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I am a 48 year old mother of 4 children age 11 -18 two of whom have dyslexia and ADHD. Before kids I worked in a demanding and unpredictable career of design project management. My ex husband is a banker earning 350k per year predominantly overseas while i have been uk based with sole care of the family and home. I have not worked for 15 years ( some freelance projects) because my ex has been overseas most of the time. I now have a part time job that fits in around the kids needs and i earn about 12k per annum part time. He has met someone else and now wants to divorce. He is offering 67% of capital ( all tied up in family home which now becomes mine) and 33% of his pension to date. He will also give me a small lump sum annually from his bonus until my youngest is 21 (10 years). He has offered 10 years spousal maintenance of £1750 to bridge the gap between child maintenance and what it actually costs to run the family home each month. My argument is for a joint lives order as at my age i will never recoup my career to its original potential as i have total responsibility for 4 kids while he lives overseas and only visits occasionally. My worry is that in 10 years time i will be left with only a very modest income and nothing to show for my many years of supporting his career. Do you think I have a case?
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Answered in 11 hours by:
9/7/2013
Andrea, Esquire
Andrea, Esquire, Barrister
Category: UK Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 12,554
Experience: 25 yrs exp in general practice, real estate & Business law, criminal defense & family law
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Good Day, Liz, My name isXXXXX am a Licensed, Practicing Attorney, and my goal is to provide you with Excellent Service. Normally, a customer receives an Answer within a matter of minutes from posting their question. Your question must have gotten lost somewhere along the way, so please accept my apology,

 

It is all well and good that you will be receiving the home, but the Court will also be concerned with your maintenance in order to maintain the home for your children and yourself. The Court is also concerned that you receive your fair share of assets accumulated during the marriage, as well as his pension.

 

1. Spousal Maintenance - You are very likely to be granted a joint lives order because of the following reasons:

 

(a) Length of the marriage – It is substantial and you devoted your life to the marriage;

 

(b) Discrepancy in income - The difference between his earnings of 350,000 versus your earnings of 12,000 per year is substantial enough to warrant spousal maintenance in the form of a Joint Lives Order. You gave up your career and devoted your life to your husband and to raising a family;

 

(c) Your children still need you and those with ADHD will continue to need you longer than the average child, making it impossible for you to engage in full time employment which would pay anything even close to what he is earning;

 

(d) Not having worked in 15 years would make it difficult for you to enter the workforce even if the children did not need you. The Court will not allow all the years you devoted to him, promoting his career, and to maintaining the home for the family, to go unnoticed and uncompensated. Therefore, your spousal maintenance should be substantial and in the form of a Joint Lives Order;

 

(e) A “small lump sum annual payment” is not sufficient to adequately compensate you for the sacrifices you made. Neither should this payment be dependent on his receipt of a bonus. There should be no strings attached, it should be for a set amount whether he receives a bonus or not, and should be payable to you periodically which you find more convenient – annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or monthly. His offers do not come any where near what the Court would grant you.

 

 

2. His Pension - The amount which he earned djuring the marriage is a marital asset and should be equitably divided. If he does not offer a more reasonable amount, then the Court will substitute its reasonableness in place of his and the Court will issue a Pension Sharing Order in the amount which the Court will deem “equitable”.

 

 

3. Other Marital Assets - Any assets purchased, acquired, or earned during the marriage must also be divided equitably between the two of you. The fact that he worked “outside” the home and brought money into the home does not lessen the value of your work “inside” the home.

 

 

4. Child Support – The Court never allows the children to suffer and do without because their parents are divorcing and for purposes of their needs, the Court will treat the amount of child support as that which would have been spent on the children, if the parents had not divorced. If they need more as they grow older, you can always go back to Court and ask for an increase based on a “substantial change in their circumstances”,

 

 

 

Please be kind enough to rate Excellent Service" so that I receive credit for assisting you, it will not cost you anything additional to give me a positive rating, and that is the only way I can receive credit, Thank you for understanding,

 

If you receive a Customer Satisfaction Survey from JustAnswer, Please rate a 10 as it gives me a greater opportunity to assist other customers on this website and is greatly appreciated,

 

Positive Feedback and Bonus are always appreciated,

 

 

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you,

 

 

 

ANDREA

 

Andrea, Esquire
Andrea, Esquire, Barrister
Category: UK Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 12,554
Experience: 25 yrs exp in general practice, real estate & Business law, criminal defense & family law
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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: UK Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34,721
Experience: 25 years experience of all aspects of family law
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Hi Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I shall do my best to assist you but I need some further information first. How long have you been living together, how much is the property worth and how much is outstanding on the mortgage? Claire

