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Spousal Maintenance / Wife Claiming disability/inability to work (no children)

Posted by catexon 
Spousal Maintenance / Wife Claiming disability/inability to work (no children)
October 07, 2022 11:00AM
Scenario: 2nd court date is set for early next year - my wife is going to push for ongoing maintenance due to a combination of my higher earnings and her so-called 'disability'.. No kids involved.

Our combined assets are relatively even despite me being a much higher earner – her pension considerably larger.
She is going to the doctors now in an effort to get statements as to her 'potential inability' to work for the next hearing (literally throwing everything she can at the wall to see what sticks - chronic back pain, bowel issues, eye issues, allergies etc..)

There’s been challenges in recent years but nothing to prevent her from working and she is actually currently working. This is a case more of someone who does NOT want to work and easier to live off me..

Is the world that unjust a court will buy into this?

Judging by how this process has gone to date, and her solicitors clearly pushing her in this direction I do fear the world can indeed be this unfair and I’ll get stuck supporting someone for life with no ability to move on with my own.

A Clean break is all I want - at all costs. That being the other concern - she’ll use the ‘disability’ or other as leverage to get me to effectively buy her out in return for a ‘clean break’.

If anyone has been involved in this scenario your advice is greatly appreciated.
Re: Spousal Maintenance / Wife Claiming disability/inability to work (no children)
October 07, 2022 11:24AM
If your wife is currently working and has a history of employment then it is very unlikely that a court would think that some ache or other now prevents her from working. Most judges tend to take the view that things like depression and back ache clear up once financial issues are formally and finally settled. Obviously if someone suffers a stroke or becomes quadriplegic after a road traffic accident that is very different but the sort of things you mention are unlikely to influence a court much if your wife has a history of working.
Re: Spousal Maintenance / Wife Claiming disability/inability to work (no children)
October 07, 2022 12:23PM
this is very reassuring thank you for your response. I expect fully all these ailments will as you say be gone when all this stress and mess is behind us.

I can't even get this practical advise from my solicitor or barrister. It worries me that they have not dealt much with defending against this scenario in which case I'm considering to contact another solicitor who may instil more confidence in this situation or at least who has dealt with similar.

On the other hand, it's quite possible my solicitor isn't focusing on it because they are confident it will not lead to anything. But speaking to them it's definitely not being communicated to me.

In which case I find myself petrified of a situation where I'm linked to this person for life and unable to move on, save money etc etc etc.. It would be a green light for her to come back again and again wanting more. Not if, but when...

Re: Spousal Maintenance / Wife Claiming disability/inability to work (no children)
October 07, 2022 02:38PM
Do remember that courts see this sort of thing all the time. They are used to seeing otherwise healthy people saying they have this, that or other ailment just as they see people saying they need a fortune to live on every month. They view such exaggerations with scepticism. Like I said, it is different if someone quite obviously has a life changing illness but courts are well used to spotting the difference.
Re: Spousal Maintenance / Wife Claiming disability/inability to work (no children)
October 11, 2022 01:27PM
David - since you've responded so quickly before I've another question but happy to create another thread if it may be best.

I've just had my first court hearing. It took months to get this. Now the 2nd date has been set for 8 months away.

I don't need to express the craziness of this. There are bigger challenges than time, as I'm paying quite a bit still for a wife living in a house I have zero access to and of course have my own costs to manage.

My question is in relation to the 2nd court date - is there anything that can be done about this - a request for a change of location to a town or borough that has less backlog (assuming this is the issue)?

Of is the only solution to try and settle something with my other half prior and avoid a 2nd court date? The issue with all this is that she is not participating in the process hence me having to escalate this to courts which I really did not want to do but was stuck.

Any advice appreciated and again if best I can post on a separate thread to all. Thanks
Re: Spousal Maintenance / Wife Claiming disability/inability to work (no children)
October 11, 2022 04:48PM
I am sorry to say but I don't think there is much you can do about this. The speed (or lack thereof) with which divorce courts work is a scandal. Judges are conscientious enough but they can only deal with files the court staff put in front of them and, especially since Covid and 'work from home, their pace of work has become glacially slow. There was a time when I could get decree absolute within ten weeks of issuing a divorce petition but those days are now long gone. In fact the recent change in the law about the grounds for divorce has now baked in an automatic six month delay.

What it is possible to do is for both parties to agree to binding arbitration. Such an arbitrator might be a many years qualified family law solicitor or, more commonly, a family law barrister. Basically the parties can agree the procedure and time table with the arbitrator which should be a lot quicker than waiting for a court. They also agree that the outcome of the arbitration is binding so that eventually it can be turned into a court order. The advantage of this process is speed. The two disadvantages are (a) both parties have to agree so it doesn't work if both parties do not agree to submit to arbitration and (b) cost because the arbitrator will charge for his/her time unlike a court where everything is covered by the court fee.
Re: Spousal Maintenance / Wife Claiming disability/inability to work (no children)
October 19, 2022 11:40PM
Hi David,

Appreciate your thoughts on this.

- wife pension of £450k (health worker) which has just been reluctantly disclosed
- she has small savings of £30k
- her salary is £45k per year vs mine, £152k per year
- my combined savings and pensions are about £250k - £300k
- joint property, value of £600k and equity of approx. £425k - 450k

Despite her pleading illness and wanting on going maintenance on account of my salary and her 'inability' to work my thoughts are along this:

- offset our pension/savings and neither of us touches one another's. Instead sell the home and divide the equity whereby she can take a larger sum maybe £300k and I take £150k which is enough for me to secure a mortgage. She puts down £300k or there about on a £400k-£450k property and has an affordable mortgage and can draw down on her pension before too long as she is over 50.

This seems very sensible to me and the disclosure of her large pension I feel may have thrown a spanner in the works (for her) because prior she did not know it was worth this amount and wanting all my money plus ongoing payments are her demands.

What do you feel is practical given the above scenario? Given there is enough money imo to go around, and me being a much higher earner than her, does she still have a leg to stand on here? We have a second hearing many months from now but I am paying/hoping we can agree something without having to go to a 2nd court hearing.

Re: Spousal Maintenance / Wife Claiming disability/inability to work (no children)
October 20, 2022 11:08AM
There are no dependent children and your wife earns £45K. Therefore, unless your wife is run over by a bus before the final decision, this should be a clean break case. Possibly there may need to be some adjustment of capital because of your very different mortgage capacities but that should be it.

What you are proposing is certainly within the range of possible reasonable outcomes.
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