Fact Sheet - Maintenance Payouts
Q – I am going through a divorce with my wife and I earn more than her. Will I have to pay her maintenance?
A – In every case we have to work through a checklist of factors. Two important points are the difference in earning abilities now and in the foreseeable future and the difference in financial needs and obligations.
Q – What does that mean?
A – It means for example that if you have young children and as a result your wife cannot earn as much as you or at all, then you may have to pay spousal maintenance.
Q – Is this the same as child maintenance through the CSA?
A – It is in addition to that.
Q – How long will it last?
A – That depends on your circumstances. If your wife has the potential to return a career or can update her skills and find a job then she would be expected to do so. The obligation to pay often terminates when the children leave secondary school. If your wife remarries before maintenance is scheduled to cease, then it will stop immediately. If she cohabits on a regular and committed basis then usually an agreement is made for the payments to stop.
Q – What if she won’t go back to work?
A – A court will look at earning ability now and in the foreseeable future. The presumption is that those with the ability to work will do so and if they refuse they can have an earning ability attributed.
Q – What is nominal maintenance?
A – This is a low payment usually expressed as £1 per year. This keeps the door open for a future claim if circumstances change for either of you. There must be good reason to make that claim.
Q – Does that mean I have to live on the breadline for the rest of my life?
A – No. Maintenance often comes to an end in the circumstances mentioned and any judgment made about the amount of maintenance is based on need of both the payer and the recipient. There are sources of income available for parents looking after children, such as tax credits and child benefit currently at the rate of £20.30 for the first child and £13.40 for subsequent children and these are taken into account.
Q – Can I get help about this?
A – Yes. Ask the CSA online www.csa.govhelp.co.uk about your responsibility to pay for your children. Enquires about tax credits can be made online www.hmrc.gov.uk/TAXCREDITS Enquires about any Housing Benefit for rented accommodation can be made at www.direct.gov.uk.
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