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Dear Liz,

 

Please be assured that I researched your questions under UK law and all issues on which I furnished Answers are based on UK law. You see, in the US, we do not have anything called a "Joint Lives Order" which, under UK law, you would be eligible to receive. As a matter of fact, Family Court Judges in the US are reluctant to award, and rarely award what we call "Alimony" for life, or "Permanent Alimony". In the US, the most that a spouse will receive is temporary alimony for a certain period of time (depending on the length of the marriage) and the spouse is expected to use the alimony to learn a new skill, or brush up on an old skill, enter the workforce, and become financially independent as soon as possible. In the US, in order for a spouse to receive permanent alimony, she has to be practically totally disabled, unable to care for herself, and unable to earn a living.

 

Neither do we have a "Pension Sharing Order"; we have what is known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order ("QDRO")

 

Again, allow me to reassure you that I researched your questions under UK law and I stand by my Answers. If you would like the links to some of the sources I used in researching your questions, you have only to let me know and I will be glad to furnish them to you,

 

Please be kind enough to rate Excellent Service" so that I receive credit for assisting you, it will not cost you anything additional to give me a positive rating, and that is the only way I can receive credit, Thank you for understanding,

 

If you receive a Customer Satisfaction Survey from JustAnswer, Please rate a 10 as it gives me a greater opportunity to assist other customers on this website and is greatly appreciated,

 

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you,

 

ANDREA

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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Sorry for the slow response. I have been married 20 years (together nearly 24). The house is worth 485k, 33% of his pension is worth around 100k there is 140k outstanding on the mortgage which I have to pay from my child/spousal maintenance of 3750 each month (about 875).


I had agreed the terms as described in my first message through a collaborative process, but have not signed the order to put it through court. Before I do I just want to understand if it's worth fighting him for joint lives as this is something I really felt I should have given the discrepancy in our earning ability going forward. Thanks for your help.

Dear Liz,

 

In response to your question of whether or not it is worth fighting for, I would have to say that it is definitely worth fighting for simply because of the substantial disparity in your incomes and respective earning capacity. In addition, and as I stated in my previous Answer to you, any obligations he will have to make periodic payments to you, should be "absolute", they should not be contingent, or based on his receipt of a bonus, or the amount of any bonus.

 

If I have not Answered your question completely, or need clarification on anything, please let me know by using the "Reply" button and I will be glad to explain further, Otherwise, I would greatly appreciate your giving a rating of "Excellent Service" so that I receive credit for researching your questions and furnishing you with Answers. The deposit you made was with JustAnswer and it will not cost you anything additional to give a positive rating, but without a rating, I will not receive credit for my time and effort in assisting you. Thank you for understanding,

 

If you receive a Customer Satisfaction Survey from JustAnswer, Please rate a 10 as it gives me a greater opportunity to assist other customers on this website and is greatly appreciated,

 

Positive Feedback and Bonus are always appreciated,

 

 

Kindest Regards,

 

 

 

ANDREA

 

 

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Hi
Whilst I have the utmost respect for the Collaborative law process I am at a loss to see how this agreement can be seen to be fair nor why your solicitor has allowed you to agree to it.
I am sure that my American Colleague has researched the matter beautifully but as your solicitor will no doubt have explained to you the Family Courts have a wide discretion and each case is decided on its particular merits
It is unlikely that the "special needs" of the children will cause the Court any concern I am afraid.
This is not to say that I do not accept that they are more demanding than usual - but their ages make it unlikely that a court will regard the extra needs as significant.
In any event the Child maintenance should be being paid a rate that allows you to maintain a lifestyle for the children when they are with you that is not vastly different to that they experience with their father and I assume that this at least has been properly settled.
So far as your entitlement to his pension is concerned it is for half of the amount accrued during the years that you were married - so if the pension has been running for 30 years the offer he has made is spot on - if not then you need to ask your solicitor on what basis he (or she) thinks this is reasonable.
Whilst on the face of it a 67% share of the capital AND ongoing spouse maintenance appears reasonable in principle I do not think that the specific figures are fair.
Possibly if you were to have the matrimonial home mortgage free it would be more reasonable
So far as spouse maintenance is concerned I certainly do not think the Current capital offer is enough to justify the fact that the current capital is term limited.
The case that is of most relevant to you is that of McFarlane v McFarlane where the concept of compensation for loss of career was of great importance - you can read more here
http://www.marilynstowe.co.uk/2009/06/23/mcfarlane-v-mcfarlane-divorce/
However of course the problem with a Joint lives Order is that it limits your future plans - no remarriage or even cohabitation is possible without a major fall in income
You have reached this via the Collaborative process - frankly I cannot see - on the basis of what you have said - that you get enough benefit to outweigh the downside - but before you start on the process of finding a new solicitor I suggest that you ask your current solicitor to explain what is in this for you - especially with reference to McFarlane
Claire
Ask Your Own UK Family Law Question
Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Thank you for your information. Just so you know his pension accrual is currently 300k approx. His bonus is around 120k gross a year (which is included in the 350k figure I gave earlier in the correspondence) and I will receive half of this (less tax and the cost of maintaining our french ski apartment which is 7K ish a year) for 2 years, then 33% for 2 years and then 25% while I still have a child living at home.


