Apparently, from all I have read, the blows of his balled fists should have been anticipated and seen as a forewarning by his earlier verbal berating and abuse. Part of me wants to punish him for what he did to me and, in the US, he would be ordered to support me due to my permanent physical and emotional damage. Every day I look in the mirror and see what he did to me. And I cry uncontrollably. Every creak of wood or bump on the roof startles me. I am afraid of being ambushed again. Yes, of course I will divorce him! But, I am here in this forum exploring legal consequences in the UK for being the victim of the crime. Does anyone know of the proper procedure to pursue this?

  72. Andrew says:

    Katherine, there are reciprocal arrangements, but they don’t work better than the mechanism for enforcing maintenance in “local” cases – and that’s not very well.

    With great respect: put him behind you and divorce him. If you are a US citizen your divorce will be valid here for him, and obviously it will be valid for you – you will need local legal advice about any complications caused by him not being in your State any more. Don’t even make a financial claim in the divorce. Get shot of him and better luck for the future.

    • Katherine says:

      His monthly, automated income is from pension and investments. It seems this could easily be redirected to my banking account. Yes, I do want shot of him. But, I am not working and didn’t work throughout the relationship. He can afford to support me.

  73. Andrew says:

    He can afford to support you, but after a two-year marriage without children you will ahve a hard time persuading an English court that he should.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Katherine and Andrew
      Conduct that would be wrong to ignore can be taken into account. High standard of proof required for an application for maintenance /lump sum.

  74. Joanna says:

    Dear Marilyn

    I stumbled across your site and all the replies and support given by you inspired me to see if you could provide some advice to me please. I am at my wits end with such strong feelings of resentment towards the outcome of my husbands financial settlement to his ex wife through court in January 2014.

    My husband and his ex wife were married for 23 years prior to divorce.

    He was in the armed forces for a lengthy period of their marriage and they had 2 children together.

    The children are now 17 and 20.

    One (aged 20) lives with the mother full time and 1 (aged 17) lives half/half.

    When the court order was awarded, we were living together but not yet married.
    We married in December 2014.

    I have a 15 yr old child from a previous relationship and receive regular CSA as well as I working full time. My child lives with us full time.

    The court awarded my husbands ex spousal maintenance for 15 years (unless she co-habits for longer than 6 months) or remarries.

    As far as we are aware she lives alone with her children and works 3 and a half days a week.

    On top of her CSA, she claims got full child benefit and working family tax credits. My husband gets neither and we can only trust she has disclosed to the WFTC that she only has the child half the time.

    The courts awarded her £300 a month spousal maintenance but to change to £600 once the youngest leaves full time education. Also 33% armed forces pension and 50% of another pension currently awarded for life. They lost their home (repossessed) which forced my ex husband into bankruptcy.

    I am suffering from ill health and really need to take a break from my career, however we could not afford to live without my salary.

    My question to you is do you think we would have a strong chance of getting the order reduced if I were to give up work?

    This is having a major impact on our relationship as I am so resentful that my salary and my sons CSA payments subsidise her financial stability whilst I struggle. We cannot move forward with buying our own home etc due to the bankruptcy. This status alone is hard enough.

    Any guidance you can give would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Joanna
      I can see you have strong feelings, but you cant say you didn’t know, weren’t warned and still went ahead and married him.
      Your husband and his ex were married for 23 years and had two children, one is off her hands the other not quite. You say she received some of the pension which I assume she cant draw for the next 15 years and £300 per month (£3600 per annum) maintenance in the meantime, which is to increase to £600 or £7200pa at some point, perhaps next year or at the end of the youngest child’s tertiary education. She also works to make ends meet and receives benefits. She appears to have got no capital due to the house being lost presumably because of non payment of the mortgage. So after a long marriage she has her income needs partially met by your husband and not a great deal else.
      You dont tell me anything about your husband’s finances, or your own. Where or how you are living. Your own circumstances. I suspect you both may be more affluent than the former wife, but because I dont have the facts, its impossible for me to give an opinion. I would point out however that the court order is only just over a year old. It was done to meet the reasonable needs of both parties and your own income when the court order was made, was irrelevant – it will not have been taken into account in determining how much he could afford to pay. So its hard to see that you giving up your work is going to impact on an order that only partially meets your husband’s former wife’s reasonable needs made just over a year ago and particularly when you were cohabiting, fully aware of it and its intended consequences;- and then you married him.
      So without more detailed information and more of an understanding as to how loss of your income will impact then all I can say is your giving up work might have an affect – but there again, if a court took the view your reasons for so doing were deliberately to reduce the spousal maintenance, it might not.

