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Harris, Family Law Expert
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 2851
Experience:  Family Law - Specialist in Divorce, Financial Relief and Children Matters
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My ex husband (a barrister) has written to me asking me very

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'My ex-husband with whom I received a certain amount per annum as settlement, has written to ask my personal details about my current lifestyle, earnings, finances etc and wishes
to be relieved of his financial commitment towards me. More information about the circumstances are below.
My questions are:
1. Should I see a solicitor before answering these questions so that I do not give him any information accidentally, that he could use against me? (I don't have anything to hide)
2. How in the present day, are the courts likely to view my case and my request that I am due this continuing support? (background below)?
Thank you,
My husband and I divorced when my children were 11,10 and 9 years old. I spent 9 years at home looking after the children, with part time work running art workshops.
I had my own growing business when I met him and worked until the birth of my third child in 1989. After the divorce I continued to try to make a living and
opened an art gallery in our home and did a Graphic Design degree in order to find a new source of income and support myself. My earnings have never been high and all my salary,
including my mothers inheritance, went into the family pot. All the work I did revolved around the chldren and their needs and I was a single parent for 10 years. My husband
commuted from 1991 until we broke up we saw him mainly at weekends. So I was in charge of parenting for almost the whole of my children's growing up. My husband
is a barrister and had total freedom for 20 years to dedicate to his career. I did part time work, not well paid and never had an opportunity to fully advance my own career during this time.
While married I wished to train as an art therapist but the course was in another town and I had to shelve this opportunity due to my family responsibilities.
My divorce settlement awarded me money for the children until they left home, 40,000 towards the deposit for a house and 10,500 pounds to me for life or until I married or
permanently co-habited or further order.
The money was not index linked and as the children got older the costs of their living increased drastically and by the time they left home and I sold the family house, I was in debt to
the sum of about 40,000, had a 95,000 mortgage which I had never been able to pay off which I had had to change to interest only.
I sold my house when my children left home and went to live in France where I could buy a modest house outright which I did up and is my primary home. There is no work in
France, For two years I have been working in Cambridge for two arts charities. I am an artist and have year of experience working on project work which pays well per day but
is intermittent and has no security. Since September 2015 suddenly both charities had no further funding and I have had no work. I am currently paying rent in London to try
to find work here and in a huge transitional period of my life. I love my work and am applying for new opportunities, but I am now 59 year old and although I have many skills and
abilities I find I am not getting jobs because there are so many applicants and both my age (59)and my past history/cv are not the kind that can ensure me work. I am currently
living with a lot of anxiety and worry about the future. I do not have a pension as I worked always part time around the childfren. I do depend a lot on my ex husbands
contribution to my loss of earnings at the time and consequent loss of future earnings/postiion (I was 30 when I had my first child). Should he stop paying me this sum I will,
at the moment be destitute and unable to pay my rent in London. I have lodgers in France who pay me a small sum that barely cover food costs.
My husband earns a great deal of money and likely earns in 1 hour what he pays me per month. I feel it fair that he pays me this sum given my contibutions and how they affected my earning potential and position for the whole of my life.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hello, Its been more than 24 hours since I sent my question. Has it got lost or do you need me to explain a little more clearly.
I could precis it. Thank you. Susanne
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.
I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.
Thank you!
I apologise as we have not yet been able to find a Professional to assist you. Do you wish for me to continue to search for someone to assist you or would you like for us to close your question at this time?
Thank you for your patience,
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi I've been in touch with customer support and have re written my question to make it simpler - someone there said they would re-enter my rewritten question but no has done anything yet. I will wait to see if anything happens and if no ask for a refund. So hopefully someone is dealing with it. Thank you for getting back to me. I have to make this first decision on my own sadly.
I will check with Customer Support in that case to see what happens.
In the meantime, we will continue to look for a Professional to assist you.
