Spousal support or child maintenance?
in MoneySaving dads
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My son has 3 kids aged 9,6,4. About to be ex wife works 3 days a week and has a lower hourly income than he does. After agreeing to give her 70% of the equity of the house sale, they are about to discuss ongoing payments. Custody will be 50/50. Originally, he intended to split all child expenses 50/50 too, and give her spousal maintenance instead of child maintenance but I’m not sure this is a good idea. Isn’t Spouse maintenance for life unless she remarries ( which is unlikely) . Wouldn’t child maintenance be better for him financially. I know the law doesn’t take blame into account, but it is not his decision to end the marriage. He has no intention of not providing for his children but he also doesn’t want to be paying her for his or her lifetime for something that he’s not to blame for
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It's becoming increasingly unusual for courts to order spousal maintenance for life: sometimes for a period of a few years to enable the spouse to retrain, re-enter the work place, increase their earnings.
Have their respective pensions been taken into account? Have they been to mediation and thrashed figures out with a third party?
He can use the CMS calculator as a starting point and pay more if he feels that would benefit the children. If he does pay child maintenance as a private arrangement he should make sure that child maintenance payments are clearly labelled as such. Even if they have shared care, one parent will be the primary carer with regards to child benefit, tax credits etc so if they may need to factor that in as well.
If they have a 50/50 agreement then he needs to discuss child maintenance with her, they could agree that they will split everything in the middle and no maintenance be payable.
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It's not your son's responsibility to pay for his wife's lifestyle choices. If she only wants to work 3 days a week, that's up to her, but like anyone else who wants to work reduces hours she will need to work out a budget which lets her do that, which might mean she winds up with a smaller property / ;less desirable area / does without holidays or whatever it takes.
Child support may be payable even though they are splitting care 50/50 depending on their respective incomes - it can sometimes make sense to agree that they will split child benefit, so for instance, they could agree that she claims the child benefit (and any other benefits) for the two older children, and he claims for the youngest, and reflect that in an y CMS applications (e.g. asses on the basis that 2 children live with her and spend 7 nights a fortnight with him, and one lives with him and spends 7 nights a fortnight with her)
If there is spousal maintenace, this should be for a fixed, non-extendable period - say 2 years