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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: UK Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33942
Experience:  25 years experience of all aspects of family law
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My divorce settlement says I will pay maintenance for my daughter

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My divorce settlement says I will pay maintenance for my daughter up to the later of her turning 18 or ceasing full time education. I was able initially at first to help during post school and have done for 4 years> Recently my circumstances changed as I have separated from my second wife and cannot afford to maintain my daughter. My first wife is threatening to sue me. My argument is that I have paid longer than I was obliged to and secondly my daughter is on her 3rd course since she left school gaving dropped out of one degree course then took a vocational course then moved to another degree course. This is made harder as my wife and daughter now live in Australia - Is my defence reasonable?
Thank you for your question
I shall do my best to assist you but I need some further information first
What course is she actually doing now and doe sit specify tertiary or secondary education at all?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

She is doing a degree in public relations at the University of Adelaide. The consent order does not state either secondary or tertiary i.e. it is silent on that issue. My daughter is 22 currently and will be 23 when she finishes the course.

Given that she lives in Australia how likely is it that your ex will take action?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

She has instructed lawyers to pursue through small claims.


I work in Insolvency so any adverse judgment could be bad for my career

Have you actually heard from a lawyer (it is a very odd method of enforcement to use)
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes I have but as I said she does live in Australia and she has always been rather litigious and unwilling to discuss things

What does the letter say about how it will be enforced?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

That I ooe for unpaid maintenace and the matter will be taken the small claims court. I will probably tell them that this really is a family court matter.

The fact that they are not aware of the enforcement methods does seem rather odd
In order to assess the likely attitude of the family court could you give me a very rough idea of your income level (does not have to be specific)
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

80k but I have a hefty mortgage and 2 small boys (12 and 8) both at private school.


I literally cannot afford to pay anything at present until when and if I am divorced

There is a two fold issue here.
If your ex actually goes about enforcing the order in the correct way through the family court you can make a counter application for the formal dismissal of the maintenance arguing that your liability actually ended years ago and since then you have been paying voluntarily.
I have to admit that the fact that you have continued to pay will work against you here - unfair I know - and on that basis you will need to alternatively argue that it should be reduced.
You may find it helpful to check what University funding is available in Australia to find out what income your daughter actually has.
I hope that this is of assistance please ask if you need further details
Clare and other UK Family Law Specialists are ready to help you

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