Maintenance as part of a Financial Settlement

We talked recently of the importance of having a formal settlement of all financial arrangements when a divorce is completed. This will ensure that both parties will know where they stand and can begin to plan the next stages of their lives.

One of the aspects of the financial arrangements for the future will be how each party is going to live. When there is a great deal of money, this is less of a problem for there will then be enough to ensure that both parties are able to cover their everyday expenses, sometimes with something left over. For the majority of people, that sort of financial freedom will not exist. In these cases, it will be a question of how the available limited resources should be split between them.

In these cases, the incomes that have previously been used for the family as a single group, now have to cover two households, including, very often, the support of children who will usually be spending time with each parent. Nearly always, sacrifices have to be made and the usual result is that there is less money for each party. That is just one of the realities of divorce and separation.

One of the big questions is the earnings of each party. If one party is earning and the other is not, the earning party will often raise the issue of whether the non-earning party could and should obtain paid work, either full time or part time.

Very often, the party who is not in work will be the main carer of the children, who may be young. In those cases, it will have to be decided how long that party can be expected to stay at home or when and if she (more often than not, the mother of the children) should be expected to try to obtain employment, even if it is part time work that can be fitted in with the care needs of the children.

When we are dealing with these difficult cases, the approach of our practitioners is always to try to help the parties reach some sort of agreement. If that proves impossible, it may be necessary for the court to make a decision.

The starting point are the needs of the children. The law states specifically that that is the first consideration. The problems sometimes occur when that consideration comes to be interpreted in each case.

It is likely that a court will decide that children will do better if their main carer is at home when they are very young. By the time the children start school, it is more likely that the court will expect the carer of the children at least to investigate the possibility of obtaining part time work, moving on to full time work the older the children get. However, a judge would expect to be presented with clear evidence that work is available. Every case will depend on the circumstances in that family and the judge has a very wide discretion as to the solution which is most suitable.

We are more than happy to advise on possible solutions in these difficult situations. Our practitioners are experts in this sensitive and sometimes difficult area which is so important to the future welfare of families. We can help you try to find a solution by agreement, but if that proves impossible, if necessary, take the case to court for you.

If you feel that you would like to discuss the options that might be available to you, please contact us for a confidential preliminary assessment.

Rosie Bracher: Specialist Family Law Solicitors 01271 314904