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What can you do as a stay-at-home mum divorcing?

This is a particularly common issue and, understandably, will cause you anxiety and uncertainty. However, all is not lost as the courts in England and Wales have wide-ranging powers that will ensure that your ongoing needs are met. The family court can order your husband/partner to pay ongoing spousal maintenance in addition to any child maintenance that the Child Maintenance Service might assess. They can also order interim spousal maintenance until a final order is made.Back in June 2016, the Family Justice Council published guidance that provided the following principles concerning spousal maintenance:

It is generally right and fair that relationship-generated needs should be met if resources permit.

The term ‘reasonable requirements’ is now not approved. The term ‘needs’ (generously interpreted) has gained acceptance.

Need will be measured by assessing the standard of living during the relationship – generally, the longer the relationship’s duration, the more important this factor will be.

A party may be expected to suffer some reduction in their standard of living regarding the overall objective of a transition to independence.

The court will assess the needs of both parties.

Maintenance can be a complicated issue. The best advice is to seek out family law services early so that you can control your case thoroughly and properly before any financial decisions are made.

  • How long does spousal maintenance last?

    The court can order spousal maintenance to continue for a specific term, e.g. five years, ten years, or for instance, until the children have concluded their secondary education.

    Alternatively, in appropriate cases, the courts can order what is effectively an indefinite spousal maintenance order (a joint lives maintenance order) which would only come to an end upon your remarriage, death, or further order of the court.

    The court is obliged to consider terminating the financial obligations between you and your husband “as soon after the [divorce] as the court considers just and reasonable”.

    However, the court is likely to order ongoing spousal maintenance if there is a genuine income need.

  • How to claim spousal maintenance

    It will be necessary to particularise your specific income needs in a detailed schedule. The court will want to ensure that you are maximising your earning capacity. 

    Your care of the children will be a relevant factor to consider here. The court will also consider whether your husband can afford to meet any shortfall between your needs and earning capacity.

    It is important to note that spousal maintenance is variable. Either party can apply to the court for an upwards or downwards variation, subject to a specific change in circumstances. 

    For example,  if your husband were to either have or come into significant capital, the court can capitalise spousal maintenance so that you receive an upfront lump-sum payment instead of ongoing spousal maintenance.

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Does a stay-at-home mum get the house in a divorce?

The first thing you need to know is that you likely have ‘home rights’ until any permanent order is made to transfer or divide the home between you.

 This means that you have the right to stay in or return to the family home as you please. Talk to a divorce lawyer if you aren’t sure of your rights. 

As the divorcing couple, if able to, you can choose what to do with the family home and have several options. 

You could move out separately and sell the house, dividing the proceeds of the sale between you; you could arrange for one partner to buy the other out; you could keep the home and not change who owns it; or, you could transfer a proportion of the property value between you as part of a wider settlement. 

It’s far more common for the couple to agree than for the court to decide. However, there are several options available to the court concerning your family home:

  • A ‘Mesher’ order can defer the sale of the home until a certain point, e.g. when the youngest child turns 18.
  • A ‘Martin’ order defers sale and gives one person an entitlement to live in the home either for life or until they get remarried. This option is more common for couples that don’t have children.

All in all, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that either couples or courts take on the family home issue.

Contact your local family law solicitors: Stowe

If you’re considering a separation or divorce, please seek legal advice or get in touch here. The best divorce advice is to seek out a divorce solicitor early before you make any decisions.

As a specialist family law firm, our lawyers have helped many people, so you can be assured that you will receive the support and advice that you need.

Interested? Call us today through 0330 056 3171, fill in our online contact form, or learn more about Stowe today.

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