How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: UK Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34105
Experience:  25 years experience of all aspects of family law
Type Your UK Family Law Question Here...
Clare is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

UK Family Law - Joint Lives Maintenance Orders

Resolved Question:

UK Family Law


Joint Lives Maintenance Orders.


Can you please tell me what is the likelyhood that a Court would grant my wife a joint lives maintenance order? What are the key drivers when they decide this?


We made my wife what I genuinely believed to be a very fair and equitable offer, which included, what I thought was a good fixed term maintenance deal for her... But evidently she has been advised to come back with this request for joint lives maintenance or threaten to go to Court if I dont... Of course, she may be bluffing but either way I am very anxious about this now... particularly because although we have been going through this divorce for over six months now, at no point has my solicitor brought up this possibility... So I know nothing about it, how the Courts decide on this etc...  I hadn't even heard of the term joint lives maintenance until I read their response to my proposal...


Please let me know if you need more information (and what that may be) to answer this.


Thank you

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: UK Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 5 years ago.


How old are you both and how long have you lived together

Are there any children involved

How much do you each earn

What assets and debts are there?



Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Sorry didn't come back earlier, as I was off yesterday.

I am 46 and my wife is 43. We have been married for 19 years but living together for about 24.

We have two children x 16 and 12

I earn c. £8000 and my wife is at home

She has not worked for 15 years.

Once the house is sold and if we pay off the mortgage, we will have about £620k and no debts.

I offered my wife what I genuinely believed to be a fair and equitable settlement. The main aspects of which were 61% of total net assets and maintenance for seven years (on top of which I will of course also pay children maintenance); the first five years at £1500 and then going down over the next two years.

My wife response is that she would like to have 67.5% of total assets, her maintenance at £2000 but for it to be joint lives... until she remarries or either of us dies. Her solicitor's contention being that this is "a classic case of joint lives".

Her two main arguments are that she will not be able to be independent in seven year's time because (a) she has to be at home for our child, while he is still at home; she is arguing that he has a condition (Irlend), for which she needs to be at home to help him and (b) she also claims that because she has been at home for so long and cannot go full time for another say five years, in seven years time she will not be able to earn enough to provide for her basic needs.

It is true that our child has Irlen but to say she needs to be at home full time for him, is not true. As his condition is treated and his maturity develops, he begins to be more independent in terms of his schooling; indeed he is much more independent already; this was our contention when we tried to appeal against his just-missed place at our local grammar school; his results were actually well above the national average; in his local comp now, for example, he is in the first set for maths.

The issue of not working for 15 years is true but I have, for at least three, if not five, been encouraging her to go back to work, if only part time. I have introduced her to friends and colleagues that had promised to help, with advice, suggestions and maybe even interviews. But she always declined. She will never admit to it but the reality is that one of the main reasons she did not want to go back to work, is because it would have interfered with her personal/social life: seeing friends in the af'noons, gym and particularly the running club, which was taking more and more of her time. I have never been able to tell her what to do, so she never went back; and incidentally, she stopped worked because she insisted that she wanted to. I was ok with her going back to work, as she did for the first six months after our son was born but then changed her mind and told me she wanted to stay with at home with our first born. We could just about afford this with my salary.

It is also worth noting, I think, that if she takes 61% of our total net assets, she will be able to get a mortgage-free home (which she disagrees with, hence asking 67.5%) but the reality is that 55%-58% of our net assets, would be sufficient... but I offered 61% because I wanted to go over and above and make sure that what I offered was more than fair; without putting myself in a position where I could not get a home of my own. As it is, giving her 61% would mean I cannot purchase a home, unless I keep the mortgage we have in the matrimonial home (£120k).

I had actually thought that offering maintenance for seven years was a good deal for fear, because she could have be working part time for say 3 years, until our youngest turned say 15 and then be full time for another 2 years before the maintenance payments would start to go down over the next two years. I thought this gave her more than sufficient time to become independent.