    • Luke says:

      Marilyn has a point, you knew the court system had made him effectively a financially non-viable option for a normal relationship.
      4 years spousal maintenance would have been really generous and the extreme end of what might be required for her to sort out her life but our court system has given him a ridiculously long 15 year sentence and that basically makes him severely damaged goods I’m sorry to say.
      This is what marriage can do to men and why they shouldn’t get involved in the institution now – he’s not alone, to be blunt most men in such a situation as his are f****d…

      • Nordic says:

        I think it is more to the point to say that this is what English Family law does to the new families that follow a divorce. Based on her entry above, Joanna appears to suffer as much as her husband and she is not alone. Many second wives (my own included) would testify to the absurdity and inequity of English family law. This is not about men versus women, this is about the “first wives” club that this courts have created. Everybody else suffers, not just men but second wives and (second family) children.

        I am layman and hence not in a position to advice you. I will say though, that I personally managed to get a court ordered settlement which I (as a man) broadly found OK and reasonable. It takes a lot of work, energy and emotional control(!!) as well as luck with the particular judge assigned to your case (and I had such luck), but in my case at least it was worth having a go and not giving in to patently unreasonable demands and outcomes.

  75. Andrew says:

    “but you cant say you didn’t know, weren’t warned and still went ahead and married him.”

    Indeed. But you do not seem willing to say the same to posters who have gone ahead and lived with a man and NOT married him!

  76. Bolchedik says:

    Luke’s remark fills me with disgust. Have we become so debased that we look at other humans as ‘financially non-viable options’? This is indeed what English family courts are doing to this country, and it will be the death not only of any form of social justice but of any humanity too. Nordic offers the only decent solution, which is to not give in to this. But it seems that the courts, burdened with a mess of appeals that they themselves have caused, is making it even harder these days to appeal decisions. Resulting, again, in an erosion of social justice.

    • Luke says:

      “Luke’s remark fills me with disgust. Have we become so debased that we look at other humans as ‘financially non-viable options’?”
      Well you might be disgusted with the remark Bolchedik, but in too many cases like this one it happens to be true – it is not a question of being debased by looking at them as ‘financially non-viable options’ – that is what they are !
      This is what our court system does and I don’t think we should hide the misery these men are going through just to protect the sensitivities of the general public.
      I’m not ever going to get married so as the law currently stands the courts have limited opportunities to financially do this sort of thing to me – but I can see why many men in this situation get so depressed and some actually commit suicide.
      That of course is NOT the solution, I think if I were put in a position like Joanna’s husband where I’m working full time but cannot effectively ever start again and make a life for myself due to the amount and length of time my wages were being garnished – I would just STOP WORKING. If enough men did that then I think the whole system would collapse and they would have to rethink it – whilst the money is flowing nothing will change.
      After that I would also look at moving to a country outside the jurisdiction of the British legal system in order to restart my life – I wouldn’t do this lightly but with a judgement as absurd as the one Joanna’s husband is facing that is what it might come to for many men who think this through.