Thank you for your patience,
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you Nicola, I could also put my edited question up here now. Would that help? Could you scrap the initial one?
If you post the edited question here I can edit the top post to include it for you.
Thank you,
Hi Susanne,
I have edited the question for you and will send it to all our family law Experts now.
Thank you,
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you so much for your help Nicola. Hopefully someone can advise me in this first instance. Susanne
Hi Susanne,
I hope so as well!
We'll continue to look for someone to assist.
Thank you,
Hi, thanks for your question. Apologies it has taken a while for a response.
Are the only terms for ending the spousal maintenance as you outlined, namely remarriage, permanent cohabitation and further order, and it specifically stated lifelong term of payments?
Also, did you give an undertaking to attempt to reach a level of income to meet your own needs, thereafter lowering his liability?
In response to your first question, I would highly suggest you do not disclose any details to him unless there is an undertaking or direction in the court order requiring this.
Secondly, if he were to return the matter to court for an application to vary the payments, the court has a discretion as to whether to allow the maintenance to continue or not. Given that your children appear to now all be adults any application to vary will focus on possibly lower needs for yourself, and in recent times judges are reluctant to grant so called "lifelong" periodical payments and would seek for there to be a clean break and for you to give an undertaking to use your best efforts to maximise your earning capacity to meet your own needs.
Please let me know if you have any further questions regarding this.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hello Harris,
In answer to your first question yes the terms were exactly as you say - and specifically for life should the other conditions not be breached.
Re your second question I was not asked to give an undertaking to reach a certain level of income though naturally I have worked pretty consistently. I am an artist and it is notoriously difficult to earn a decent living and getting harder.
What you say about the view of the courts is as I thought. As I am at the moment without work ( this is the first time I've been out of work so long) his contribution is crucial. What could I negotiate for - a contribition to money as a pension. A gradual phasing out. A lump sum to finalise payments. Do the courts not take into account at all that his current earning potential was reached because of my work in the fsmily. This really has impacted on me thank you very much. Susanne
Thanks for the further information.
What other provisions were made in the order, for example in relation to capital and pensions? Was there a clean break in respect of those?
If he were to apply to court for a variation, the court will consider all the current circumstances (eg. his and your current income and earning potential) and may make a downward variation or an upward variation. There is a risk that if he returned the matter to court for a variation that you may get a judge who does not agree that the lifelong term is appropriate. The court would have already considered your contributions during the marriage by making the previous order and the lifelong periodical payments.
Any court application he submits now will consider current circumstances and future earning potentials and would only be limited to the periodical payments to meet your needs and not in relation to any lump sum payments, or pension provisions as these would have very likely been dealt with in the first order.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No provision re pension. He did nit have one at that time. I was awarded £40, 000 for deposit on home and he was instructed to guaranorr a mortgage. The amount was not index linked. In terms of earnings and earnings potential.there is a vast disparity. He is a senior barrister and I earn well below the average salary which varies from year to year - from 8000 - 15.000.
It sounds like there is no rule and the settlement depends mostly on thebopinion of . the judge? Thank you very much for yr advice
There is a rule, and the criteria that the judge would have followed in the initial decision is the following:
1. The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire;
2. The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
3. The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;
4. The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;
5. Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;
6. The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family;
7. The conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it;
8. In the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage, the value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring.
I obviously do not have the full disclosure provided at the time of the first proceedings, but the starting point would have been a 50-50 split of all assets and the court would need to ensure that you, and your children were suitably housed - which is evidenced by the deposit sum provided, and ex-husband acting as guarantor. The spousal maintenance amount would have needed to account for your reasonable needs, but it is unfortunate that the order did not index-link the amount given the lifelong term that was ordered.
Hi, this question remains open. If you found my information provided helpful please could you rate my response positively as I will not be credited for my response without a positive rating.
Harris, Family Law Expert
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 2851
Experience: Family Law - Specialist in Divorce, Financial Relief and Children Matters
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