I also thought offering £1500 maintenance would put her in a good position because, together with the c. £1300 child maintenance, plus say c. £800-£1000 from the tax-man (children tax thing and working tax credit, if she works 16hrs p/week) plus say she earned at least another £600 (think she can earn much more) gives her £4200-£4400 vs what I am left with i.e. £8000 less £1500, less £1300, less £1000 (mortgage payment; by giving her 61% or more, I need to retain the)... leaves me with £4200

For her to claim that she will not be able to earn be independent/pay for herself in seven years, I think is not right. We might disagree on what she can potentially earn but I cannot believe she cannot earn enough to do so, bearing in mind that she will not have a mortgage.

When she was working, she was earning... I cannot remember for sure but think it was somewhere between £25k-£35k.

Does this give you enough information or do you need anything else?
Expert:  Clare replied 5 years ago.
What work skills does she/could she have?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
She was a trainer working for a bank's training department.

She spent about 5-7 years in Nat West's training centre, with spells in designing courses (skills), delivering courses herself as a trainer and also managing areas training needs, so going out to the regions discussing their needs/requirements, looking at their budgets etc etc.... So she worked in every aspect of the firm's training division and was very good at it. I couldn't tell you now what course but think it was skills types.

She has been updating her skills in the last six months, going to a course in the local council/library I think... its one of this so many hours of remote work (think 50hrs) courses to update her word, spreadsheet, powerpoint etc etc knowledge. She completed the basic one and was just about to start the advance one (another 50hrs I think) but has not done so, as she had the opportunity to deliver a course in our local night school (which she had done recently)... This is not a course she is doing for money... she just wanted get back in the swing of standing in front of people and presenting etc... I think she has done quite well but she is not enjoying the fact that its evenings. I think she intends to resume her other course soon (advance word, spreadsheet, power point etc etc).

Beyond that, prior to joining the Nat West training centre she was doing secretarial work... in The City and locally. She did this for about 3-5years... she was very good.

I think she could be an excellent training person or a PA for a senior executive, either locally or in the city, as she has very strong organisational skills and is very presentable, even though she may lack the confidence at present.

She could do lots of other things but these are things where she has an advantage because she has done this very successfully in the past.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
By the way I thought I clarify something above which did not come across clearly and might therefore, be miss-interpreted.

Our youngest son is not handicapped. Irlen is a condition in which light is processed in particular way... nothing to do with colour blindness, just means that before we identified it, he was prone to migranes, found it difficult to concentrate at school and got easily distracted.

So where I say above my wife needs to be at home to help him, I meant specifically help him at school/with school work etc.

This is less of an issue these days, as I explained above.
Expert:  Clare replied 5 years ago.
Assuming that she goes back to a similar sort of job how much could she earn?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Well this is debatable...

I think if she got back into training she could start earning upwards of £18k-£20k (but the equivalent, since she would be part-timing); if one accepts she cannot go into a great job because she has been away for so long. But I cannot believe that then, after 3 years part-timing and then another 2 years as full time, she would be getting paid any less than £25k-£35k... maybe even more if she does well.

If she went into secretarial instead, I would imagine she starts £12k-£15k.. but then after the seven years she could be earning somewhere in excess of £20k... if she did well, became a PM to some senior person up town, I imagine she could be somewhere in the £25k-£30k.

The problem is that all this is open to question... she disagrees with it and says... no matter what she does, that she will be lucky to earn more that £20k... that in any event, she won't be able to build her income capacity in the way that I described because, according to her, she needs to be at home for our son. So will not be able to do anything beyond part-timing while he is at school (as you know I disagree with her saying she cannot go full time while our son is at school).

I think if one does a simple job search, one can see that she is being very "defensive" in her estimates of what she can earn... how long is piece of string?
Expert:  Clare replied 5 years ago.
Her solicitor is trying to argue that this is a case where the principals set out in McFarlane apply
However I think you can afford to call her bluff.
The offer you have made is a good one (although it would be worth conceding the extra 5%) - her working ability is clear and the argument about your sons needs less relevant since he is at secondary school.
This is not a joint life case.
Clare and other UK Family Law Specialists are ready to help you

Related UK Family Law Questions