  77. Elaine Filmer says:

    My partner has been ordered to pay spouse maintenance to his wife pending suite. She receives benefits housing ESA and council tax etc. My partner has been ordered to pay 650.00 a mth. Which he will have to do over time for. Will her benefits be stopped because of the spouse maintenance payment and will my partner have to pay her more to make up the payments

  78. oh the hassel of it all! says:

    i have stumbled across this thread and interesting that the majority have children involved. We don’t.
    my husband divorced his wife after 8 yrs of marriage 15 years ago. She won a wonderful package of mortgage free house, car, landscaping, furniture and cash but he refused her a share of his pension fund- if she took a monthly maintenance allowance. She accepted. The pension fund has now depleted.
    My husband and I after a lot of expense and heartache now have our own family. We do not have the mega income that he once enjoyed as he’s near retirement age now, probably about a 10th of the sum he was earning at the time of the divorce, and in truth we cannot afford the monthly maintenance. We would like to look and stopping it or in the worst case reducing it by 50%. we have no idea where we start, what accounts we need to produce etc. any advice would be very useful.

  79. L says:

    Hi just wanting some advice. I was married 15 years and gave up working full time to bring up my stepchildren. My ex has ended up with a successful job due to me and my families care for his kids. We split but he was my boss at work and due to his bullying and pressure I went on sick and accepted a very small pay off from my employer. I am now finding it very difficult to get a job as I was off sick with stress and depression for a while. My ex career is flourishing and he’s on about 50k a year and I’m on sickness benefit. When the house sold he had a solicitor and I didn’t as no legal aid. He bullied me into selling and splitting proceeds 50/50 otherwise he said he wouldn’t sell or pay the mortgage. Just wondering if I would be entitled to anything from him. He has tried on numerous occasions to get me to sign a clean break (but both of us retaining anything we have now) instead of him giving me a clean break lump sum. I look forward to your comments

  80. L says:

    Hi sorry should’ve mentioned in the comment above that we had no children of our own.

  81. Caroline Holland says:

    could you provide me with details on a nominal maintenance order please, does this mean that the divorcing wife can at any point decide to go to court to get the maintenance increased for life? secondly should the divorced husband decide to remarry would it be calculated on his earnings or the household earnings please? thirdly should the divorcing wife decide to stop work or reduce working hours to fabricate that she earns less can she still go for an increase in maintenance. Finally it is correct that my having a nominal maintenance order in place that there is no clean order break in place?


  82. David says:

    Hello, I have been paying maintenance through my wages (voluntary) to the csa for my daughter. I have been paying for the last 10yrs and I have now retired so now paying the basic £5 per week. The CSA now say I might not have been paying enough and there may be arrears to pay. Do I have to pay the arrears as they were the ones working out the payments and taking it each month so I do not see why I have to pay the arrears when its their mistake? Also can they take the money from my pension lump sum? Thanks

  83. Name Witheld says:

    i’m just after some imformation regarding my payments to my son towards my ex wife…when we split i agreed to pay her 50 pounds a week towards my son…that went well until she wanted it raised to 60 pounds a week…i agreed and paid the money each week…she then got re-married and i still pay 60 pounds a week to her..that has been the same for 2 years now and now she is starting to become difficult in regarding money i.e extra money towards school uniform and sports equipment my son needs..i sometimes pay her between 100-160 extra when she asks..i would like to know where i stand on her being re-married and whether i still need to pay 60 pounds a week…i dont think i need to as they both earn good money and my sons grandparents feed him in the evening when they are still both at work..i have my son once every two weeks at weekends..she tells me i dont pay enough but ive told her i do as by csa calculator..

  84. R says:

    please could you help me. i have a court order that my ex husband pays me 650 for life unless i remarry, he retires 2018 and has said he cannot afford to pay it after he retires, he thought it finished then. i pay the 650 on a joint mortgage, which we remortgaged to pay off debts and also he took 20,000 to put down on a house for himself at the time i agreed as i thought the problem in our marriage was money related but it was not, he is now living with a friend of mine. He is at the moment a serving police officer i was awarded 33.3% of his police pension. which i got when i was 60. i am 62 now and do not get the state pension untill i am 65. i work full time at the moment and my take home pay is £1200 per month. We had a meeting today with our ur 4 children and he said he cannot afford to pay me this when he retires and if i want to take it back to court then do so but the court will see that he cannot afford to pay me and i will have wasted my money. i am heartbroken, as my children now say they will help me with money. but i do not think they should have to . Do you think i am wasting my time on going back to court.

