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Reducing hours at work

Posted by Hedghog 
Reducing hours at work
September 06, 2022 09:36AM
Yesterday I applied for divorce from my wife of 14 years, on a no fault basis but as the sole applicant. She is very bitter and doesn't want to divorce, but the marriage is over from my perspective.

I'm high earner (<100K) whilst she has effectively not worked for circa 7 years. We have 3 kids at 5, 10 and 11 years.

Prior to the split I've been talking about reducing my hours at work to lower my stress level. Effectively I would want to reduce from full time 5 days a week to 4.5 days a week. Obviously this comes with a reduction of 10% in salary too. I haven't actually applied to work for this reduction in time (and there is no guarantee that it would accepted)

With the very large difference between our respective incomes (and earning potential), I'm obviously going to end up paying a signficant monthly amount to the ex for both child support and spousal maintenance.

Now that I've applied for divorce, my question is if I apply for a reduction in hours now (and the reduced salary) would that lower salary be used in the calculation/negotiation for the financial settlement? Or would it now be seen as a way of me trying to pay less (even though I would be earning less)?

Re: Reducing hours at work
September 06, 2022 11:20AM
It would be seen as a way of you trying to pay less. What matters is your earning capacity. If you choose to reduce that earning capacity voluntarily then the only person who should suffer the financial consequences of that will be you rather than your wife and children. That is how a court would look at it. If they adopted any other approach it would enable people to run rings around the courts. If it was not the result of a voluntary decision by you - because, for instance, you had developed some debilitating illness - that would be different but that is not what you are contemplating.
Re: Reducing hours at work
September 06, 2022 04:24PM
OK that makes sense, thanks a lot
Re: Reducing hours at work
September 06, 2022 06:18PM
The fact that your wife has had no earned income for the last seven years and that there are three young children will tend to make this expensive for you. Having said that, the courts do try to be fair and so it is unlikely you would be asked to pay so much that you would have to wonder what the point of getting out of bed in the morning was. If your wife can reasonably be expected to acquire some earning capacity in the foreseeable future you need to try to ensure that any spousal maintenance you pay is time limited rather than open ended. Just as there is a finite end to child maintenance you ought to aim for a similar finite end to any spousal maintenance.
Re: Reducing hours at work
September 07, 2022 11:26AM
Thanks David

I'm preparing myself for this to be expensive and the amount I pay her to be high.
As you mention, my objective needs to be that any spousal maintenance is time limited and linked to a reasonable expectation for her to start earning in time. I understand that spousal maintenance stops if she remarries, but I should also aim to ensure an agreement includes a clause for it to stop if she cohabits for a certain period perhaps?

Thinking about it, she has in recent years started dog breeding and earned circa £10k revenue from one litter. That litter was 2 years ago, and a recent attempt (circa 6 months ago) went wrong and didn't earn any money - but I paid for hip scores etc for another of her dogs in readiness for breeding again, so I guess this could be used to show she already has the potential to earn a certain annual amount from this activity (e.g. 8-10k a year for example)? I'm not sure if I would need to provide evidence of this and if so what...

Thank you very much for your comments, they are very helpful
Re: Reducing hours at work
September 07, 2022 02:31PM
I am not sure there is much money to be made from breeding dogs unless by dog thieves and puppy farms. I breed German Shepherd Dogs. When you factor in dog food, stud fees, Kennel Club registrations, hip and elbow scores, tests for haemophilia, degenerative myelopathy, pituitary dwarfism etc, vaccinations, progesterone tests and qualifying for IPO titles and breed surveys the whole things is a money pit rather than a source of profit. I suppose if you don't bother with any of that and breed any old mutt with any old mutt with no health checks or pedigree certificates you may be able to persuade some idiot to part with money but to say that is unethical is putting it mildly.

Yes, you can and should insist on certain trigger events for bringing spousal maintenance to an end but the most certain is for it to be specified that it ends on such and such date with no possibility of extension.
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