He is now living overseas and his company provide him with a home and cover some of his living expenses like utility bills and travel. He will buy a small house locally and come here once a month to see the children. They will also travel during holidays to see him.


 


My major concern is that what is being offered now has a severe time limit and, although much can change in 10 years, if I don't remarry or manage to find a much better job (unlikely anyway at my age) that I will fall off a financial cliff when all child and spousal maintenance comes to an end and will have to sell our (mine and the children's) home to continue to afford any standard of living. He is refusing to renegotiate the spousal maintenance aspect of our collaborative agreement and says he would want to start from scratch or just take it all before a judge (bully boy tactics) so I want to have more guidance on what, in your experience, a judge might say to our current agreement and whether if I stand my ground and he does take me to court I am likely to be better or worse off?


 


I just want a safety net so that I don't have to panic about rebuilding my career if its not possible, which I don't think it is given that I am 48 and have full responsibility for 4 kids with no parental input from him for the near future. What do you think?

Hi
I know that you were happy with my colleagues answer but would you still like me to express my opinion on your follow up?
Claire
Ask Your Own UK Family Law Question
Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Hi


That would be very helpful please let me know what you think.


Thanks.

Hi
How much could you earn if you do re establish yourself in your career?
Claire
Ask Your Own UK Family Law Question
Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Because I have sole care of the children I am not going back to my previous career (design project management) as it is too unpredictable and demanding with hugely variable hours and also very hard to do part time. I recently qualified as a landscape designer and the salaries in this industry are lower. My starting salary part time with my new job is 12k. I expect in a few years to be earning about 25-30K full time. Not sure what scope there is beyond this in employment in this field. I want to start my own business but I need a few years stability first. Given that I am approaching 50 I still don't expect to recoup my earnings potential had I not given up my career for the family.

Hi
I appreciate that - but if you had gone back what could you have earned - and how old are the middle two children (I know that the eldest is 18 and the youngest 11!)
Claire
Ask Your Own UK Family Law Question
Customer reply replied 4 years ago

As an account manager I would probably earn 35-45k full time. I would probably have been account director by now if I hadn't stopped working and presumably the earnings for those are proportionally more say 50K+


 


Middle children are 14 and 16.

Hi
My concern is this and please understand that I am reflecting on the approach that a court would take
Your children are not babies - indeed the eldest is an adult and even the youngest is at secondary school.
So whilst you are still tied to an extent - especially in view of their special needs - it is not the same as having four primary age children to work around.
There is no reason why you are not entitled to start a new career - but it is likely that a court may in fact decide that you could - if you wished - re establish your career to a point where is 7 years time you could be earning £40,000 rather than £30,000 which would mean a reasonable lifestyle - provided the Capital issue was fair.
In addition of course your pension provision will not be unreasonable.
So from that point of view a limited time maintenance is not necessarily unfair.
However I beleive that you DO have a good claim using McFarlane as an argument for a much better Capital Settlement than the one on offer IF your maintenance is time limited.
So the upshot of it is that actually based on what you have said I think you would indeed get a better deal - at least on the capital
I hope that this helps
Claire


Ask Your Own UK Family Law Question
Customer reply replied 4 years ago

You're right it's not the same as having 4 little ones but their father is having no parental input whatsoever. He will have some fun social contact perhaps once a month but ALL the parenting and welfare will be done by me - I can't tell you how exhausting this is with 4 human beings being totally reliant on you for all their needs!!


 


Thanks for your advice anyway I will think it over.

Hi
It is my personal belief that they get much more demanding the older they get - and I mean way past 18 - but sadly it is hard to express this to the court!
I can only repeat - I woudl want your current lawyer to explain what is in this deal for you because I cannot see it!
Claire
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