    • Andrew says:

      R: It is not news to you or anybody that most working people see their incomes reduce drastically when they retire. You are also aware that an order for periodical payments, even a whole life order, can be varied by the court if circumstances change – if you were legally advised your solicitor will have told you so, and if you were not, well, the order says so if you read it.
      So now he is going to retire and you expect him to go on paying you as if nothing has changed? When he says he cannot afford it he is probably right. He has to eat too. Obviously you must expect to take some of the hit, and he may well be successful in having your payments ended. What would you have said if he had given up worth through (genuine) ill-health or if he had died?
      If his payments have helped you house yourself then you have not wasted your money; you will have used it wisely while it lasted. Be glad your children are able and willing to help; they don’t have to.
      You are not necessarily wasting your time in going back to court, and in fact if you don’t agree that the payments should end when he retires you will have to because he will apply for a downward variation; but be prepared for him to succeed wholly or in part and quite possibly wholly, depending on the figures. The court will not expect him to live on fresh air and neither should you.
      I am sorry if this sounds harsh but it is best that you hear it how it is. I will be interested to see if anyone disagrees with the substance of what I say.

      • Rosemarie says:

        Thank you for you reply.
        It is not as simple as it seems.
        My EX will get another job so wont be living off fresh air. He also has a partner (my ex friend) who is younger and still in a good job.
        I don’t think he will bother the court again he will just stop paying.
        Yes I am thankful and blessed with my 4 children.
        I don’t honestly think I have the strength anymore to fight so I will just leave it now and try and get on with my life the best I can.
        Thank you for your help I really do appreciate it.

  85. rosemarie says:

    Just to add to my last email.
    I had met with my ex two weeks before the meeting with our children, I had agreed to take a cut in the payments as I hoped to be better off by next year when he is due to retire. He had also agreed to discuss this nearer the time of his retirement, and it was all amicable and friendly. But he had changed his mind once we started the meeting with our children.
    I am not an unreasonable person, and to be honest the reason I am in this position financially is all down to my ex.
    Thank you once again for your help.

  86. Child support arrears and 401k says:

    My sister had a stroke, she understands everything but is unable to speak and has right side paralysis. My sister also is being cared for by myself and parents. My sister is receiving child support arrear payments and her ex-husband who remarried and is now divorcing has informed us that he wants to give my sister a lump sum of money and have a contract notarized that he does not have to pay anything else. The money her ex-husband wants to negotiate a payment for comes from his soon to be ex-wife’ 401k. He says his money is being held and will lose out on it if my sister does not agree to what he wants to give her. My question is, Is this legal?

    • Andrew says:

      Your spelling and the word 401K suggests you and your sister are in the USA. This is an English site. She needs the advice of a lawyer in the State concerned.

  87. Jan says:

    I have a personally arranged agreement with my ex-husband for child support for our child, which he pays every month. He told me previously that if a new partner moves in with us then he doesn’t have to continue to pay child maintenance. Is this correct please?

    • Cameron Paterson says:

      Hello – Solicitor Mark Heppinstall responds below. If you would like further advice, you will find contact details for the nearest office on this page. Please also note the legal disclaimer on this page.

      “Hello Jan and thank you for your enquiry.
      Maintenance can take different forms and the legal principles are different depending on whether your ex-husband is paying child maintenance or spousal maintenance. In your case I see you have made explicit reference to child support and I am therefore assuming that the maintenance payments are for the benefit of your child.
      As a general principle, if a new partner moves in with you this would not influence the statutory assessment of what your ex-husband would be required to pay for child maintenance. In order to sense-check whether the amount of maintenance is broadly appropriate you might want to consider the child maintenance services online calculator available at
      Your cohabitation status could be relevant to the payment of spousal maintenance however and so it is important that this is considered further if you are receiving payments as part of a court order or interim agreement for example.
      If there is a court order which regulates maintenance payments then we would need to see this first before we could set out further advice as this may be relevant to your position.
      Please do let us know if we can help further.”

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